Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Joseph Had A Little Overcoat...Again

Posted by Paulette

Joseph is all finished up. 

Joseph had a little overcoat, then he made a jacket out of it. 
Joseph had a little jacket, the he made a vest out of it.
Joseph has a little vest, then he made a scarf out of it.
Joseph had a little scarf, then he made a tie out of it.
Joseph had a little tie, then he made a handkerchief out of it.
Joseph had a little handkerchief, then he made a button out of it.
Joseph had a little button. He lost the button, and so he made a song from it.

This is a very shortened version of a traditional Yiddish tale about thrift. A virtue which I think is lacking in our society today, but one that is quickly returning.

This doll is a special order. Which is something I do. I enjoy the challenge of making a 3-D version of an illustration or character from a book or story. It just so happens that this is one of my favorite stories.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Work In Progress Joseph Had A Little Overcoat Doll

Posted by Paulette

Sometimes when I have a new client, they like to see the process of their doll being made. This doll when finished, will be Joseph from the book Joseph Had A Little Overcoat. It's a story about thrift. 

So, I begin with a pattern. This one is of my own making. I trace the pattern onto the fabric, and start sewing and cutting and stuffing, and soon we have a new canvas with which to create a new character.

 Joseph's face has been needle sculpted which gives him more character than a flat painted on face. 
He's able to stand on his own, although he'll be more stable with a stand.

This character has a bit of a tummy. His fingers and thumb are wired for poseablility.
He is 15 1/2 inches standing.
Next comes paint, hair and some clothes. The easiest part of making the doll is finished. I make all new patterns for the dolls and clothes that I make for each doll.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Vegan Gluten Free Banana Muffins

Posted by Paulette

Some days I run out of eggs. And then I make a vegan muffin. This one is also gluten free, so there's the best of both worlds. I've been trying to feed my family healthier meals. I've replaced vegetable oils with olive oil and coconut oil.  This recipe uses coconut oil. I always use whatever I have on hand, and so it's nice to know about substitutions.
 We don't drink cow's milk anymore. I've read that it's likely to have puss in it, which makes sense. When you produce food on an industrial scale, you should expect lack of quality. I am able to source some raw goat's milk from a friend occasionally, but her goats are a bit dry right now. So we make due with almond milk. Coconut milk is good too, but has a distinctive taste that isn't good for everything. So, back to why this muffin is vegan. It's one of  those substitutions I was talking about. In baking you can substitute 2 tablespoons flax seed meal + 2 tablespoons water for 1 large egg.
My baked goods still have a good texture, but they turn out a bit blonder on top. So, time to share the goodness. By the way, that's real butter on top. I am not a purist.

Vegan Gluten Free Banana Muffins

2 1/2 cups brown rice flour
1 1/2 cups tapioca flour
4 tablespoons flax seed meal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 3 bananas, mashed
 2 cups almond milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare muffin pans with cupcake papers or nonstick spray.
In a large bowl, whisk together first 7 ingredients. In a smaller bowl mix remaining ingredients and then pour into large bowl, and mix until well incorporated. Spoon approx. 1/4 cup of batter into each muffin cup. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

It's lovely if there's places where the brown sugar didn't fully incorporate into the muffin, because it creates pockets of caramel. So don't worry if your brown sugar is a bit clumpy.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Feeling Blessed On This Day of Rest

Posted by Paulette

This morning was beautiful. I awakened to hear Jonny in the kitchen doing dishes without being asked. He also said he was going to make breakfast, but when I informed him I wouldn't be able to eat what he was planning, he agreed to let me make something else.

I made muffins and was enjoying the fact that while Dave and 
I were working outside yesterday, the kids were working inside to get everything cleaned up and ready for Sunday. I appreciate that more than they know.

Then while I was posting the recipe for the muffins I made, I heard Katie playing nurse to her little sister Sophia. "Sophi, you're hot. I'll go get you some water." I turned around and Sophia had that "look" about her that a mother knows. That one where they're eyes don't look right. And sure enough, she had a fever. I agreed to stay home from church and watch her.

We both have had some good naps. It's 3:30 pm and I'm still in my jammies. I decided to go do some watering in the back yard. My little private Garden of Eden.

The family will be home soon. Let me share with you my little time.
This is our little wheelbarrow garden. 

I've planted some basil (you can never have enough basil), Spanish Lavender, lemon verbena, and some mint. I let them sit in their pots too long and didn't water them one day. This is what the Arizona summer does to plants. It zaps them! The basil and lavender seem to be reviving, but the mint got it bad.
It's coming back though. See that little baby, there? That's what good soil and water will do.

The sun is so bright, it's hard to make this one out. Those are my 5 ducks. When I came outside they were chilling out on the porch. I hate it when they lay on the porch. They Poo poo everywhere. Yucky! So I chased them off the porch, sprayed it off and set the hose to run under the fig tree. They discovered the puddle I'd made for them and decided to relocate. That big gray one on the right is actually wagging his tail feathers he's so happy. They have a cool place to sit and EAT! 

This is our new raised bed. It's composting and waiting to be filled with beautiful plants in October. It's "hot" right now, since it has a lot of steer manure in it. Isn't that box beautiful? It's like a piece of furniture, and I made it!
Maybe, just maybe, if I can make a raised bed for my plants, I can make a bed for Hyrum, since the one we bought from Ikea for him fell apart. Junk!

This is what good soil looks like. It's not Arizona dirt, and make no mistake, there is life in there. All of the microbes and insects in there doing their job. We used a mixture of beer and coke to fast track the  composting process. 

And we still need to add back in the beneficial microbes. The recent rain has helped with that, but I will be putting some yogurt or kombucha in there too. 

Well, looks like I'm out of time. The family is home. And I am needed.

Gluten free Pizza Muffins

Posted by Paulette

When I started living a gluten free lifestyle, one of the things I missed most was pizza. I learned how to make a pizza crust and a fantastic pizza from it. But what would be better than a pizza? Pizza muffins! 
 Recently while out shopping with a friend at Costco we picked up some sun dried tomatoes. She mentioned that they'd be good in muffins and my brain exploded with an idea, pizza muffins!
I've given my muffins to people, and they can't believe they're gluten free. So now it's time to share the goodness.

Gluten Free Pizza Muffins
makes 20 muffins

2 1/2 cups brown rice flour
1 1/2 cups tapioca flour
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons dried basil
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon yeast
2 cups  grated mozzarella cheese + 1 cup for tops
2 large eggs
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup sun dried tomatoes
1 3/4 cups water

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Prepare muffin tins with papers or nonstick spray
  • Whisk together first 9 ingredients in a large bowl
  • In a small bowl whisk together water, oil and eggs
  • Add to the large bowl and mix well.
  • Drop 1/4 cup scoops of batter into each cup of the muffin tins.
  • Sprinkle the tops with the remaining mozzarella cheese
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes
There is no need for sauce for these muffins, but if you'd like to add chopped olives, sausage or pepperoni that would be delicious!


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Making Black Gold

Posted by Paulette

When David and I moved into our first house we had a huge back yard with lots of room for gardening. I had my vegetable garden and my flower garden with room to spare. The best part of that yard was a large space, probably 15'x 10' for making compost. He crowed about his plans to make black gold. I thought black gold was oil. How were we going to make oil? He soon taught me about compost, the food for plants. We moved away from that house more than 10 years ago and when we tried to garden in Arizona, we were a dismal failure. Right away we started with some recycled trash bins with holes drilled into them and the bottom cut off. We thought we were on our way to gardening Nirvana. Our hopes and dreams were dashed when we planted our first garden in March and watched our precious tomato plants shrivel and die in the heat. We didn't get even one tomato! The soil here is clay. Not the best for gardening in. So we had two strikes against us; the heat and the soil.
Time for us to go to school.  Our visions for our dream gardens are starting to take shape. After attending a class taught by Donna, we learned that the compost bins that we were trying to use for a decade were ineffective, and why. Our compost was taking FOREVER to decay and break down. I found plans for a composing system that was in line with Donna's teachings. Today we put it together.
 Our new system is made of 4 pallets which were $3 each at our feed store. I need to find a source where I can get them for free. The stakes were about $4 each, and we used 8 of them.
Our new system cost $44. We were lucky to get free mulch from Donna. She asked a landscaper to dump some in her driveway. It only took 3 weeks for her gardening friends to haul away what she didn't use. It's the lovely stuff in the center. This will be where we pull our brown waste from. The green waste will come from our kitchen and yard. The left and right sides of the system are for the composting. One active and the other inactive, and will be rotated every three months. If you are local and want to learn more about the science of composting, comment with your e-mail, and I'll send you Donna's info. Classes are $15 per person and $25 per couple.
She's a very insightful person. Here's her blog: Sharing Life's Abundance.

And here's the original system that inspired my easy peasy one.
 If you'd like to follow my Pinterest board for gardening it's here:

Gluten Free Almond Joy Muffins

Posted by Paulette

The little vacation that I had from being gluten free is over. For a short time I was able to have a sandwich made with regular bread. It was a freeing experience to be able to go out to eat and not worry about whether or not I was going to break out in hives, but that's over.
I've been working on some new recipes for muffins. They're the perfect grab and go meal or snack. This week I brought some to a friend who was surprised to find out that they were gluten free. She asked for a recipe. I'm the queen of dump and bake. So I've been working on measuring out things so that I can share the goodness. 
 I am hoping that going GMO free and gluten free again will heal my body. Time to tell Arthur Itis  and Hives goodbye. I was burned  twice this week by products that were gluten free. Both were crackers. One had corn, and the other soy. READ those labels! You can assume nothing!

I've created a new muffin, one I've never heard of. I'm calling it an Almond Joy muffin, because that where my inspiration came from.
 They're in the oven right now, and I've had three of my five children come and ask me what that wonderful smell is. 

Gluten Free Dairy Free Almond Joy Muffins
makes 18 muffins
  2 cups brown rice flour
1 cup tapioca starch
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup coconut oil
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups almond milk
3/4 cups chocolate chips

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare muffin tins by either lining with cupcake papers or spray with nonstick spray. 
  • Mix the first 8 ingredients in a large bowl, in a small bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, eggs, vanilla and almond milk. 
  • Add to the dry ingredients and stir until well blended, stir in the chocolate chips. 
  • Scoop 1/4 cup of batter into each cup of the tin.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
Oh My Gosh these are so good! Get them away from me before I eat them ALL!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

An Angel and an Elf

Posted by Paulette

Two more dolls:

 I've had some requests for for a Weeping Angel doll from the Dr Who series. I found the perfect fabric, and drafted a new pattern. This is a stump doll, which means that she has no legs. Her body is a cone on the bottom and to that I sewed her torso. Then the dress had to be slipped over her neck, and then her head and arms attached. Her dress is tacked in some places. 
Working with one fabric for the whole thing was a bit boring, until I started adding the hair, which is made from tubes of fabric with pipe cleaners inserted. The wings have been quilted.

 This is Peppermint. He's a Christmas elf. I've been wanting to make a black doll for a while. Shading the face is so different than on a lighter skinned doll. I used a white pencil first and then shaded over the top of it. I've discovered that if I spray the fabric with hairspray, it gives it a tooth that the pencil will stick to.

 His hair is made from a crocheted cap with acrylic yarn, and the combed out.
 I had two names for him Peppermint and Paisley. Peppermint won in the poll that I placed on Facebook. 
 I think I've had my doll fix for now. Unless I get a special order, I'll be putting away the sewing machine for a little while. And get back to yard work. It's time to build a compost bin!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

God's Gifts

Posted by Paulette

I woke up to a beautiful soft rain today. Living in the Arizona desert makes one very thankful for every drop of rain we get. When I was living in new Mexico, I would call my grandmother when it started raining and tell her to get her dancing shoes on. This is how it is in the Southwest. We love rain. 
Lately I've been spending a lot of time in the back yard working. It all started with the ducks. I built them a pen on the side of the house using a palate, some wood and chicken wire for a door and some fencing stakes. It only took a couple of hours. When the ducks were delivered they made a b-line for a corner of the yard with the most overgrowth of sage, a tree I can't identify with wicked thorns, and a naval orange tree. I noticed some trash tucked in the underbrush and was soon hacking away to trim everything up so that an adult can walk under it. This led to me hacking away at 10 years of overgrowth in the yard, which made a few huge piles of branches. 
 I've rediscovered how gardening is a therapy. It's good for the body, forcing me to lift and pull, and push and use all of the muscles of my body. It's sweating like I've never sweat before and cleaning out all of those impurities of my body. It's quiet time spent with nature, and communing with Heavenly Father who made all of this glory for his children. It's satisfaction of making changes that will stay that way longer than making a meal or cleaning the house. 
 So the cleaning up has turned into more projects of digging a pond for the ducks, and making raised bed gardens for vegetables that we will be planting in the fall. Planning has turned into implementing,and learning.
 David and I attended a class Saturday and learned the science behind composting. We learned microbiology. We also gained some new friends. God is so good to enrich our lives.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Doll Making Season

Posted by Paulette

My last little one is now in kindergarten. This means that I am free to do more projects during the day. It means it's doll making season. The season has started with two Christmas elves. 

 Schneien  translates as "to snow" in German, he is a winter Elf. His heart is warm and so the cold doesn't bother him. he's available for sale in my Etsy shop.

Lebkuchen is also a German word. It's a ginger spice cookie that is traditionally made for Christmas. I thought it fitting to name her something sweet and spicy that matches with her ginger hair. She's smaller than Schneien, at only 9" tall seated, not including her hair. She would make a perfect elf on the shelf.

There are more dolls coming from craftewoman's workshop soon. I'm working on a Dr Who Weeping Angel.