Monday, December 11, 2017

Get It Under The Tree!




December 18th is the last day to order items so they are sure to arrive in time for Christmas if you use standard shipping. Therefore, everything in my eBay, Etsy, and Poshmark shops is marked down through the 18th. Please note, this is for ready-made items. Message me to see if I can complete any custom orders in time.

I have to tell you, however, I am pretty swamped with customs right now and won't be able to take on many more. You know, it's kind of maddening. Every year I attend all these webinars and read all sorts of trend reports on eBay and elsewhere so I know what kind of inventory to stock for the holidays. This year leggings, sweaters, pocketbooks, and toys like LEGOs were the big trends. Florals, velvet, and folkloric and handmade-looking prints were supposedly all the rage. So I filled my shops, especially my Poshmark boutique, with these. I know from long experience that doll and trunk sets sell well during the holidays and this year I made six, which is nearly twice what I've produced other years. They all sold out by the first week of December, the earliest I've ever sold through them! The leggings, especially the LulaRoe leggings, are selling at a healthy rate as well. However, eBay and Poshmark and everybody else missed an enormous trend this year:  Do It Yourself crafts. I suppose in Poshmark's case that's understandable as they only sell fashion.

​I have tons of dolls, both vintage and modern, ready to go in all my shops, but they aren't really moving. Instead, I am stunned by the demand for supplies, such as doll eyes, crier boxes, and stringing kits, this year. I am selling out almost weekly in some cases. I really wish someone had recognized this trend because I could have been more prepared. For instance, instead of finishing dolls I wish I had put together more doll-making kits. I can't keep eyes in stock, especially. American Girl eye swapping is a huge deal this year, so my handpainted eyes have really been popular. Was this mentioned anywhere? No. I could have painted a whole bunch of eyes ahead of time so I could provide custom styles more quickly! So, if you're in trend forecasting, please... try a little harder to think outside the box next year. Not everyone wants to give the same old, same old!

Head to my website to link to all my shops and save big. Even Young Living has many sale offers happening now. Save even more on Poshmark when you sign up with code STUDIOMANDALINE and get a $5 credit. Just remember, if you need it under the tree on Christmas morning, order by December 18th!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Merry Potter Christmas!


Upcycled food containers
This past summer, for our oldest son's high school graduation, we went to Florida and visited Disney World and Universal Studios. Harry Potter World was a big favorite of the entire family. We only got to visit the Hogsmeade and Hogwarts part; Universal charges you twice to see the entire world and we couldn't afford it. Hogsmeade and Hogwarts are absolutely amazing, however. If you're a fan I definitely recommend it. Of course besides riding the rides we had to shop in the stores and eat at the Three Broomsticks. Honeydukes candy store was a hit with the kids and they each got a treat. I managed to save the containers from Honeydukes, which look just like the boxes in the movies, and get them home safely (this post could also be called "Ways I drive my husband crazy"). We were on a strict budget during this vacation and as much as I would have liked to let everyone choose a Christmas ornament to commemorate the trip it just wasn't possible. But I thought, why not make our own? It seems like I'm always getting cool packages on various vacations, which I'm sad to throw out. I am glad I thought of this way to upcycle these neat containers and memorialize the trip at the same time. This is a fun craft to make with your kids.

Materials
To begin, you need to thoroughly clean your container if necessary. This jar of pumpkin juice was just so cute, I hated to throw it out. I washed it out well to make into my youngest son's ornament. Pumpkin juice was his favorite of all the Harry Potter foods so I know he will love it. I wanted it to look like there was still a little juice in the bottle (but not too much because it would be too heavy for the tree). I also had the idea of making it like a snowstorm with glitter. I filled the bottle about a quarter of the way with rubbing alcohol and water, to make sure the water doesn't get moldy. Please excuse the extreme close-up photos in this post; at this point my son came home and scattered books and orange peels and papers all over the table where I was working and I only had a tiny uncluttered window in which to take pictures!


Add glitter.

Add glycerin.


A glitter snowstorm
I added glitter to the water and then added a few drops of glycerin, which helps to keep the glitter suspended and keeps it from clumping together too much. You can get glycerin in the cake decorating section of craft stores and also at some drugstores. I had trouble getting the glitter to show in the photos but you can see it swirling around.



Add the child's name and year.

Add a hanger.
Without tipping the bottle too much I wrote my child's name and the year on the ornament. Then I tied on a hanger of elastic cord. The cord is under the bottle cap, so I added it first. Then I coated the cap with glue and screwed it on.


Glue the lid
I glued the lid so the water won't leak out and so no one will mistake this for real juice and drink it.


Apply glue
To make the bottle look more festive for Christmas I decided to bling it out with glitter. My mother didn't think the pumpkin juice made a good Christmas decoration and thought I should use it for a Halloween tree but I am confident I will never get around to putting up a Halloween tree. Decorating for one major holiday is the most I can manage! I dripped glue over the bottle with the idea the bottle would look like it was frosted by snow.


Sprinkle with glitter.
I sprinkled the wet glue with iridescent glitter. I found some star-shaped glitter and decided that would be good for Christmas as well as the magical theme of the books and movies so I added that too. Then I let the bottle dry. I made these ornaments as a surprise for my kids, but as I mentioned, this is a fun and easy project your kids would probably really enjoy doing with you.

Let the glue dry.

I went on to make two more ornaments for the other two kids. I originally thought about trying to make a pop-up frog to go in the chocolate frog container, but I am just way too far behind for that. This is such a busy time for me and I knew I should have worked on these in the slow summer months but as usual I procrastinated.


The finished ornaments.
As you can see, we already have a few Harry Potter ornaments! I used to let the kids each pick a new ornament every year but our tree is so full it is beginning to look like it might fall over so we've been doing one family ornament instead. I have always wanted to do a kids' tree. To be honest I wanted to have the downstairs tree be more decorative with all matching ornaments, but it just didn't happen that way. The past couple years I had a mini tree in our upstairs landing which the kids decorated with ornaments they made but this year when I went to buy the mini tree I found they cost about $60 instead of the $12 I was expecting! So that went out the window! Once when I was little my mom took me to a Christmas show with all kinds of trees decorated in different themes. One tree was a "Sugar Plum" theme and all the ornaments looked like pieces of candy or cupcakes or ice cream cones and all had plastic "sugar" crystals sprinkled over them. I thought it was the most wonderful tree I had ever seen! I would love to have a Sugar Plum tree one of these days and I think these Harry Potter ornaments would fit right in! I hope the next time you get a special box or container you might be able to upcycle it into an ornament for your family!

Harry Potter themed ornaments

Friday, November 24, 2017

Cyber Week Celebration!



Just in time for Black Friday and Cyber Week, all the Atelier Mandaline shops are on sale! I've listed a ton of inventory for the week and more is on the way. The eBay store is packed with vintage action figures and toys from the Ghostbusters collection by Kenner. These are selling fast, so if you collect these rare toys head to eBay today. Besides Ghostbusters, I have lots of vintage Mattel Barbie clothes and dolls for sale on eBay and Etsy either marked down or with low starting bids. The entire Etsy shop is on sale through December 1st. I have many doll restoration materials on sale and many dolls already restored. My Studio Mandaline Poshmark  boutique is also discounted storewide through Sunday and I have a bunch of LulaRoe leggings and Carly dresses newly listed. Make an offer on Poshmark for pieces worn only once or twice or bid on pieces with a little more wear on eBay. Head to all my shops from the website to save!



Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A Brave New World


Merida
If you've been following the blog for a while you know I resisted learning to restore American Girl dolls. I don't have the same passion for them as the older dolls, and it seemed pointless to learn to fix them when there is an American Girl hospital for them. With older dolls you have no choice; you either have to learn to fix them or find someone to fix them or see if you can buy a replacement. American Girl dolls are not cheap to restore, either. I hear rumors of people finding $20 dolls but my experience is you have to spend around $60 on the doll and supplies before you can restore her. That means you have to make a great profit on the doll or you're taking a loss. However, I was constantly bombarded with questions about restoring American Girl dolls, waking up every morning to tons of inquiries that came in to my eBay or Etsy shops or through my website or blog in the night. So I broke down and ordered one beleaguered Samantha who needed every kind of repair and I taught myself how to fix her.



The doll before repair

I used Samantha to learn to re-wig, replace eyes, re-paint, and replace limbs and re-string American Girl dolls. You can read over the past several posts for instructions on most of these and buy supplies from my eBay and Etsy shops (link through my website).

I found it's quite difficult to remove the American Girl wigs. I boiled the head and pried off the wig with a spoon. I don't understand why a doll company that uses wigs instead of rooted hair would make them so difficult to remove unless they are trying to force people to buy a whole new head from their doll hospital. Samantha's new identity was entirely determined by my stock of supplies. I had a red curly wig and handpainted electric blue eyes to fit her, so I decided she would use those to become Merida, the Celtic princess from the movie, Brave. I'm quite familiar with Merida because my daughter was obsessed with the movie when it came out. It's odd because my daughter is Chinese so you would think she would be all about Mulan, but something about Merida's independence and her archery skills really appealed to her.

The doll before repainting

The re-painted face with new eyes

The limbs are also painted.

Her face and arms have freckles.

She has a tiny "scar".

The doll with a new wig
Merida got a whole-body re-paint. I emulated the great Madame Alexander and blushed her hands, knees, elbows, and earlobes to make the doll more realistic. Her finger and toenails are blushed and glossed to make them look real. Even her arms are freckled like her face! The cloth body had a tiny pinhole so I darned over it to fix it. Now I say Merida has a scar from an early archery accident! Merida's arms are replacements and her limbs are all re-strung.


Making the bow

Merida's bow and arrow set. You can really shoot the arrows!
Merida's whole deal is that she is an archer, so she had to have a bow and arrow set. I made a bow from wood and elastic cord and made tiny arrows from bamboo. You can shoot the arrows, although my daughter is better at it than I. When I try it the arrows fly backwards! I never have been athletic, even on a small scale. My son is obsessed with the tiny bow and arrow set and I keep catching him messing with it. I think I will have to make him one for Christmas!


The chemise can also be a nightgown.

Merida's indoors outfit.

The jacket protects her arms.
I have a bunch of vintage doll clothes patterns from the 1990s and I've been using them for years to draw my own patterns. I use the pieces for sizing and combine them in different ways and re-draw various parts so now I can pretty much create any kind of outfit I want. I made Merida a chemise and bloomers she would wear as a nightgown and under her clothes. Back when clothing was much harder to produce and launder it was not often washed. People wore layers of clothes so they only had to wash the dirtiest pieces, worn closest to their skin usually. I made a velour dress for Merida and then a jacket with gauntlet sleeves to wear over that. The jacket has split elbows to make it easier for Merida to shoot arrows.


Merida's cloak has a shield closure.

The cloak is cashmere.

Back view
The trouble with me is once I get interested in something I literally can't think about anything else for a while. I just can't stop myself from working and working and expanding an idea. So, although I ought to have just stopped and listed this doll I just couldn't. I decided she needed a cloak. My husband's cashmere sweater got a hole in it (after he left it in the garage for ages) and look at that... it's a perfect match! So, Merida got a real cashmere hooded cloak. I found a vintage button with a heraldic shield to make the perfect closure.


She has a belt with tartan rosette.

Back view

Gaiters to protect her legs

Tartan Rosette

The belt has a toggle clasp.

The quiver attaches to the belt.

The bundle from the witch

The enchanted cake
Then, of course Merida needed a quiver to hold her bow and arrows. And then she needed a belt to attach her quiver. And she would need gaiters to wear over her shoes to protect her legs while horseback riding. And then, as a Celtic princess, she would have displayed her family tartan somewhere. And let's not forget, in the story she gets the enchanted cake from the witch...


More views












So, as usual, I got completely carried away and spent WAY too much time and money on this doll. I would have to charge $1000 to get paid for all the time I put into it. Luckily, I have her listed on Etsy for quite a bit less! And because now I'm afraid I have become addicted to American Girl restorations, I have more on the way. Look for vintage Glorex dolls restored as Harry Potter and Hermione Granger coming soon, and for more American Girls restored as Elsa from Frozen and Mulan. To see a Merida slide show, head to my website.



Thursday, November 9, 2017

Recommended Reading




This week brought some welcome news. A few years ago I bought Dr. Atkins' Vita-Nutrient Solution on eBay for about $5 after a long bout of respiratory illness. I became sick one year in about September and several months later, around Christmastime, after two courses of antibiotics I was still not well. I followed Dr. Atkins' recommended treatment course and started feeling better within just a couple days. Since then I've used the book to treat anything anyone comes down with. Most people are unaware Dr. Atkins was a cardiologist and complementary physician for 40 years. That means he always tried to treat illness with nutrition and herbs and supplements before or in conjunction with pharmaceuticals. He complied his proven treatments in this book and it really has a treatment for almost everything.

Type 1 diabetes is no different. When my son was diagnosed I looked up the treatment and put him on the recommended diet and supplements. I found most packs of vitamins labeled as being for diabetics contain the same ingredients Atkins recommends. I also looked up new studies to see if any herbs had been used successfully. A recent study by a group of Asian doctors showed such promising results using stevia, flax seed, avocado seed, cinnamon bark, and herbs including dill, geranium, and cardamom they theorized it might be as effective as the stem cell therapy currently being studied. So I gave my son a jar of powdered homegrown stevia to take in his food and made him a roll-on using essential oils, flax seed oil, and avocado oil. He's been using all these nutritional therapies along with his prescribed insulin for around a month now. Two days ago when he went to his endocrinologist she was able to take him off his mealtime insulin! He is now only taking one shot at night, which, for a newly-diagnosed T1D, is almost unheard of! His blood glucose is still so low, in fact, we anticipate the doctor will step his insulin down even further!

This result is exactly what Atkins describes in the book. He said as long as a patient had been diagnosed no longer than a year previously he was very often able to step down their insulin until they no longer needed it because his regimen re-activated their pancreas. It is supposed to be impossible for a Type 1 diabetic to get off insulin, but Atkins' patients were able to do so and my son is nearly there just from following the treatment, with the help of his doctors of course. It is imperative you do not try to follow the treatment for Type 1 Diabetes yourself without the help of your doctor. Following the program while taking insulin can result in fatal episodes of low blood sugar, so you must have your doctor review the treatment and monitor your blood glucose carefully. 

I am so thrilled with my son's results and pray he continues to improve! I am so thankful to Dr. Atkins for writing this book and to all the doctors currently studying nature's cures. It is so empowering to learn to use herbs and vitamins and nutrition to benefit your health and your family's health without any of the side effects of drugs. My recommended brand of essential oils and supplements is here. Unfortunately they don't make a diabetes formula, although you can contact me for advice about oil blends that support pancreatic health. I was able to find a couple different brands of diabetic vitamins in various drugstores and in Walmart with the diabetic supplies. I chose a blend that had Atkins' recommended ingredients and dosage as much as possible. No matter what your state of health, I truly feel you should read this book. It has been a literal lifesaver for us!

For more recommended reading I suggest you head to my shops from the links on my website. Through Monday I have everything on sale, including dolls, supplies, fashion, Jamberry nail wraps, vintage men's accessories, kids' clothes, and more! This is my small gesture to thank my husband and all other veterans for their unwavering bravery. Happy Veterans' Day!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Fashion Forward

Leggings in my boutique

I'm always trying to keep my inventory and business model up-to-date. My shop has always been evolving. I opened my eBay account originally to sell my artwork. At the time I worked as a graphic designer and illustrator for a publishing company and also freelanced as a writer for local magazines and publications. When I was pregnant with my oldest son my husband was in a near-fatal work accident and became disabled. He was out of work for months on disability and I was trying anything I could think of to make extra cash.

Artwork, as it turned out, didn't sell well on eBay but once I had children I realized kid's clothes did sell well. My daughter in particular had a fabulous wardrobe and I could often make a profit on clothes she'd worn and outgrown simply by combining pieces into really appealing outfits. That's when I was bitten by the design bug and started to think about creating my own fashions.

I found toys were popular, especially vintage toys and dolls. I began to explore doll making and restoration and started my Mandaline Artful Living blog. That's when my sales really took off and I began to have a presence as a brand. Five years ago I officially opened an eBay store called Atelier Mandaline. An Etsy store followed, then a Young Living distribution shop, then a Facebook shop and a Poshmark boutique, and now my website, which ties all the "Mandaline" stores together in one place. 

While dolls and doll supplies and kids' clothes are still my focus, I recently branched out into women's fashion. If you read my last post you know I have been trying really hard to allow a recent difficult life change to spark positive transformation for me. I've lost about 12 pounds in the past couple months and hope to lose a lot more. My wardrobe has been truly stagnant for years now. An embarrassing amount of the clothes in my closet are at least 10 years old and pretty much all my outfits are Mom-style sweatpants and leggings and ratty shirts or things my mother or sisters passed down to me that aren't my style or don't really fit. I decided to motivate myself by filling my Poshmark boutique with stylish new fashions to motivate me to stay on my diet. It's working, because I can already wear some of the new stuff and I'm sorely tempted to keep them for myself! I selected the hottest trends for fall, according to eBay: leggings in tie dyed, tribal, Nordic, native, and floral prints, chunky poncho sweaters, and super-soft tunic tops. The leggings and ponchos are one size fits most and the tops come in size small through large. In most cases I have only one of each color or size.  If you are new to Poshmark you can sign up with code STUDIOMANDALINE for a $5 credit. I'm trying a few pieces out on eBay too.

I hope my fashion experiment has positive results, because I spent a hefty chunk of change on new inventory!  I want to bring a new facet to my brand while keeping my traditional customers happy. I have to say, I absolutely love selling wholesale stuff! It's so easy and fun, and while I love designing and creating my own stuff, I really struggle to find the time to keep adequate inventory in the stores when I make or restore it myself. If the pieces in the boutique do well look for even more adult's fashions. You can link to all my shops from ateliermandaline.com.