Friday, July 31, 2015

Baby Love

Yesterday my sister and her family stopped by for a last visit before they move far away. My sister also brought along a huge amount of outgrown baby clothes, the accumulation of her, my, and another sister's boys over the past 7 years. These clothes have been through five baby boys and the gender-neutral ones through two baby girls as well, but they are almost all Gymboree, Hartstrings, and other really good brands, so they still have lots of use. Besides, as you can see from the photos, between all these children we had such an enormous collection of clothing nothing got overly used! I am selling all these on consignment for my sisters, and will start listing them today, so make sure you check the Atelier Mandaline store or browse my catalogue for some great deals on infant clothing and accessories through size 12 months!

All this is coming soon to my store!

The last time we were home during the same weekend as my sister, which has been such a long while I can't even remember when it was, my year-old nephew threw an incredible fit. He's usually pretty "chill" as my sister says, but all of a sudden he just lost it. He started howling and screaming and lashing out with his arms and throwing himself onto the floor and writhing around. We checked his diaper and looked him all over to see what was wrong but couldn't find anything. After about a half hour of this, with no sign of abatement, I was pretty concerned. I decided to see if my oils could help. I always travel with them of course! I mixed up a soothing massage oil and, since we already had him stripped down to a diaper, gave him a massage. The result was AH-mazing! My sister said she wished we had a video of it working and even my mom said she's never seen anything like it and she's hard to impress. I used Young Living lavender, Young Living Stress Away, and Young Living Release, but you could substitute YL Peace and Calming or Peace and Calming II for the Release or even YL SleepyIze from the KidScents collection. As always, to find out how to purchase these oils at wholesale prices by becoming a Young Living Member, please contact me or follow the link. Right now Young Living is having a SALE on premium starter kits, which never happens, so make sure you check it out before mid-August to get that deal!

Scream-Stop Baby Soothing Massage Oil

Mix 4 drops each Lavender, Stress Away, and Release (or substitute oils mentioned above) in 1/4 cup of a carrier oil such as olive oil. Massage on baby as shown below. I am demonstrating on my 6-year-old since I no longer have a baby (sigh).

Rub the soothing oil all over Baby, concentrating on the forehead, back of neck, and feet. Now begin all over massage of the limbs as shown in the photos. First, grasp one limb gently but firmly at the top and pull down toward the extremity (hand or foot).

Keep an even pressure all the way down the limb, as shown above.

Once you have reached the extremity (hand or foot), repeat the massage process by grasping the hand or foot at the wrist or heel and pulling downward toward the fingers or toes just as you did with the arm or leg. Repeat this several times.

Give the feet extra attention by pressing firmly in the center of the foot and rubbing in a circular motion as shown. Finish the massage by placing your entire hand flat and palm-down on Baby's stomach and gently rubbing downward. Turn Baby over and repeat on the back. Draw your pointer finger gently across Baby's forehead from left to right. Repeat the entire process until Baby is soothed. Baby will probably fall asleep during or after the massage.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Clean Day

You might remember me mentioning Young Living's Essential Rewards program several times. I like to let people know about it because it's the best deal out there in essential oils and natural products. Every month I place an order of $50 or more, choosing whatever products I want or subscribing to a set program from Young Living. For the first six months I got 10% cash back to use for Young Living products, but now I get 15% back. In another 6 months I will earn 20% back, and I'm already paying 24% less as a Young Living member! Besides the cash back, each month I meet certain spending levels I get free products added to my order. This month I got the Thieves all purpose cleaner for free, and OMG... this will be a staple in my order from now on! This cleaner is all natural and safe to use around kids and pets. It's safe for the environment, and you can use it for everything in the house from floor to ceiling. If you've been reading this blog regularly you know we have hardly been home for weeks. Our dogs got sick and each had to go to the vet and needed medicine in carefully timed doses and special homemade food, our kids had medical check-ups, we had swim team for hours every day, and swim meets lasting 5 hours on two or three nights each week. Last week during a swim meet we looked down at our 6 year old and saw pus was running from his ear down the side of his face, so now he's on several medicines for a severe ear infection. As a result, our house was a MESS. I'm not talking about a little clutter. I'm talking grime everywhere, suitcases still unpacked from the beach trip three weeks ago, a sink full of dishes, over-flowing laundry hampers, etc, etc. I decided to test out the new cleaner in our extremely filthy bathroom.

Soap scum on the shower door, before.

I cleaned the bathtub first, as shown "after" in the first picture of the post. I really wish I'd taken a "before" shot, because it was unbelievable how well this stuff worked! We have an elderly whirlpool tub. The fiberglass had become stained along the edge in a ring that no amount of scrubbing with various cleaners and tools seemed capable of removing. I diluted the Thieves cleaner for heavy applications: 5 oz cleaner in 25 oz water. I sprayed it on and then let it sit for a few minutes while I did a couple other things. When I returned the previously impossible to remove stain on the fiberglass wiped away instantly with a microfiber cloth. I didn't have to scrub at all! I used a Norwex Envirocloth, since my sister sells these. Once I saw how the Thieves worked in the tub I knew I had to write a blog post, so I went and got my camera.

Dilution for heavy applications: 5 oz cleaner in 25 oz water.

I decided to see if the soap scum on the shower door would come off as easily. I sprayed the same dilution on the door and then went to wipe the counter and stuff off while it set. At this point the cleaner I mixed up was about half used. I knew the counters and glass and stuff needed a far more diluted mixture, so I filled the bottle with water to the 25 oz mark, diluting the cleaner more.

Spray the glass and wait a few minutes.

Scrub with a cloth.

The door after application of heavy cleaner.

When I returned and wiped the shower door it was much cleaner, but still foggy. I decided to use the diluted cleaner as a glass cleaner with a paper towel. I used it on the mirror with great results.

Diluted 1:50, the cleaner can be used for glass and mirrors.

Cleaning the glass with the paper towel really worked, as you can see below! The soap scum still isn't 100% gone, but considering I didn't scrub at all, it's pretty good. It's certainly as clean as it's ever been since we've lived here. This house was rather dirty when we moved in, as it had been a rental and then sat empty for a long while. I must say, I much prefer shower curtains to glass doors, since curtains can be thrown in the wash when they get dirty and easily replaced, and I feel like the glass never gets truly clean. I have a squeegee for the door but no hook to hang it on in the shower, so I never remember to use it. I usually have a lot of trouble cleaning the shower, too, because I'm so allergic to most cleaners and find it really difficult to use them in such an enclosed space. Even when I run the fan I feel like my throat is closing up and wheeze and cough. I didn't have a bit of trouble with the Thieves cleaner, however. I didn't cough or wheeze even once!

After using the diluted cleaner as glass cleaner on the door.

I used a paper towel sprayed with cleaner in place of pre-soaked cleaning wipes for my electronics, like my electric toothbrush. Later on I want to see if I can make my own pre-soaked wipes. Those things are really handy, but so expensive; I'd love to have an all-natural alternative.

Although Thieves cleaner works well on chrome, I thought I'd show you an easy and effective chemical-free chrome polish that's even cheaper than the Thieves. I learned this tip watching my hero, Rick Dale, on American Restoration. I swear, if I didn't have kids I'd call him up and beg to work there for free for a year or so and learn how to fix just about anything!

Dirty, rusty chrome.
If you have dirty or rusty chrome, such as this lid to my bath salts jar, first wet it.

Wet the chrome.
Then take a ball of aluminum foil and scrub the rust and dirt away.

Scrub with foil.

Then buff the chrome dry with tissues or a soft cloth.

Buff dry with tissues or a soft cloth.
And that's it! As you can see, this restores a mirror finish to the chrome.

The finished chrome

As it turned out, it was a good thing I started cleaning over the weekend, because this morning my sister sent me a text asking me to do something "today when Mom and Dad are at your house". I was like, "Umm, WHAT?". No one said a thing about them coming to visit! Parenting five daughters is evidently extremely confusing, because my parents have a terrible time keeping us straight. They can't tell us apart on the phone (one time I called my mother and my dad answered the phone. As he handed the phone to my mom he said, "It's one of those other ones," because apparently one of my sisters had just been speaking to her!), and they are always assuring me they told me something I am absolutely certain I've never heard. They tell one of us and forget which one. In this case they told my sister they planned to stop at my house on the way home from hers, but forgot to tell me about it! So we spent the morning straightening up but most of the major cleaning was already finished. Luckily I bought a bunch of bratwurst on sale over the July 4th weekend and froze them, because my car was in the shop today and I had no way to get to the store.

Oola Fun and Family is a new favorite diffuser combo.

While we were on vacation in Hilton Head recently I was really impressed with the fragrance in a shop we visited. This art gallery/antique store smelled as though there were huge fresh bouquets of Stargazer Lilies, my favorite flower, all over, but I didn't see any. I wondered what fabulous room spray they used to make the scent so authentic, but didn't see anything. Finally I noticed tiny sprays of flowers tucked here and there in decorative vases. This was some type of lily I've never seen, a tiny flower with a powerful scent. On arriving home I experimented with my oils to see if I could replicate the smell of that store in our house. I hit upon a really close match: 6 drops each Young Living Oola Family and Fun mixed in the diffuser smells like fresh lilies! It's funny; I don't love either of these on their own but together they're just heavenly! It was really helpful today, since it's been raining since early afternoon and both our dogs and my parents' dog got wet and then had to stay indoors, so we had a powerful wet dog smell to combat!

Rainbow over the lake

In reference to my youngest son's ear infection, I just wanted to write a bit about him. I'm fairly private with my feelings about certain things. The culture in which I was raised doesn't encourage over-sharing. Asking someone whether or where they went to church was absolutely taboo. We couldn't believe it when we moved to the South and everyone was always asking us which church we attended. That is tantamount, in Scandinavian culture anyway, to asking a stranger how much salary they draw! So, I don't talk too much about faith. Since we moved away from the church we loved at home we don't attend regularly. I haven't found a place that felt like home the way our old church did. Our youngest son, though, is the most powerful strengthener to my own faith I can think of.

Just imagine, this child who was most likely Buddhist if anything before his adoption, is the most devout Christian I've ever met. Since we got him he begs to go to church and plays "church" at home by building temples of blocks and placing all our toy Viking figures inside in pews. He plays music and preaches to them. He asks if I can "hear church in my head" the way he does and often tells me God told him this or that thing will happen or should be done. Although he has spent his short life being constantly poked and prodded and endures many painful and uncomfortable operations and procedures to correct his cleft lip and palate, he never complains. He cheerfully tells people, "This is how God made me!", even though I've certainly never said anything like that to him. I don't want him blaming God or feeling bitter because of his condition. People are always telling us how lucky our children are that we adopted them. First of all, don't ever say this to an adoptive family. No child is "lucky" to have parents. Each child deserves a loving family and the fact that some do not is a reflection of our own flawed society, not what any child should or should not obtain. More than that, however, I think I am the lucky one, to have the honor to parent these amazing souls. When I am feeling sorry for myself, when I count my disappointments and worries rather than my blessings, I think of this little boy. The other day he had a 6 inch camera stuck up his nose and he did not cry or fuss or complain. His bravery and dignity, his grace, is one of the most inspiring thing I've ever seen, and being with him is the closest I've ever felt to being in the presence of God. It is truly a joy to have him, and all our children, in our lives.

My son, walking with Grandma.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Cissy in the City

Cissy #2014 of 1956
Cissy has an appointment in the city. She wants to look sophisticated, and true to her impeccable style, hits just the right note in her crisp striped shirtwaist dress. The dress is accented with chocolate brown velvet ribbon, and Cissy's Alexander Manet hat perfectly matches. I added a gold elastic strap to the hat to keep it in place.

The original outfit

This Cissy doll is in exceptional condition for a toy from 1956! She came needing re-stringing and a partial lash replacement, but mostly fine. Her dress was a pleasant surprise; it has only a couple spots on the skirt, it's tagged, and the fabric is stiff. There was a small, previously repaired hole in the skirt so I hid that in a fold. This is really one of the nicest Cissy outfits I've ever come across in terms of condition! I'm not sure if the velvet ribbon accents are original. The picture from my Alexander book, as you can see, describes the ribbon as black and shows a belt rather than a sash. So, at some point the originals may have been replaced. One of the original buttons was missing from the bodice and I didn't have a match so I replaced both.

Cissy wears the Manet hat.
I noticed the Alexander hat from the "Manet" portrait doll is a perfect match to the ribbons on the dress, so I knew it would be wonderful for Cissy. It's funny, even though it's meant to be a period piece, the hat is completely appropriate for the 1950s and really mimics the shape of the original black hat!

The doll after restoration.

I repaired a gouge on the breast.

The joints have some paint scraping.

Cissy a few age related issues, but nothing too hard to fix. She needed re-stringing and some split repairs. One side of her face was cracked along the seam and her legs had hip splits at the tops so I repaired them, but neither of these are really visible unless you pull her hair out of the way or pull her hips out of the sockets. The most visible issue was a gouge in her breast. I repaired it with epoxy and re-painted it. Then I styled Cissy's gorgeous, thick blond hair, gave her a partial eyelash replacement, and refreshed her cheek blush and painted lashes and now she's just as pretty as she was in her youth.

Cissy's rare slip

The fabric is starting to disintegrate.

The slip has some purple spots.

Cissy's tagged slip is such a rare piece I've never seen it before and don't know if it came with this outfit or was a separate piece. The slip is sheer material trimmed in a scallop hem and stamped with a lacy design. The print may have once been flocked; it feels like it may be slightly raised. The tag is very faded but still barely legible. The fabric is stained with purple spots and there are thin places where the fabric is deteriorating. I've treated these with Fray Check so they won't enlarge.

The doll with refreshed cheek paint.

There are spots on the back of the skirt.

The ring is Alexander

Besides the dress and slip, Cissy's stockings, shoes, hat, and solitaire ring are all by Madame Alexander. In addition, she has a really nice watch, turquoise panties, and faux leather purse that really opens. I love this doll! She has the classic 1950s sophisticated style that made Cissy so iconic. You can find her, and many other Cissy dolls in my store, Atelier Mandaline, so please check.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Lovely Little Ladies

Two 1960s dolls

Recently I've gotten some new small dolls in and I have several that are hard to find. I already wrote about the Fab detergent dolls I restored. Today I finished the second of two Alexander dolls I haven't seen before. These two 8 inch dolls came in separate lots but they are similar in many ways. Both have elaborate and perfect hair styles. Both are bent knee head turning walkers. Both lost their original clothes. I started on the Maggie face doll. This popular face, with its adorable pug nose and "watermelon" smile mouth, was used briefly for a doll called "Maggie Mix-Up" in 1960. The same year the face sculpt was used for a Maggie Mix Up Angel and a boy doll called Butch and one other: Little Lady. The Maggie face was not used much at all after 1960. In the late 1960s and 70s the face was used for some ethnic Alexander-Kins in the Friends From Foreign Lands series, mostly for Asian dolls. Because of its rarity and cuteness this doll is very popular with collectors. The Alexander company reissued the face in the 1990s, I believe.

Little Lady doll

I fixed some splits.

I couldn't remove some white spots.

Her hair is perfect.

Thanks to this doll's immaculate and unusual hairstyle I was able to identify her easily as Little Lady. She would have originally come wearing a blue dress and pink ruffled pinafore with gaiters to make her shoes look like high-button shoes. She was packaged in a picture frame shadow box with some toiletries. All her clothes but her socks, shoes, and hair ribbon were lost, so I tried to re-create a similar outfit using Alexander clothes from the same period as the doll. The doll herself was in great condition. She needed re-stringing and had two tiny splits I repaired. One knee is rather loose but she can still stand alone and the knees bend fine. I refreshed her cheek blush but all the rest of her paint is original.

I gave her Alexander pantaloons.

Her entire outfit is by Madame Alexander.

The dress is tagged.

The Maggie face
I chose the Argentina Girl dress from the 1960s. Paired with a lacy apron it has a similar formal look and it matches the hair ribbon. I added a graduated pearl necklace. The necklace came originally on a Portrait doll in the 21 inch size, but it was broken and so many beads were lost it is now only long enough for a small doll. I restrung the beads with extra thick hand quilting thread.

Little Lady checks her mirror.

The original outfit.

The doll came in a special box.

Since I didn't have the original toiletries I gave Little Lady her own mirror and perfume bottle, accessories from modern fashion dolls. Now this girly girl can make sure no hair is out of place! With Maggie finished I turned to the next doll. This is another doll whose perfect and elaborate hair made her easy to identify. This is Wendy-Kins as Colonial Girl from the early 1960s. This doll was made as Colonial Girl from 1962-1964 only and as Priscilla she was made from 1965 until 1970. Since this is a bent knee walker, I knew she was one of the earlier issue dolls, one of the very last Alexander-Kins walkers made before they were discontinued in the mid-60s.

As with Little Lady, Colonial Girl needed only re-stringing and split repair to tiny areas at the tops of her hips. She also has a loose knee, but not serious enough to warrant taking her leg apart to fix. I refreshed her cheek blush as well but otherwise she's all original.

Her entire outfit is by Madame Alexander.

Both dolls are marked ALEX.

 The shoes are replacements.

The dress is tagged.

S.he holds a Bible.

The original clothes.

Both Colonial Girl and Priscilla wore the modest clothing of the first settlers, the Pilgrims and Puritans, and their costumes were quite similar. I used all Madame Alexander pieces to re-create the look, except for the shoes, which are new reproductions. Since I didn't have a fruit basket I gave this devout doll a Bible to carry. She would make such a cute Thanksgiving decoration!

Both Maggie and Colonial Girl are hard to find dolls, wearing unique outfits exclusive to Atelier Mandaline. These and many other lovely dolls are available in my eBay and Etsy stores so I hope you will check!

The Wendy and Maggie faces in the 8 inch size.