Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The Best Quarantine Birthday Ever

     I don't know if it's the state of the world at the moment or being 41, but this year I didn't care nearly as much about my birthday as I usually do. It just didn't seem super important to me in the grand scheme of things. But still, I was happy to get some gifts from Ethan and Travis, including this beautiful blown glass dip pen. It came with some glitter-shift ink, it was pretty fun. I think I need a pen stand and a place to display it. It's an art piece!
     Being that is was my birthday I wanted cake. So I pulled out my Sweet Treats cookbook from The Hungry Elephant and made a birthday cake. Literally, that is what the recipe is called, birthday cake. I am pretty sure it is on The Hungry Elephant website. 
     And it is a pretty cake! The "sprinkles" are colored coconut flakes. You dye them in individual bowls and when they are dry, mix them together. And they look cool. I also watched a movie, which was super funny, and had a bit of a lazy day. It was awesome.
       Ethan made me a fancy dinner and we made jokes about eating at Casa de' Kitchen. The chef is really good there, plus there was wine. I love when Ethan cooks, he is a really excellent cook, and this meal was amazing!
      The cake was yummy and also came out looking like an advertisement I think. I don't usually have the proper thickness of frosting in the middle of the cake, but it worked out this time. And the "sprinkles" mixed into the cake for confetti is a fun look as well. 
      In general I have had simple wants for my birthday; I want people to remember it's my birthday and be nice to me. As soon as I got up, even before coffee, Ethan was wishing me a happy birthday. I got tons of Facebook birthday wishes, text messages and a couple of video chats as well. I didn't do any work (I did wash a few dishes, but no doll or school work) and I watched a movie and actually looked at the screen! And I didn't have to cook dinner. It was an excellent birthday.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Live Sale Recap

     Saturday was my second ever Field of Dolls Studio live sale on Facebook. I have been prepping for this since January. Making things and buying things for prizes. This week I decided I would offer some things for sale that I tried to sell at the swap meet that was at some point at the end of last year and seems like a lifetime ago. I figured I had the potential to have more traffic than at the swap meet since people are bored being in quarantine. So I pulled out sales stuff that I had collected and sales stuff I had made and got everything organized. 
     I had paper lunch bags to write everyone's name on who claimed items, which would keep everything organized and, hopefully, save me an incredible amount of time and stress when it came time to invoice, pack and ship. My original goal was to have Elecktra come and help me. She could have been writing names on bags and organizing them while I kept the sale moving. But stay-at-home orders (just a strong suggestion in our state. Which we are following) prevented that. Still, the bags were incredibly good helpers!
     I thought about what makeup I wanted for awhile. I settled on rainbow to match my Unicorns are Real T-shirt. I also had rainbow earrings. I end up looking down a lot during a live, so people had plenty of opportunity to see my rainbow shadow. 
And plenty of opportunity to see me move my hair out of my way. 
And make silly faces while running around.
And squint a bit to try to read all the comments on my phone. 
Plenty of chances to see me pull off the sharpie cap with my teeth
and a lot of shots of my empty closet doors as I went out to frame to organize sold items. 
     At the end of the sale almost all of the items I offered were gone and I was left with, what I called, organized chaos. The paper lunch bags for everyone's claimed items was a HUGE help after the sale. I didn't need to go back through the live and see what people had claimed, everything was already separate. I has asked everyone to pm me their email address so I could start invoicing when I got a chance, and I made a list with everyone's name and email. Then I had supper, which Ethan had made (awsome) and I grabbed my list and got to work. Things went very smoothly, and fairly quickly considering how many invoices I needed to make. 
    With my list in hand I would grab 4-5 bags and bring them out to the kitchen where I would start the invoice and immediately packed the person's items for shipping. So not only did I get invoicing done, I also got packing done. I didn't do any of the shipping labels yet, but I got an excellent start on things! I ended up with a biggish box, 2 paper grocery bags and a big Breyer bag full of packages! Things went really well and I feel that the new way of doing things was a huge time saver and I love it. I wish I could remember who recommended bags (or was it baskets? I don't have enough baskets so bags totally worked!) this was an incredible idea. 

      So to sum up, and add to, useful tips for hosting a live sale, be organized. Have your inventory sorted and laid out before your sale starts. If you can, make backwards numbers to help people claim (they need to be backwards to read correctly on camera). I have used Paint and Publisher to make backwards numbers. In Paint you just flip the image horizontally. In Publisher make the number in word art and you can grab the side of the image and flip it (super easy). Use paper bags to organize sold items. You can write the person's name directly on it, which makes things easier. Try to keep them in alphabetical order during the sale. That also makes it easier to find everyone's bag, which is a time saver. Have everyone who purchases items send you their email so you can invoice after the sale. Invoicing is actually far easier than having people just send you paypal payments. With the invoicing you will have a list of everything the person bought (as long as you type in each item, lol) and they can also see what they bought, plus you have their address once they pay. No worry about some people sending the payments in the wrong format or forgetting to send an address. Easy. 
     If you have everyone on a list you can run down it as you invoice. I marked each one as "sent" when I sent their invoice. I also immediately packed up their items so they would not get lost and the packaging is done. Really, the bags with everyone's name on them has been the biggest time saver this time around.
     I am sort of having a vague idea of doing a live sale for just small items, especially mini food since it seems to be so popular. Would there be interest in that? I want to say a huge thank you to everyone that came and watched my live sale, whether or not you purchased anything. Thank you to everyone who shared the video or any of my ads ahead of time. I had a wonderful time at my socially distant birthday live sale!

Sunday, March 29, 2020

So Much Baking

      When I first started on a low carb way of eating I did a ton of baking. You kind of have to because all of a sudden there are so many premade items you can no longer eat. Since I have been home I have been baking a bit more. I have the time, I might as well. The other day I decided I really wanted some pancakes. So I pulled out my binder of recipes and made these peanut butter chocolate chip pancakes that I have had a recipe for for a long time and have never made. 
      They looked good and the recipe was fairly simple. But they were very dry, did not taste peanut buttery and were just sort of a letdown. I need to remember to take that recipe out of my binder...
     That same day I decided that it was about time I finally made some empanadas. I have had these presses since my last birthday. And I have never used them. 
     The dough was being a bit tricky and was occasionally frustrating, but then I figured out a good process that made them a lot easier and assembly went faster. 
      And they were so good! I figured they would be excellent with sour cream and I was not wrong. Ethan said next time I make them we should add green chiles and black olives. That might be a good idea. 

     Friday I worked on last minute prep for my live sale. I decided to make some horse boots, since I had almost none in my stock. 
     Travis and I also had school as usual. We had an extra big day of science and learned about the skull, colored a skull and made it into a mask, then we colored, cut out, sorted and glued vertebrates into categories. Friday was an excellent school day! We did a lot of science and got a lot of other work done as well. I also saw an email from my principal later in the day. I guess there is going to be some distance learning happening. It looks like... I am not sure. I don't know if it's through video classes or what. I don't know if there is anything at all I can or should do. So I will wait until there is more information and figure it out. 
Friday I also got a couple of photos from Teresa Buzzell of her cross country entry at Breyerwest. 
photo by Nelli Lucas
     I absolutely love the close up photo! I love getting photos of my dolls in action. I should take the time to set up some performance scenes. Just for fun. And photos. I do have a new performance horse that needs some practice. 
Photo by Nelli Lucas
     Friday I also decided that I needed to do some more baking. Mostly it was because I thought we needed something more to go with supper. So I pulled out one of my many low carb cookbooks (I have lots of them) and I found a recipe for Italian bread sticks that I had never tried. It was not overly complex or finicky, which is a quality I appreciate in a recipe. 

      They turned out really well, have a good texture and were super delicious! I would definitely make these again. 
       So today is my birthday. I'm 41. I might make myself a birthday cake later. I have a really good birthday cake recipe. The other day Ethan asked me where I want to pretend to go out to eat for my birthday. I honestly have no idea, lol! But if we are pretending to go out, I can pretend to eat forbidden foods, right???

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Live Sale Day!

     Today is the day! At 2:00pm EST I am going to go live on my Facebook studio page, Field of Dolls Studio-Custom Dolls by Anne Field, for a live sale! I will have prizes for sharing the video, prizes for trivia and lots of fun! I am offing dolls, chaps (both mens and womens), cross country kits, saddle pads, saddlebags, miniature food, judge's kits, horse boots and more! Most items are retail, with some special discounted items thrown in. Come join the fun!

    And just in case anyone is wondering, to date I have made 1,347 dolls. 

Friday, March 27, 2020

Dolls, Wine, and Backwards Number

     Do you know why there are sometimes very random photos in my blog? It's because I feel that the blog needs photos. Not that my cell phone photos are somehow great or magical, but pictures are fun. At least they are to me. And when I am "behind" on blogs (as in, I don't already have several scheduled, haven't remembered to take photos of my work, or haven't done any work, etc) I start really thinking about what I can talk about. I want things to be interesting, or at least not insanely boring. The other day I could have done with a bit more boring. It snowed. And then we got freezing rain on top of it. I thought to take a photo of the view out my window after the rain was going on for awhile. We did not get a ton of snow, and it all melted the next day (good!) but it made everything wet and sloppy again. Which makes it harder to want to go outside. We need to go outside. Travis and I need to do sprints in the yard again. Maybe next week...
     I was looking through my photos and I didn't see a picture of this doll. I might have one and maybe I just happened to miss it, but just in case, I took another. He will be available on Saturday at my live sale. 
     And this lady that got finished the other day will be available as well. I'm still working away at dolls and other live sale prep. I watched a couple of episodes of House after I printed out backwards numbers and got them on tags for dolls, on saddlebags, saddle pads, and cross country kits. I somehow forgot I had chaps so I still need to do the backwards tags on those. Why do I keep talking about backwards tags (which are backwards numbers)? It's because when you flip the camera to go live on Facebook, it flips the image. Anything written on your shirt is backwards (if you want to see, go check out my Mares In Black T-shirt from my Black Friday Live sale. The video is still posted on my Facebook studio page) and the numbers are backwards. So for everything to read properly on camera, I make numbers that are backwards to me so they will read properly to all of you. 
      In other news, this week I have been enjoying some horse themed wine. I was first introduced to this one several years ago at a friend's wedding and was thrilled when I could find it locally. I have only had a glass at a time so the bottle is lasting several days. It's not as good as the Apothic red, but it's pretty good. And has horses on it. They also have it at one of the local Walmarts. So when I have to go out for supplies (not yet) I can go and get it there where they have self checkouts and I can stay a proper social distance from everyone and get what I need. For now though I need nothing, so I will stay home.
      Homeschool is still going well. I am still really happy with the purchase of the small (safer) scissors. One of the best Amazon orders ever. This activity was reading the problem to figure out how much money was needed for each animal to make their purchase. Travis needed to cut out the bills and glue them where they belonged. He did an excellent job. All while wearing my Harley Quinn T-shirt. I must have accidentally put it in his pile. And then he stole it, lol!
      So dolls have been happening, though I think I am officially done making any for the sale. Number are happening, planning has been happening. I have some prize gathering to get to, because prizes are important! I may have some items for sale that I did not make. I have some things that I offered at the swap meet (why does that swap meet seem like forever ago?) and if I get motivated enough to dig things out I may offer some items at a super bargain. 
     Live sale details again. Most items offered will be Field of Dolls Studio items. The majority of things will be retail but I will have some discounted items. I may offer some other items as well, depending on time and motivation to find them. I will have prizes for sharing the live video as well as for trivia. The sale is this coming Saturday, March 28th at 2:00pm EST on my Studio Facebook page; Field of Dolls Studio- Custom Dolls by Anne Field. I hope to "see" you there!

Thursday, March 26, 2020

How to Sculpt Miniature Cookies

         People seem really into tutorial posts so I figured I would do another one. Since I have a reasonable amount of photos to demonstrate what I am talking about. Today we are going to talk about how to sculpt chocolate chip cookies. You can sort of do these in any size you want, but I made GIANT cookies. Well, giant for 1/9 scale. I wanted to make big cookies for part of the fair food I will offer this Saturday at my live sale. I happen to think that giant cookies are a perfect fair food.
       I didn't take a picture of my tools, because I wasn't planning a tutorial. So basically you need to mix up clay into a light dough color. What I have here is white, translucent, and a tiny dab of yellow. Mix and mix and mix until it is a uniform color. If it is too yellow you can add more white and translucent. This color clay is good for SO many types of baked goods. The translucent clay makes it look more realistic when it is bakes and not super chalky. 
      You will also need to prebake a long snake (or several short ones) of chocolate colored clay. It doesn't necessarily need to be baked completely, just for a few minutes. you need to chop it up into tiny pieces. Chips or chunks, it doesn't matter too much. 
    The next steps is to mix the pre-baked chips into the dough. You can also skip this step if you want and just add some chips to the top of the cookies. But this is how you make real chocolate chip cookies, so this is how I like to make my polymer clay cookies. 

      Next you want to get the basic size of your cookies. What I do is take a small piece of the clay mixture and roll it into a tiny ball and smooth it into a flat cookie shape. If it looks about right I will roll it back up and make more little balls of clay in the same size. Then I squish them all flat. 
      After my cookies are flat I start to do the texture on them. For texture I use an old toothbrush and a bit of balled up aluminum foil. For the bottoms of the cookies I use just toothbrush texture, for the tops I use both the toothbrush and the balled up foil. Then I take a needle tool (which is literally a needle that I put on a handle of clay) and I will dig out the chocolate chips that are close to the surface a bit. If you didn't mix them into the dough, this would be when you could add them to the top and push them in a bit. 
     This is the step that I really wish I had more photos of. To make the cookies looked baked like this (they are still uncooked polymer clay in this photo) you take a few colors of pastel and add it to the cookies in layers. You need a dull yellow color (not bright, closer to a buckskin), an orangeish shade, again sort of brown orange would be good. And a reddish brown. Start with a dusting of the yellow, not totally covering the surface. Then work on some of the orange, but adding it more around the edges and a light dusting in the middle. The last use the dark reddish brown, but very lightly. Once you get into this you will actually get a good feel for how much to add of each color. 
      And that's it really. Bake them according to the package direction and then add a layer of gloss or matte finish (I use brush on for these) and coat the surface to protect the pastels. They are actually really easy to make. With some very similar skills you could also make bread, rolls and a variety of other baked goods. I hope someone finds this interesting and useful :) 

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

NaMoPaiMo Minis Painting Minis Prizes

     The painting part of NaMoPaiMo may be over, but the fun certainly is not! A really fun part of NaMoPaiMo is seeing what people get for prizes. Though the prizes are not a guarantee, just a bonus. This year, the minis that painted also were eligible for prizes of their own. I grabbed a handful of photos to share to keep the NaMoPaiMo fun going!
     First up, we have action Stan. I enjoyed Action Stan's pictures all throughout NaMoPaiMo. When Action Stan received his NaMoPaiMo prize package, he was thrilled! He got some new horses to work on, and a few other fun things.
photo by Allison Pareis
      Those are some really great looking prizes!
photo by Allison Pareis
I love the added detail of the huge smile in this one!
photo by Allison Pareis
Action Stan also got a mini medallion. What an amazing prize!
photo by Allison Pareis
       I really love the minis painting minis photos. I think I should get some more of Little Elecktra painting. Maybe she can try out my new earth pigments. 
photo by Allison Pareis
     DJ and Johnny received a really cool box of prizes for the NaMoPaiMo minis painting minis participants. The super cool horse shelves were from Bobbie Allen of Horse Tender Studio. 10 lucky minis will receive a set of these cool horse shelves!
photo by Lynne Penner
        DJ, Johnny and Spock spent some time overseeing Lynne filling out certificates to go with minis painting minis prizes. If they would help, I bet the work would go faster! I have never had any luck getting help from a mini though.
photo by Lynne Penner
      I wish I had been able to get more photos of Little Elecktra painting. But setting up the pics takes a lot of time and February is not a very motivated month for me in general. Maybe soon I will set up some more photos, just because they are fun. And I still need to consider setting up the elegant doll tea party. I also have my picnic at the horse show stuff, there are a lot of shenanigans I could get up to with that!

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Doing My Part

      Sunday I heard that all non-essential businesses in Massachusetts would be closing by noon on Tuesday. I also learned that hospitals are asking for people to sew masks and gowns, since there is that much of a shortage. So since everything was closing, I went to Joann's to get some mask making supplies and a few extra doll making things.
      I found out that Joann's will not be closing. They are considered essential because people need material to make the gowns and masks. Which is good to know. I do also know that elastic is in short supply these days. Remember the days when we could go into a store with a list of things we needed and they would all be there? Well, unless you went to Walmart, a lot of stuff is always out of stock there. Still, you could usually get toilet paper. And other things, depending on the day and where you are. Anyway, I got a variety of fabrics, the fusible interfacing, some random other things for doll making and other craft things but there was not any elastic in the store when I first went in. But luckily, I have a hookup (Elecktra's friend works there) and I got a text from her when the batch of elastic came in from another store.
     When I got home I made my mask pattern, laid out all of my materials, put a show on, and got to cutting. I just kept on going until I had 4 masks in each material I had.
       Mostly I just got plain fabrics because function is much more important than cuteness. Though I couldn't help it and I did get some Nightmare Before Christmas fabric. I had a coupon. Several actually. 
     All of the pieces needed to have interfacing ironed in. I have never used that stuff before and it was a bit tricky to figure it out. I did finally get it to work. Sort of. 
     Then came all the sewing. There was a lot of sewing. The pattern is tricky when you first try it. There are 3 pleats, and they have to nest next to each other exactly. I managed to bend a needle, stab myself hard enough to bleed at least once (I did not bleed on the masks) but I eventually got the hang of how to make them and things went much more quickly. I have another pattern that I want to try, which might be a bit easier to manage. Anything that can help me make these as quickly as possible would be good. 
      So I have a handful of finished masks so far, but I have a whole bunch more that are prepped and ready for sewing. I need to get back to sewing them, but my neck and upper back hurt so much after cutting out all the materials and sewing this handful that I needed to take a break. How do people sew and sew for hours a day?
      I wish there was more that I can do, but mostly, I stay home, teach Travis and now I sew masks. I think staying home is the most important thing that I can do.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Great Mail Day, Progress and “Free Time”

       Saturday was a really good mail day. I got a NaMoPaiMo prize! And it was a super fantastic one! I have the medallion from this year, whose name I can't remember for some reason, and I got a great set of earth pigments! I think this is like, every horse color or something! This particular prize was donated by Jerri Tedford and I nearly purcashed one of these sets myself! I'm glad I didn't. So now I need to pick out some micros and minis that are all prepped and waiting, get some base coats on and get to pasteling! I totally want to do "makeup" on a horse! I think I will be at least fairly good at pasteling. I do a lot of blending of pigments when I do makeup.
     Travis also got a package on Saturday. It was drumsticks from his drum teacher at school! What a cool gift! We don't have practice pads or anything, but in drum lab they drum on all sorts of things. So I gave him a box for now. We also got on a really wild Google Hangouts yesterday with the teacher and a whole bunch of the students! It is really fantastic that even with social distancing we can still see people. Though one on one video chatting is way easier than with 36 people on at the same time!
     Saturday was also mini food sculpting day. I made a bunch of HUGE chocolate chip cookies, some french fries, chicken strips and pretzels. I didn't make any cotton candy, but I might get a chance to try that before the end of the week. We'll see what happens. 
      Saturday I also pulled out my ANCIENT GameCube and asked Ethan to help me hook it up to the TV. Or at least try to. I said the new TV would probably laugh at me! But it worked and I played Resident Evil for awhile. I have not played a video game in years! I liked it. I still wish I could play the SIMS 4, but unless I order a new laptop or something, that is not going to happen. 
      So Saturday was a pretty good day with some work and some different use of free time. I also read a bit. I was proud of myself for doing things that were not work of some kind. If the weather ever gets nice I may spend a bunch of time out in the yard reading. I need some vitamin D!