Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Betsy's Sad Story and Other Tales

Plastic epoxy used to form a high wall inside the leg cavity.

I've done very little doll work this week. I had a really disappointing few days last week, and I guess I've just been over it for now. My "Senorita" Dollikin-face fashion doll was sold and delivered to Florida, but someone, either the mailman or the customer, left her in a 150 degree car and her face paint melted off. Then, one of the Betsy dolls had to come back to my "hospital" because her leg fell off a few days after she got home. This is not the leg I fixed; it is the other leg that was fine when she was here. The hip button isn't broken, and I was able to pop the leg right back in, but I want to try to figure out a way to secure the leg so it won't come off again. So, she's just been sitting around all week waiting for me to come up with a plan. I finally decided to build up the wall inside the cavity so the leg has more to hold it on. It was tricky to get a wall in there without restricting the movement of the leg, but I think this should do it. Incidentally, if your doll's leg comes off but there's nothing wrong with the hip button you can maneuver it back in by pressing the hip button against the inner walker mechanism and moving the button back and forth to push it into the leg hole.

Also last week, I had two people who bid on eBay items not want to pay for them so I had to cancel those transactions. Most of the stuff I have sold has been my modern stuff. I barely break even on most of those toys. I buy them as store filler so I have something to sell when I'm working on dolls that take a while. Add to that the weather... after several beautiful days, it's now been raining since Saturday. The meteorologist keeps saying it will be sunny. My head says otherwise, though, and I've been right. I've had a headache like a spike through my temple for the past three days and that almost always means rain or storms coming.

Roast Duck with Chestnut Sauce

 On Sunday I made a special dinner for Jerry's birthday and I got soaked running out to pick up some ingredients. I cooked pretty much all day! I roasted two ducks and made a chestnut mousse to go with them. This is an Italian recipe: anatra arrosto con salsa di castagne. I use the chestnut mousse, or sauce, recipe from Carla Capalbo's Everyday Italian cookbook and use my own duck recipe. At home I could buy fresh duck and chestnuts in season from the Chinese grocery, but here I had to go with frozen duck from Aldi and preserved chestnuts I picked up at Kroger before we moved. This is an autumn recipe, so I usually make it in fall, but Sunday was so cold and rainy it seemed more like October than April and it's one of Jerry's favorites. I keep trying to talk him into hunting duck with our oldest so I can get really fresh, wild duck, but he's not into it.

Kahlua Cheesecake

For dessert I made Kahlua cheesecake. I adapted my recipe from an old recipe I had for Irish Cream cheesecake. The egg whites and gelatin make a very light-tasting cheesecake, more like a mousse than the very dense restaurant cheesecake you might expect. This cake does call for raw egg whites, so you may wish to use pasteurized eggs. I find this cake takes a long time to make, especially if you have an 8-year-old and 4-year-old "helping" you. I would allow at least one hour to prepare the cake and then at least three hours for chilling.

Kahlua Cheesecake:
10-12 servings
1 cup graham cracker or chocolate cookie crumbs (your preference)
1/4 cup sugar (if using cracker crumbs)
1/4 cup butter, melted
Combine ingredients; press into bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
3 eggs, separated (use pasteurized eggs if desired)
1 cup sugar
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
2 TBSP cocoa
2 TBSP Kahlua
1 cup whipping cream, whipped
Soften gelatin in water; stir over low heat until dissolved. Beat egg yolks, blend into gelatin with 3/4 cup sugar and the Kahlua. Cook, stirring constantly, over low heat 3 minutes. Combine cream cheese and cocoa, mixing on medium speed with an electric mixer fitted with a wire whisk attachment until blended. Gradually add gelatin mixture, mixing until well-blended. Chill until thickened but not set. Meanwhile, beat egg whites until foamy; gradually add remaining sugar, beating until stiff peaks form. Fold egg whites and whipped cream into cream cheese mixture. Pour over crust. Chill until firm. Garnish with chocolate truffles, such as coffee-flavored truffles.

On Monday I made the mistake of getting on Facebook to send a birthday wish to a friend and got some horrible news. First of all, a little girl who was adopted and rushed to the States to have heart surgery died before she could even be operated on. Then, I saw the founders of the adoption agency we use were visiting a little girl adopted through their program who has since contracted brain cancer. She looks so much like my daughter it could be her lying in the hospital bed. I haven't been able to sleep without nightmares all week. I've had such a feeling of foreboding I read my own tea leaves the other day, but my forecast was good. I'm not great at reading tea leaves, but I hope I was right this time. My grandfather's cousin was famous for her skill with the tea leaves, but it seems to have skipped me.

I've often considered closing my Facebook account because it seems like it's just an endless litany of tragedy or people posting misspelled, grammatically-butchered e-cards ranting against wrongs against them by some nameless person. In the past I rarely got on Facebook, but now that we've moved I've been missing my friends so I get on a lot. I should give it up because it seems like, except for my sisters, the people I really miss never post anything much anyway. But I know if I stop posting pictures of the kids my mother will be calling me, so I guess I'll keep it up. If you're on my Facebook, though, please post something nice I might actually want to read!

I get so sad in this cloudy weather. The other day on Pinterest I saw a quote attributed to Neil Patrick Harris that said, "When I get sad I stop being sad and I be awesome instead. True story." I had to pin it as inspiration. When I get sad I eat entire tins of herring in mustard sauce and drink too much wine, as I did the other night. Or I run until I hurt my foot and can't run for a month, which is what I did in March. I'm starting to think I'll have to go to the doctor. I'm not thrilled. Our oldest just finished more than a year of visits to various doctors for his toe. Just one check-up at the podiatrist is $77 a pop! I don't want to start another account! I have been self-treating the sadness with Mumford and Sons. I downloaded Babel as an early birthday present and I've been playing Below My Feet over and over. Though it's a sad song, it surely must be one of the most perfect pieces of music ever composed, so it makes me happy to hear it.

Yesterday was an interesting day. We finally admitted defeat with the ant problem and called the exterminator (although I am still using a natural remedy by planting mint around the foundation of the house; ants hate mint). He turns out to be a fellow eBay member. He restores dirt bikes and buys and sells the parts on eBay. I found this out as he was looking around at the dismembered doll bodies all over my office and asked, "What do you DO?" It's a small world!

We were pretty sure the light above the tub in our bathroom was full of ants, so the exterminator took it down. Well, as he did so the light fell and broke and thousands of dead ladybugs flew everywhere. I'm pretty sure I'm going to be traumatized for a while now. I don't really mind live insects but I absolutely abhor dead bugs. I have horrible nightmares about them. I will dream, for instance, that I'm walking through piles of autumn leaves but them when I look close I find rotting insect bodies instead. I equate them with decay.

I also have nightmares about spiders, even though they don't bother me when I'm awake. The strange thing is, I seem to have inherited those dreams. I only have them when I'm sick. I dream that spiders are marching across my body and I see their shadows stretched out across the wall and then I wake up sick. The first time I told my mom about that she couldn't believe it, because my father evidently also had bad dreams about spiders. Since he died when I was three, I never knew that about him. It seems both he and his brother had those dreams. When our oldest son was little he had pneumonia with such a high fever he was hallucinating and he thought spider webs were falling on him. My mom has a theory that somewhere deep in our ancestral past we must have lived in a cave or some place with poisonous spiders so potent we've buried the awareness into our subconscious for generations!

Our garden
The garden, as you can see, is doing quite well. I can't believe how it's grown since my last photo of it on the Cissy Sophisticate post. That was just a couple weeks ago. I am making fried rice tonight with the leftover duck and I already have onions big enough to pick and add to the recipe! I guess this constant rain does some good. I still have lilies to plant, along with raspberries and blackberries. Then I'm thinking of starting some late-crop tomatoes from seed to take over when the peas finish. I've been putting Epsom salts out to boost the magnesium in the soil and help the tomatoes and peppers set their fruit and to keep away slugs. I also put out the ashes from the smoker after Jerry smoked that fish for me. I figure both ash and fish juice must be a fabulous fertilizer! The gnomes are still working to scare away the squirrel, but not that robin!

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