Thursday, February 28, 2013

White Cake Marshmallow Surprises & PDFs

The week has gone by rather uneventfully here. Elizabeth and I are working away at sewing and felting. We've all felt like we're fighting off a bit of a cold, though no one has actually gotten sick. Everybody is just feeling pretty slow and a bit tired.

Dad's birthday is tomorrow, so I spent the morning making cupcakes for him to share with his friends at work. White Cake Marshmallow Surprises with Chocolate Frosting. In other words, white cupcakes with a whole hollowed in the center (while warm). Shove a large marshmallow into the whole and the heat of the cupcake melts it into a creamy surprise. Cover the top of the marshmallow with chocolate frosting, and you get some cute results. I've never made these before --- so, I hope they turned out! :)

My White Cake Marshmallow Surprises with Chocolate Frosting!

Mom and I spent the afternoon doing some double-sided printing. I'm not a fan of reading on the computer, and I've found quite a few PDFs on Google Books over the last couple years while researching the Eliot Family in Cornwall. Well, Mom finally convinced me to print some things out on paper. So smart. Some of this is for back-up purposes (in case my computer should fail one day). Some of this is for reading purposes. I found a two-volume book on the history of the old Cathedral of Cornwall (originally on the site of the present Parish Church at St. Germans) and the present church. The Eliots were quite involved with restoration and preservation in the 18th Century, so this book looked like a really interesting read. The unfortunate side to this was that the book was only published in 1804. Not the type of thing you order in from the local library!

The only way to buy the book is from one of those "print on demand" publishers --- who don't make anything of quality. So, Mom and I decided to print the PDF scans available on Google. Time consuming, but cheaper in the long run, and we get to control the type of paper and ink. We got quite a good amount done this afternoon, so we're planning on working on that over the next few days.

Other than this . . . not much to report. A Cabela's is coming into Columbus. This is the first one in the state, so Dad is pretty excited. Grand opening is March 7-10, so he's "chomping at the bit" as the saying goes. More later.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Catching Up on Custom Orders, etc.

Time is flying around here and the month is almost over. What happened?! We've had several cold spells and more snow than we've had over the last couple years. Still no real snow fall that stays for a while --- like it should. Did manage to take a couple of pictures showing some of the "deepest" snow.

At the moment, our schedule pretty much revolves around Etsy work. Dad has opened his own shop selling fly fishing flies and supplies. It's called "Nacho's Flies". Even Mom has her own store ("Cobnut Cottage") for vintage sewing and craft supplies.

Elizabeth and I have been busy sewing and felting --- trying to fill the shop up. What's really thrilling is that we sold another Poirot doll and have over ten custom orders for various detectives. We are pretty hard at work these days. I am also working on an order for two larger needle-felted Poirot dolls. Making the Minikin dolls is fun, but I just love making the larger Fogleberry dolls. It's so relaxing. Since I am working on two Poirots, I am making them simultaneously. This should save some time and, most importantly, keep both of them matching in size and general appearance. The suits are different colors, so that lends a little variety to the project. This is the first time that I've made a felted doll "to order" --- which is something that I vowed never to do! I actually find that I am enjoying it quite a lot, and it is spurring me on to finish them faster than I would under normal circumstances! Pictures will come as soon as they're done. :)

I've tried to squeeze a little time in to work on the Eliot Family research. I've gotten to the point where things need to be printed and organized in a file drawer. That's on my agenda for this afternoon . . . maybe. More later.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Packing and Shipping (with Oliver's Help!)

The Bunny (aka: "Oliver") is the sweetest kitty-cat in the world. But sometimes he can be a bit of a pest. On other occasions, he might be a little mischievous --- but completely irresistible. Well, that's what he was doing while I was packing up the latest order of Minikins.

Oliver doesn't care about Minikins at all (good thing, too!), but he loves packing material. We have to keep all of the good packing put up and away from kitties. Oliver is always good at sniffing out stray pieces, though. I pulled out all kinds of tissue and packing to work on the little box, and Oliver took full advantage of the extra tissue in an old Christmas bag to settle in for a short cat nap. Guess that's the end of that paper! :) Isn't he just too cute?!

While The Bunny was thus occupied, it gave me the opportunity to do the packing by myself. Minikins ship in natural-brown-colored paper mache boxes filled with tissue and/or cute paper packing crinkles (I wonder what the "official" name for that is?). Next in? Minikins! All of Poirot's little friends are set in one-by-one and nestled into the paper.

Cover them with some nice white tissue to keep them from shifting during transport, then add a little kraft bag (decorated with a paw print sticker) with a note and card. Usually, this would be a shop business card, but since this was a special order --- Elizabeth drew a special card to match the Poirot theme. Wow!


Put the lid on the box and wrap a "Peppermint Toes" store band around it, and it's ready to go! We have smaller boxes for single dolls, so depending on how many dolls are in an order --- you get a slightly different box. :)

So, I was able to get my packing done and Oliver got in a little cat nap. We were all excited about getting these little dolls in the mail --- only to find that it Presidents' Day today. Oops. Oh well, more later!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Snow, Top O' the Morning and Pancakes

The week has passed, and it is high time for another blog entry. We've been having snow this week --- culminating in some white-out yesterday. It had been so warm for the first part of the week, though, that it hasn't been sticking to the ground until yesterday afternoon. We're white out there this morning and the roads are pretty bad. Granular stuff is falling, but the sun is trying to pop through.

Buddy and Kay were up again on Wednesday for the afternoon. We had a great time. This time, we watched Drums Along the Mohawk and Top O' the Morning. The latter is one of our favorite films, and it was fun to share it with friends. Bing Crosby stars with Anne Blyth and Barry Fitzgerald. The plot? Someone has stolen the Blarney Stone, and it's up to Bing and Barry to catch the culprit. Good Irish music is spread throughout --- of course, Bing is fabulous.

Yesterday, being Saturday, we had a pancake breakfast. For years, we have bought Maple Syrup from various local Amish farms. As the years have rolled by, Elizabeth and I have "gone off" Maple Syrup. Mostly, because it looks like a pale sugar syrup and tastes sweet and weak. Ten years ago (or more!), we tasted Dark Maple Syrup at a Maple Syrup Days event. Wow! Ever since, I've been wishing for some. The Amish won't sell it, though, because they keep it themselves. All this to say that we had to buy some new Maple Syrup about a month ago. Mom and I found some from a local syrup farm (non-Amish) that has quite a name around here. We even got dark syrup! After tasting this stuff --- Elizabeth and I are hooked. This stuff tastes like maple. Not just weak sugar syrup. Now, we're on a pancake craze, so Dad is making them every weekend these days. Yippee!

We've been working away on felt dolls. Not too many of them made it to Etsy this week, as we had a special order for characters from the Poirot TV show. Elizabeth and I put the finishing touches on them yesterday afternoon (see previous entry for pictures), so Poirot has all of his friends. We're taking a break from the Christie world for the next few days. Elizabeth has almost finished a little Minikin of John Wayne in True Grit. Next up: Maureen O'Hara in The Quiet Man. More later.

Felt Minikin Dolls of Hercule Poirot's Friends

If anybody has been wondering what we've been doing all week . . .
We've been making miniature dolls of Poirot's friends as portrayed in some of the David Suchet TV shows. These were actually made as a special order, so they won't even appear in the Etsy shop! We did manage to make two Miss Lemon dolls, so one of those is listed.

Poirot Doll & Friends: Captain Hastings, Mrs. Oliver, Hercule Poirot, Miss Lemon & Inspector Japp

Here we have (from left to right in the picture): Captain Hastings as played by Hugh Fraser. He is Poirot's trusty "associate" and my personal favorite! Hastings is always "into" some new hobby or sport --- usually photography, racing cars and golf. Our little Minikin Hastings doll sports his pair of Plus Fours. That way, he is ready to hit the green during any lull in the case.

Mrs. Ariadne Oliver as played by Zoe Wanamaker. She is Poirot's friend and a fellow "detective". She is a prolific author of mystery books, so she's quite experienced in the world of crime. Her character is sort of an autobiographical spoof of Agatha Christie herself. This outfit is from the show, Mrs. McGinty's Dead. This is the only episode that we watch that features Mrs. Oliver, but she's Mom's favorite character.

Hercule Poirot as played by David Suchet. I've already posted entries talking about this little Minikin. We've made Poirot in multiple outfits and sold some. He is very excited to be joined by all of his pals!

Dolls: Captain Hastings, Mrs. Oliver, Miss Lemon & Inspector Japp

Miss Lemon as played by Pauline Moran. She is Poirot's very capable secretary and appeared in most of the short episodes. She is altogether fabulous, and her clothes are always a picture. Our little Minikin is wearing her light blue dress with white jacket. This is my favorite outfit of Miss Lemon's, and it appears in multiple stories of the short episodes. This particular doll is based on Miss Lemon as seen in The Case of the Missing Will.

Last (but not least!) is the renowned Inspector Japp of Scotland Yard. Poirot shows wouldn't be the same without Japp. He is the first doll that we've made in a trench coat, and the results are so cute! I even needle-felted a hat for him.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Felting, Sewing, Socializing and 'The Quiet Man'

I've noticed that my blogging is slowing down. That's mostly due to the feverish pitch of our Etsy work. We've been working on some custom orders of various Poirot dolls, and that's keeping us pretty busy. Elizabeth's been sewing away on some little Minikin dolls and I'm working on felting two more dolls.

We have managed to get a little recreation in on the side. Buddy and Kay came over on Sunday and spent the afternoon watching movies with us. We have a great time. Eat lunch and dinner together. Talk. Laugh. Snooze (okay, so that's only during the slow movies!). We watched Around the World in 80 Days, which is one that we've wanted to do for a while.

Our second feature was The Quiet Man, starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara. We had already tried to watch this one together a couple weeks ago, but our brand-new DVD arrived broken. So, that meant returning and reordering and waiting for the new copy. It finally arrived in time to watch it on the weekend. This is the new DVD edition --- which is absolutely beautiful! High-res restoration and exquisite color. Beautiful music. Can't beat it. The two stars are great --- and the supporting characters are fabulous. Not only do you get Victor McLaglen, Barry Fitzgerald and Ward Bond, but you get a score of "Irish Players". These include Charlie Fitzsimons and James O'Hara (two of Maureen O'Hara's real-life brothers --- pictured with her and John Wayne in photo below) and Arthur Shields (Barry Fitzgerald's real-life brother). That was a nice end to the evening.

We're still working on sewing and felting, but Buddy and Kay are coming again this week --- so more fun to come!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Celebrating 'National Pancake Day'

National Pancake Day. This was something that we'd never heard of, but it popped up as "hot news" on Bing's front page. Well, it sounded fun --- so, we had a pancake dinner last night. Dad makes great pancakes. I mean, he really missed his calling. He could have been a famous pancake chef. Before he came home from work, Elizabeth and I made the rest of the dinner. We had coffee, biscuits, sausage (vegetarian version, of course), breakfast potatoes (Elizabeth is fabulous at making these --- wow!) and salad (gotta be healthy, too). The unfortunate thing is that we ate all of our pancakes before I had time to photograph them. In this event, I had to get a "generic" National Pancake Day picture.

We've had snow for the past several days, and it's been quite cold. Nothing bad about that, though, because we've been staying close to home. Mom and Dad ran to the Whole Foods store on the weekend, but E. and I opted to stay here. We've been busy working on dolls for the Etsy store. Things in that department are rolling along quite well. We're in the middle of making a set of Minikin dolls based on the main characters from Michael Todd's 1956 film, Around the World in 80 Days. The cats are having a lot of fun since we started making these little dolls, because they think that the supplies make great toys. You have to make sure to put everything away and out of kitty reach. More later.