Looking Back

 I'm going to be doing a Zoom presentation with the Dollology doll group. While pulling my presentation together, I searched through my blog for early works and when I did what. It was interesting to see how *busy* I was writing in the early days of this blog, and how infrequently I wrote in other years. In the quiet years a lot was going on with my kids before they both graduated from high school. Also, from 2009 on, Facebook got a lot of what would have been blog posts in a previous time.  This was a good activity to do on this gray Sunday morning in Maine, I got to see a timeline of the last 15 years. Here's a thumbnail gallery of some of the images of paintings and folk art dolls I saved to put in my presentation. In reviewing I could see the growth I've made over time as a doll maker and a folk artist. 



Designing a Match for my Izannah Walker Doll

For a while now I have been pecking away at making a matching arm and foot for my antique Izannah Walker doll. For the arm, I made a strap that goes across the shoulders, and the new arm is attached to that. My plan for the foot is to make a foot but have a stocking hold it on. We'll see. Anyway, in order for it to feel right, I've been tweaking the pattern. The tenth version got pretty close. I still see some things which could be tweaked, but I think I'm at the point of diminishing returns on this. I find when I keep needing to revert to an earlier numbered pattern piece that I've hit my mark in terms of design. 

The good thing about this process is when I am done I have a good pattern piece to use when making dolls inspired by my antique doll Hope. 




Chicken and Sausage Gnocchi Soup

 Chicken and Sausage Gnocchi Soup


The guys in my house like this and one of my son's friends ate 7 snack bowls of it. I use homemade broth. You can adjust depending on what you like.  I usually make this a day ahead, let cool, then reheat in a crockpot the next day.  It thickens up a lot. 


Ingredients:


3-4 ribs celery diced

3-5 cups diced carrots

2-3 onions chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil 

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

1-2 tsp dried basil

1-2 tsp dried oregano 

12 cups chicken broth

4 to 6 cups chicken, chopped

2 precooked Old Neighborhood Hot Italian Sausage, diced and sautéed until browned 

1 can evaporated milk

(If you like it more milky, add another can of evaporated milk and reduce chicken broth)

Two 17 oz packs of potato gnocchi 

2-3 precooked red potatoes, chopped with skin

4-6 cups of rinsed chopped spinach


Saute veggies in olive oil until onions are translucent. 


Add chicken broth, chicken and dried herbs.


Cook on simmer for around 20 minutes.

 

Bring to boil, add gnocchi.


Take a little of the hot broth and stir into the condensed milk.This keeps the milk from curdling.  


Once gnocchi is floating on top, slowly add milk, stirring as you pour milk in.


Add chopped cooked potatoes with skin on. Simmer for a little while before cooling. 


5 minutes before serving, add chopped spinach, heat until it is wilted.  


Serve.

2020 Holiday Spirit

In a past post on this blog in 2011, I shared this post about not feeling Christmas-y.  This is a tough year for so many people, for a million reasons. Discussions of lack of "holiday spirit" came up in a group I am in this year. People are really struggling right now. It's very hard. A few years ago, one of my sons started sneaking non-ornament items on our tree. Like Frosted Mini-wheats. And sugar substitute sweetener packets. Measuring spoons. Maybe sometimes adding some humor into the holidays helps?  


I jokingly said in the group, "Maybe we should hang tintype images of angry little girls as ornaments."  Humor can be a way to face challenges. Even in Christmas decorating. If you go to Pinterest and search "grumpy girl tintype" you can find some stellar images. 





Tales from the Molasses Swamp


Leslie from Happily at Home
graciously let me post this image.
Check out her archived sale here
for more images of this game.   

A repost from 2012:

Did you play Candyland as a child?  

My first memory of this game was playing it at a cousin's house back in the 60's.   It might have been a version very like this one, made in 1962.  I'm not sure what brought that memory to mind, but I was driving around town and could picture myself sitting in my aunt's living room on the floor of the shag carpet playing the game with my cousin.  

I was thinking how life is a lot like Candyland.  You can be hopping right along through the Gumdrop Mountain Pass and BAM  a few turns later you find yourself stuck in the Molasses Swamp, hanging out until you draw a blue card.   Sometimes all you can do is wait for that darn card!  In real life, I've been waiting for a few blue cards.  Nothing catastrophic, but stuff that slows me down none the less.  

Sometimes when we're waiting in the Molasses Swamp, we can choose to do something other than focus on the fact that we're stuck.  That's what the creator of  Candyland did. The Hasbro site states:  
Once upon a time, in San Diego California, a woman named Eleanor Abbot created a game. Ms. Abbot, a recovering Polio patient, decided to create an activity that would entertain children affected with the disease. So she submitted her board game to MILTON BRADLEY, who enthusiastically accepted it for production.
And generations of kids have played this game, all from the mind of a woman who used her Molasses Swamp time effectively.  Soooooooooo....I guess it's time to follow Ms. Abbot's lead....

I wish you all BLUE CARDS.  ;-)  
But in the meantime, use your swamp time well.

Best,
Dixie

Small Changes Can Encourage and Inspire

Last week we rented dumpster to get rid of all of the broken and worn out stuff in our house. We hadn't done a full scale clean out in the fifteen years we have lived here. As is often the case, we still had boxes unopened from when we moved. Those were interesting little time capsules. We emptied the storage shelving in the basement laundry room. We emptied the garage. And now I am looking to smaller spaces. Like my sewing room. 

Thirty years ago my husband and I banged together these particle board shelving units for necessary storage. We were poor and they were cheap. They were a kit you could get from JC Penney. Long before IKEA, long before the internet, there was the Sears catalog and the JC Penney catalog. Oh the books and the projects they have held in those thirty years. 

As I am trying to reduce all my possessions by 50%, I am also looking at how can I make this space work better for me. Before, the space where the dolls are in the middle unit, second shelf was a basket of patterns I had purchased over the years. I decided to move patterns to the bottom and make that 2nd shelf a showcase and reminder of my present project, which is making Izannah Walker inspired dolls from a mold taken of my antique Izannah Walker doll Hope. Now when I walk in that is what I see, front and center. Small changes can encourage and inspire. 

P. S. Keep an eye on my FB Business page as I will be offering for sale some good and interesting craft supplies. Because I am going to reduce all the books by 50% and all the supplies. I sent all the wood carving tools to a friend  who may actually use them. I am going to stick to making cloth and paperclay dolls, and 2D paintings. Maybe I will do some miniature quilts to go along with the dolls. 

"But I Can Make Something with That!"

There is an old saying that Mainers are known for living out:  "Use it upwear it out, make it do, or do without." Many beautiful things have been made with the make-do approach. We think of quilts, hooked rugs, tramp art, many make-do dolls. But it only makes sense to save bits and bobs if you are truly going to use them. Otherwise, it just clogs up the works. 


We are doing a huge clean out at our house. The Izannahs were a little concerned! We are pretending we are moving (but we are not). It's just time to shift some things out. Anyway, cleaning out my creativity zones mercilessly is opening space for future works. I cleaned off the painting zone and now am moving to the sewing area. While cleaning out, I am asking myself questions:

What do I want to do?

Answer: Doll making and fiber arts, maybe quilting, maybe shibori.
More questions, as I sort through supplies:
Do I enjoy doing this?
Do I have space for this?
Is this a past craft I tried but will not to continue?
How old is this paint? 😂 Is it dried up?
(Goodbye 2006 prim staining solution)
Is this a path I want to continue or did I learn what I needed to from it?
Since my time and space are pretty constrained, there are certain things I will choose to not pursue. Molds I made from antique china dolls are out. It feels good to accept that I have a certain amount of space and a certain amount of time and to identify which pathways will best use that time and space.
The Izannahs make the cut, of course.

"Do not let what you cannot do
keep you from doing what you can do."

John Wooden




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