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Tiffany Schmiffany

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antiqueR2When one spends hours and hours alone in a room toiling away at a sometimes thankless task, one’s mind tends to wander.

This sometimes thankless task of which I speak is when I was full time selling on ebay before this whole book thing came about, sewing and sewing for dolls, spending ridiculous amounts of time trying to get everything just right. Sometimes a doll would do quite well. Other times, they would go for a song.

It didn’t matter, I could not help myself; I had to continue spending hours, even knowing that it was sometimes all for naught. These girls came to me for help! Who was I to tell them “Nay”?

So, how do you make the path ahead smoother? By fantasizing of course!

AR1Picture it: Antiques Roadshow, and the year is 2113. A woman sits at a round table, her hands nervously clasping and unclasping. The equally nervous appraiser says, “All right, why don’t you show everyone what you brought?”

The woman opens the flaps of an old United States Postal Service (before they went out of business in 2023 (just joking, Julie!)) Priority Mail box, meanwhile the appraiser appears to be physically having to restrain himself from reaching out to assist her, his hands twitching back and forth.

A beautiful doll is unearthed.

The air is full of electricity. There is a pregnant pause. Finally, the appraiser speaks. “When you pulled this precious girl out of the box, I almost fainted with excitement. I wanted our viewers at home and on Mars to experience the same feeling I felt, which is why I had you do it again.”

AR3He gently smoothed the little doll’s dress before continuing, “I won’t toy with you, this is a Ruth original.And the piece de la resistance? You have the actual note the Ruth herself sent along! This is from her black and white Target dollar section note phase. History has it that she really liked this paper so was sparing in her use of it, preferring instead to make grocery lists on it so that she could have beauty in everyday life. These notes hardly ever survived! Because no one knew! And here you are, and you have this note….”

The appraiser paused to wipe a tear from his eye – although he pretended to be blotting his brow. He fooled no one. “I have to know, where did you get her and how much did you pay?”

AR2The woman looked down at the table and blushed, “Well, my great, great, great, great grandmother purchased her online. I think she paid $284 for her.”

There was a gasp along with a lot of heads shaking in disbelief from the crowd that had gathered at a respectable distance behind the little table.

The appraiser breaks protocol, addressing the crowd. “It’s a shame, isn’t it? Don’t you wish you could go back in time and buy a dozen?”

The crowd fervently nods while the woman flushes with even greater pleasure, grateful that her ancestor had been so very wise.

The moral of the story is, you have to believe in yourself.

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Small Town Life


“Where have you been all my life, you spicy minx?”

Small town life is a charming, wondrous thing. Yes, there are the buggaboos, like the fact that there are No Quick Errands because even walking your dog, you run into people you know and you stop and you chat and things take twice as long as they normally would. But there are also sweet things, like walking your dog and running into people you know and stopping and chatting. It took me awhile to slow down to the “What’s the hurry?” Iowa pace.

Small town is being on a first name basis with the mayor and having him fix your car, or being out and about late one Monday morning and having a city worker pull over and say, “Ruthie, did you forget to put your garbage out?” (I did) “Well, put it on out, we’ll swing by later.”

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Paris, London, New York… IOWA?

Can you not HEAR the angels SINGING?!

Throughout my childhood and life I’ve lived in several different states in this great country of ours – including Hawaii! – and I never really thought of Iowa one way or the other. If I were to challenge myself to write down all fifty states, it might not even had made the list.

“Hmm….” I would wonder to myself. “Which one am I missing? Delaware? No…”

But, Iowa! The minute I drove over the border from Missouri to help my sister look at a house she’d found online, the Magic of Iowa – that’s right, the magic of Iowa — enveloped me like a warm, fuzzy with natural fibers blanket of enchantment. I mean, just look at it!

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Lost Dolls: Eager Elsie

Each Thursday (or thereabouts) I’ll be featuring another doll or two. These are the Lost Dolls, dolls that come through my house to be gently restored and redressed so that they can go where they are needed most and where they will be loved again. While I work on them, they tell me their stories of where they’ve been. Of course, I only have their word for it. But would a doll lie?


Meet Elsie

“Eager Elsie,” we called her for short. “Eager, excited, can’t-wait-for-my-new-life Elsie,” when all is said and done.

Bless her heart, she was hidden away for so long that when her chance came for a new life, she was in such a hurry to get here that she kicked herself in the head! Right by her eye, to be exact!

As you might be able to guess, she’s an earlier composition doll – noted by her tin eyes and human hair wig – so in her defense it had been a very long time that she’d been without companionship, hidden away in the closet of a house that was closed up for years and years. When dolls are tucked away, they go dormant, so I wouldn’t feel TOO badly for her. But I can certainly understand her eagerness to be loved again.

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Lost Dolls: Meet Alice

As I’ve written in my upcoming book, “Hazel Twigg and the Hollyhock Hideaway,” SEVERAL dolls have passed through these gates. Alas, all of them cannot be featured in the book itself, but they still deserve some sort of mention and this seems as good a place as any. I’ll highlight a doll or two every week! Here goes.




There was a little girl,

Who had a little curl,

Right in the middle of her forehead.

When she was good,

She was very good indeed,

But when she was bad she was horrid.

Do you see that? Do you SEE that curl?! I think this little stinker put that there HERSELF. That, or Mother Nature! Because it wouldn’t budge. And after the niceties and the brief honeymoon were over, I can see why! This sweet little thing – Alice, her name was. I still wake up screaming – became a monster!

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Hazel & Me

If you could write any story you wanted to write, something you would enjoy reading, what would it be? For me it would involve things I love. I would intertwine fact with fiction – and sometimes what is fact and what is fiction might be just the opposite of what you’d expect.

I’ve been collecting composition dolls for a long time. These are dolls from the 1920s to the ’40s or so, the first inexpensive dolls that nearly everyone could afford because they were made of sawdust and glue. These dolls speak to me. Literally. They tell me their stories and beg me for clothes and ask me to make them presentable once again so that someone new can love them. Some of them are quite picky; choosing fabrics can take almost as long as sewing their dresses and coats. Some of these dolls have years of grime on them. One poor girl even survived a fire!

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