Thursday, April 30, 2015

Blemish Buster

Young Living products to treat acne

For more than two years now a significant portion of my profits has gone into a well-known and widely-advertised solution for my son's acne-prone skin. Not only is it terribly expensive, it didn't seem to  work very well. This is possibly due to the fact that, although he assured me he was using it, I recently found a whole drawer full of unopened, unused bottles of the stuff, still in their original packaging and past their expiration dates. My son was not home at that moment, lucky for him!

Before and after Young Living

I decided to cancel our acne medicine subscription and see if we could do better using Young Living products. I first made a toner for him from Young Living Lavender and Tea Tree essential oils. He started using that at the end of January (after the "Before" photo above) along with his remaining acne treatment. We saw some improvement at that time and I decided the oils worked as well as the other for a fraction of the cost. Then through happenstance I found something that blew the other stuff out of the water.

My son has inherited a vein condition that may require surgery. His specialist doesn't want to perform surgery if we can avoid it, however. My research turned up a possible natural support for the condition: lemongrass essential oil. About two months ago I put my son on Young Living lemongrass essential oil. He takes three drops per day in water. We haven't been back to the doctor yet, but I noticed a huge improvement in my son's skin almost immediately upon starting the lemongrass. Then about a month ago a lady in my oils forum posted about how well the Thieves foaming hand soap worked on her son's acne, so I started my son on that. As you can see from the photos above, after only one month on the entire regimen, my son's skin is vastly improved. He has no new blemishes and his old scars are fading fast. This entire program costs me around $55 for a so-far 4-month supply, compared to $85 for a 3 month supply of the other acne medicine, and this program is all-natural. I also get 10% back each month in Young Living product credit because I purchase these items through Young Living's Essential Rewards program. I'm so happy to share this with you!

Young Living Blemish Buster Program

Young Living Lemongrass essential oil
Young Living Lavender essential oil
Young Living Tea Tree essential oil
Young Living Thieves Foaming Hand Soap
aloe vera gel
witch hazel

Take three drops lemongrass essential oil per day in water or in a capsule. Wash your face each morning and night with the Thieves foaming hand soap and rinse. Follow with the Blemish Buster Toner (recipe to follow). Treat any blemishes or dry spots directly with undiluted tea tree essential oil.

Blemish Buster Toner
Mix 20 drops each Young Living lavender and tea tree essential oils in 4 TBSP pure aloe vera juice and 4 TBSP witch hazel. Apply to face after cleansing each morning and night.

I think the program would still work fairly well without ingesting the lemongrass, but that really made the biggest difference for my son. Lemongrass oil is also great for vascular health and can remedy varicose veins and spider veins. It's a good pain reliever as well. To find out more about Young Living please visit my Naturally Amanda Facebook page and to sign up as a wholesale member or order the products shown in this post please contact me or go to my YL web site. Right now when you place an order you have an opportunity to contribute to the Gary Young Foundation. I very much wish you will consider donating to this worthy cause, and I thank you. 

Lemongrass Essential Oil

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Snore Solution

Oils to help with snoring

My husband, through just growing up as a boy and then military service and finally his near fatal work-accident, has broken his nose multiple times. The result is a lot of snoring. I've been sleeping with ear plugs in my ears every night for nearly 18 years now, and I never have very good quality of sleep. The ear plugs itch, they fall out, and they don't block the sound entirely. My husband claims I snore, but I don't believe him. At least, I don't think I snore consistently. If my allergies are bad or I have a cold, maybe. I do think I might have sleep apnea, however. It runs in my family and I sometimes awaken from a dream in which I'm swimming or under water and when I wake up find I'm not breathing. I can't start breathing again right away, either, but have to concentrate on forcing myself to breathe again. I don't have these episodes nearly as much as I did in my youth. When I was a teenager they were an almost nightly occurrence.

Anyway, a recent Young Living Essential Rewards promotion was a free Idaho Balsam Fir oil. Wondering how to use it I did some research and found it is recommended along with Idaho Blue Spruce oil for snoring and sleep apnea. So, I put together a roll-on. My husband has been using it before bed this week and just to circumvent argument, so have I. OH MY WORD... we have had NO snoring. After the first night I woke up in the morning sans ear plugs and I hadn't even MOVED. "Maybe it's a fluke", I thought. Then the next morning was the same, and the next... I am finally sleeping ear plug free! I haven't had any issues with my breathing during sleep either. The strange thing is, I'm almost more tired than before, sort of like in college when you'd pull an all-nighter and be fine the next day but then a day or two after that just crash. Who knows how long the crash lasts after 18 years! I'm just sleeping and sleeping to my heart's content, and when I'm awake I've been accomplishing a lot more, so I give this recipe a huge thumbs up.

No-Snore Roll On

15 drops Young Living Idaho Blue Spruce oil
15 drops Young Living Balsam Fir oil
5 ml carrier oil such as olive or grapeseed oil
Young Living Aroma Glide roller ball fitment

Mix oils in a 5 ml Young Living bottle and top with a roller ball fitment. Roll on skin under nose and on throat and chest before bed. For added benefit diffuse 8 drops each of the oils through the night.

So, anyway, I highly recommend this all-natural remedy for snoring. I'm excited to see what all we can do now that we are finally getting undisturbed sleep. To learn more about Young Living and purchase these products please visit my Naturally Amanda Facebook page or go here.

The oils can also be diffused.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Tiny Terror: Tiny Tears Eye Restoration

This Tiny Tears doll had fallen eyes.

Yesterday I wrote a post about my restored Tiny Tears doll and today, as promised, I will show you how she got that way. Tiny Tears came to me in a box of project dolls . She had her glass bottle but nothing else. Her eyes had fallen back into her head so it looked like she didn't have eyes. Her rubber body was dirty and darkened from age and her face had a few dings and scratches in the paint. For the most part, however, she was in really good shape. I knew if I could fix her eyes I could get her looking adorable again.

The eyes are connected to a system of tubes.

This piece connects the crying and wetting tubes.

I had a terrible time trying to get Tiny's head off her body. I was scared the rubber body would tear. The seams in the hard plastic head started to separate. Finally I found a doll blog that recommended heating the rubber body with a hair dryer to make it pliable enough to remove the head. That worked.

The first thing I noticed when I got the head off was a very elaborate system of tubes to make the doll wet and cry real tears. I removed these carefully and tried to figure out how everything should be placed.

Heat the rubber body so the head will come off easily.

Make sure you understand how all the tubes are supposed
to connect before you remove them.

I fished the eye mechanism out of the head and was relieved to find the eyes clear. One had a few missing lashes but I replaced those without much trouble. You can see, when you look at the metal frame holding the eyes, why crying eyes are a bad idea. The water rusts the eye mechanism and rots the lashes so they fall out.

The eyes

Nevertheless, I wanted the doll to work as she was originally intended, so I placed the crying tubes on their posts and made sure they were secure. This is easier to do with the eyes out, but you have to be careful not to knock them out of place when you put the eyes back in. I found tweezers necessary for placement of the tubes.

One eye tube in place

Usually I set eyes such as these with epoxy down the center bar, so that's what I did in this case.

I tried to set the eyes with epoxy.

This appeared to work until I tried to get the rest of the tubes in place. As you can see if you look closely, the epoxy blocked the bar for the tube placement and knocked of the tubes out. With the epoxy in the head, the eye on the weight side also fell way back inside the head when the weight moved. I had to remove the eyes and take the epoxy out. My engineer husband looked at the head and said the eye bar has to crimp into little grooves inside the head. This allows the central bar to shift from side to side and keep the eyes evenly flush against the eye sockets as they open and close. So he placed them for me, and even though it makes me nervous to have eyes without epoxy, that is how they were to begin with and so far they're working.

The eyes after placement.
So, to get the eyes in, place the middle bar over the raised plastic section inside the head and crimp the sides of the bar into the little grooves inside the eyes. Then connect all the tubes to the proper place. The eyes should open and shut and water should come out when you feed the doll and turn her face down.

Once the eyes are placed and working, attach the center plastic bar to the tube in the insert piece, heat the body, and push the neck back into the head. After you do this, you might notice the sleep eyes no longer open and shut as they were. I saw this and panicked. The eyes worked fine until the body was on. I took the head on and off the body several times and saw the metal spike in the insert piece seemed to be interfering with the side weight of the eyes, causing them to stay open.

More Internet research turned up something I'd never heard of: "Rock-A-Bye" eyes. You have to rock the baby side to side and her eyes will gradually close. Sometimes you have to turn her head to get the weight off the metal piece so they will close.

Treat the body with baby powder.

There's still some discoloration.

Once I figured the eye situation out I sealed the head seams with epoxy and touched up the eye, lip, and cheek paint where it was scratched. I painted over the side seams after the epoxy repair. Then I tackled the body.

The rubber body has darkened but doesn't have any hard places or splits, which is kind of unusual. Rubber rots easily, especially if exposed to light. I gently cleaned the body with a Mr. Clean Eraser and then with dish soap and water. I dried the body. Then I rubbed baby powder all over the body with my fingers. Any powder that wouldn't rub in I wiped away with a tissue. This treatment helps lighten the rubber and keeps it from getting sticky. There are still a few dark spots, but they aren't nearly as bad as they were.

The restored doll

The face after repainting and eye repair

Tiny Tears is just too cute! I have her for sale with a huge layette set with several original 1950s pieces and a trunk. I hope you will look in my Atelier Mandaline store or browse my catalogue for her and many other dolls. Below I've included a set of photos showing the Rock-A-Bye eyes in action.

Tiny is awake.

She's getting sleepy.

Finally asleep. Shhh!

Chocolate Decadence

Inside Out Chocolate Peanut Butter Pound Cake

Yesterday we celebrated my husband's birthday. While I request the same cake every year, my mother's heirloom recipe for Cream Cheese Pound Cake, my husband changes his cake every year. I'm rather boring, I know, but, I eat cake so rarely my birthday is really my only chance to have my favorite cake! Anyway, when I asked my husband what kind of cake he wanted he just said "chocolate peanut something." So, I asked if wanted a cheesecake or a cream pie type thing or cake cake and he said "cake cake," which surprised me because he usually prefers cheesecake. I don't have any chocolate peanut butter cake recipes that aren't cheesecakes or similar, so I had to make one up. I adapted the 1960's classic Tunnel of Fudge Bundt cake so it's filled with peanut butter and it is FABULOUS. This cake will definitely make it into the rotation!

I do have a few helpful hints if you'd like to make this yourself. This recipe is designed to fit in the vintage Bundt cast iron pans. Today's Bundt pans, which have become NordicWare, are smaller. I found my pan in a thrift shop, but just be aware you will have leftover batter if you use a modern pan. You could also use a tube pan, such as those used for Angel Food cake for this recipe. The original Tunnel of Fudge recipe had a notation that you MUST use 2 cups of nuts in order for the cake to turn out. I ground peanuts nearly as fine as flour and used that. You could substitute almond flour if you don't have a grain mill or powerful blender. If you are allergic to nuts I think you might be able to substitute coconut flour for them but I haven't tried it. The cake is done when the top is set and the sides start to pull away from the edge of the pan. A toothpick test will not work with this recipe. You can fill this cake with all sorts of things besides peanut butter. Pudding, jam, caramel sauce, and marshmallow creme are just a few possibilities, but a filling is not actually required. On its own the cake will make a fudge-filled center. The batter is extremely thick, so unless you have a powerful stand mixer you will want to mix it by hand after you add the flour to avoid burning out the motor of your mixer.

Inside Out Chocolate Peanut Butter Pound Cake
Serves 15-30

1 3/4 cups white sugar
1 3/4 cups butter, softened
6 eggs
2 cups powdered sugar
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder, plus some extra for preparing pan
2 cups finely chopped peanuts
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Save and set aside the butter wrappers as you add the butter. Prepare the pan by greasing it using the butter wrappers. Then sprinkle cocoa powder all around the inside of the pan so it coats the butter. Beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in flour and all remaining ingredients except the peanut butter. Pour half the batter in to the prepared pan. Drop the peanut butter over the batter all around the center of the cake. Don't let the peanut butter touch the pan; keep it inside the batter on both sides. Gently spread the peanut butter into a ring around the middle of the cake, but don't press so hard the peanut butter sinks down into the batter. Pour the remaining batter over the peanut butter and smooth the top. Bake until the sides of the cake start to pull away from the pan and the top is set, 45-50 minutes. Cool 1 hour in the pan on a wire rack (to set the filling so it doesn't run out), then turn out onto a cake plate and cool for at least an hour. 

Since the cake has a creamy filling and is very rich I don't feel like it needs frosting. You could make a ganache glaze to pour over it if desired. I sifted powdered sugar through a decorative slotted spoon to make a pretty design on the cake.

The cake has a tunnel of peanut butter and fudge inside.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Terrific Tiny Tears

Tiny Tears Layette Set
Here's another doll I've had sitting around forever because I wasn't sure how to proceed with the restoration. This is American Character's Tiny Tears, a drink and wet and crying doll from the 1950s. This particular version of Tiny Tears is the most desirable and valuable, according to my research. She has a hard plastic head with a Caracul wig and rubber body. I know next to nothing about these dolls; all I can tell you here is what I found during my research on restoring this doll. I always see these listed as "the 11-inch doll" or "the 14 inch doll", but this doll is 12.5 inches tall, so I don't know!

The doll's eyes had fallen into her head.

When I got Tiny she appeared to have lost her eyes. Using a flashlight I found them down inside her head, but I couldn't figure out how to remove the head to get to them. I finally found a blog post that recommended heating the body with a hair dryer so it would be pliable enough to allow you to pull off the head, so that's what I did. Once the head was off I found a very elaborate system of tubes and weights. This doll is supposed to wet her diaper when you feed her. If you squeeze her stomach after feeding her she cries real tears from the holes beside her eyes. I got the eyes replaced and tubes connected (such a complicated process I posted a separate tutorial showing that), tested her sleep eyes and crying and wetting mechanisms to make sure they work, re-attached her head, and... her sleep eyes wouldn't close! I was so very frustrated! I could see the problem; the body has a separate piece that sits in between the head and body. There is a tube in this piece to connect the crying and wetting tubes, but there is another metal piece that seems completely unnecessary and seemed to be blocking the eye movement.

More internet research turned up a possible cause: "Rock-A-Bye" eyes! Evidently, this is a high-maintenance baby doll. You have to actually rock her to sleep to get her to close her eyes. I guess some truth in advertising where babies are concerned can't hurt. It might even lower the teen pregnancy rate! So anyway, the metal piece blocks the eyes from closing unless you rock the baby side to side and up and down as you would rock a real baby. As you do this the eyes gradually close. These eyes date this doll to 1959 or later, because that's when they debuted. Most dolls with the RAB eyes have rooted Saran hair, so this must be one of the very first with the special eyes. This one's eyes mostly work. Sometimes they snap shut like regular sleep eyes and other times they stay open so you have to turn her head to get them to close, but the majority of the time they close gradually as you move the doll in a rocking motion. Once I confirmed the Rock-A-Bye eyes work I touched up Tiny's cheek and lip paint and cleaned her body.

The doll after restoration

The doll after cleaning

Real rubber dolls don't exist anymore except as vintage pieces. They're a bit delicate and difficult to restore. Rubber rots easily and is especially sensitive to light exposure. It often darkens with age and can also crack. This body luckily has no cracks. To clean the rubber and keep it nice I first gently rubbed a Mr. Clean Eraser over it. Then I washed it with dish soap. After that I dried the body and then rubbed baby powder all over it. I rubbed the powder in with my fingers and tissued off any excess. This helps with the darkening and also keeps the rubber from becoming sticky. There are still a few spots I couldn't get totally clean, but this is a 1950s doll, after all, and she can be expected to show a little bit of age!

There are some spots I couldn't remove.

One of the special things about this doll is her Caracul or Karakul wig. Karakul is a type of wool from Karakul sheep raised in Asia and Africa. These wigs might actually be skins rather than wool, as the wig appears to have a natural skin. I hate to think of that, but we don't do stuff like that anymore, at least for toy manufacturing. These wigs are often in terrible shape, but this one is really nice and full, with little frizz and no missing hair. There are places where the curls lie in such a way that the skin wig cap shows, but it is colored to match the hair so it looks fine. It's quite unusual to see Tiny dolls with such a lovely cap of curls! Tiny is marked on the back of her head with the American Character logo.

The doll is marked.

Her wig is thick and lovely.

The trouble with crying and wetting doll is the water causes all sorts of trouble. It can rot the rubber bodies and rust the metal eye mechanisms. In this case the eye mechanism is rusty but still moves. The eyelashes on one eye were rotting and falling out from exposure to moisture, however. I gave Tiny a partial lash replacement. In the sequence below you can see her Rock-A-Bye eyes working.

Tiny Tears awake

Getting sleepy


Tiny Tears came to me in a large box of project dolls. She was nude and had only a glass baby doll bottle with her. A few months after she arrived I bought a vintage suitcase full of doll clothes. This had obviously been a little girl's sewing box back in the 1950s and 1960s and it was apparent her primary work was to replenish her Tiny Tears' wardrobe. The case contained several Tiny Tears original outfits, mended by her little mommy, and many more hand sewn pieces by Mommy herself. I think the little girl's Tiny Tears was a larger one; the dress and booties seem too big for this doll but they do stay one. The romper can be adjusted to fit with the tie. I have included in this set a handmade diaper or panties, which don't fit terribly well, flannel pajamas which may be handmade or possibly factory but hand-mended, a factory bunting, and a handmade blanket obviously sewn by the little girl.

Handmade diaper and blanket

The bottle came with the doll.

Tiny Tears was first produced by American Character and then was made by Ideal. I acquired the Ideal Tiny Tears dress of 1982 in a doll clothing lot and it's a perfect fit so I included it. I added a Madame Alexander bonnet from the 1960s to make a sweet outfit for Tiny.

The Ideal Tiny Tears dress of 1982 is included.

A Cissy doll I bought came stuffed into a too-small dress that became a perfect Christening gown for Tiny. I added a vintage organdy dotted Swiss bonnet from the original suitcase.

Tiny's Christening outfit

Tiny likes to sleep on the quilt Mommy made her in her vintage flannel sleeper. She always sleeps with her own baby doll, a Best kewpie from the 1950s.

I tied the original booties on Tiny's feet with new ribbons and replaced the ribbon on her bonnet. She wears the original Tiny Tears bloomers in this photo.

Original Tiny Tears booties and bloomers

The original Tiny Tears dress may have been meant for a larger version of the doll.

The original Tiny Tears logo romper seems to fit this doll pretty well, so maybe the little girl's doll was this size. She had replaced the buttons with mismatched pearl-finish ones, but a recent trip to a thrift store yielded a box of buttons with some that appear nearly identical to the ones that would have come on the romper. I used those and they're a perfect fit!

The Tiny Tears logo romper

Since it is imperative that the rubber body not be exposed to light and since this doll would have originally come with a suitcase layette, I found a vintage case for her. This is not a fitted case. It has a hanging bar for clothes, however, The metal sides are somewhat bent and there is wear to the paint. The middle buckle is missing, but the other two buckles keep the case closed.

Tiny Tears is just an adorable doll, and iconic for many Baby Boomers. My mom saw her before her restoration when she didn't have eyes and even then exclaimed, "Oh! This is how baby dolls looked when I was little!" You can find Tiny Tears and many other lovely dolls in my Atelier Mandaline store and in my catalogue, so please check.

The case has wear.

Tiny Tears has a layette similar to her original one.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Pretty In Pink Elise

Elise #1610 from 1957

Today's been quite productive so far, something that always makes me happy. I got to sleep in. Then I made a special treat: æbelskiver, a kind of Danish doughnut. These my husband's family tradition, famously perfected by his great aunt. She gave me the special pan required to cook them and I try to make them as well as she did. I am slowly learning to make them properly. They sort of taste like French toast, and today I filled them with lingonberry jam and served them with powdered sugar and more lingonberry preserves. Then I went into my office and finished a doll I've been restoring on and off for a year or so.

This is Elise #1610 from 1957 and she came to me nearly complete. This is not an easy doll to obtain. I've seen this dress only very rarely. When I got my doll I immediately saw why the dress has become scarce. The organdy puffed sleeves were rotten and were shredding apart. Only the lace trim was holding them together. The hat original to the outfit was also disintegrating. Every time I touched it the hat would fall apart a bit more. So, although I finished the doll months ago, the dress and hat have been sitting around waiting for me to decide how to restore them.

The organdy dress sleeves were rotten.

The hat was also rotten.

My solution for the sleeves was to carefully pick them part. I took them off the dress and removed the lace. Then I used the most intact sleeve to make a pattern for the new sleeves. I trimmed the new sleeves with the salvaged lace and sewed the new sleeves onto the dress. I think it turned out pretty well!

The sleeves have been replaced.

There is a pinhole in the waist.

The hat turned out to not be salvageable. I noticed a pinhole in the waist of the dress, which I supposed was the result of something originally having been pinned or sewn there. I removed the ribbon and floral trim from the hat and made it into a pin. I pinned the hat florals onto the bodice at the waist.

Elise herself needed cleaning, restringing, and to have her hair set. I gave her a partial eyelash replacement as well. Her walker mechanism is very stiff but works as well as these walkers ever do. This is not a head turning walker; the head just sort of bobs when you move the legs. Elise's knees bend and she poses well.

The doll after restoration.

The doll is marked.

Elise came with her original taffeta panties and very rare net lace slip with scalloped hem and stamped ribbon motif. I replaced the elastic on both pieces and took in the waist of the slip. Elise's original stockings were intact but had a few holes along the elastic. I treated those with Fray Check so they won't expand.

Elise's original panties and slip.

Elise's taffeta gingham dress is in very good condition apart from the original sleeves. There are tiny pin-sized holes here and there in the skirt. I treated these with Fray Check so they won't expand. The tag is quite faint but still legible.

The dress is tagged.
I found a different Madame Alexander hat from the same time period to replace the original hat. This is another piece designed for Elise. It's missing the original velvet ribbon and strap to hold it on her head, so I replaced those with a white satin ribbon. The floral decor has flowers identical to Elise's #1610 hat, so it matches the dress perfectly! Elise can wear the new hat as a cartwheel style or tie it as a bonnet to more closely mirror the original shape.

The replacement hat has the same flowers as the original.

The replacement hat is a perfect match.

I felt like Elise needed a few more accessories, so I made her a glass bead necklace with pink glass pendant, a "diamond" ring, and gave her a silver purse. Her original shoes were lost, so I made her new ones from vintage bases in pink and silver to match the rest of her outfit.

I made this ring for Elise.

I also made a necklace and gave Elise a purse.

I made Elise new shoes from vintage bases.

I treated tiny holes in the dress with Fray Check.

I think Elise turned out beautifully. Her pink ensemble is light enough that it doesn't overpower her pale peaches and cream complexion. Her blond curls are still shiny and lush, without the dry ends you usually find and they enhance her aquamarine eyes. Elise is a perfect example of the 1950s Teenage Dream: to be perfectly turned-out and well-to-do but with a sense of sweetness and decency absent from today's clothing for all but the youngest girls.

You can find Elise and many other Madame Alexander dolls in my store, Atelier Mandaline, and when you browse my catalogue.