Saturday, January 31, 2015

Cry For Me

For those of you who repair crying baby dolls, here is the sound made by my "Mama" cryer boxes. As you can hear, they don't really say "Mama" but cry like an old-fashioned doll. These are suitable for soft body dolls with composition, vinyl, or hard plastic heads. You can purchase them in my store and I will send a link to the installation tutorial with purchase: Atelier Mandaline on eBay or Etsy.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Ebates Rebates

A new box of project dolls

Today my sister messaged me to tell me eBay has 4% cash back on doll and bear purchases through Ebates. I've never been able to get Ebates to work, but those of you who use it can save pretty big right now. Usually the cash back on Ebates is only 1%, so this is a great value! I thought I'd let you know. If you've shopped my store you know almost everything is listed as "Make an Offer", so between that and Ebates cash back you can get some great deals. So, make sure to get on Ebates and then go to my store: Atelier Mandaline on eBay.

As you can see, I got a huge shipment of new-to-me dolls this week. These date from the 1950s to the 1990s and there are some really hard to find dolls in there. I've been hard at work and hope to start listing the first few tonight.

We had a lovely sunrise this morning, deceptively clear, since the day later became rainy and sleety. I thought I'd share this beautiful moment with you. It wasn't a great day for me. My teen got his braces this morning and has a really difficult appliance that hinders his speech and makes it hard for him to eat. We spent the entire morning at the orthodontist. Then I had to attend my youngest son's IEP meeting to address his speech therapy and school performance. He hasn't been behaving well recently, and the main problem seems to be loud talking and yelling. This is ominous because, rather than bad behavior, it could mean he has hearing loss again. This is a particular problem with his medical condition (he was born with a cleft lip and palate) and we are always having to watch for signs he isn't hearing well. They're going to test his ears tomorrow, so I'm waiting to find out if more trips to the ENT, ear tubes, and other interventions are necessary. He struggles enough with his speech as an English as a second language speaker, early hearing loss, and the adjustments he's had to make to adapt to his repaired cleft since it was open until he was nearly two, so another diagnosis of hearing loss would just be another obstacle for him to overcome. It's helpful for me to look at this photo of the day when it was still brand new and full of possibility and think, tomorrow holds the same promise and the day will again be new.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Three Little Swiss Friends

Somewhere fairly recently I read the Friends From Foreign Lands series by Madame Alexander premiered in 1928, but according to my Patricia Smith book they started with the one-piece Tiny Betty 8 inch doll in 1935 and with the Wendy Ann 9 and 11 inch bodies in 1937. I don't know when they became the "Friends From Foreign Lands", but this series is undoubtedly one of the most famous and beloved of all Madame Alexander's dolls. Madame Alexander's little international children are avidly collected even today. In its longevity it's probably second only to the Little Women series, which has been produced from the start, beginning with cloth dolls. The "Friends" seem to have debuted in composition. At least, I haven't seen and can't find any photos of international dolls produced in cloth.

I was amazed when I opened a box of 1970s dolls a few months back and pulled one tiny and very old composition doll. The entire box had been stored somewhere damp, so even though none of the dolls had clearly ever been played with, they were all damaged to some degree. This one had a costume with hardly any play wear, but his composition body really suffered in sub-optimal conditions. The whites of his eyes were chipped away and the lips had a large crack running through them. The body, especially the torso, had deep cracks and lifting to the surface paint and there was less-severe crazing throughout. I repaired the deep cracks with epoxy and painted those areas and then went back over the crazing to repair it. I also found the legs were quite loose, particularly one of them, but this was the result of the composition leg bars having worn almost away. I rebuilt those with epoxy. I decided the bands are strong enough that I didn't need to re-string the doll, and frankly I'm a bit worried about trying to pull the elastic tight enough without damaging the leg bar, so I'm not re-stringing these unless I have to. At this point they are appropriate as display dolls for adult collectors, not play dolls.

The doll had cracks and lifting to his composition.

The face had paint loss.
The doll after repair.

I hadn't yet re-painted the face and was planning to use a similar bride doll from a different manufacturer as a model when I saw another identical doll who was part of a "brother and sister" pair. I was able to win those two dolls and so I could use the undamaged one as a model for the repaint. I am pleased with the result.

The doll with new face paint.

This hat is probably handmade.

The shoes have tissue paper stuck to them

There is age discoloration and spotting.

The Alexander tag

The first Swiss boy's repair was basically the exact opposite of the Swiss pair. For one thing, I wasn't sure whether he was Swiss or not because his tag doesn't say. His body was a mess but his clothing just needed a careful light cleaning. His shoes looked at first as if the surface of the oil cloth was peeling away, but close inspection revealed tissue paper stuck to them. Evidently one owner carefully wrapped the doll in tissue and then another (probably a younger relative) stuck it in the box of 70s dolls and stuck it in the basement or attic or somewhere and the tissue fused to the shoes in the damp environment. It's really sad; this doll would be pretty much near mint if it hadn't been stored improperly. I'm just glad I got him in time to prevent more damage! I gently scraped off as much tissue as I could from the shoes but there's still a lot on there. I thought about trying a Mr. Clean Eraser or really fine sandpaper, but I'm scared to try it.

The Swiss boy and girl

The little Swiss brother and sister have wonderful bodies and faces with almost no wear but their clothes are in worse condition. All I had to do to these two was clean them, repair and seal slight crazing, and style their hair. Their bands are tight. The girl's, in fact, are so tight it's hard to lower her arms! I've decided all three of these must have been re-strung in the fairly recent past.

The restored dolls

The costumes on these two are extremely fragile. I considered leaving the light all-over crazing because I was almost afraid to try to remove them. The boy's green ribbon sash was crumbling to pieces at the lightest touch and the girl's black bodice was so full of holes it looked like lace. I treated both these with Fray Check to keep them from further disintegration and sewed the bodice together as much as possible by hand. The boy's shoes are breaking apart at the snaps. One snap has broken off the shoe body but is still attached to the strap. The other snap is partly pulled off the shoe. The socks on both dolls are completely rotted away on the tops of the feet. I carefully unsnapped the shoes and slid the feet out to repair the dolls and then I slid the feet back into the socks and shoes and snapped them so I touched the shoes as little as possible and the socks not at all. I added a scarf from a later 1960s Madame Alexander doll to the girl's costume to hide the torn bodice. I hoped I might be able to replace the bodice with new fabric but the entire dress is so fragile I worried I would tear it up trying to rip the old fabric out.

The bodice is torn.

The girl's tag

The socks are rotting.

The dress has attached pantaloons.

The Swiss boy

His socks are also rotting.

The boy's tag

The brother and sister with finished costumes

Although in exceptional shape for 1930s dolls, the brother and sister bodies do show some age. The boy, especially, has some fading and age spotting to the areas of his skin that were exposed to sunlight. His knee blush has faded. The girl has really bright knee blush but her forearms are faded. I scrubbed the bodies clean and then just repaired the crazing and sealed the paint with gloss sealant. I thought about re-painting the faded areas but decided all-original paint on dolls this age is too rare to undo. The girl has one eye whose white are may have had a paint touch-up at one time, but I really can't tell for sure. There's a very slight difference in texture. At any rate, these dolls have just amazingly bright and complete factory paint.

The dolls after repair.

The boy's lower legs are faded.

Of this brother and sister pair, the girl is probably the elder. Her back is marked "MME ALEXANDER NEW YORK" only and her tag just says "Swiss". The boy's back is marked "Wendy Ann MME ALEXANDER  New York" and his tag says "Swiss" along with "Madame Alexander". The first boy has the same Wendy Ann mark as the second boy but his tag is different again, with no indication of the country he represents. It's clear at this time the tagging and marking system was not yet standardized.

The girl's mark

The boy's mark

I have just fallen in love with this tiny trio. I almost don't want to sell them! If I hadn't paid quite as much as I did for the brother and sister I would be truly tempted to add them to our collection. I'm actually more Swiss than any other nationality, even though I identify more with the Scandinavian side because they are much more recent immigrants. My Norwegian/Swiss grandmother had a Swiss pen pal who lived in the Alps and she'd saved all the letters and photos her friend sent. We used to pour over those and she would tell us about her childhood. The scenery in which her friend was privileged to live was just stunning, evident even in the faded photos (which were about the same age as these dolls!). I love to think my grandmother could have, had she a member of a more affluent family, owned these exact dolls and identified them with her friend from a foreign land! As always, these dolls and many more are for sale in my eBay and Etsy stores, so please check: Atelier Mandaline eBay and Atelier Mandaline Etsy.

Swiss "twin" boys

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Treasure of the Season


I've had a good weekend in my eBay store so far, which is a good thing, because last night when I went to print my shipping labels my printer's paper handler just literally fell to pieces! I had to get up and rush out to buy a new printer, after some cursory research. We only have WalMart here as an option, so at least my choices were limited. I hope I picked a good one. I'm sure glad I made some money though. This is the worst time of year, just after I've purchased all kinds of presents, for a big expense. The stress; it's aging my by the minute it seems! My skin feels tight in the cold air. I decided a booster to my night cream is in order.

Yesterday afternoon I had a mini Christmas when my Young Living Essential Rewards shipment arrived. Young Living offers a fantastic rewards program for premium members. You sign up for a monthly auto-shipment of at least $50 in products. You can change the products each month as well as the date the order processes. Each order earns you points which can be used as credit for future purchases and you can start earning rewards after just two months. Every month you stay with the program you earn a greater percentage of points. You also get a shipping discount, so with the member discount of 24%, the shipping discount, and the rewards points I think it's the best deal in essential oils! I received the Treasure of the Season oil blend in my shipment. This is a blend of Frankincense oil, Frankincense Resin oil, and Cinnamon Bark oil. Frankincense is wonderful for your skin, although this particular blend requires a carrier oil. I had a nearly empty bottle of Citrus Fresh and decided to use the residue as I described in my post about my Fabulous Face Oil by filling the bottle with grapeseed oil. I added Treasure of the Season and Purification to the oil blend, topped it with a Young Living roller fitment, and now I have a super-moisturizing, skin-perfecting face oil.

The Citrus Fresh provides exfoliation to resurface skin overnight. It's like a lightweight, all-natural "chemical peel". The reason I will use this at night is that citrus oils cause your skin to be sensitive to sun exposure, so I wouldn't want to use it during the day and get a burn. Purification contains a lot of lemongrass oil, which works well for spider and varicose veins and for mole and skin tag removal. A lady in my online oils group who's 40 but looks like she's about 25 uses and recommends a similar blend. I will definitely keep you updated on the results. Here's the recipe:

Treasure of the Season Nighttime Face Oil

10 drops each Young Living Treasure of the Season, Citrus Fresh, and Purification oil blends
15ml (about .5 ounces) grapeseed oil
Young Living roller ball fitment

Mix all ingredients and shake to blend. Apply to face, concentrating on discoloration and lines, at night time.

I still have some congestion and a cough and a neighbor asked me for a sinus blend last night, so today I got to work on a congestion-clearing vapor rub. I've been diffusing these oils at night and actually woke up coughing when the water ran out and the diffuser shut off early this morning, so I know it helps.

Sinus, Cold, and Cough Soothing Rub

10 drops each Young Living Thieves, R.C., Peppermint, and Lemon oils
2 TBSP coconut oil

Whip coconut oil to break up lumps and mix in essential oils thoroughly. Apply to chest, forehead, the bridge of nose, and around nostrils to clear congestion. Apply to soles of feet to help immunity and speed healing.

I've been busy, busy, busy this weekend. Yesterday I worked all day cleaning and listing Barbie and other fashion doll shoes in my eBay store and after I got home with my new printer today I spent the entire evening teaching essential oil usage to friends, and I'm toast! I'm not too tired to answer questions about Young Living, however, so feel free to contact me. You can also find information and other recipes on my Facebook page, so please check: Naturally Amanda.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Angels and Babies, What More Could You Want?

Christmas Angel doll
Every so often I open a straightforward-looking box of dolls and find a treasure, or at least, a really rare and special doll. This happened twice recently. First, I bought a big lot of dolls and found one I've never seen before. She had what appeared to be the Posie or Saucy Walker body by Ideal, but her head was vinyl and marked "W.J. Wilson". Her back was marked "190" and "Made in the USA". She was 20 inches tall. I didn't know what to make of her. My extensive research brought up a one line entry in a doll blog stating this was the "Christmas Angel" doll sold annually and exclusively by the J.W. Robinson department store in Los Angeles, California. I've never found a photo of this doll anywhere, so I don't know if she was dressed like an angel or what. She appears to have been a walker doll, but she no longer walks. She was also a cryer, but her crying box is broken. So it seems like she was designed as a baby doll for a little girl, kind of odd if she was an angel.

The head is marked W.J. Wilson.

The back is marked 190 Made in the USA.

Angel needed lots of work, so I decided to think on how to dress her while I fixed her up. I do have replacement doll cryer boxes in my studio but they are too large to fit inside the arm and leg holes of the doll, so replacing the box would require splitting her in half. I didn't want to risk that because if something went wrong I knew I'd never find replacement parts for this girl! Angel had messy, frizzy hair and little seam splits all over the place as well as leg splits. I fixed all her splits and set her hair, and then, about to "lock in" her curls with hot water, I set her on the counter while I went for the tea kettle. Well, she chose that moment to dive off the counter and re-split two seams! So after her hair was set she had to go back for epoxy. Too bad, because I would have liked to finish her for Christmas.

The doll needed several split repairs.
Once the drama was over and the splits were all repaired I decided how to dress Angel. I decided to kind of go the middle ground between girl and angel with a beautiful Marion Sipe heirloom sewn dress which I think was meant for a real baby. I belted it with a sash and it looked so much like a Santa Lucia gown I couldn't resist making a little crown of flowers for her to wear on her curls (no candles, though). I added vintage taffeta panties and unused vintage replacement shoes.

Thinking about how much the doll resembles Ideal's Posie, I remembered Posie, who later became Saucy Walker, was first introduced as a praying doll. I found if you bend Angel's knees and place her hands together with a clear silicone band she will stay in the prayer pose and balances very well. She'd make an adorable Christmas display!

The doll can pose as if in prayer.

Angel can also stand and sit alone and her knees bend. She's a very nice example of a classic hard plastic girl doll from the 1950s. I was reminded of our recent viewing of the original Miracle on 34th Street at Christmas time. We had to explain a central element of the plot to our children: the fact that department stores used to procure and sell their own exclusive merchandise. They've never lived in a world where every store didn't carry the exact same brands and toys as every other store! I guess some department stores do still sell their own clothing brands, and maybe they still make a toy or two at Christmas time. I'm thinking of the Belk stores here in the South that used to sell "Belkie" stuffed bears at Christmas. I have no idea whether they still do. It's too bad I didn't save my childhood Belkies; they'll probably be hard to find in 60 years! Angel is so unusual she sold within an hour of my listing her, and there's no telling if I'll ever find another.

Another recent rare find is a crawling Vicma baby doll from, I believe, the 1960s. Where this hard to find Spanish baby came from I have no idea. She was in a box with very normal American 1960s and 70s dolls. She's welcome in my store, though, because she's just beautiful!

A rare Vicma baby doll from Spain.
Baby Vicma just needed a little cleaning up and she was ready to go. Unfortunately her crawling motor no longer works. The palms of her little hands are scuffed up from crawling, so she was clearly a loved and played with doll. Otherwise she has only a little spot under her chin. You can manually move her legs to make her legs and arms go in a crawling motion, kind of like a walking doll. Her head is jointed so you can turn it as well. She's rare enough to be worth adding to a collection, but she'd also be a cute play doll. Look for her and many more in my store: Atelier Mandaline.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Recipes for Winter

View from the Elk Mountain Scenic Highway in Asheville, NC

The kids have been off school since Friday afternoon, so we took a little overnight trip to the mountains to celebrate my nephew's first birthday. At the same time it is Girl Scouts Walkabout week here, when the Scouts are supposed to go door to door selling packages of cookies rather than taking orders. Our neighborhood is pretty Scout-saturated, so we decided to do our walkabout in my sister's Scout-less neighborhood. My daughter did really well. We had a train of "helpers" in her brother and cousins and their friends, and I pushed our two cases of cookies in my sister's baby stroller. The day was lovely; the sun was out and it got quite warm. Pushing the stroller up and down the steep streets and running to keep up with overexcited children, I got hot and sweaty. Then, in typical mountain fashion, the weather changed and the air became quite chilly. My sister's Canadian husband keeps their house very cold and, still sweaty from the earlier warmth, I got very chilled. I ended up with a really sore throat and cough. So, I've spent our remaining vacation days lying around and trying to treat myself with Young Living "hot shots": 2 drops oregano oil and 2 drops lemon oil in 2 TBSP water. This mixture stings, but it provides a powerful punch against germs, so throw it down like a shot a couple times a day! I've also been using my homemade linen spray. I make my linen spray with lots of lavender oil. Lavender is a natural anti-bacterial agent, so besides making a wonderful aromatic spray it helps kill germs on surfaces like foam pillows and mattresses that aren't washable. This is a great  spray to keep on hand during cold and flu season, especially.

Relaxing Linen Spray

1/4 cup witch hazel
1/4 cup water
20 drops Young Living lavender essential oil
5 drops Young Living Stress Away oil blend
5 drops Young Living Peace and Calming oil blend

Pour all ingredients into a spray bottle and shake to combine. Use on linens and upholstery. Test for color fastness on an inconspicuous spot before using.

As always, you may contact me to learn how to order Young Living products or become a member. Find more recipes and details about Young Living products on my Facebook page: Naturally Amanda.

If you've been keeping up with the Saga of the Family Braces you know we are eating lots of soups and smoothies around here because I and the older children have gotten or are about to get braces. Tonight I made a winner recipe I thought I'd share. It's a tuna casserole, soft enough to eat, and almost paleo (it's easy to make it a true paleo recipe) so it's packed with veggie vitamins. The Ronzoni Garden Delight pasta I used contains a full serving of vegetables per each 4 oz portion and then I used lots of extra veggies besides. This was successful for us, not only because we could all chew it with our braces and spacers, but because I found a way to camouflage the tuna. Our youngest, who will usually eat about anything, suddenly decided last year that he hates tuna fish and isn't eating it. I don't know what prompted this decision, but tonight I proved it's not the flavor but the idea of tuna to which he's objecting. If he can't see it he will eat it! This was basically an accidental discovery, as I puréed the tuna in the recipe just to make it easier for me to chew. I puréed the vegetables for the same reason, but they are also hidden this way, which is useful if you have someone picky about those. This was a nice treat on a winter's evening, a real old-fashioned comfort food casserole.

Almost-Paleo Tuna Casserole
Serves 8-10
1 box Ronzoni Garden Delight penne pasta, cooked, or 4 medium zucchini, sliced into strips
1 1/2 cup whole coconut milk
1/2 cup coconut flour
1-1 1/2 cup seafood or chicken broth
2 tsp thyme
2 tsp salt
2 (5oz) cans tuna, puréed
2 cups peas
10 oz broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower, puréed 
1 cup almond flour
3 TBSP coconut oil
1 tsp Italian seasoning
4 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 13x9 casserole and layer pasta or zucchini, puréed vegetables, and peas. Grind a bit of salt and pepper and sprinkle some garlic powder over these if desired. Set aside. In a separate bowl, mix coconut milk, thyme, salt, and flour until it makes a thick paste. Gradually stir in broth until the mixture is the consistency of pancake batter. Stir in the puréed tuna. Layer the coconut/tuna mixture over the pasta and vegetables. Layer cheddar cheese over this. Melt the coconut oil. Stir in the coconut flour and Italian seasoning until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until the casserole is browned and bubbly. To make a true paleo recipe, substitute the zucchini for the pasta and leave off the cheese.

MMM... we killed it, as you can see from the supper remains. One thing that makes this so satisfying and yummy is the coconut/tuna sauce mixture. Baking transforms this sauce into a dough that creates a kind of potpie type crust. It expands to envelop the pasta and vegetables. I don't know if it would work exactly the same way if you use zucchini "pasta", since that has more moisture. You might want to cut the amount of broth if you use the zucchini pasta.

I was happy to be able to make a comforting and still healthful recipe. After the initial shock of the change in my diet, and maybe due to the Young Living Slique and Grapefruit oils I've been adding to my water every day, my body finally stopped holding fat and I've lost almost 10 pounds since I got my braces on January 5th. I'm trying to find the positive side of my cheese and dark chocolate withdrawal pangs and focus on improving my diet so that by the time my braces come off I will have a svelte figure as well as straight teeth!

You can find more about the Young Living weight loss oil regimen on previous posts of this blog or on the Naturally Amanda Facebook page. I will say, I'm impressed with the oils. I ran out of the Slique and Grapefruit oils and my new ones haven't arrived yet. I filled the bottles (which each had about a drop or so left inside) with water and have been using the diluted oil in my water, about 4 drops of each per 8 oz glass of water. Even the diluted oils have been really helpful in controlling my appetite! So, a first-hand testimonial! If you've had a positive experience with any Young Living product I'd love to feature it in this blog and on my Facebook page. Please contact me to tell your story!