Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Happy National Dog Day

Please don't take my picture.

Please don't take my picture.

I asked you not to take my picture.    


Monday, August 17, 2015

Olive's Doll -- My First Waldorf

I've been thinking about and studying up on Waldorf dolls for a few years now.  I've made a lot of dolls in the past, from corn husk dolls and knitted dolls to rag dolls and dolls made from felted sweaters.  But a Waldorf doll is special, yet open to lots of creative interpretations.

Waldorf dolls are a part of the Waldorf School tradition, founded on the philosophies of Rudolph Steiner in Germany in 1919.  Steiner believed in practical and creative education, based on play and imagination -- my kind of school -- and opened his first school at the Waldorf-Astoria Cigarette Company in Stuttgart for the children of the factory employees.  Waldorf-style schools still thrive around the world, and many charter schools in the US follow the Waldorf paradigm.

The basic idea of Waldorf dolls is that they are to be played with.  A lot.  They are traditionally cloth dolls, made with stockinette fabric stuffed with wool roving.  The faces are sculpted with heavy thread, then covered with a jersey-type knit fabric.  Facial features are either embroidered or painted on, then hair is stitched on.  If you google "Waldorf dolls", you will get thousands of photos of unique dolls, some with perfect hair and features, some more free-form.  Dolls are sold on Etsy and other sites for hundreds of dollars.  Speaking of Etsy, I purchased a kit from Reggie's Dolls for my first attempt.  I received all the traditional supplies I needed -- stockinette, knit, roving, heavy thread, ball-point needle for my machine, and a cute little crayon for her cheeks.  Plus, Reggie was so helpful with my questions, guiding me in the right direction.  I relied on the internet for the body pattern, but think I could probably sketch out my own for next time, or for bigger or smaller dolls.  There are no hard and fast rules -- the goal is to make a doll that will be loved and played with.

So, here she is.  I think I'll call her Red until Olive gives her another name:

Of course, I planned to take a lot of pictures during the process, but once I got going (and other things, like a flooded basement interfered!) I just forgot.  But here are the body parts cut out of the jersey knit:

And some stitching on the arms.  One hint I read was to use a zigzag stitch, so I did.  Next time, I'll use only straight stitching -- I don't like how there are tiny gaps between the zigzags when the body is stuffed.  Not awful, but a little annoying.    

Stuffing the body with wool roving was perhaps the most enlightening thing about making the doll -- for years, I have used the polyester "fluff", but the roving feels better, doesn't squeak and keeps the shape of the limbs and body just like you want them.  Does that make sense?  Just know that is it far superior to squeaky fluff, and I'll be using it all the time now.

I re-did her head several times to get the facial expression I wanted -- I would like her to be a little "smilier" still, but I think she's pretty cute.  

For her hair, I crocheted a little cap, then stitched it to her head, then threaded hair into the cap.  I don't know if Olive's hair will be red like this (the little bit she has is currently strawberry blonde), but I just really liked this color and the texture of the yarn.

Her dress was from a pattern from Reggie, but I messed up the sleeves twice and decided to make it sleeveless.  I had this fabric in my workroom, and the rickrack is from a big box of vintage trims my pal, Richard, gave me after his mother passed away -- it makes me happy to be able to use her things.  I added two snaps on the back. I crocheted Red's shoes and beret, and knit her little sweater using a pattern from Bamboletta -- it's a little big.  I was knitting on the sweater in the evenings before the body was completed, so I didn't do much measuring.  Next time, I'll be more careful.  I also made her some little panties, because I think all dolls should have them, right?

Does this look weird?  

Here she is, in all her finery.  She likes to hang out in the camper.

 I also added a little label on her back:

And I took Red to the fair, where she won a blue ribbon.  OK, so she was the only doll in her category, but Clay says she would have won the blue anyway.  He is nice.  

(See how her little beret looks like an olive?  Tee-hee.  I bought this great olive green yarn at Shabby Sheep and Ewe in Columbus, a sweet little shop -- it's a sport weight held with a mohair-like yarn to get the fuzzy look.  I wish I could tell you the brands, but I misplaced the ball bands.)

So, Red will be Olive's birthday present, and now it is time to start thinking about Abby's.  Chestnut brown hair, coral dress?  Gold sweater and hat?  I think, if I didn't have any other things to do, I could sit and make dolls all the time.  Maybe someday I will do just that.


P.S.  Here are some other sources for dolls or supplies:  BambolettaNova Natural Toys and CraftsMagic Cabin,  Bella Luna ToysPaluma Inspired LivingWeir Crafts This Child of Mine, and  A Child's Dream.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

A Little Baking for the 4th. And 1st.

A newer tradition in our family is to have 4th of July breakfast at the Eggers'.  Dave made eggs, bacon and biscuits and gravy -- what more could you ask for?  Bloody Marys?  Mimosas?  Baked treats, you ask?  OK!
Jenny gave me some fresh raspberries from her mom's patch on Thursday, so I made scones.  The great recipe is here from Creme de la Crumb.  They were very good.    

I also made Clay's favorite, Blueberry Buckle.  The recipe is from our good friend, Joan, via her mom, Norrene.  Like Florence's Peach Cobbler, it's a great one preserved in the 1991 St. Ambrose PTO cookbook.  (You know -- before Pinterest.)  We made two cakes -- one for the morning, and one for Maggie's last evening, and I got several requests for the recipe, so here it is!

Blueberry Buckle

3/2 c. sugar                                              1/4 cup soft butter
1 egg                                                         1/2 c. milk
2 cups flour                                               2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt                                               2 cups well-drained blueberries

Cream first 3 ingredients; stir in milk.  (I use a hand mixer.)  Sift together flour, baking powder and salt; stir into butter mixture.  Carefully blend in blueberries;  spread batter in greased and floured 9" square pan.  Mix ingredients for crumb mixture:

1/2 cup sugar                                             1/3 c. flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon                                      1/4 cup soft butter

Sprinkle on top of batter.  Bake 45-50 minutes at 375 until toothpick stuck into center comes out clean.  Serve warm, fresh from the oven.

Just one more.  Since the 1st was Canada Day, and since Grandma Olive was from Canada, and since we were having a family supper, I made this:

It's just angel food cake, torn up in the bottom of a 9x13.  Then, I chopped up some strawberries, mixed them with a little sugar and spooned them over.  Cool Whip on top (yes, I do prefer whipped cream, but there are some Cool Whip lovers in this family, and it's really just easier, isn't it?).  More crushed berries on the sides and a raspberry maple leaf (can you tell that's what that is?) in the center.  O, Canada!


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

David and Goliath Go to the Dominican

My friend, Linda, is going on a mission trip with her church to the Dominican Republic, where they will be teaching Bible School for lots of kids.  It sounds like great fun, and I know it will be a rewarding experience for her.

(I have the happiest memories of Bible School at Bethany Baptist Church in Crothersville.  I would get to spend the whole week at my grandma's, and every morning she would hold my hand as we walked into the sanctuary, where we'd say the pledges to the American and Christian flags and sing "Onward Christian Soldiers" and "The B-I-B-L-E".  Grandma would go down to the basement to make the grape Koolaid and set two cookies on a napkin for each kid to enjoy after our lesson, games and crafts.  CRAFTS!  It was the greatest.)

Anyway, Linda asked me if I knew of anyone who made puppets -- the mission team wanted David and Goliath puppets.  I didn't, but thought I could probably figure out how to make them for her.  My one big puppet-making adventure was many years ago, when I worked on the Bookmobile and made a Thanksgiving-dinner-swallowing puppet to go along with the book I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie.  She was pretty adorable, and the kids loved stuffing the felt turkey, potatoes and pie into her big old mouth -- I wonder if they still use that little old lady?  

Anyway, I started at Pinterest, and found this blog that had great directions for puppets.  I also googled some images of David and Goliath, and ended up with these:  

David was made exactly from the pattern on the blog.  For Goliath, I used a compass and increased the head and body pattern by about an inch all around.  I just fooled around with his arms and legs until they looked big and fierce enough!  

The only purchases for this project were 3 beigey-tanny t-shirts from the Goodwill.  Everything else I had in my workroom.  David's tunic and sandals are felt; Goliath's tunic is old sweaters -- the skirt of his tunic is scraps from a Gap sweater I've already made into a purse.  His sword, shield and breastplate are cut from an old Cricut mat and covered with silver vinyl.  Their hair is yarn and David's slingshot and G's sandals are leather lacing (Yes, I do have a lot of crap in my workroom.)

Wine bottle make excellent puppet stands.  But maybe not at Bible School ....

G's feet.  I thought they were cute.
 David could easily be transformed into any number of Biblical people -- a young Jesus, Zacchaeus, Isaac.  Goliath?  Well, he looks a lot like that caveman on the insurance commercials ....


Monday, June 29, 2015

Another Beautiful Wedding

I was honored to play for my friend, Lauren's, wedding Saturday.  Her mom is one of my dearest friends and her brother is my godson (her dad is pretty groovy, too!)

Lauren and her new husband, Andrew, along with her family and friends, worked very hard toward making their wedding so sweet and special.  Lauren collected all sorts of wonderful things to decorate their reception, and I just thought I would share some of the tablescapes with you.

Like me, they are big Disney fans, and each centerpiece was a beautiful representation of some of the newlyweds' favorite Disney couples.  No mouse ears or yellow, black and  red here -- just soft pinks, greens and silver.  Each of the 28 arrangements was amazing.  (Although they left out my favorites -- Lady and Tramp and Duchess and Thomas O'Malley!)

I think this was my very favorite!

They also included Disney music in both their ceremony and reception -- the string quartet played The Sleeping Beauty Waltz, So This is Love and the Marriage Theme from Up.  Guests were welcomed to go to the buffet line when they heard the music from the movie that their table represented -- it was such fun!

I made 250 cupcakes for the reception -- the hydrangeas were pound cake with blackberry buttercream, the daisies were strawberry cake with lemonade buttercream and the pink roses were chocolate/chocolate.
Sorry for the messy picture -- my decorating bag sprung a purple squiggly leak.

Monday, June 22, 2015

A Little Vintage Camper: A Dream Come True

I love a good story.  
This is a good one.

My friend, Susie, is soon to be the National President of Psi Iota Xi, the women's philanthropic organization of which I am a member.  (How you like that fancy grammar?)  Her goal has been to visit every Chapter (120+) during her tenure on the National Council, and since our membership stretches from Midland, Michgan to Lexington, Kentucky, over to St. Joe, Illinois and back to Mount Vernon, Ohio, that's a lot of miles and overnights.  Last spring, when she was staying with us in the middle of her travels, we spent the morning drinking tea and talking and somehow, the conversation fell upon how I have always dreamed of having a little vintage camper.  

"A WHAT?"  Susie asked, with a weird look on her face.
"A little camper.  You know, from the '60's."
"A WHAT?"  Susie asked again with a bit of a smile.
"A camper.  A trailer.  Just a little vintage camper."  I was starting to feel a bit silly, and headed to the magazine basket for a copy of Mary Jane's Farm (and an article on vintage campers) to help explain myself when she said,  

"I have one in my backyard."
It was my turn.

The camper belonged to Susie's husband, Jim's, family; when he was young they had traveled all over the country in their 1965 West Wind Custom.  Later, Susie and Jim's kids had used it for a clubhouse, and in recent years, Jim had  used it for storage.  I think they were ready for it to be extracted from their yard before the trees grew too much more, anchoring it at the back door forever!

I tried not to be too excited when I told Susie that I'd be interested in their camper, if Jim was ready to part with it, and after a few months, Susie said, yes, if we would come and get it, it was ours.  We did, and it is! 

We made one four-hour round trip to east central Indiana to have a look and a chat with Jim, then Clay, Nate and Will made the trip a few weeks later to pick it up.  

The outside needs some repair and spiffing up, but I think it's adorable:

It needs all sorts of things updated, like tires and wheel bearings.  We're currently planning work on all the joints, trying to make it a little more watertight.  New windows and a new door would be nice, too, but not necessary.  

What's necessary?  Color!  This gold is nice, but I think she would be so much cuter in turquoise, don't you?  Wait just a moment -- I'll show you the color I'm thinking of ...  

Another upcoming addition will be a large awning over the door and a smaller matching one over the front window, 

Here's the back:  
A little wire brushing, a little white paint and we're good to go!
I can't do the outside work by myself.  I tried while Clay was in Australia, but kept running into problems.  Turns out that the screws are all rusted in -- plus, the heads of the screws are in a stylized figure-8.  Fancy.  I only have flat and Philips in my toolbox.  Plus, I'm short. 

So, I turned my efforts inside.  Here is a collage of what the camper looked like inside, before and during renovation:

Certainly nothing wrong with the inside, just dated.  In fact, if we had new tires, we could have gone camping right away!  If I did that sort of thing.

The biggest job inside was pulling up the carpet, scraping and sweeping up all the black carpet backing, scrubbing the floor, painting the floor with latex paint (as recommended by the tile manufacturer, Armstrong) and putting down new tile.  The 12" tiles seemed a little big for the space, so Jenny came over to help and we ended up cutting each tile into quarters.  I had bought a new box cutter to cut the tiles, but for the trim work around corners, a pair of scissors did just fine.
I sewed new curtains out of vintage linens (tablecloths, pillow cases and handkerchiefs).  I was afraid the foam in the cushions would have to be replaced, but I took one to an upholstery shop, and they told me the foam was good for several more years.  So I just sewed new covers (after much trial and error!)  No zippers and no cording.

And, here is the big reveal!  I still have some things I'd like to do, but you get the idea!  

I had planned to paint the interior a nice clean white, but after hearing Jim talk about how the beautiful birch veneer reminded him of his family's trips to the forests and parks in the west, I didn't have the heart to paint over it.  A good cleaning with Murphy's Oil Soap, and the inside is shiny, warm and cozy.  I love it.  

See? Cozy!

Cushions in turquoise hounds tooth.  I sewed little elastic loops into the corners and fastened them onto cup hooks to keep the cushions upright.  

I had seriously thought about removing the stove top, refrigerator and sink, but friends have talked me out of it -- I think I'm going to build a little platform to cover the burners.  And the refrigerator will make a perfect cooler.  

Do you like this turquoise?  That's going to be the color of the accent stripe on the outside, replacing the gold.  

I like to call this end of the camper the sleeping alcove.  There are two long cushions under that chenille bedspread, and the platform will pull out to make a full bed.  As it is now, it's a perfect napping/reading spot for one, or a couch for several!  

 Just a little trial decoration.

What am I going to do with this when it's done?  Well, first I'm going to have to decide upon a name.  I'm thinking Susie Lou (after Susie and Jim, of course, Lou being a nod to their last name.  Plus, Sue and Lou are the middle names of my sisters!) or Jodi (my mom's nickname in nursing school) or Pixie, for Psi Iota Xi -- clever, right?  But I am also accepting suggestions ...

Her first big event will be our Hen and Chicks Barn Market in September, where she will probably serve as our ticket booth (or napping spot), and her next scheduled event will be the 2016 Psi Ote National Convention in Indianapolis!

Then?  I would like to outfit her as a mobile knitting studio, but I know Sarah and Maggie and their families might like to actually camp in her!

More updates soon.


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Summer Reading

I haven't written a book post in forever -- sorry.  I need to sit down and compile all the books I've read since my last book report (March 20?  Yikes) because there are some great ones.  And a couple of meh ones.

Currently, I'm reading The Red Tent for book group, listening to A Spool of Blue Thread while sewing (how appropriate, but I'm not sure I like this one at all -- time will tell, I guess) and my current Jane Austen is Mansfield Park, because I watched the 1999 movie last week, and I didn't remember the novel being quite so sexual or political ...
And after reading a Facebook post by my college friend, Julie, which cited this article, I immediately ordered Make Me One With Everything.   Oh, and Benediction by Kent Haruf, which I bought at Indy Reads Books last month (after an amazing lunch with the Purdue Crew at Black Market, right across the parking lot -- thanks, J&J.)

Here, instead, is my reading list for the summer.  (Or fall.  Or winter.  Or next year.  You know how that goes.)

Furiously Happy.  Have you read Let's Pretend This Never Happened?  Same snappy author.  And I'm not ashamed to say that the first thing that caught my eye was this cover.  Raccoons make me furious, but they are so darn cute.  

Love, Fiercely.  The story of this couple portrayed in a painting by John Singer Sargent.  I love art-based novels.

The Homecoming of Samuel Lake.  Amazon told me I would love this one, since I loved The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (which I gave to Clay, hoping he would love it and we could discuss it at length.  He didn't.  We didn't.)

Euphora.  A novel based on the life of Margaret Mead.  I expect this to be fascinating.  
Under the Wide and Starry Sky.  The story of Robert Louis Stevenson and his wife, Fanny.  By the author of  Loving Frank