Sunday, October 31, 2010

Check out my basket! ;) Day 4

First off, Happy Halloween everybody! Hope everyone's day went well and if you went trick or treating you got lots of candy and very little fruit (I always hated when people tried to pass off raisins as something you'd want to get)! I didn't dress up, but I did pull out the Walmart vampire cape that I've had for two years now, and wore it in the morning around the house. I took it of when I was getting into the nitty-gritty of my cooking. You know who wore her costume all day? Charlotte. I put it on her in the morning and she stayed in it until the evening. I even brought her downstairs to keep me company in the Kitchen making today's item. I mean I spent days making her costume, she might as well wear it on the Holiday itself, I don't think that's asking too much. But enough chatting about the festivities, it's time to talk about the baking for today.
Today's item was one that I've been dreading since we planned to do these basket, chocolate covered pretzels. I don't dislike them because their difficult to make, it's because they're so tedious to make. You have to do each pretzel individually. Okay, to make them, first you melt the chocolate, you can use a double broiler or the microwave. I used the microwave. You have to heat it slowly, in thirty second bursts or else you run the risk of burning the chocolate. When it's melted you take it out, mix in the pretzels and then take each one out, letting the excess chocolate to drain off each pretzel. Otherwise it would be one chocolate glob. Then you put the pretzel onto saran wrap or tin foil to harden. After they're sufficiently hard you can peel off the backing and congrats, you have a chocolate covered pretzel! Imagine doing that for what seemed like hundreds of pretzels. And the chocolate in the bowl keeps getting hard so you have to keep remelting it. I swear it's torture. But they're popular, so we make them. I like them too. Just don't like having to make them, eat them totally, I'm so all over that. But make them? I'm just so over that.(That's one full bag) Luckily my parents did help so we had two people working most of the time. I still did over half though, they switched off with each other. But still it got done faster than it if was just myself. We stopped when we ran out of chocolate (we used three pounds). We were almost out of pretzels too, and we started off two full bags of that.
So then I left so that they could get hard. I wanted to wait until they were really set or else they would stick to each other in the bags and it would look terrible. In the evening I came back. Taking out some sandwich bags I started filling them up. At first everyone got twenty pretzels. I knew I probably had more than that, but I wanted to err on the side of caution. After those were filled I added ten more in each bag. I still had more so then I added five more to each one. That's when the pretzels ran out and there wasn't enough to do a another full go around. When I was taping the flaps of the bags down I discovered that I had miscounted. Instead of eight bags I had made NINE. It seems that I cannot count. Thankfully since it was more than I needed I didn't have to recount out all the bags. That means we get a bag to enjoy. Right now they're all in the fridge, and we're over the big annoying hurdle that is Chocolate Covered Pretzels! I did the math and nine bags at 35 each equals 315 pretzels. So we made a bit over that much, but isn't that nuts?
Stay tuned for Day five!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Check out my basket! ;) Day 3

Today it was time to dust off the kitchen and get back to work. It was another baked goods days, and one a bit more traditional; cookies! I'm not going to be sharing the recipe with you all. Not because it's a family secret, but because we didn't use one. I cheated and used the Betty Crocker cookie mix in a bag thing. At least we went with a name brand. I wasn't up for making cookies from scratch (I have in the past though), so we went with the bags. Here all I had to do was add an egg and butter. We did get a little fancy and add food coloring making one batch red and the other green. Here's a picture of that, but only of the green plate since the photo I took of the red plate didn't come out. It looked practically the same, except the color. I was hoping my father would take over doing this for me (since up to now I've done everything for the Christmas baskets) but he didn't want to. He did however help me so I didn't have to do it all. We each took a different bag and made our own batch, each a different color. I had green and he had red. We ended up rolling out the dough and using cutters to cut the cookies. Usually I just do the drop kind of cookies. It's more work to roll them out and cut them, but they do look good. Also we used my Grandmother's biscuit cutters for it. I'm sure that made my Dad happy, since it was his Mother's. It was probably the first time someone used them since 1989 at least (and yes I did wash them before).
We really didn't get a lot out of the packages. Right now it seems that people are going to get three red cookies, and four green ones. We're toying with the idea of either getting another package and making some plain sugar cookies to pad them out, or adding another item into the basket. We're waiting until we get closer to the finished baskets to make a call depending on space. Honestly I wish we didn't have to do either and just be done with it!

And switching gears from cooking here's something that I wanted to share with you all. Recently I won a contest over on "In the Pink" Barbie forums. It arrived a few days ago, but I held off on sharing it with you because I had so much other stuff to talk about, especially the cooking. I didn't want to overwhelm you all. The contest itself was pretty cool. The person giving it had two options, either the trick prize or the treat prize. The treat prize was a brand new Halloween Barbie. The trick was a nude Coca Cola Barbie, a Reproduction Barbie head, and a Mod Barbie head in need of a re-root. When you posted your entry you picked either "Trick" or "Treat", of course you know I picked trick, and I won! The person who hosted the contest shipped it the next day and it got here really fast since she was in Virginia.
When it got here I tore into it, super excited to see what I got. There was actually a lot of really cool extra stuff, and I love the little surprises like that. I got some candy (which was gone as soon as I took the picture.), some Halloween tissues, a cool Halloween ring, a plastic Barbie skateboard, that cute outfit, and an extra pair of sunglasses. Not sure what I'm going to do with most of it yet, but I think it's all so cool. I redressed the doll in Charlotte's 40's outfit for when I posted on the board saying that I got the package, but that was a temporary thing. I'm going to have to get her something else to wear eventually. Also how cute are her glasses? Midge totally is going to steal those, if she can get them away from Charlotte. The other night when I was watching TV I worked on removing the hair from the TNT head. Her original hair was pretty trashed so eventually I'm going to re-root it. Not sure what color yet, but I'm not going to rush into it, I have plenty other re-root projects to do before I get to that one. Any suggestions?
Stay tuned for Day 4 of the basket project!

Friday, October 29, 2010

And on the third day I rested!

There's been a slight change of plans for today. You see, I'm not doing any of the cooking for the Christmas baskets. It's not like someone else is working on it, nobody is doing anything for it. You see I started this project early because I didn't want to wait for the last second to do it all. I would be spending all this time just thinking about it, compared to actually doing it. Also if we waited until the last second then if anything went wrong we'd be screwed. But so far things have gone together on plan. I was expecting something at this point to take two days, but so far we're on schedule. And since we placed the items with the longest shelf life at the beginning of the process we're beginning to reach things that might not last as well if we make them too early. With that in mind I decided that it was okay for me to take a day off from the baskets. I think we're in a decent enough shape to miss a day.

I must admit that I didn't do much today. I didn't do ANYTHING with my other projects. I really just lazed about all day. Nothing done with Charlotte or anything. I did however do some packing and worked on cleaning up some of this mess. Although whatever I do clean I manage to mess up again pretty quick. In the evening I managed to sit down and write a page of my book. I'm still planning on talking about that with y'all, I'm just not sure the best way to go about and introduce everyone to the book. Any suggestions?
Tick tock, the clock counts down!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Check out my basket ;) Day 2

Day two of out little project started off with some work from day one. Nothing too difficult, just packing up the ones I had finished yesterday. I was waiting for them to cool so I could do it easier. I forgot how quick they are to stick to everything. I kept having them stick to the wooden spoon I was using, and even my fingers. I was a marshmallow mess! Thankfully I got all six packed away and stored in the freezer. Won't have to deal with them again until I'm packing the baskets. Well, that and when I have to make the final two.
With that done it was time to get into the actual work of day two. It was time for some actual baking compared to just using the stove top. Today I was going to make Oh Henry Bars, a family favorite. I couldn't find the exact recipe online so I'll share with you the one my Grandmother uses. She printed it in a (local) cookbook, so I'm sure I can share it with you. Besides I don't think she created this recipe, so feel free to use and enjoy it!

Oh Henry bars
2/3 cup butter or margarine
1 cup brown sugar
4 cups quick oats
1/2 cups Karo corn syrup (white)
3 teaspoons vanilla
6 oz. chocolate chips
2/3 cups crunchy peanut butter

Cream together butter and sugar. Add oats, corn syrup, and vanilla. Batter will be stiff. Pat batter into 9x13 inch greased pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-16 minutes. While baking, melt the chocolate chips and peanut butter. Stir until smooth. Spread on top of slightly cool bars. Chill before cutting.
Here's what I got from that; Let me tell you, they are a pain to cut. I practically wrenched my shoulder out of it's socket when trying to cut them. Eventually I had to have my brother hold onto the pan when I cut them. Each pan makes four servings (per basket), so I made the the bars twice. I got them cut and wrapped already so they are all done! Yay for something completely finished.

On a non-cooking update my parent's box arrived from American Science and Surplus. It's a cool store that has the most random of things for discount prices. My father's been buying from them for the longest time. It's just fun to flip though the catalog to see what odd things that have this time. Although this go around I found two things that I wanted/needed. So when the box arrived I was pretty excited too, since there was stuff in there for me. First up is some fake white fur. I just bought fur recently but this was white, the other one I bought was blond. It was also really cheap. It's only a scrap which explains why it was so inexpensive. It came as one long strip of fur, maybe about two inches wide. I've been thinking about what to use it for, right now all I can think of is using it for the trim of Charlotte's Christmas dress. I was toying with the idea of making it into a fur coat, but it's not wide enough. That's a someday project. Oh! Also it SHEDS everywhere, I was covered in hair after touching it. It was like I had molested a polar bear, very gross.
The second thing I bought there was more of an impulse item. It was a Santa Clause tea set. I figured for 95 cents it would be cool to have. I'm kind of glad I didn't spend that much money on it. Now that I see it in person it's a little... unattractive. It's made out of that really icky resin material, and the painting is really shoddy. It's also a bit big for the scale, you can see Charlotte's hand in one of the pictures for a representation of scale. Oh well, live and learn. I can still use it for Christmas decorations, and if it gets broken I won't be too heartbroken. Also you can take the lid off of the teapot, and to do that you have to take Santa's head off. Freaky right?
Stay tuned for day three of cooking!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Check out my basket ;) Day 1

Today is the first day of the switching gears from dolls over to making stuff for the Christmas baskets. Are you psyched? I know I am... ish. I'm more psyched to be at the point where I can start to actually do it compared to just planing and thinking about it each day. So let's get into it.
For our first day of it, we're stating off easy. It's been a bit since I've done a lot of hard core cooking so I wanted to start with something simple to remind myself that I could do it. Also we started off with the item that had the longest shelf life, Rice Crispy treats. Their official website said they can last up to six weeks in the freezer. We don't need them to keep that long, just until the 6th. After that they're not my problem.
I got the recipe from the official website (link included), although I did know how to make them from before, I just wanted to check out what they recommended officially.
Rice Crispy Treats
And here's what came out from that.
I learned today that you need a lot more marshmallows than cereal. That pan is about six servings for the baskets, and that alone used up three full bags of marshmallows, and only one box of cereal. I still have to make up two more servings, but that's going to have to wait since I'm out of marshmallows. Luckily they're the easiest of the things so I can make it on another day when I'm working on something else that isn't too demanding of my concentration.
Case in point today when I was making them for the first time I gave the apple roses another shot. I wanted to make them one more time before I decided I was going to bring up to Connecticut. I also wanted to see if I could make them without burning them. I ended up turning down the recommended cooking heat from 425 to 400, the puff pastry package itself recommended 400 when cooking it. I also made the apple slices a little thicker, but that was just because last time I cut them too thinly. This go around came out better compared to last time. I just need to remember to pick apples with a nice red skin. These ones were yellow, and the "petals" don't look as impressive as they could. I will be definitely be making these for Connecticut. I also took a picture of these ones so you can see them. Enjoy the picture because they certainly don't last long. I keep eating them!
It was also Shopping Wednesday, and you know that I didn't pass that up, especially since my cooking duties took less time than I expected. We were off to another whirlwind shopping trip. Although I didn't get what I wanted, sigh. I was finally going to break down and buy the yellow hounds tooth LIV jacket, but someone else got it first. Sad face. Hopefully they'll restock it soon, but we all know the likelihood of that. The local Walmart sucks, it really does. But I didn't go home empty handed. Over at Goodwill I found this old jar of Modge Podge glue. I saw it there a few weeks ago, but I passed by. The next time we went it was gone so I figured I had missed my chance. It was back this time, I guess I didn't see it last time or someone had moved it. I wasn't going to let it escape me again so I snagged. It was only 69 cents and for that price I can justify it. I'm going to use it to finish the basket for Little Red Riding Hood, finger's crossed for that. I also found something pretty exciting, remember those books I bought a while about about people sewing? Well I'm still thinking about doing that, so for a lark I looked through the small selection of patterns that every second hand store has. Usually they only have terrible 80's patterns for woman, but I found something promising. A sewing pattern for men, uncut, and in my size! It's also seems to be from the 80's but men's clothes hardly change that much, it doesn't look dates. I'm sure the fabric choices are what would make it look modern or retro. The pattern is for both the shirt and the pants, although I can't see myself making pants from this pattern (Never say never though). Now we're one step closer to me actually making myself something compared to the dolls. Freaky right? But this is as close as we're going to get since I'm leaving for a bit soon, but now I at least have the pattern. I'm going to have to start checking those random boxes more often, never know what you'll find. This only cost me 49 cents. Beat that Hobby Lobby!
Stay tuned for tomorrow's update about the Christmas cooking and whatnot!
Done one over!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Charlotte's second new look...

Okay, I know that I have sooooo much other stuff to do, so much stuff that I was just complaining about it yesterday, and that I already finished Charlotte's last outfit (Thus completing my list requirement for her) but I couldn't just stop there. But in my defense there's a huge reason for why I had to do this.
And the reason is, shoes, I'll explain. The Target exclusive shoe pack that is. I have been wanting, dreaming, and lusting after this shoe pack ever since it came out, needing it badly. The reason why I don't have it yet is because there are no local Target stores, and we rarely venture out to towns that have Targets. The last time we tried, my father had to get the help of two clueless clerks to find it only to be told they didn't have it, even though their website said it was in stock. Liars (and poor costumer service to boot)!
But I still want it, so much. I've been trying to find a way to a Target, but recently one presented itself. When we're up in Connecticut we're boarding our dog (Pach) at the Vet's office my sister work at in Raleigh. And you know what Raleigh has? A Target. So pray for me that they'll have it in stock, or else I'll be a very unhappy camper (like no joke, total brat). The only issue is that if I do get it then, I'll be leaving for Connecticut either the next day or possibly the same day. Imagine getting 18 new pairs of shoes and having nothing to wear them with? That might literally dive me mad (or madder). And since I'm going to be in Connecticut with only Charlotte to try them on, and a limited costume selection I had to find a happy solution.
So you see I couldn't just sit back and let the chips fall where they may. I had to get something for Charlotte that was attractive on her and was neutral enough to go with several type of shoes in a variety of colors. Unfortunately I didn't have anything like that on hand, so it was up to me to make it (isn't that always the case?). I decided on making a very cute cocktail dress in black, since black goes with everything. I was going to use the dress pattern from "Barbie in Japan" that you've seen the corset from time and time again. Although once again I was going to modify it so it wasn't an exact copy. (I do this a lot.)
I started off with the bodice, I've make this bodice so often that I should be able to do it in my sleep, although I did manage to do something to throw off the fit. It wasn't too terrible, so I just went with it. The skirt was where I was going to start off changing the original pattern. I was going to add a ruffle at the hem of the skirt, similar to what I did for the Steampunk skirt. I really like the ruffled skirt hem, it adds a touch of romantic elegance. A nice touch of interest that is not too overwhelming. Unfortunately it means that I'm going to have to deal with sewing down gathers. Which I have the worst time with gathers messing up. Either they're very unevenly spaced out, or the unfinished edge flips under and you can see it from the front. Both issues make me have to redo it again. I was NOT going to do that this time, so I really worked with it, pinning it down before I sewed. It came out really nice. I think that's what I should do from now on. It's an extra step (that I should have been doing already in all honesty) but it saves me so much hair pulling. Enough successes, let's get into the issues. So I attached the skirt to the bodice, and then I tried it on Charlotte and the skirt just hung there. Limp, like a wet noodle. There was no cute flounce what so ever. Also the length was a little matronly for what I wanted. So I removed the skirt and cut off 1/4 of an inch from the top of it. Then sewed it back on and hemmed the back. For some reason after that I could not get it to fit right. No matter what I did the skirt would not look good, also it was flaring out to the right. So frustrating. I was getting pretty mad so I walked away.
A few hours later I felt like I wanted to go back. I think my issue was that I put the skirt right at the waist. With that pattern and Charlotte's body type she looks really good with a lower waist. So if I lowered where I attached the skirt it would look and fit much better. The problem was that I had already trimmed the corset material so I couldn't attach it any lower. So I was forced to make another top, not a huge deal since the fit in the original top wasn't that great to begin with. The second one came out much better, and I was able to salvage the skirt from the original dress (Yay!). There's some minor gap issues at the back, but nothing too out there. It closes with two snaps. After I added those I made the straps. I originally was going to go with the original strap design, but after I made them I decided I wanted to put them in backwards, and placed so they were off the shoulder. That's the final thing I had to do, with them sewn in I was done. Stepping back and looking at it I can't be anymore pleased with it. It's so timeless, so classic, so pretty. To accessorize it I gave her a simple silver necklace (pearls came off as too stuffy). She's also wearing the underskirt from the Steampunk outfit. That helps give the skirt some lovely volume. I also soaked the dress to get rid of the extra dye since it's Black. You would not believe the color that the water turned, it was gross.
I just hope that I get the shoe pack or else all this hard work was for naught (and I won't lie, I'll be pretty crabby), but I am packing the shoes she's wearing now just in case. It would be so annoying to pack an outfit and not have shoes.
So pretty!

Another one bites the dust

I didn't get a lot of writing done this Typewriter Tuesday. I was just unable to turn my brain off and focus on it. Instead everything that I've got to get done before I leave kept swirling around in my head and that just killed my focus. I did try, I got about a paragraph written before I l decided that I wasn't really feeling it, so I stopped. So instead of writing I began to just flutter around working a little on each project. I shouldn't have been doing that because all that constant switching means I don't get anything actually done. When will I learn?
I did however complete something. Something from my final to-do list. What I'm talking about is the "Get another doll off the redress list". But there's a technicality about it... the doll I'm writing about was never officially on the redress list. Before you start lighting your torches and amassing an angry mob let me say that, while she wasn't on the list YET, she would have been added to the next update of it. By doing a much needed redress I was able to keep her off the list altogether so that's practically the same thing in my mind. If you disagree feel free to assemble at the door ready to drag me out into the streets. I just ask that you all park on the road so you don't block the driveway. My brother needs to be able to get out so he can go to school. Thanks for understanding.
Here's the pics, and before you ask, yes that's the skirt I made for Charlotte in yesterday's post. There's been some sharing going on, but don't worry I'm going to be making another skirt for her. The shirt is one that I already had, but I did make a different shirt for this outfit originally, it just came out poorly so I stopped before I finished it. This one looks adorable, it's very fitting for it.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Sewing Cabinet Catalog, Drawer Two, Part One.

Here we are at at the first post about drawer two in my sewing chest. By doing this I'm completing my requirement on my to do list (finally). So let's get to it. Buckle up, it's a looooong ride.Here's the drawer in total, including all the stuff that's inside (rhetorical much?). It's about the same size as the previous drawer, but this one has a different feature. Instead of the spool holder it has a little drawer on top. It's not attached to anything, so you're able to just pull it out and get to the things below. Around the edge of the full drawer is a lip that the shelf rests on when it's in place.
Here's what it looks like without the shelf;These above items are what I'm going to be talking abut for today's post, although I must admit that I might end up talking about items in the shelf in this post too. It all depends on how long the post ends up being, since I want part one and two to be similar sized. Now onto the individual items.
First up we have a variety of rulers. The first one is a thin clear plastic one. It's six inches long and for the first time includes metric. Other than the world "metric" it has no markings. The next ruler is another six inch one, this one however does not have metric, only inches. It is completely clear. The measurements are molded on compared to printed like the one above. It's fairly thick plastic (You can't bend it at all). On the Bottom it says, "Koppers Heat Resistant Polystyrene". The Koppers company is still around, they started working with polystyrene in 1959. According to Wikipedia, "(polystyrene) foam scrap can be turned into clothes hangers, park benches, flower pots, toys, rulers, stapler bodies, seedling containers, picture frames, and architectural molding from recycled PS."
The final hand held ruler from the drawer is once again different than the rest. This one however is made from the more traditional wood. For some reason this one is seven inches compared to the more traditional ones that are only six. The markings are pressed into the wood (only inches no metric here). At the bottom it says "Eberhard Faber New York". Research shows me that that's a pencil company. I guess it's part of their marketing.
Now it's time to move onto measuring tapes. There were several in the drawer, and they're also only in the drawer, no other drawer had any measuring tapes. I guess this was were measuring tools were stored. Out first one is made out of canvas with a line of machine stitching on one side. It also has metal end pieces. One side is inches, the other is yards, but instead of breaking down the yards into smaller measurements it only goes in measurements of 1/8 yard, 1/4 yard, 1/3 yard, etc. The only markings on it are, "Made in Chicago U.S.A." and "For household use only".Next is another measureing tape from the drawer. This one is a bit more worse for wear compared to the first one, but it's not surpriseing since this one is made out of something like waxed parchment paper compared to canvas. It too uses the single strip of sewing along the side. There's one spot where the paper has ripped completely in half. In fact there's a staple that someone used to try and hold it together, but too has given away, all that's holding it together is the stitching. I'm thinking about repairing it with some acid free tape that I have, but I may not bother. The one has inches on one side like all of them, 80 inches in all. On that side it has the "Made in USA" label that we find on most of these things. The other side however is very different. The other side actually is to be used to measure hats. It also has the name of a company, E.R. Moore Company. Apparently they make "College and High School caps and Gowns, Choir and Pulpit Gowns, (and) Gymnasium Apparel" They're still around, although it seems that they've been absorbed into another company. Turns out my head is size 7 5/8, I guess I have a pretty big melon. Good to know.Next is another measuring tape. This one is very similar to the one I talked about above. The only real difference is the company name on it. I even have a sinking suspicion that they came from the same company that made the measuring tapes, and that each robe company ordered them though them. Our mystery sewer must have done something with robes, and they would get them in order to know what sizes to order. I'm leaning towards them belonging to a church and they were used for the choir maybe? This measureing tape is 72 inches long, and in somewhat better condition than the other one. Other than that the other real difference is that it's from Collegiate Cap and Gown Company, "Manufacturers of Graduation caps, gowns, hoods, and choir gowns." They're still around too. Pretty cool huh? My head is still 7 5/8.Now we're on to our final measuring tape (finally). This one is really novel, it's made of paper. It feels like the kind of paper that they make paper bags out of. I assume that this didn't get a lot of use since it's practically perfect and it's ... paper. It's an advertisement from Olson Rug Co., who are in fact still around. At that time they had locations in Chicago, New York, and San Fransisco. You could, "save up to half by sending us your old rugs, clothing." Did you know that "A rug that is too small makes a room look bare"? And that "The trend TODAY is to show less floor spade around the rug"? How about, "A larger rug gives the feeling of luxury and spaciousness." All of these are printed on the front with the measurements. It's 5 feet long, and has a copyright date of 1950. I don't think I'll be using it (or any of them for that matter) but it's cool to see something like that.Switching gears, here's something that I have no idea what it is. I asked my parents and they can't think of what it is either. It's metal and a little under two inches. It's got the words "Made in USA" stamped on it. You can pinch the metal together kind of like tweezers. Really have no clue what it is. Anyone out there know?

Next up are some corks, you read that right corks. Not sure why they're in there or their purpose, but here they are. This drawer had three full corks and one larger half cork. Maybe our mystery sewer was a secret drinker? I know sometimes sewing drives me to want to drink, I wouldn't be surprised if someone else felt that same way. Here's three photos of it, top, sides, and bottom. Corks are in the same spot for each one.Here we have a darning egg. It's black (plastic? wood? no clue) and six and a half inches long. Not really sure what to say about this. It's unmarked, and looks like it's certainly got a lot of use over the years. I've never used one before, but now that I have one maybe I will... or not.
Next we have some more pink elastic. I found some pieces of this in drawer one too. I guess it's pieces left over from a project. Not sure what I'm going to do with it, but it still stretches. I'm sure somewhere down the line I'll find a use for it, or I could just throw it out. I don't need to hold on to everything, right?Here's something that I'm not totally sure what it is. I think it's either a piece of marking soap or wax. It's vaguely T shaped and has a cross cross pattern all over it like threads been dragged over it repeatedly, which makes me think that's it's wax. It's kind of amber colored, not really sure what else to say about it. That's all.
For some reason there were a number of shoe horns in the sewing cabinet. There was one in the drawer (and one on the shelf too), this one is all metal which is different. The others have all been plastic before. It has a glossy black finish and is unmarked. I might keep this one for curiosity sake, but I have yet once in my 24 years on this Earth have any need for a shoe horn. Maybe that will change sometime and I'll be glad that I kept it, I really don't know.
And here's the end of the post. I actually knew most of the items in this one. Be prepared for the rest of drawer two, but don't get too excited to see it anytime soon, we all know how long it took me to get this one done. Whew, my hands are exhausted. Now I'm off to update my to-do list!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

How to lose 40 years in a day.

I started this project in the 80's, but for somehow I ended up in the 40's. Not totally sure where I dropped those forty years, but here's how it happened. Maybe one of our smart contestants playing at home can figure it out.
You might remember me mentioning a few days ago that I wanted to create an 80's outfit for Charlotte. Something fun, cute, and hip, similar to what a party girl would wear in a classic 80's movie. The only problem, I really don't like the 80's style, but I ignored my trepidations, hopped onto Google and started researching.
Eventually I came up with inspiration and designed an outfit. It was separates consisting of a jacket, a shell blouse, and a two tiered skirt. The jacket was pink with blue lining, the blouse was white, and the skirt was blue on top and pink on bottom. I did attempt to make it, but I only finished the blouse (already blogged about it too). I did however get all of the machine sewing for the jacket done, and about half of the skirt before I decided that it wasn't the look that I was going for. It was far too washed out 80's. I was hitting certain 80 elements, but not the right ones. So I set the project aside, thankful that I had realized that before I had invested too much time or effort into it.
Later I returned to Google, hoping that further prodding would provide me something that I "must" make. And I did strike gold, or at least what I thought was gold. I found a photo of a girl with a over sized sweatshirt and a short skirt, both in a powder blue. That I liked, and I'm sure I could make it, although I didn't have a sweatshirt pattern. I decided to make the skirt a pleated skirt, but make it much shorter than normal. I kept the powder blue color because I did like that. Also I had some jersey knit in that color, which helped seal the deal. I didn't have any powder blue cotton in my reserves, but a trip to Hobby Lobby provided me with a fabric that would work.
I started off with the skirt since that one was the easiest to do. The fabric I got tended to fray a bit more than I would like, but it was something I could manage. Other than that the skirt was nothing new. It went together without any real problems.
The sweatshirt however was something different. Yes, I could use patterns that I already had, but I was going to have to do some major tweaking for just the beginning. I started off tracing the t-shirt pattern that I use. Instead of having the pattern go in at the waist I had it flair out instead. I also expanded the sleeves, especially at the wrist, adding more flair there too. I really wanted that baggy look. I didn't change the pattern at the bust since the fabric I was using had a really loose weave. If I was doing it again then I might have tweak it some more. I was worried about this turning into a mess, after I cut the fabric out I tried it on Barbie to see if it would even fit, it passed that test, so I got to work. I had some issues with sewing it, but for the most part it went together pretty quick. I did have to redo one of the cuffs, but other than that I don't think I had that issue with anything else. With most of the sewing done I did add something that I wasn't originally thinking of. I added a strip of fabric at the bottom, similar to what real sweatshirts have. I did most of it on a machine, but I added the collar by hand. I don't trust the machine with that. I've had too many issues with it messing up. Besides it's not that hard to do by hand either. With that done all I needed to do was reinforce the seams and add snaps. It came out pretty nice for my first sweatshirt. Not sure how often I'll need this pattern, but it's certainly a good one to have handy.
With that done it was time to see how it all looked together. I tried it on and was underwhelmed to say the least. I know that accessories can certainly help with the look of an outfit, but I couldn't see how it would help this. It was bland, bland, bland. Also it wasn't reading too 80's for me, so I set it aside. Each item were good separates but together it wasn't anything I liked as an outfit. In a last ditch effort to like the outfit I made a pair of socks, in the same fabric as the sweatshirt (I know I was just complaining about the dull color combo), but these weren't your regular socks like I always make. This time I tried to make it look like they were rolled at the top. I did get that effect, I think it needs further refining, but it certainly works. Seeing that altogether I began to like it. But it was not 80's anymore, I was starting to get a 40's vibe. To decide if that's the direction to go in a stole a pair of saddle shoes off my Midge doll. Boy was that a mistake, she's not getting those shoes back. Paired with the outfit it was so cute. I knew that I had to keep going with it, the only problem being that the skirt was much too short for the 40's. It was also the most boring part of the outfit. I liked the matching socks and shirt, but with everything the same color scale it was so bland. I knew which fabric I wanted to try. It was that swatch of John Deere plaid. Just holding it up to the shirt I knew I had a winner, it was practically begging me to make it into a skirt. So I did. This one I made the full length of the pattern, for that 40's modesty, and it came out wonderfully.
So that's it, this entire post takes place over a few days, but I glossed over those long breaks (I'm like a cooking show that way). What do you think? I like it a lot. By the way, this completes the "Finish Charlotte's Current Outfit". While it's not the 80's I think it's certainly a great outfit and who knows maybe that perfect 80's outfit is out there waiting for me to find it, but that's for another day.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Have you met Barbie's MODern cousin? She's groovy!

I have a family history with the Francie doll. My Mom remembers having a Francie doll when she was younger. It's one of the two Barbie dolls that she remembers specifically (The other being her painted haired Ken). I don't have any of her dolls from childhood, but that hasn't stopped me from collecting my own assortment of them. Although if I remember my own childhood correctly there was a very beat up Francie swimsuit kicking around my Grandmother's house for the longest. You could say that I was predetermined to like the Francie doll, and I do. I don't remember my first experience viewing this doll (I'm sure it was from Barbie Bazaar, maybe when they were talking about the Francie reproduction), but she and I just clicked. It was kind of like how Ashley and I clicked, except instead of one doll it was about Francie in general. I haven't met one I didn't like. With her shy smile and large doe eyes I was just drawn to the Francie doll, makes my heart go pitter patter. I felt a desire to get one very early on in my collecting days. It's a strange occurrence because at that time I didn't have any Mod dolls in my collection. As of then everyone was from 1961-1964, and Francie wasn't around until 1965. My want for her rewrote the very standing of my collection as I knew it, just thinking about Mod compared to just Vintage.
Francie here comes from humble beginnings. Another E-bay find, she came nude and I'm sure under twenty dollars. Although when writing this post I feel that she was around 18 dollars, not sure if that was with or without shipping. She's a blond, with bendable legs and a TNT waist. Her hair hasn't been cut, and she has some of her lashes. Her face has yellowed with age, which is pretty common for the mod dolls. She has some lip rubs, but other than that her makeup is pretty complete. When I got her I had that age old conundrum, how to dress her. I certainly didn't have anything that fit her, and this was much, much, much too long ago to be sewing anything. Luckily Charlotte had an outfit that fit her, and Charlotte was willing to let it go to Francie. (Although I don't think Charlotte knew how long she was going to have to give the outfit to Francie.) It's a school girl type outfit from the Myscene line, minus the shoes, they were much too big for Francie. I paired the outfit with some gray knee socks, that I think are men's socks. She also got a pair of the Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen sneakers. Overall it's very cute. That's been her for the most part since I got her, although recently she swapped out the brown jacket that came with the outfit for a red one that came with the Rebelde Barbie dolls.
Francie's transition into the collection hasn't always been a easy one. Not too long after I got her she had a terrible accident. She fell onto the floor and her neck broke! Actually it was the ball that was inside her neck. Unfortunately then I didn't have the resources or the know how to fix her. It was very frustrating. Although at that time my doll collecting waning so Francie had to live like that for a while. It wasn't until after college that I came back to deal with her problem. It took a little bit of hard work and practical thinking, but I eventually got her neck knob back and strong enough to support her head. This meant that for her she came down south earlier than the great vintage move of '08, but even if she had been part of that it wouldn't have been that big of an issue since she's still wearing the clothes she came down in. Compared to the other dolls that I had to take forever to redress. She's still wearing that outfit, and I can't think of a reason why I should change it. I hope she likes it because she's stuck with it!
And so that's Francie's story. (Or at least my first Francie, I have two others!) She's over on the vintage shelf, I'm looking at her as I write this post about her. Just looking at her fills me with excitement and happiness, I just really love these dolls, each and every one of them. Especially my groovy Francie!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Upcoming Plans and Events

I hope you understand the meaning behind the sole photo in today's blog. Soon I'm going to be forced to say goodbye to y'all for a bit. I'll be traveling up to Connecticut to celebrate an early Christmas with my family (before the Grandparents go south to Florida for the winter). They're kind of like birds. I hope you all haven't forgotten, I certainly haven't. I've been trying to stay on top of things here, packing a little each day. Although that's Charlotte's suitcase you see in the photos. Mine's much bigger and the color's not as cool, although there's more stuff in it. Right now hers is empty, although I did place it on the bookshelf, waiting to be filled. Obviously she coming up with me, I just have to decide what fun outfits she's going to need. It's tricky since I don't know if I'll get much play time with her, I just wouldn't want to be missing something in case the need arose. (Like being invited for tea with the Queen, or going snorkeling, you never know people! I need to plan!) I'm also on the fence about bringing another doll with us. Right now I have about four dolls that I might bring, it all depends on how I feel eventually that will decide who's coming along with us. Right now it's more important to pack for Charlotte, since I know she's going. Right now all I've planned on bringing is a warm coat for her. Any suggestions cyber-readers? My personal packing goes together much easier since I have a much limited wardrobe, but I still need to pack a lot since I'm going to be spending a long time up in CT (Almost two weeks, without internet!) Promise you'll wait for me readers, promise me.
As we get closer to out date of travel it also means soon it will be time to start making the Christmas candy baskets. It's still to early to start, but we're getting closer to that date by the second (literally). Soon I'm going to be covered with chocolate, marshmallow, and peppermint. We have October 27th as the official candy start day, anytime before that and it will get stale before we can get it to the people up North. Since I'm the one that this projects been handed to that means most of my personal projects are going to get stopped and set aside for a bit. Knowing this I've decided to slow down and hone my to do list to one that's more manageable for the short time I've got left before my candy torture begins. I tried to be realistic, but as we all know if I don't make it to all of them, there's no real punishment.
Here's the list in no particular order;
1. Finish what I'm working on for Charlotte (Pretty simple, finish the project for Charlotte that I'm doing at this exact moment. And pretty standard, I usually always have something in progress for her. Right now it's the 80's outfit.)
2. Give Bild Lilli some hair (I'm trying to be better about using the things I buy at Hobby Lobby each week. Since I bought her hair last week it should go to say that I should at least attempt to give her hair.)
3. Another doll introduction (Still trying to get rid of the header, the sooner the better)
4. Get a doll off the redress list (Just one doll off the list would be great.)
5. Post another post about the sewing cabinet (This was be the first post about drawer two)
6. Clean up this mess! (I'd love to have a clean room to come back to, but this one's the least likely to happen.)
So there it is, plain and simple. For the time I have left I'm going to be focusing on these projects trying to get them done before I start in on the candy projects.
Hopefully I'll get them done, finger's crossed people, finger's crossed.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Allen is a Champ!

We're really begin to circle around to our final introductions of the dolls in the header. After this one we'll have only three left. Pretty exciting, maybe we will have the new header up by the end of the year. For a while there I was expecting it to be kicking around forever, but I keep working at it.
I'm expecting this one to be a short introduction, but those are famous last words. This is a post about a male doll, a rarity around these parts. Seriously the guy to girl ratio is pretty steep, but that hardly a new thing in doll collections, unless you collect action figures. But Allen isn't an action figure he's a doll. He debuted early in Barbie's life, as a friend for Ken. Although I wouldn't be surprised it if was really to have someone to date Midge. I mean Ken can't date both girls, that would be tacky.
The Allen sculpt is one of my favorites among the vintage ones. With his cheeky grin and flirty eyes there's something incredibly appealing about him. If I were Barbie I'd pick Allen over Ken anytime. There's something about his design that seems a little more fun compared to Ken's straightforward non-threatening look. That's one of the reasons why I actively looked for him to buy compared to Ken. I would assume that he was less common since I've only managed to get two of him compared to five Kens. Although in my defense two of those Kens are number ones with the flocked hair, and three are the newer (comparatively) painted hair. And I couldn't not have at least one of each in my collection. Allen only came in a painted hair format (with the cutest swirl of his bangs).
This Allen arrived here from E-bay, and if my memory serves correctly he came from the same lot of TLC dolls that Ashley came from. He's not mint, he suffers from a few paint rubs as well as some animal chews. They are mostly on his feet and one of his hands (It's pretty mangled), but it's a minor issue. Eventually I will find a donor arm to replace his damaged one, but other dolls are slated for repair first, like solo armed Edmund (already discussed on this blog). I've had Allen for a while, he was part of the Connecticut collection and like the majority of the vintage dolls came south in the great vintage move of winter 2008. Like those dolls he took a while to get dressed in an appropriate outfit. But luckily for him I actually purchased an outfit for him so he didn't have to wait for me to get around to sewing for him. I was in Big Lots way back when and found two My Scene masquerade Ken outfits. The Rocker and the Boxer. At two dollars each I couldn't let Ken clothes go, especially since this was still before I was sewing. At home I was figuring out who would wear it when I tried the boxing outfit on Allen. The gloves did a great job covering up his hand issue. For the most part the outfit fit the vintage body well. The only issue was that the sleeves of the jacket were too long, I just turned them up and that was that. I ended up replacing the shoes that came with the outfit with a pair of Barbie sneakers designed for the gals with big feet. Normally I don't like such specific outfits usually favoring "typical" day wear, but the boxer outfit worked, so he stayed in it. He really hasn't changed much since then. Most recently the changes that's happened with him have been regarding where he's located in the collection.
Up until recently he wasn't part of the vintage shelf, he was actually located on the named shelf, next to Joe. There's a few vintage dolls on other shelves, it happens. When I got Vanessa I was trying to figure out where she could go. She didn't belong on the vintage shelf or the Silkstone shelf, by the very definition, and was too tall for the Japanese doll shelf. I ended up putting her on the named shelf, since her arrival was a pretty big deal. In order for her to be seen she had to be between Joe and Allen. This lead to some pretty cramped quarters. After meeting Vanessa in person I felt that I didn't like her being so close to Joe. I trust him, but she suffers from wandering eye issues. I wasn't going to move Joe, so that left Allen to be bumped back to the vintage shelf. This was right about the time that I was taking over the media bookshelf from just dolls to vintage dolls exclusively. He became the first doll to move to the third shelf after the change, although he was shortly joined by Edmund. As of right now they're the only two there, but I'm sure more will come in time.
And that's Allen, three more to go!
(P.S. the pictures suck because they're pretty old, I've gotten somewhat better since then.)