Jun 23, 2017

A "Just Want To" Project...

I got a copy of the Sundance catalog in the mail today...a drool-worthy collection of (expensive) clothes, jewelry, shoes, etc. Browsing through it, and intending to throw it away as usual, it occurred to me that I will keep it. Not to order from, but as inspiration for my own jewelry making inspiration!



With tons of bits and bobs gathered in the studio, I could probably make a piece of jewelry every day for a year and not run out.

But...have I made any in the last couple of years? NO! Why? Because I get busy doing other stuff, working on dolls, or (admit it...) just watching TV in the evenings. 

So over the next few months, I will make a concerted effort to play in the silver and beads a few nights a week and see what I come up with.

What is the one project you would do if you could / would carve out a couple hours a week to do it?

Jun 17, 2017

My ridiculous cat...



Her name is Willie, and she's just plain weird.  As cats can be, you know.

One afternoon a few weeks ago, the hubs was resting on the bed when he heard a strange sliding sound.  It was coming from under the bed--like the monsters we feared in our childhoods.  He looked down on his side, and a box had begun to appear, sliding in jerky motions further and further out from under the bed skirt. 

Apparently, my cat has decided that the empty box I keep under the bed for dolls (useful when heading to a doll show, but usually empty) is one of her favorite toys.  So periodically, she will push and shove this box around until she has it where she wants it, and then go elsewhere. 

Today we found it in front of the master bathroom door.  Weird cat. 

She's currently dozing in her too-small basket that's attached to the wooden pony-wall around the hub's office. 


Jun 10, 2017

Recouperating (or..."poor me").

Last weekend, I volunteered at an educational event at our local museum.  It was a Folk Art Fair, in which we all dress in 19th cent garb (or an approximation thereof) and demonstrate/discuss our art with the public.  Of course my booth was about dolls--how they were made, the kinds available, etc.


So either I got a bug of some kind Saturday, or it had been stewing a while before that, but by Sunday, I was none too sprightly.  By Tuesday, the fever was 103 and I was in trouble.  Wednesday's doc appt confirmed pneumonia.  Yuck. 

It caused me to miss THIS weekend, which was not a volunteer gig, but a Folk Art Fair for which I paid dearly--non-refundable, of course.  But priorities have to make sense, and besides that, there is no way I could have stood up under a show weekend, even if I had been dumb enough to try.

After a couple days' antibiotics, I am better.  Sad for the husband, because I can (sort of) talk again, so his silent reprieve has come to an end.  I think I've taken my health for granted, so spoiled have I been to not having a fever.  At any rate, I'm on the mend, and looking forward to getting busy again.  I have a booth fee to make up for!

May 18, 2017

California Bound...

No, not me.  But Miss Noel is on her way this morning.  There's a nice lady who has over the years bought several of my folk art pieces, and Noel is on her way to join them.  I love making the odd pieces, not exactly dolls, but doll-ish, if that makes sense. 

This one is part of a series I did last year that I called The Painted Ladies.  They have sad or at least contemplative expressions, as is fitting if one had to endure a life in which there seems little choice of career.  


Miss Noel









I, however, have a choice and a possibly wonderful opportunity coming up--renting space in an Art Market in our area.  More about that later--exciting times! 

Hope everybody's weekend is fabulous.

Apr 27, 2017

Needlework.

I made a resolution early this year, and that was to NOT work on doll-related stuff in the evenings when the hubs and I watch TV.  It was beginning to feel like work, and I love the doll biz too much to let it become drudgery.  But I do like having some kind of handwork to do (call me a multi-tasker--I can watch Bones reruns and sew!  Woohoo!). 

I also have a Folk Art Fair coming up in June, so I figured I could do little tops for the tons of papermache boxes I have in the studio.  (Does anybody else suffer from an addiction to small containers?  It's a sadness I'm trying to turn into a happiness.)  One is a punch needle, using 3 strands of embroidery cotton, the others are wool applique and embroidery.  The Thistle is not yet complete, but in all, I'm enjoying the work AND being productive.




Hope y'all have a lovely weekend. 

Apr 15, 2017

Irises for sale!





I've got to clear out my iris beds--never move to a place with a tiny yard when you have an insane love of gardening--and to that end, I've listed the NOID's (no i.d.) to make room for the others.  If you have any need for iris, or know of anyone who does, these are healthy, and will be freshly dug and prepared for planting upon arrival.  The ebay listing is here. 

If you don't want ten rhizomes, I'd write a smaller listing for five at a time (half the price and 2/3 of the shipping--iris are heavy.  :) 

Happy Easter!




Apr 7, 2017

Spring Dizzies.

So much to do, but...it's SPRING!

A common complaint, I'm sure.  I have a lot of outdoor chores to do today--mulching, soap for the aphids, digging the amendments into the new bed along Fool's Creek.  That's what I call the awful concrete drainage monstrosity they put in between our house and the neighbor's--Fool's Creek.  Long story short; it took them four months and who-knows-how-much money to install a hazardous 100 ft concrete trough when it could have taken them a month and 1/4 of the money to bury a culvert.  Sorry.  I'm still bitter about it.  But I have a small fence along it (hoping to keep from falling in the trough and cracking my head) upon which I will plant honeysuckle and bittersweet. 

But all that's the outside work, and there is so much going on inside!  Or should be.  I have a new commission--do you remember last year's ornament order?  Same lady wants little cupid-type angels this year, and I'm glad she contacted me early.  Should be interesting, as all 14 of them need to be different, in face and aspect, but the same in wing and size. 



I've gotten busy with drawing plans for punch needle, wool applique and embroidery projects.  Mostly I'm covering small boxes and pin keeps for the upcoming Folk Art Fair in June.  I'll definitely have my dolls there, but as this is not a doll show, I will take it as a chance to make some other things, and hope for the best.  Besides, I love the fiber arts, and have enjoyed the different directions I'm going lately. 

I finally finished the penny rug I designed for our coffee table.  The projects I'll make for the folk art fair will be much smaller, but still satisfying.  Cheers, y'all. 



Mar 20, 2017

Two year anniversary!

Yeah, here's me and my weird diet again.  But today I marvel over this: in two years I have not had so much as a lettuce leaf of vegetable, not a grain of sugar, stevia, aspartame, or any other kind of sweetener.  No bread, cereal, rice, potato.  No vitamin supplements, none of the "health foods" we're supposed to need.

I eat meat, eggs, and cheese.  Only.  That's it. 

I do drink a couple of morning decaf coffees, and I feel MUCH healthier without it.  Same for an occasional sip of good Scotch.  My goal over the next year is to really get rid of the coffee--the longer I go on this pure fuel, the more my body objects to any plant food, and coffee is a plant food, much as I hate to admit it.  But otherwise, I am happier than I could have thought possible with this way of eating.  The hubs does it too (except he still has his corn chips and beer).

The road was not always smooth.  That first year, my body had a lot of healing to do.  First, the thyroid issues--thyroid removed back in 2001 and the synthetic meds hadn't worked for years.  Took six months to find a doc to prescribe natural desiccated thyroid hormone instead of the awful Synthroid.  Then there was the heart thing.  Try telling somebody you have a heart condition that is NOT related to a daily bacon habit.  Ha!  But the heart docs (all of them) told me it was not diet--that it was "an electrical problem, not plumbing".  Got that fixed last fall, and it's been smooth sailing since then.

I gained weight!  No shock there, right?  Except most people who eat this way lose weight, not gain it.  What???  But after decades of obsessing over my weight, it was a real eye-opener to discover I wanted my health more than I wanted size 6 jeans.  To gain 25 lbs of pure fat when you've spent your whole life working out for hours and eating "clean" in order to fit that Perfect Image...it was a shock. But I kept eating meat--sometimes 4 or more pounds a day--trusting those veterans of this path when they said my body was tending to inner healing before it addressed the "small matter" of fat loss.  Talk about facing your fears.  But they were right!  At the 1.5 year mark, I verrrrrry slowly began to lose fat...I mean like a lb a month or so.  Now I can wear those 6's again--even at a heavier weight, because I have more muscle and a better shape.  In the meantime, I learned to honor my health and forego my vanity.  Huge.

The best thing?  I never think about food.  I plan meals, I buy groceries, I cook all the meals except for Hub's morning eggs.  (I'm not much of an egg cook, so he prefers to do it himself.  :~P )  But until my belly growls, I seriously don't think about food.  I can sit next to someone eating a big gooey desert...and it just doesn't register as food to me.  In fact, a trip through the grocery store bakery (needed burger buns for in-laws) makes me a little sick from the smell.  That used to be my favorite smell!!!  So strange.  When somebody says, "Oh, I could never do that", my first thought is, "I didn't think I could either."

It's not will-power...it's a physical change from the body using carbs for fuel to it using fat and meat for fuel. Essentially I stopped putting sugar in my gas tank.  My cholesterol dropped 40 points in the first year, my super-low iron and vitamin D levels came up to normal, and my triglycerides are spectacular.  All without meds or supplements.

And apparently, my body likes its new fuel just fine.  Here's a Pinterest board with recipes: https://www.pinterest.com/zerocarbhealth/
And for the curious, there's a website that helps discuss the basics:
http://www.zerocarbhealth.com/
There's a facebook group, too...that's where you get help when all of it seems too weird and daunting--I mean it IS a way of eating that flies in the face of everything we've ever heard about nutrition, and some of these folks have eaten this way for decades.  That helps.
Okay, no more links. 


A couple of non-scale victories:

1. My bra size didn't go flat when I lost the weight.  How weird is that?  And my measurements--the boob/waist/hip proportion was suddenly that of a woman instead of the flat, straight boy figure I used to have at this weight.  Yeah--I never had curves before.  Seriously.  Now I do, and I'm not sure what I think of that.  We're not talking Dolly Parton, but I didn't have to start wearing my training bras again at least.  :~P

2.  Grocery shopping and meal planning.  Oh my.  Sooooo easy.  Shopping is fast--meat isle, eggs, bacon, dairy.  A quick trip to get beer and chips for the spousal unit, but then home.  Meal planning is pretty repetitive, but neither of us seems to care.  Beef, pork, bacon, chicken mostly.  Eggs, bacon, shrimp, gourmet cheeses, interesting combinations of all of the above.  Did I mention bacon?  I make an occasional left-over bowl that I call Cluck-Moo-Oink Salad.  Food is no longer comfort, entertainment, or bonding at holidays.  Food is fuel now.  That's it, and that's not a sad thing at all.  I'm too busy living my life.  (Bacon!)  My mom-in-law throws a roast in the crockpot when we come to visit, and can't believe how easy we are to feed now.

3.  Energy.  Not a manic, vacuum-the-sidewalks, hyper energy, but a constant ability to do what the day sets in front of me.  And the endurance to keep doing it 'til it's done.  The last week has seen me out in the yard, hauling rock, digging beds, putting up fencing, weeding and cleaning, bending and stooping.  I'm tired at the end of the day, but not wiped out like I used to be.  I take an occasional nap on the weekend, I like to sit & read or do hand sewing.  But when there is work to be done (isn't there always?) I don't suffer over it. I actually clean my house now!

4. Lastly: I'm calm and clear headed.  Without drugs.  Ha!  I used to be one of the most high-strung individuals you'd care to meet (or care not to meet).  So tightly wired that I had ulcers at the age of four--yep--good ol' peptic ulcers.  Nowadays, I still have ups and downs, but a mishap or frustration (ever dealt with insurance companies?) doesn't send me into a tail spin of anger or depression.  I'm calm, my memory is better, and I can really appreciate the little things of life instead of running around searching for the next Serotonin Fix.

Old timers of this path call it "The ZC Zen".  Who knew?

Okay...no more about the weird diet.  I had to crow about it because it's amazing to me that I've done this for two years, and have no intention of ever eating any other way.  Ever.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled program.  Peace, y'all.





Mar 13, 2017

Spring!

I spent three of the last four days digging--woohooo!  Good medicine for me, as I need a certain amount of digging to stay sane.  I sunburned my shoulders and arms (yes, at 53 yrs old, I can still be that dumb) and my back and bum are still sore from all the stooping, but it felt good to get some work done out there.

I've got rag dolls in the works right now, hiding modestly in their future garment fabrics.  Got some experience needle-felting the second doll's hair to her head--never did that before and it was fun!




And lastly, I've been playing with some Easter Eggs.  Tiny paper mache eggs--for my little indoor and outdoor seasonal trees, and for my Etsy shop--and some heavy wooden ones.  Hope y'all are enjoying some good weather too!






Feb 24, 2017

Navy is good on her, I think.

This most recent commissioned Izannah doll is the second for this collector.  The last was the little red-head in green, but this time she wanted brown hair, brown eyes, and a blue dress.  (On my Etsy listing, I have a menu of choices.)  I debated on what color blue--I have an insane amount of fabric to choose from, having collected it for years.  But this deep blue seemed to match her pensive expression.  I try not to make my Izannahs look sad, but it happens sometimes, given a head start with that downcast gaze.  This one, I can't tell if she's sad or just really thoughtful.  Eye of the beholder, I guess.  Anyway, I liked the deep blue, and it was fun dressing her.  Hope y'all have a fabulous weekend.


Feb 20, 2017

Hard Lessons Learned...

Last October I met a woman at my doll show booth who asked me to consider selling my dolls at her antique booth on consignment.  She seemed so thrilled with my work, and invited me to come down (the shop is two hours away from me) to see the shop--really a series of five booths in an antique mall, and so I did.  The shop was fascinating and apparently very popular.  So we talked, and though I was a little nervous about her scattered, unfocused ways, her enthusiasm about how well my dolls would sell there convinced me to give it a try.

Here are the lessons I learned:
1. Just because she and I are doll lovers, doesn't mean her customers would be.  They shop there for the antiques, and her mass-produced, made-in-china doll reproductions (big names like Nicole Sayers and Bethany Lowe) sell well.  My dolls, hand made and one of a kind, did not.  I sold one, plus the candlestick doll she herself bought.

2.  Get it alllll in writing.  People lie.

3. Do NOT let someone "gift" you anything, blithely tossing things at you as if they are the soul of generosity.  It's a trap.  You'll get charged for them later, when she gets mad.

4. Follow your instincts: if the little hairs on the back of your neck say this is too good to be true, it is.

So all in all, I am getting a third of the amount for the doll I sold, rather than the 90% I would at a doll show after expenses, and none at all for the doll she bought, because I just didn't get anything in writing.  Dumb, and I would beat myself up for it, but I'm just too sad and disgusted by the whole thing.  Lessons learned are not always painful, but you sure remember the ones that are!

Today is a holiday--at least the hubs isn't working--and wet from a couple day's rain, so I can't go out and dig in the slow spring that is warming our high desert.  But I do have some iris catalogues to peruse!  I also have a bunch of seeds to start in little window-sill pots--cosmos and milkweed and Mexican sunflower, and several more.  Good medicine, playing in the soil, even if it's on the kitchen counter.  Also--an Izzy to dress and send to her new momma.