Saturday, August 31, 2019

Random things

     One of the trickiest things for me not having a desk at school is making sure I have enough to drink all day. I really am not a fan of using the water fountains, because I have seen way too many people put their mouth on them. And some people don't wash their hands and so on. I try not to touch the railings either. It seems safer that way. Anyway, last year for my birthday, Angelique got me a really fantastic water bottle. It is an Rtic brand bottle and it's pink and iridescent. It's like she knows me! 

You can get it here. These were recommended to us by a girl we had for MCAS testing. She said when she got hers she filled it with ice water and put it in the car for a couple of days to test it. And the ice didn't even melt. That seemed a bit far fetched but then I had this happen... 
     This is the ice that is left stuck in my bottle. When I put the cubes in they fused together into a shape that doesn't fit to come back out. And the awesome insulation kept it from melting all day. So I left the bottle open on the table all night. And that barely did a thing to the ice. Seriously, if you want your stuff to stay cold (or hot) get one of these. Also a bit of hot water melted the ice enough to get it out of the bottle. 
     Travis had yesterday off so I took yesterday off. And we went out to Shoprite in Enfield because the Rebel ice cream store finder told me that Shoprite now carries Rebel. And I was excited! Shoprite is closer than any of the other stores that carry that brand. AND they had butter pecan, which is a flavor we have never seen! I am definitely happy that we can get our ice cream a bit closer than before. I hope they carry other flavors as well. We got butter pecan, cookie dough and peanut butter fudge. But it would be good if we could at least get chocolate (Travis's favorite) and maybe some other things we haven't tried yet. I guess I could request them, if they don't already carry them. Hmm...
     I also managed to get some doll work done. I finished up this showmanship doll, who is going to be heading to The Jennifer Show. I got some work done on a saddle seat doll as well, but she needs a few more details. And then I have another saddle seat doll to work on. 
     So in the end I will have a 4 day weekend, which I think is great. I am hoping to get the other two dolls finished, so some more weeding and maybe I can see if Crystal is up for a visit. We're going to run out of nice outdoor weather and sunlight soon enough, I need to try to fit in a bunch of things now. But I also need to work on dolls. I need more hours in the day!

Friday, August 30, 2019

Exhausted but also peanut butter cake

     I am exhausted. Starting back at school is tough. I am not good at getting up at 5:00 am every day. Sure, I can do it once in awhile for something important like a horse show, but rough. Tuesday was Travis's first day of school, which started me on having to get up super early again. Though Wednesday was tougher because I had to make sure to stay up and stay on schedule because I was back in school. Summer is nice, everything is at my own pace. Yesterday when I got home I was so exhausted I just had to take a nap. It was only about 45 minutes (it was an hour) but it was a hard nap. The kind where you are instantly in almost a small coma and nothing short of your bed being on fire is going to get you up. Yeah, that kind of tired. But after I finally managed to get up and shake off the fog things were better. Though I was also super hungry. I had lunch with Nicole today but for some reason we had almost no time to eat. So I didn't get to eat a lot of my lunch, just some bites of everything and a seltzer. Well, I guess eating is optional...
    ...until you are super hungry and just want something different and maybe even a little bit like a treat. I had vague thoughts of microwave bread with syrup or a chocolate mug cake. Then I remembered Alex, Travis's para, said that sometimes they put peanut butter in his mug muffins. OK, sounds good to me. So I created a cross between the 90 second almond flour bread and a cake-like something. And remembered to take a photo before it was too late AND wrote down what I put in it! Here you go:
90 Second Microwave peanut butter chocolate cake

1.5 T melted butter
3 T almond flour
2 T erythritol (or other alternative sweetener) 
1 t baking powder
2 t cocoa powder (I will use maybe 1 T next time)
1 egg
2 T peanut butter (I use unsweetened peanut butter)

put everything in a microwave safe container and mix it up. I use a sandwich sized container. Microwave for 90 seconds. Would make an excellent base for ice cream!

    This cake ended up being a little bit sweet, a little bit peanut buttery but not really chocolatey at all. Next time I might use more cocoa powder. Or skip it all together and add some chocolate chips. That could be excellent as well. But it was tasty, different and kind of a treat. 
     I also looked up where to buy Rebel ice cream again because I was going to see which was the next closest store besides Sturbridge and Winsor. Well, it's now at Shoprite in Enfield! Which means it's even closer than Shaw's in Sturbridge! And I am excited and Travis doesn't have school today, so I don't either, and we are going to buy ice cream! I wonder if they will have any flavors we haven't tried yet. I hope they have any flavors at all. Usually when a store first gets Rebel, they run out quickly.  And often. But that is exciting and I am really happy I have other, closer options now. In town would be great, but I don't see that happening any time soon.
    So the first week of school was good, but tiring. My schedule is not particularly taxing and the teachers I work with, so far, are fantastic. I got a really interesting book list from the anatomy and physiology teacher. I stopped at the library on the way out of school and picked up Death's Acre, which is about the body farm in Tennessee. While I am not fascinated with the decay of the body, I am fascinated with the body in general. The way everything (usually) works and works together. And death is part of life and the Body Farm is a valuable tool in forensics. I read a book at some point about it, it may have been Body Farm actually, which is fiction. But I don't remember for sure. Anyway, I am only into the second chapter but it's already good. I am hoping I can finish it over the long weekend and return on Tuesday so the kids have a chance to get it. Maybe I will go through the rest of the book list as well. 

Thursday, August 29, 2019

First Day of School Part Two

     Today was my first day of school of the new year. I worked Monday, but that doesn't count, there were students today. I was ready to go and excited for the year! I knew what I was doing and was going to be working with some great people. There were some tricky bits, but I knew I could figure it all out sooner or later. 
      Then I got to school and I found out almost right away that my schedule was changed! Ack! I had a 1st period math for personal finance class that I knew was the same so I had to run around and try to figure out the rest. One of the new teachers was absent so I was already set to cover her second and third period classes (not classes I am normally in). So I had to figure everything out before the first bell rang. 
    So I went to guidance and found the counselor I needed and found out where I needed to be and when and, for the most part, I knew what was going on for the day. I went to see if I could find some school friends quickly before I needed to get to class. 
    I found Nicole, who is one of my favorite people at LHS. She was the first person I worked with when I was hired full time and she helped me learn how to do my job. I worked with her for two amazing years. We make an excellent team. Maybe someday I will get to work with her again. 
     I stopped in to see my friend Adelei, who is the cooking and nutrition teacher. She and I have never worked together but she was always super friendly so I would chat with her often. Then I ran into her in Joann's one afternoon, we got into a conversation about a project she was working on, which I knew Ethan could help with (a big stencil) and we have been friends ever since. She and I made low carb pizza on the last day of school last year and shared it with other low-carb and gluten free friends. 
     After that I was completely out of time to find people. The first day of school is wild. Everything will settle down into routine soon enough. My first period class is math for personal finance and the group is awesome! I have never worked with the teacher before, but he is another I have said hi to often in the halls. He seems like he will be really great to work with. And the kids seem like a really great group. I already knew 8 out of 10 of them. Learning the other 2 names shouldn't be too hard. I am super bad with learning names sometimes. 
     My next class that I have all the time is anatomy and physiology, the teacher is awesome, and he can adjust his lesson plan on the fly and make it sound like it was always meant to be that way. I gave him a small tip about one of the students and he adjusted the lesson in a way that was inclusive to everyone and seemed very natural. I can definitely see that being a fun class. And I really enjoy learning things about the human body (bones are my favorite!). The class after that is British literature and the teacher is not the one I thought I was going to be working with, but he's pretty great. Elecktra had him when she was in school and she had so many great things to say about him. I am also with a different math teacher than I thought, but she and I met officially at the holiday party last December and have been friendly ever since. She has a giant coloring page on her wall and the end of last year I spent all of 1st period one day in there working on it. 
     The first day of school is always a little weird. I was zombie-tired and struggling to remember certain things. I played getting-to-know-you so many times today, even in the classes I am not normally in. It's a good way to help the students ease into school, learn each other's names (if they don't already know) and get to know a little bit about each other and me. Even kids that have known me for 4 years didn't know some of the stuff I shared. And they all seem to think it's cool that I have tattoos done by my husband and make dolls for model horse collectors. I am hoping it will be a good year. We're off to a good start!
    Even though I was ridiculously tired when I got home I worked on finishing a casual/working doll that was close to done. She will come with chaps, but those are in the closet. I have another week and a half to get as much done as I can and I will get stuff sent off to Fabian to sell at The Jennifer Show. 
     Travis doesn't have school on Friday so I need to take that off. Monday is Labor Day so I will have a 4 day weekend. I can hopefully get a good chunk of dollwork done over the weekend. But hopefully also get out and enjoy some of the weekend. I still have clothes ready for 2 saddleseat dolls and a showmanship doll. And the bodies are prepped and the heads are haired, though the faces need to be painted. Hopefully I can get super motivated and get something worked on, or finished, tomorrow afternoon. I have a sort of last minute order for The Jennifer Show, but it's not complex and there is still time. I need to do a bit more to a body to get it ready for this one. But it's not overly complex. I should be able to get that one worked on, and finished, by the end of next week as well. 
     School things seem like they will be great this year. And doll things are still going well. I am working with great people and I don't think I will have any of the issues I had last year. The classes I am helping in are interesting to me, other than calculus, but I love watching kids that are super good at math do their thing. I am hopeful that this year will get me back to loving teaching. I really need that. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

First Day of School

     Travis started school yesterday. He was really excited for several reasons. First, he loves school. Second, his teacher, Mrs. Mailman, was finally going to be back from maternity leave. Since Mrs. Mailman was back, Ms. Ruben, his 1:1, could go back to being his 1:1. She had been covering as the classroom substitute at the end of the school year and for summer school. She was also excited that Mrs. Mailman was coming back and she could go back to working 1:1 with Travis. 
    I worked on Monday, but really that was professional development stuff. It was not entirely useful or entirely useless. Which was sort of different from most other PDs I have had to attend. But yesterday the paras didn't have to work. I got Travis off to school and then went and put in the laundry SUPER early. Once it was in the dryers I went to school for the staff welcome breakfast. I didn't have to be there, but I like the people I work with, so I went to visit. 
     Once it was time for everyone to do staff meetings, I went back to the laundromat and got everything folded and went home. I was done with laundry, with everything put away, before 9:30! It was amazing! Then I packed up a ton of snacks and seltzer and drove it over to Travis's school. Keeping him on a low carb diet is a little bit tricky while he's at school. But not too bad. They send home the lunch menu and we color code what he can eat, what he needs to only have a little bit of sometimes and what is right out. I also send him with lunch every day. But the beginning of the year I like to stock them up on plenty of extra snacks for him. Travis is a hungry person.
     I got back from school before noon and I was super bored. I took a tiny nap and then decided to go and attack some more weeds in the yard. We have a couple of pine trees next to the driveway that has a very healthy crop of weeds under it. And a couple of hastas, but mostly weeds. And awful strangler vines that keep trying to kill the trees. So I spent a good amount of time, with my new garden gloves, pulling weeds and vines. 
     I also got a good collection of burrs. All over my sneakers, gloves, trying to creep down my gloves. Even hours later I keep finding them on the back of my T-shirt. But it looks a lot better under those trees. 
      I have talked about the palm noodles before. They are a really amazing pasta substitute that is as close to real pasta as I have had while doing low carb. They now have lasagna shaped noodles. That made me really happy! I have made zucchini lasagna and used sliced turkey (it was interesting) but the palm noodles I think are my favorite! I didn't cook them first, just took them out of the cans, rinsed them really well, and made my lasagna as I usually do.
     It holds together a lot better than with zucchini noodles, has a very traditional flavor, and just a bit of firmness to the noodles. I think it's great. All the palm noodles are pricey, almost everything low carb is, but they are really great if you love pasta. And we do enjoy pasta dishes. 
     Today is my first day back to school with the students. Monday I figured out who I am working with and what classes I will be in and I think it will be a good year! I have worked with one of the teachers before, had lunch all last year with another, heard really good things about a third from his students, have said hi to another in the halls often and the last one is new so I don't know him at all. I think this year is going to be great. I am at least feeling optimistic about it. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2019


     About a week ago I noticed that the screen on Travis's tablet was cracked. I figured it wouldn't last too much longer. But we got 3 or 4 years out of a $50 nook tablet, so that was not bad really. Sunday morning there was a mysterious and tragic accident that landed the shattered tablet in the trash. I have no idea what happened to it, but it was very broken and Travis cleaned it up. That was nice. 
     A bit later, after some chores and things, I asked Travis what he wanted to do and he said "Barnes and Noble". I asked him what he wanted at Barnes and Noble and he said "iPad" (what he calls his tablet). OK, we can go to Barnes and Noble and get a new iPad. I said, you need to help me with weeding to earn your new iPad and Travis said yes. Which is how this happened. 
      I have thoroughly neglected my flower garden and a lot of the other flower beds (most of which really contain nothing, and definitely not flowers) and I had thriving weed beds. It was really gorgeous weather on Sunday, so Travis and I did some weeding. And Travis got to have a very important life lesson reinforced. We need to work for the things we want. It was also a really excellent day to be outside. 

Monday, August 26, 2019

A Slew of Singers

     I have been able to sew for 35 years. My mom taught me when I was 5 and I was allowed to use her machine, supervised, from a really young age. For my birthday, when I was 8, my Godmother got me a little sewing kit, and a kit that had patterns and material to make Barbie clothes. I made the clothes and then used the patterns to make more clothes. I have been sewing for a long time. Not always super often, but there was never a time when too much time went by without me making something. 
     The funny thing is, I have not enjoyed sewing in a long time either. I have been a doll maker for 13 years and these days I make around 150 dolls a year (more or less, depending on the year, but about that). That is a lot of sewing. And that is a lot of time spent doing something I wish I didn't have to do.  Sometimes I make things that are not doll clothes; in recent years I have made a lot of bowl cozies, playing card pouches, at least one dress, altered a dress, made a fancy apron and a more simple apron, I've made insulated lunch bags and a really fancy TARDIS tote bag with a ton of pockets. But my sewing machine was acting up off and on for the last couple of years and it made sewing a horrible chore and not enjoyable. Plus I have to pull the machine out of wherever it's current storage spot is and set it all up before I can do anything. Chore. 
       My suggestion if you are learning to sew, or sew sometimes, is if your machine starts to act funny, bring it in for a tune-up. If you catch things early maybe it doesn't turn into a big deal. Anyway, while my Husqvarna is in the shop, waiting for the backordered bobbin case to come in, I was definitely in need of a backup sewing machine to use. I can't go a month (more actually) without being able to sew. Even if I don't enjoy it, it's part of doll making. I need to make dolls. Because of that, I need to sew, even if I don't want to. 
     I figured out that in the last month I have tried or used 5 different sewing machines. All of them are Singers. I got a lot of stuff done on my mom's old machine that we figured out is at least 50 years old. I tried to use Crystal's machine and it didn't work out for me. I may have been able to fiddle with it and adjust this and that and get it to work. But I don't have the luxury of extra time. So I went and got the pink Singer from Joann's. And it was horrible. But you guys know all about that. So I brought it back and exchanged it for the Singer Fashion Mate, which I talked about yesterday. That machine is fun to use! Even though I already had my new machine, I went over to visit Yvonne and Deb to try out a vintage machine they have. That one is from the 50's so that is a VERY old machine! Even older than mom's. And super cute. One of those basic machines that is probably going to last until the end of time. But it was another one that would have taken some fiddling with to make it work for me. I brought my invisible thread to try it out, but since the Fashion Mate was so great for me I knew the vintage Singer would have to be basically magical for me to want to have that one instead. It's a really nice machine. But it is not magical for me. But now we know it works for sure, and works well. It will be at the Brimfield flea market the beginning of September if anyone local is looking for a sewing machine that will probably outlive them.
     I originally got my Husqvarna from Craigslist and it was nearly new at the time. And very discounted from the original price. I got a huge bargain on a great machine. Technically it is still a "beginner" machine, because it doesn't have a billion options, but it's pricepoint makes it a pretty high end basic machine. While it's in the shop I needed something, almost anything, to make doll clothes. It's not convenient to have to go over to use Mom's machine. I have to have a lot of stuff ready to sew and if I rip something while dressing a doll (it totally happens) I need to be able to remake it without driving over to Mom's house. When I was shopping for my Husqvarna, I had plenty of time to search for just what I wanted, and find the best price. I still had the sewing machine my brother gave me as a gift one year. It was a lower-end basic machine, but it worked well enough to keep using while I shopped. It would have been fine to keep using that one for awhile, but since by that point I was working my way into being a full-time doll maker, I felt I should have an upgraded machine. This time around I just needed something that works. That I don't have to fight with. Plus, I already own a really good machine, and sooner or later I will get it back. I went through a lot of machines and I am really pleased with the Singer Fashion Mate that I talked about yesterday. It is fun to use! I actually want to sew, which I have not really wanted in years! Even as I am writing this post I am thinking about making some saddle pads. I have 5 doll outfits already sewn, I don't NEED to sew. But I WANT to sew and I'm looking for ways to make that happen. It's kind of cool. 
     Anyway, other than using a slew of Singer machines in the past month, I have actually been doing other things as well. I managed to finish another doll, this one is a nice driving doll. She will be heading to Fabian and will be for sale at The Jennifer Show. She has a simpler hat than some of my driving dolls but it didn't really want more decoration. It has a simple pink ribbon, with a small bow in back, 3 small pink flowers with Swarovski crystal centers and that's it. I like her. 

      Saturday Ethan, Travis and I went hiking. It was a really nice day for hiking. We have, in the past, been up this mountain. It's an old ski slope and it really is as steep as it looks in this photo. I was glad we didn't do that yesterday. I am not in that great shape at the moment. I need to get back into more walking and working out. And stairs. All of those things will prepare me for mountains. 
     So we used the access roads, which was great for me because my bad ankle really prefers pavement to uneven surfaces. There were still some really steep parts that taxed my calves and hamstrings, but I was glad we went hiking and pushed ourselves a bit. Well, Ethan rides his bike just about every day, he's in shape. Travis and I have had a fairly lazy summer, lol! 
     It's back to school time. Today I have a full day of professional development sessions and then tomorrow Travis starts school, but I don't have to work (weird). Wednesday is when the kids start in Ludlow. I am ready and not ready to go back. I am excited a bit and also a bit nervous. In a week everything will be routine again, but for now everything will be new and a bit rushed while I figure out the timing of the morning routine and then figure out where my classes are and the best way to get to them. Wish me luck!

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Progress and a new sewing machine

      I gave the new Singer machine a good try, I really did. I know it seems like it was just yesterday that I got the new one, but it was not. I had the pink machine for several days and tried it three different times. But when you have to fight the machine sticking and rethread it over and over on one tiny article of clothing, eventually you have to decide enough is enough. So I boxed it up to bring it back to Joann's. I was really hoping it would be a decent machine. At least good enough to be a backup machine for when my good one needs to be repaired. But no, it was horrid. So bad I am actually considering leaving a review to help warn off potential buyers. No beginner should have to deal with that machine. 
     Anyway, originally when I started looking I was thinking I would get the Singer Fashion Mate. It's another basic machine, somewhat higher end than the pink one I hated, but it was still a good price, was on sale and has an upright spool holder. Right there is a reason this is a better machine for me. So I returned the pink Singer and for just a little bit more money I got the Fashion Mate. Totally worth it. Right from the start this was a way better machine. It sounded nice, not like a toy, waiting to fall apart. It didn't grease up my material when I started, like the other one did. It has more stitch options, including adjustable width, but I am just pleased it has an upright spool holder. Really, that apparently is an essential if you use invisible thread. 
       It also has a drop in bobbin case, which is just like my Husqvarna. I don't have to take apart half of the machine to change out the bobbin now. That is a wonderful thing. Everything was much smoother and pleasant to use. This would be an excellent sewing machine for an actual beginner. It is super easy to use, there are diagrams all over the machine for how to do everything and it works incredibly well. 
      I did just a couple of practice seems on some scrap fabric, to check and make sure the machine wasn't going to grease up my doll clothes. Seriously, the other machine needed to be worked for a bit before it stopped leaving greasy lines on the fabric. I jumped right into making a saddle seat coat. The machine did try to suck in the edge of the material a few times when I was starting a seam. But every machine I have ever used will do that with tiny stuff if you are not careful. So I will learn the particular rhythms of this new machine. I think it will make an excellent backup machine. I got 3 outfits sewn up in a short amount of time and I actually enjoyed the sewing! 
     I got this gaming lady done the other day for an order and I have a gaming doll in the works for TJS. I finished up a driving doll and I have a couple more saddle seat dolls in the works. I was really efficient the other day. I got several heads haired, clothes sewn, other clothes cut out. Plus got a new sewing machine. I am pretty much out of days to work long hours on dolls, but I had a productive summer. 
     So now I will have to go back to work at school and dolling time will be limited. I should probably have at least a few hours to work most afternoons. That should allow me to make at least a few dolls a week. As long as I actually work and don't just slack. I will probably need some time to adjust to getting up at dark o'clock again, but then I can hopefully be productive. Just a couple of weeks until I need to ship dolls to Fabian for TJS and then I have to get to work on a few orders and dolls for TRXC. It is busy time for me! But when I have downtime, what will I talk about? 

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Kid doll, flavored pork rinds, and adventures in sewing

      I caved. I went to Joann's and bought a new sewing machine. It is a "beginner" machine. Which mostly means it does not have a lot of bells and whistles. Which is good because I just need it to sew in a straight line and have an adjustable stitch length. Sadly, what beginner machine also often means is crappy. I don't know how anyone is supposed to learn on a machine that is hard to use. And this one is a bit hard to use. Not really any harder than most other machines, but it has some weird things about it that make it less-than-ideal for me. The biggest issue is the horizontal thread holder. It does tilt up a bit, but it is still not vertical and invisible thread does not like horizontal thread holders. So once in awhile the thread gets wrapped around the spool holder and breaks and I have to rethread the machine. Not the end of the world, but annoying.  Some things are in sort of awkward places on this machine as well. Like the bobbin holder. You have to take off part of the machine to get to the door that you open to put the bobbin in. It's not hard, but it's weird. Also, the part that you have to take off has a broken piece. Right out of the box. It does not keep it from staying where it is supposed to be, but it doesn't make me very happy. The reverse lever is also on the top left. Sure, I can hold the ends of my thread (as long as they are long enough) and grab the lever, but it is a strange position and not ideal. Maybe I just don't like it because I am not used to it. Maybe I don't like it because I want my machine back (which is also technically a "beginner" machine, just much higher end than this one). Anyway, I did find out that if I hate this machine, I can return it. Even if I have used it. I have now used it a couple of times and I am still not sure. I know I don't love it. That is as far as I have gotten. 
     Sunday when I was hanging out with Crystal I gave her her first ever pork rind. She said with some onion powder and garlic they would taste just like a Funion. I tried that out and she's not totally wrong. There is something missing from my recipe that maybe eventually I will figure out. But flavor options are cool. I can't eat the barbecue ones because they have sugar in them. And so do most of the hot and spicy ones. The onion powder experiment gave me the idea to try the Frank's RedHot Buffalo Ranch seasoning on some pork rinds. Surprisingly, this stuff does not have sugar in it, which every other ranch flavored everything I have read the label on does. So I just put a couple of handfuls of plain Mac's pork rinds in a quart sized zipper bag, sprinkled on a bunch of this spice (a bit much! Try a bit and taste and add more if you need it, lol) and they were very tasty! It is nice to have some flavor options in my crunchy snacks. There is not a whole lot of stuff I can't eat after all. 
     Back to the sewing machine. I didn't have much prepped to test the machine out with, but I did have some saddle pads cut out and ready. So I started on this dog pad...
      And I think I only had to rethread the machine once while making it.
    I made this cute piggy pad and a couple others as well. It didn't take forever and I didn't have to swear at the machine. The process was not perfect, but maybe I just need to learn the particular quirks of this machine. I am withholding judgment for now. 
     I had a couple of dolls I was working on and I had some new paint brushes from tax free weekend. I really love how I can paint a doll face with a properly tiny brush!

      One of the things I managed to finish recently was this little youth doll. The photo on the left was how I finished her up and the photo on the right was the next day when I realized that the thing I didn't like about her was her jeans. They were too loose and the denim I had grabbed was too bulky So I remade those and like her a lot more now. I also had another session with the new sewing machine to try to give it a chance. It's possible I will just never love a machine that doesn't have a vertical thread holder. We'll see.
     So I managed to get a couple of order dolls finished and photoed. Not great photos, just quick indoor photos. It's been raining for days again. I have a good start on a formal saddle seat doll, who should be ready soon. Probably even before this blog gets posted! I prepped 10 doll bodies and I will soon cut out a bunch of doll clothes to sew. Or maybe just a few outfits and then dress and finish some dolls. We'll see how it goes. I go back to work on Monday and I am sure I will need some time to adjust to my different schedule and I am likely not going to be as productive with dolls for a bit. But TJS is coming and I have sales dolls and donations to work on!

Friday, August 23, 2019

Tax Free Weekend

     Crystal and I were supposed to get together last Friday but she was not up for it then. So we reworked the plan to make it Sunday. Which was also part of tax-free weekend. We had decided we would take at least a couple of photos every time we got together. This 22 years of friendship and barely a handful of photos together needed to stop. 
     The photo plan was a good one, but we almost forgot. I remembered while we were in Michael's. In the yarn isle. It was a safe isle, as neither of us does a whole lot with yarn. Being in Michael's with Crystal is basically like being in Michael's unsupervised (she agrees). But I am not spending money these days so I was good.
     I did however need tiny paint brushes, because I almost always need tiny paint brushes. I wreck them very quickly and I need them to paint doll faces. So I found a bunch that were not awful and may be tiny enough. And tax free, so that was nice.
    There is a tack store between my house and Crystal's. I have driven by it hundreds of times. It is even next door to the farm where Elecktra took riding lessons. How have I never stopped there? Part of the reason I have not been riding in such a long time (ridiculously long time) is I don't have boots. I have sneakers, sandals and fashion boots, but nothing safe to ride in. So I did actually NEED some paddock boots. And I fully intended to just buy some cheap ones and be done with it. After all, boots that I will also likely wear to school and wreck from constant use don't need to be expensive. But there were breeches, because tack store, and I have never owned a pair of breeches but always wanted to. Mounting from the ground is hard when you have limited range of movement from tight jeans. And tax free weekend. 
     OK, so some of that was an excuse, there is no tax on clothing in Massachusetts, though the lady at the tack store says some of the boots DO have tax now because of new tarrifs. Anyway, the boots were lower end and very affordable. The breeches may be the most expensive pair of pants I own (they are) but I refuse to gain the weight back that I lost and they will still fit if I lose a bit more. They should literally last me forever. Plus, everything was on sale. It would have been irresponsible to not buy them. Lol, I know that is not true, but I wanted them. And now back to not spending money. 
     So now I have tiny paint brushes and I have boots and breeches. I guess I should paint some doll faces and find a horse to ride. 
     I borrowed a sewing machine from Crystal and her mom and I tried it out. It is not working. The bobbin is spitting thread and the thread keeps wrapping around the top spool and breaking. I am likely doing something wrong, but I don't know what it is. I also got ahold of the repair place, again. I finally got someone who was a bit more pleasant to speak with and she told me the bobbin case needed replacing (I knew this) and that the part was backordered! So it might be fixed in another 2 weeks. Maybe. I think I may need to finally cave and get a backup machine. *sigh* I just want mine back. 

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Fun in the Sun tiny Abby

       We rescued Abby from the pound when she was about a year old. She had been a family surrender and we figured they likely wanted this pitbull mix to be a guard dog. The problem was, Abby was scared of everything. She was scared of the dark, she was scared of small dogs (for awhile), she was not a good guard dog prospect. When she got older she did used to bark threateningly when people knocked on the door, but when she was young, she was just goofy and scared. 
     She grew up with Elecktra and Travis. She was mostly grown when we got her, but she filled out and matured over the years. 
      She loved the kids.
And they sure loved her.
     This was one of the last really great days Abby had. She "snuck out" of the house to come to a cookout. Doesn't she look pleased with herself?
     Abby crossed the rainbow bridge in October of 2016. I still miss her. She was goofy and destroyed a lot of things but she was a good dog. Lucky for me she let me make a model of her. I made this tiny Abby for Ethan as a gift a bunch of years ago. It is not quite Abby's build, seeing as a modified a resin pitbull and she was mixed with probably labrador, but I drew on all of Abby's markings from living Abby. So those are very accurate. I saw tiny Abby on the shelf the night before Fun in the Sun and asked Ethan if I could borrow her. And then my goal became seeing how many classes I could put tiny Abby in. 

     The first one was natural trail. I used the bridge diorama I made years ago and just stuck Abby in the scene. 

A kid out on her pony is very likely going to also bring her dog, right?
     Next I put her in my picnic at the horse show scene. The snacks table is a fairly new addition to the ever evolving scene and I thought Abby would potentially want to be near the snack table.
There is food on there after all.
And food is so tempting. 
     But real Abby would never actually steal food off the table (that is probably not true, I am pretty sure did did at some point). But she would totally beg near the table. 
      Real Abby would definitely have taken some handouts. Even though she never got fed from the table, tiny Abby did. 
I also put her in the Dog Days of Summer scene with a whole bunch of Breyer dogs I also have. 
Tiny Abby was my favorite. 

     She also got into the Sizzling Hot scene with the neighborhood cookout. She must have figured out the vacant Breyer doll was a good mark. 
As she was begging food from her again. 
     She also got into the Scene class with the beach party. And look, she was begging for food again.
     That is definitely something real Abby would have done. Though real Abby learned that she needed to stay back from the table (she would stand at the edge of the living room and eagle-eye the floor for dropped food). If any food was offered, she wanted it.

     I still want to have my own model Abby, but I have not gotten around to trying to make one. Since Abby was part labrador I was considering using the Breyer labrador and modifying that. But Abby was not really shaped that way either. Labradors are sort of the same thickness all over, Abby had a large, pitbull chest and a very slender back end. She was taller and slimmer than a full pitbull. She was definitely a unique dog. One day maybe I will have my own tiny Abby model. Until then it's nice that Ethan let me borrow his.