Wednesday, December 19, 2012

No Holiday just Christmas!

Last week I ran into someone that I had not seen in a long time.  We chatted for a bit and then I had to get going, so I said goodbye and wished this person a Merry Christmas.

She scolded me,   "NO - you shouldn't wish people Merry Christmas Dale - that is unacceptable.   You are supposed to say Happy Holidays!"  I didn't know what to say for a moment, then I said.  "I'm sorry, I don't celebrate the holidays, I celebrate Christmas... so again, Merry Christmas!"  Unacceptable or not - that's how it is for me.

If you look on any Calendar you will find Christmas written on Dec 25th.  It doesn't say Holiday, it says Christmas!  Jesus wasn't born at "Holiday" - he was born at Christmas!  Even Santa comes at Christmas - not Holiday!  Why must we say Holiday instead of Christmas? 

Christmas 2012.  What will it mean to you this year?

So many people have told me that their Christmas this year is going to be "nothing special".  I wonder why?  Are they talking about gifts, or food, or family, or spirit?  I never know what to think because we all have our own views of Christmas, and those views are often based on different things.

I guess if I was thinking Christmas was only about gifts, I would also say that this Christmas was certainly going to be "nothing special".  Lucky for me I believe that the Special of Christmas is the birth of a little baby in Bethlehem so many years ago.

I love the story, I love the pageantry, I love the feeling of welcoming the Christ child into my heart anew year after year, again at Christmas.   It is what I was taught to be important at Christmas as a child, it is what I believe to be very important as an adult.  There is a certain calm and peace that comes over me when I sing Silent Night in a candle- lit church late Christmas Eve, it is a peace that I do not feel at any other time of the year, and it is Very Special.

Whatever Christmas means to you, and whatever your Christmas is going to be this year, I hope it will be something "Special".  Whether you get that feeling from sitting in a church late at night, or sitting at a table filled with family or friends or family and friends, I hope that "Special" something happens to you to give you Peace and Happiness. 

This world needs Peace, and we could do with a lot more Happiness too.  We have to make it happen, and Christmas is a good time to start.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Hoot goes Home!

Today I thought I'd share a really nice story with you.  It is about an Owl (Hoot) who was found trapped in a soccer net  behind a local grade school in October.  The owl was captured by a rescue group, treated till good health returned and yesterday was released back in to the wild. 

Watch the children's faces when they release the bird.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Ghost of Chrsitmas Past

I have an entertainment cabinet in my living room, and each year at Christmas I try and dig out old family Christmas photos and cover the doors of the cabinet with "Christmas Past".

I believe it is important to look backwards every once in awhile.  It reminds us of who were are, or who we were, or who we are supposed to be, or who we would still like to be.  For me it's the memories of a time when life seemed so much simpler, not always better, but certainly simpler.

I thought I'd share a few of the photos that will be on our cabinet doors this Christmas season.

Christmas 1955.
 Christmas 1955

This was the year I was born.  So this was my first Christmas.  Looks like it was a pretty good Christmas for my family that year.  Growing up I had always heard that there never was enough money, and so Christmas was sparse.  Hummmmmmmm......

Christmas 1959

Christmas 1959.

That's me, and that was the year I got my doll carriage from Grandpa Rossnagel- which I still have.  The vinyl on the top hood is ripped but otherwise it still looks about the same.  Mom had nice shiny floors, did she not?  And what's with the 2 highchairs in the kitchen?  The Lassie dog is not something I got for Christmas that year as I have a picture of myself at about 1 yr, and Lassie is already present.

Christmas 1990

Christmas 1990.

Here is a favorite picture of mine.  This is my son at our apartment.  He's two and a half yrs old.  We didn't have any place to hang our stockings so we pinned them to the wall.

Don't you just love the fuzzy jammies, and the cowlick in the hair.

You cant see him, but he is holding a stuffed Mickey Mouse in his left arm, clutched tightly.  Mickey went everywhere Jon went, back then.

Oh here's a really good one.  I'm not sure of the date but I'd say around 1965 or so, give or take a year or two.  This is my youngest brother, Dean.  For a few years my family would drive to Sandilands Forrest to chop down our own Christmas tree.  Dean was always a keen wood worker - still is as a matter of fact.

Don't you just love that hat?  I notice he's wearing rubber boots and not snow boots... wonder why?

This picture was copied from a pretty worn original, sorry for the quality.

The subjects are adorable however, and it too is one of my favorite pictures.  This is my husband Gary and his sister Jane. 

I love the matching PJ's.  Gary looks very much like our son at that age.  So cute.

Jane I know you read my blog.  Hope you don't mind that I shared your photo,  hope this memory brings you joy!

Christmas 1995

This is the only picture I have of Jon actually sitting on Santa's knee.  That would be because it is actually the ONLY time he sat on Santa's knee. 

Every year when we would go to see Santa and Santa would go to lift him up on his knee, Jon would make a great big fuss, and say "No, I'll just stand here." 

This year was different because my brother Norman spent Christmas with us this year.  After church ( which is why a little 7 yr old is dressed in suit and tie - he was a boy chorister at the time with the Men and Boys choir at St. Georges Anglican Church.  They were required to dress in uniform every Sunday).  Anyway my brother Norman told Jon if he sat on Santa's knee, he would by him a gameboy.

Up he went - and yes - that was the Christmas Jon got is gameboy, thanks to Uncle Norm.

I hope you have enjoyed my tour of Christmas Past.  There is room for about 30 photos on the cabinet these are just a few that will make their way there this year.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Best Man!

I have the sweetest husband in the world.  Last Friday night was a horrible night - weather wise.  We had snow on Thursday which the city had not yet plowed, and then through the day it had melted and then the temps fell quickly leaving the roads a mixture of frozen slush and ice.  I had made arrangements to pick up the second box of dolls that I had bought on Friday night.  The lady that I bought the dolls from lives clear across the city, so I thought perhaps we should reschedule.  Gary insisted we go and get the dolls on Friday night as he knew I would be excited to get them.

So we did our grocery shopping after work, came home, unpacked the groceries and put everything away, had supper and the headed out again Friday eve.  It was a horrible drive.  The roads were treacherous, people were driving like complete morons,  and the visibility was very poor.

We arrived at the doll lady's home a little later than we'd planned, and so I sat in the car and he ran in and picked up the dolls.  I think he did this so we could get back home quickly.  The last time we were there, she and I talked dolls for quite awhile, while he sat on the couch and smiled.

We got home, finally and lugged the very heavy box of dolls inside, very thankful to be in from the bitter weather, and safely home from the bad drive.

Here is what was in the box.

I immediately stripped the dolls bare and set about hand washing all the dresses and outfits.  My bathroom looked like a laundry for little people.

Saturday morning I started bathing dolls and washing hair.  It took a lot of shampoo and even more conditioner than I have ever used at one time, and I only did the largest 7 of these dolls.  The rest will have to wait until another time.

These seven are in various stages of spa treatment.  But I did manage to finish one completely by the end of the weekend.

Here is a 20" EEGEE from 1975.  She is made of rubber.

This is what she looked like before I started on her.

And this is her all done...

What an adorable transformation.  If the rest of the dolls turn out as good as she did, I will be a very happy person.

Dolls aside, it was a very busy weekend all around.  I also managed to clean my house and do 6 loads of laundry. I did a lot of cooking and even had time to finish the book I was reading and finish another knitting project.

I so love weekends where I am busy.

Hopefully I can keep the momentum going all week long!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Box Full of Memories.

Once again it's been a week since my last post.  Is it just me, or are the weeks getting busier?  Seems no matter how hard I try I just can't keep up with everything.

I am busy trying to finish up Christmas gifts that I am making.  Some days I don't feel as if I am going to get it all done.  I had planned to spend the weekend in my craft room for the past 2 weeks, but for some reason instead I have spent most of the weekends doing big cleaning projects.  Last weekend it was our bedroom.  I woke up on Saturday morning and decided it needed to have a complete clean and makeover.  So that is what I did all day Saturday... and so went the weekend.

You all know how I love to collect dolls.  Well I replied to an add on our local Kijiji last week.  A lady was selling a lot (box of 15) dolls. Last evening I went to look at these dolls and yup - I bought them, but better than that was the box lot that I did not buy.  It turns out that the lady who sold the dolls is the owner of the Doll Museum near here.  It is the largest doll museum in Western Canada.  Apparently she has a storage  area full of dolls which have been in storage for a long time.  Dolls, who were bought with the intention of displaying in the museum but have actually never made it there, because of lack of space.

Can you imagine the size of my smile! 

I really want the box I left behind - it is full of larger 50's dolls... all in relatively good shape, but needing baths and spa days and some clothing repair or replacement.  These are dolls I grew up with... these are the ones I love the best.  So I am going to work hard to try and get them before someone else does.  She is not asking a lot for the box, but I don't use "our" money for my dolls.  I only use my own crafting money which is low at the moment because I have not been crafting.  I might have to sell a few of the dolls I just bought to buy the box I left behind.

So here are the beauties from yesterday's box.

I see a lot of spa days ahead!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Operation Christmas Child.

Are you looking for a good charity for Christmas?  There are so many Christmas Charities every year that it is difficult to choose one, and certainly you can do more than one.

This year at work we decided to do Operation Christmas Child.  For years we did hampers for the Christmas Cheer Board which went to local families in need. Then for several years we bought Christmas Dinners for the homeless at shelters in the city. Last year we filled warm socks with items for the homeless.

How does it work?
You choose a boy or a girl within a specific age group, and you pack a shoebox (provided by the organization) full of items for that child.

Since 1993 more than 94 million boys and girls from 130 countries have been joyful recipients of shoe box gifts. This year they are hoping that number will reach 100 million boys and girls.   You include such items as school supplies, such as pens, pencils, crayons, note pads and picture books.  Hygiene items such as a bar of soap.  Toys and other gifts such as stuffed animals, small musical instruments, hair clips, tshirts, socks, hard candy.  You can include a personal note or a photo in the shoebox as well.   So I chose a 10-14 yr old boy.  In my shoebox to him was some pencils, a notebook, a pencil case.  A small puzzle, a recorder, a watch, a bar of soap, 2 bags of hard candy and a pack of erasers.  I included a snowman card with a little story about how Canadian children build snowmen.   My box is on it's way to the depot to be shipped with thousands of other boxes to Children half-way across the world.   For November collection dates and locations please visit.   or call 1.800.303.1269   You will be happy you did...

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Saying Thanks

I don't usually post on the weekend.  Weekends are my family time - I try to stay off the computer and away from the electronic world as much as I can.

But this Saturday is the first Saturday in a long time that I have actually felt well.  No headache, no booming, no dizziness - it is wonderful... and I hope it lasts.

Thank you all who have been praying for my friends and family.  Some of our prayers have been answered already.  My cousin Elaine did very well with her breast cancer surgery - the tumor was small and early and so the surgery was not as invasive as expected.  She is resting and recovering, and in very good spirits with her good news.

My friend Sharon has decided to stay here in Winnipeg and start her treatments.  She has a long haul ahead of her but she is surrounded by family and friends and has much love and support to get her through this.  We hope and pray that her husband can sell their property in Alberta very soon so he too can finally move here.

The sun was shining today, and even thought the temps were on the cold side, seeing the sun was so uplifting after a month of gloomy cloudy weather.

So this Saturday we have much to be thankful for.

It feels like a perfect evening to knit.  I'm going to make a pot of tea, put some nice soft music on and knit.

Have an enjoyable evening everyone.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Prayerful Day!

My heart is so heavy this month.  You wouldn't know it by my seemingly upbeat posts about snow, dolls and Christmas  - but I have used those happier thoughts to cover the darker ones that lurk just below the surface of my psyche.

Life can be so cruel and painful.  We all know this, we all experience it at some time in our lives.  Pain is pain - whether it be physical, mental or emotional makes no difference - the result is mostly the same.

This month has been fraught with pain for so many that I love.  Friends and family alike are in pain this month, and so I ask you to help me pray for these who are suffering.

My cousin Elaine, is right at this moment being prepped for surgery for breast cancer.  I have been trying to walk her through this process because I can.  I hope I have helped her in some way... today, I pray for strength and healing for Elaine and for the surgeons who will be operating on her.  I shared this beautiful picture with her - it was a comfort to me going into surgery, and I know it will be to her as well.

Yesterday my friend Carol and her family laid her granddaughter's husband to rest.  He died suddenly leaving a young wife, and three small children behind.  I pray for Ashley and her children and all their family members who face a terrible struggle as they try to move forward from this day on.

My dearest friend, Sharon has just been diagnosed with ovarian cancer.  This after surviving double mastectomy for breast cancer.  Sharon just moved back to Winnipeg, her husband Al isn't even here yet, she started a new job a week ago, and they bought a new house.  Within a week - their whole life changed.  I pray for Sharon and Al as they face the many challenges they are going to have during the next weeks and months.  I pray for Sharon's safe return to good health, wherever she may choose to have her treatment.

My neighbour, Gordon who has been battling cancer for 5 years now, had a accident last week which has affected him greatly.  Gordon was told there will be nothing further done for him and his cancer this spring.  He and his wife have been dealing with their affairs remarkably well.  Gordon even began to look better, and feel better, and then he fell off a city bus while leaving the bus.  He has deteriorated considerably.  I pray for both my friends as they travel through this new area of gray.

Young Michelle, who was involved in that senseless car crash in September is still suffering.  After 2 months she remains in daily rehab for her injuries, and she continues to receive home care at home.  Michelle is in pain, and she is frustrated and she is struggling with so many issues related to her accident and beyond.  I pray for her healing, and her acceptance of her limitations at this time of her life. 

I have been feeling ill for a few months.  I have been dizzy, lightheaded, and have had a headache for well over a month.  My blood pressure is elevated, and so far none of the medication changes have worked.  Some days I feel like a stroke about to happen, some days I wish it just would already - you know - like get it over with and lets get on with it....

But I don't want to have a stroke, neither do I want to feel the way I do... so I pray for myself.  For patience, for healing and for understanding why so many around me are in pain.

If you are a person who prays - please add these special people to your prayers.

Thank you.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Baking or Decorating?

Have you been baking?  I intended to bake on the weekend, just like I said I would, but when I crawled up to my top shelf to get my cookie cookbook, I was appalled at the grease on the shelf.  So much so in fact, that right there and then I decided to wash down my whole kitchen instead of baking.

Everything came out of the cupboards, out came the soap and water and clean rags and I cleaned.  I have to tell you it took me 2 days to clean up the mess I made, but it was worth it.  Wow, my kitchen is sparkling clean now.

And we did get that snow storm too - not quite as much as they had predicted, but still enough to get people stuck in the alleys.  This was 11pm Saturday night - halfway through the storm.  It was snowing pretty heavily, but we really didn't get much blowing, which is a really good thing.

The snow really put me in the "Christmas mood."  I want to decorate, and bake and cook, and decorate, and decorate.  Did I mentions I really want to decorate?   LOL!

I decided it would be okay to start putting a few things up in the windows - you know bobbles and things... oh heck, somewhere along the way that thought went out the window too -  and here is what I ended up doing...

Piano window #1.

Now that was so much fun I just have to continue!  I guess the dolls are going to be my feature this year  How fun is that!

So at the moment we are dressing for our parts.
Here is a pretty Chatty Cathy all ready for the holidays.

Window #2 - here I come!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Bake and Visit...

I got my Festive edition of Kraft foods, "What's cooking" in the mail yesterday.  I love this little magazine and look forward to receiving it every other month or so - but the Festive - or Holiday - dare I say "Christmas" edition is always a real treat (no pun there)!

As usual it is full of yummy meals and desserts and as online editions get more popular than paper - there are many many links to good recipes on the Kraft site.

I found many recipes I want to try, but for sure I wanted to tell you about the  big-batch Kris Kringle cookies.  The recipe makes 66 cookies - perfect kick-start to your holiday baking, if you do that sort of thing.

Do you still do a lot of baking for the holidays?  Remember the days when Christmas baking was started in November?  Does anyone do this anymore?

I think that was done because years ago people would visit around at 'Christmas".  Sundays were a visiting day and the holidays were also a special time for more visiting.  One had to have a lot of baking on hand to feed your guests.

Sadly we don't visit friends and family like we used to.  We have become, lazy, too busy, and too connected with the cyber world to actually get in the car and go and do weekly visiting.  I remember my parents always went to visit someone on a Sunday afternoon, and if they didn't it was because someone was visiting us.  It wasn't just them that went either - if they were visiting, then the rest of us were too.  It was a family effort, and no one was allowed to stay home for any reason.

One elderly couple that we visited a couple of times a month were living in a tiny little run down apartment in the inner city.  They were of French descent - he, right from France french, and she a French Canadian.  They had no children of their own, and my dad had known Mr Cousin for years as they had hunted together with my grandfather.  We would go and sit in the cramped little living room, the men would talk hunting (of course) and little Mrs. Cousin and my mom would talk about family.  Mrs. Cousin would want to know all about all our family, and then she would want to know all about what we kids were learning at school, and what activities we were doing.  About 9 pm she would get up and put the tea on.  We would all shuffle into the little kitchen and she would serve ham sandwiches - always ham sandwiches on store bought white bread. I think she made the sandwhiches early in the day, because the bread was always dry.  Mr. Cousin would pour some rye in his and my dad's tea and we would have a wee meal compete with Girl Guide cookies for dessert.

It is a cherished memory of my youth... and I wonder - will anyone have such a memory of a visit to my home years down the line?  I rather doubt it, because this was a regular and frequent visit, and we just don't do that anymore.

Maybe it's time to change that.... I'm going to start by making some of these cookies....

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Let it Snow!

There is a very good possibility that we are going to get our first big snowfall of the season this weekend.  The predictions at the beginning of the week were for 30cm or more, but now that has dropped to 15cm.  Darn and Drat!

It has been awhile since Winnipeg had a significant blizzard, and I for one, are in a mood to be house-bound for a few days.

I love the snow, everyone rolls their eyes at me, but I do love the snow.  Just to clarify - I'm not crazy about severe cold weather - I just love snow.  So 15 cm sounds good - 30 would be even better!

My craft room has a huge big window which is never covered because there are dolls all over the sill and a bunch standing on a trunk looking out.  I love this window, because even though I look out to the house next door, what I really see is a pretty garden in the summer, and beautiful clean white, undisturbed snow in the winter.

Neither my neighbour nor us use that area between the houses in the winter so it stays so pretty all winter long.  The snow piles naturally in the garden.  The birds are often sitting in the shrubs and plants that are left sticking out of the snow, and it is so peaceful and so very pretty to look at.  The other night I was in there and it was snowing huge big fat flakes that were coming down and catching on the plants.  They melted right away but they were all glittery as they fell, and it was so pretty to watch.

So that's what I want for this weekend.  I am inclined to be more creative when Mother Nature gives me a firm nudge. 

Even so, I am gaining some momentum without her nudge.  I finished another knitting project last night while listening to the Election Coverage.  I just might get that Christmas list completed in time this year.

I promise to take some pictures this weekend.

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Speedy Delivery!

Do you know how difficult it is to re-root a dolls head of hair?  I know, you don't really care, but I have to tell you - I spent a couple of hours these past few days watching YouTube videos, and really it is not something to consider doing unless you really want a good workout in frustration.

Even so - I went home after work, with the intention of at least attempting to remove my tiny Chatty's head.   To do this it has to be heated with a blow dryer to soften the plastic, because there is a neck flange inside that can break, if not done properly.  If the flange breaks - the head cannot be reattached.  So this was my intention... get the head off.

I got home, changed out of my work clothes into my sweats, was just heading into the craft room when I heard hubby say "Who is that guy walking out of our yard?"  Our doorbell is not working, but that makes no difference, as Molly always barks when someone or something comes into the yard.  She had not barked so we were surprised when we opened the front door and found a large flat parcel sitting on the steps.

I got terribly excited because a few weeks ago I had ordered a self-healing cutting mat set online from Joanne's Fabrics - and it was here!

I was like a kid at Christmas!  This was a Fiskar's set with a large cutting mat, ruler and rotary cutter.  The whole set cost less (shipping included) than one ruler would have cost me here. 

So doll forgotten I switched to quilting mode - just like that!  Out came the table runners I had started to make for Christmas and I was back in business.

I took a break for supper then decided to finish a knitting project, also for Christmas.

So this is the way it will be from now till Christmas? 

Seems so...

Happy Crafting!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

New Kid on the Block

Look who's come to stay at my house!

A Chatty Baby!

I have been looking for one of these for a long time, and then I got and email from my friend Eva in AZ saying she was bidding on a auction on Ebay for 2 Chatty Babies and 2 tiny Chatty babies - if she won them would I like to split them with her?

Well that was an offer I could not say no to. I got the better of the Chatty Babies, because Eva already has a nice one, and she got the better of the Tiny Chatty Babies because I already have a nice one.   So we each got 1 good doll and one fixer upper. 
Here is my fixer upper Tiny Chatty

I just can't stand a dirty doll so she got a shampoo and a bath and some warm clothes and now she is looking a little less sad.

She will need a complete re-rooting of her hair as it's been cut badly and what is left is just fuzz.  I want to crack her open and try my hands at working on the voice box, but now that she is clean, I am a little afraid to tear her apart.  But I will.

I had several boxes of stuff to take to the thrift store today and just in case there would be a good doll or two for sale I decided to pop in the store.  There were no dolls but all the Halloween stuff was on sale for 1.00.  One of the best things to use to re root dolls hair are the good Halloween wigs.  I grabbed several which were in the 20.00 range originally for 1.00 each, so now that I have the hair - I need to take the plunge and give it a try.

But first this little one has to beheaded and cracked open.  Wish me luck as I start this new venture.  I'll take pictures as I go along.


Friday, November 2, 2012

New Beginnings

Last post I told you that I have returned to my writing.  The last project I was working on before I went astray was a story about Chatty Cathy... by Cathy herself.  At the moment I am not really sure where this story is going.  I have some idea floating around my head for a chapter book, and then there is the idea for a picture book, and it seems somewhere along the way I have started writing a novel - so we'll just have to go with it and see where it takes me.

I have been taking some photos of scenes with my Chatty Cathy dolls, I have a lot more in mind and all that was in preparation for a picture book - well  - maybe I'll do one of each kind of book!

By now you all know of my love, maybe even obsession with this doll, so who better to write about?

I thought I'd share a little bit of the beginning of my story with you.

This is early days in this story - but I thought it might be fun to see what you think because this is a totally different style of writing for me. 

So here goes - hope you enjoy!

Chapter one


It all started in 1963. There I was, in my box on the top shelf of the doll isle in The T Eaton & Co. store in downtown Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Where is Winnipeg, you ask?

Well if you took a map of Canada and folded it in half matching the east coast to the west, then pressed a crease right down the middle – well you’d be close enough to Winnipeg to see the Golden Boy. But that’s another story; we were talking about the T Eaton store in downtown Winnipeg.

I wish you could have seen the store that year. It was ablaze with lights and decorations from the basement to the 9th floor. Christmas was everywhere. It was the main shopping destination for every man and woman and the toy section was every child’s dream come true.

The store windows on the street level were decked out with wonderful winter scenes. Each window was a different scene, filled with popular toys that were for sale in the store. Some windows were decorated with toys for boys to play with; others were only for the girls.

My favorite window was the one of a life –sized doll house complete with every piece of doll furniture available; the dolls even had a Christmas tree with presents beneath it. Oh it was grand! There were sleighs for the dolls to ride in, ponds for them to skate across, and piles of snow for them to toboggan down. A few of my friends got to spend the whole Christmas season, playing in the doll’s window scene.

The rest of us - me along with twenty-four other dolls just like me, stood in our boxes on shelves in the toy department on the fourth floor. Our days were spent watching moms and dads as they searched for the perfect Christmas present for their little girls.

We were the most sought-after doll that year. Chatty Cathy; the talking doll that said eleven different things.

“Just pull her ring; you never know what she’ll say next.” Every little girl knew the closing line in our TV Commercial. They had been watching that commercial for weeks now. What they didn’t know was how much we wanted to be taken home and played with by our own little girl.

I secretly wanted a girl of my own, but what I really wanted was the pretty red coat with the white collar that came as part of my wardrobe. If I could get a girl and a red coat, well I guess I would just about be the happiest doll ever!

One by one that Christmas season, the boxes of the other dolls started to leave the shelf. We had all been born in the same factory, so when a box left the shelf in the hands of a happy Mom or Dad we silently wished our sister farewell, along with a silent prayer that they would live in a happy home, with a nice girl to play with them.

As the days drew closer to Christmas I waited and waited. It seemed that every little girl this year wanted the yellow- haired doll with the blue dress and shoes. My hair was dark – they called me the brunette model, and my dress and shoes were red. I thought that went pretty well with the colors of Christmas, but I guess the little girls in 1963 didn’t care about that.

The doll in the box next to mine was getting sort of nervous that perhaps we would not be wanted at all. She too had darker hair – not as dark as mine, but not yellow either. Hers was more reddish, but she did have a blue dress and shoes, only her dress did not have a pinafore with it.

“Pssssssssst… Cathy, are you getting scared that we are going to be stuck in these boxes forever?” She whispered when the isle finally emptied of people.

“Not really, Chatty. Someone will want us, eventually.”

“But what if they don’t? Will that mean that we have to stay in these boxes forever?”

I didn’t get a chance to tell her that everything would be okay because a man and woman who had been walking up and down the isle for awhile had finally stopped right in front of our boxes and they were staring up at us.

“I don’t know, Walter; the girls really wanted blonde dolls. It doesn’t look like there are any left.” The lady said, her voice rising in frustration.

The man looked around him, “We could always go back and get the nurse kits or the baking sets.”

“No, they told Santa it had to be Chatty Cathy this year, we’ll just have to take what we can find.”

“I suppose I could ask a sales clerk, maybe they have more in the back somewhere.” The man pivoted on his heels and headed down the isle away from her.

The lady studied us and paced the floor while she waited. “I think you two are kind of cute,” she quietly told us. “If we don’t buy you, I’m afraid we won’t get a doll like you anywhere! Oh what to do, what to do?”

“The clerk said these are the last two, once they are gone they will be sold out.” The man was back. He reached forward and plucked my box off the shelf and threw it in the shopping cart. In went my friend’s box, smack dab on top of mine.

“He could have been more gentle,” Chatty hissed, as we whizzed down the isle towards the check out area.

“Hey, now is our chance to check out the Santa’s Village that all the kids talk about as they pass by us,” My vision was blocked by Chatty’s box. “Can you see anything, Chatty, your box is in my way!”

“Yeah, I see where it is, but there are so many kids in the isle I can’t see what they are looking at. Oh, but Cathy – I can see Santa sitting there. Oh I wish you could see his pretty red suit.”

“Yeah, me too.” I tried not to let my disappointment ruin the excitement of finally leaving the store shelf. “What’s taking so long?”

“Shhh…, we’re next. It’s a real long line to the cash register.” Chatty whispered, and then her box was lifted and for a moment I could see everything.

“There can’t be many of these dolls left,” the cashier chatted with the man and woman who were taking us home.

The woman smiled brightly and nodded her head. “These two were the last on the shelves. Our little girls made it perfectly clear that they only wanted Chatty Cathy for Christmas, so we are so happy we could still find a couple of them. Oh, I forgot to get some outfits for the dolls, can we leave these here and come back for them?”

“I thought we were done,” grumbled the man. “You go get the outfits; I’ll wait here for you.” He crossed his arms across his chest and prepared to wait for his wife.

“Do you hear that Cathy, she is getting us some outfits! Oh, I am so excited.” Chatty was so happy her box was almost rattling.

“Just so long as I get a red coat. Oh Chatty, I really want that red coat so much.”

“I heard they were sold out of the red coat two days ago.” Chatty said quietly.

“I didn’t hear that,” I pouted. “Maybe you didn’t hear right, Chatty; they just have to have some left.”


“Okay, I’m back. Here we go,” the woman piled some clothing packs on the table and waited for the cashier to ring them through.

“What did she get?” I was desperate to see a red coat in the pile of garments.

“I see pink pjamma’s,” Chatty whispered. “ I like those.”

“Do you see the red coat?” Oh please let there be a red coat, I prayed silently.

“Wow, the lady at the till is fast – everything is in the shopping bag already. Guess we’ll have to wait until we get to our new house.” Chatty tried to cheer me.

We were airborne for a second and then landed again in the shopping cart. This time only the floor tiles were visible to me.

“Can you see anything now, Chatty?

“No,” her voice was muffled. “I’m face down over the shopping bag of clothes.”

I giggled quietly, “All I see is shoes and floor tiles.”

And that was the last we saw of the T Eaton & Co, store in downtown Winnipeg.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


It seems I am really off-again, on-again with my blog writing of late.  I apologize for being so.  Actually my bogging mirrors my current frame of mind exactly.

For the past month or more, my world has been sitting on a little tilt - or at least that is how it feels to me.  But after watching the devastation brought about by Sandy to our friends down south - I think a quick slap up the side of the head is in order (for me).

My problems at work and my health concerns have been getting to me - but they are nothing like the problems of so many who have lost so much to Sandy.  My heart goes out to them all...  I cannot imagine the devastation that has occurred there, nor can I imagine the amount of time and money it is going to take to right that devastation.  It boggles the mind.

It just so happens that I ran in to an old dear friend.  Actually he is a physician I worked for for many years who now will be working on my unit once a month doing laser surgeries.  Imagine my surprise and utter delight when he walked into my office on Monday wearing his surgical greens and smiling from ear to ear.

We have seen each other occasionally over the 13 yrs since I have not worked for him, but it always seems we have been rushed and not able to catch up.  On Monday he was finished his procedures and too early to return to his office so "catch up" we did.

He was just the thing I needed.  We chatted about our families, our children, his grandchildren, our spouses, we reminisced, and we talked about the future, and then he said " How's the writing going?"

I told him I haven't written anything in a long time and he tsk, tsked me and said his customary "OHhhhhhh... in a way that said he disproved.  It was all I needed to hear.  That soft disappointed explanation was my slap up the side of the head.  Thank you Willie!

I dug out the last writing project I was working on and all of a sudden my mind is full, and my fingers are flying... and Voila! - just like that I feel better!

Amazing how that goes sometime...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Spinning, Spinning, Spinning!

Wow, a week sure can get away from me!  I have come to the conclusion ( a long time ago actually) that life is too busy, too stressful, and we are so busy spinning our wheels just to keep up that we are passing really important things as we zoom by.

This past week has been a roller coaster ride at work.  There have been many changes in the past month, and I'm thinking there are many changes yet to come, but it's been the indecision and not-knowing that has put everyone on edge.  On some level, I'm sure we are kept in the dark for very good reason - but no one likes to think that their job is in jeopardy of vanishing before their very eyes.

When I get upset or worried -  I clean.  I know - how dumb - but it works for me.  Last weekend I tore apart my craft room, really tore apart my craft room - to the walls actually.  It was a hideous mess and around 11pm Saturday night as I sat among a craft supply, saturated living room, I wondered why I started the project (cleaning) and why I had so much craft stuff anyway!

Seriously - I was overwhelmed - and my first inclination was to grab a garbage bag and start tossing.

Fortunately I seldom go with first inclinations!  I persevered through Sunday, and the evening part of Monday and I am so happy that I did.

In the end I did have 4 garbage bags of junk and 3 garbage bags of things to donate to the thrift store... and a wonderfully clean and organized craft room.

The craft room is so organized that I have spent every evening this week in there working on Christmas gifts.  However, I can no longer say that it is still clean!  I work the best in organized clutter!

So while my head is spinning with worry over work issues, my hands are busy creating, creating, creating...

At this rate I will get all my Christmas crafting done by mid November!

Spin Away!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

And then there was Joseph - the Restoration.

I don't know how many figures were created before Joseph - but I do know that of all the figures Mom created in this Nativity set - Joseph was the worst.

He was somewhat of a design flaw from the start I think, and of the returned figures, he was the most beat up and in poor repair.

To begin with, for some reason Mom decided to give Joseph more facial hair than any other figure, and she crafted a wig of hair from fun fur for his head as well.  True, Joseph was a carpenter - a woodsman, a working man - but did he need to be so hairy?

Mom - really!

Joseph wears a very simple robe of burlap-type material, he has a rope tied around his waist, he had no real head covering (except fur) and the weirdest thing ever - blue eyes that had smudged across his face.

I decided I really needed to rescue Joseph from his comical image so the first thing I did was tear off his beard, mustache (yes that was fur too) and his hair.  I am not sure what kind of glue she used to attach these items, but after removing these furry items, there remained a shiny residue with pieces of fun fur stuck to it.

The smudged blue eyes bugged me, so I decided to completely repaint Joseph's face.  Bad idea - the acrylic paint I used picked up every piece of un-removed glue and made it look like he had a terrible skin condition... and the flesh-colored paint was so pale beside the other figures, that Joseph looked like a woodsman with a severe skin condition AND anemia.

So I took the poor guy to the bathroom sink and scrubbed off my paint job. The smudgy blue eyes would not wash off, so I took a black Sharpie pen and outlined them and darkened them as best I could.

I put a piece of fur back on just the back of his head and then wrapped his turban around his head - and you will agree - not so good!

I let him sit this way for a few days, but I really didn't like the way he looked - he looked just plain creepy to me.

So off came the beard and head wrapping again, and over the course of the next few days I tossed all kinds of things his way.

In the end I decided to keep the fur beard off completely and I decided to add some different color to contrast the green.

Here is how Joseph looks now.  I think he is just going to have to be happy with his new image.  I still am not 100% happy with him, but I think he does look a lot better than the hairy man he was before.

I didn't have the dip and drape material so my head covering is simply cotton.  It doesn't drape well so I had to glue it to his clothing in strategic spots to make it looked draped.
You can see the difference and the benefit of using the dip and drape - It really did work well.

Oh, and I gave him a walking stick - his hands looked like they needed to hold something .

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Mary - The Restoration.

The Mary figure, in the dip and drape Nativity set I have been working on needed nothing in terms of restoration.  She is is perfect original shape, she only needed a little dusting off.

But Mary was the biggest challenge of all the figures to create.  At the time Mom was working on these figures, there was little available for heads and hands to create these pieces.  The wisemen, shepherds and even Joseph's heads and hands came in sets of three, and if you look closely you will notice that they are somewhat repeated in the different characters.  I believe this is why Mom chose to give the shepherds facial hair - so they would look different from other figures, even though the heads were the same as the wisemen.

Mary was another story.  Mom searched and could find no suitable doll heads for her Mary.  I was still living at home when she made these, and I had a sizable doll collection in my bedroom which was in a floor to ceiling glassed- in shelving unit.  I came home one day from nursing school to find my Mother sitting on my bed staring at my dolls.

When I asked her what she was doing she said she was "looking for Mary".  I was in my 20's in nursing school and so not-on-the-same-page as her so I didn't even really listen to her reply.  But then the next day I went into the craft room to get something and there lying on her work table was one of my Barbie doll heads lying in among a pile of fabric.

It was my favorite of all time Barbie!   The very first Barbie to come out with bendable legs, the one that is now known as the bobbed-cut Barbie.  I was upset, and we had some words... which ended with Mom saying with a fair amount of frustration - "Your doll doesn't work as a Mary anyway, she's too made up!"

I think she had almost given up on Mary and then my parents went down to the USA on a trip and when they returned Mom couldn't wait to show me what she had found.  It was a Madonna head in a package, and she had found it in some clearance bin in a dime store in Wisconsin... she was elated!  There were no hands with the head, but she was also doing eggery at the time, and low and behold she had a set of praying hands from another project - and so became Mary -


I think she is adorable and sweet, and almost the perfect Mary.

Don't you agree?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Lions Tigers and Breasts!

Lions and Tigers and Breasts, Oh My!

The Surgery team at HSC (the hospital where I work) along with the help of staff, family, friends, puppies and a pink-clad crew from Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Services, created an amazing Wizard of Oz-themed video for this year's international Pink Glove Dance video competition! HSC is the only participant in western Canada vying for the title of Pink Glove Dance champion, with their eyes on the prize of a $10,000 donation to support Keeping Abreast and our Breast Reconstruction Program.

You can help:

Log onto H - Health Sciences Centre) to view the video and vote. The video with the most votes wins.

Voting runs form October 12-November 2 (voting extended)

You can log on and vote once during the competition from your Facebook account. We're aiming for 75,000 votes!

Please help support this very worthy cause, and congratulations to HSC participants on the amazing video.

Thank You from breast cancer survivors everywhere....

If you are not on facebook - you can view the video here

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Shepherds - The Restoration.

Here is the set of Wisemen that Mom made for me.  I particularly love the little kneeler.  He has always been my favorite of all the figures that she made over the years.  As you will notice these are not nearly as elaborate as the set designed for the church.

But they remain a very special part of Christmas in our home each year.

                                                                The Shepherds

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

The Next two figures in the Dip and Drape set created in 1975 by my Mom are 2 Shepherds.

These two figures have always made me smile.  It is pretty obvious that they are not Kings, nor are they rich, nor are they regal.  Rather they are working men, they have a beautiful career watching sheep.  Their job requires them to be outside during the night, so their clothing must be heavier because nights in the dessert can be cool.  Some accounts say they lived with their sheep - so I'm quite sure they would have had long bushy beards.

Are you ready to smile?

Told you.....

That's okay Mom always smiled at them too - chuckled even.

So here they are, they are bright, they are warm and they are posed the way they are for a reason.

Originally they each held a sheep.  The purple Shepherd held a small lamb sort of between his hands and slightly over his shoulder.  The blue Shepherd held a much larger sheep.  The sheep were large plastic animal toys - remember from when children actually played farm -  but Mom had actually covered their bodies with sheepskin and they were very realistic.  They were missing from the group when it was returned to me.

I am still looking for toy sheep to replace the lost flock but in the meantime I decided that they could at least hold the Shepherds hooks, so I made a couple from wire.

There was not much to restore on these 2 figures, there was a bit of loose clothing so I re-glued some of the material.  I did darken their eyes somewhat but other than that these 2 are in original shape minus the sheep.

Actually none of the animals made it back with the set.  There were 2 ceramic camels , a really nice donkey and the 2 sheep - all missing.  

Also missing was the baby Jesus.  I have managed to find a Jesus replacement, but the animals are a more difficult find.  If anyone has any larger farm animals in their stash of old toys - I'm in need of sheep and a donkey...

Next post - Mary and Joseph...

Friday, October 12, 2012

Meet the Wisemen - The Restoration

Last post I was talking about the "vintage" (doll making) using Dip and Drape fabric.  I mentioned that my Mom tried the original method of making these dolls and then changed the whole process to create a completely different looking doll.

These dolls are her original creations, and are as beautiful today as when she created them in 1975.  She was a seamstress so she had a huge stash of beautiful fabrics - velvets, brocades, etc.  She bought costume jewelry at garage sales, flea markets and church rummage sales, and then she put it all together to make these very special heirloom quality figures.

                                                     Meet the Wisemen

 Here is the first set of Wisemen that Mom made from the Dip and Drape fabric.  She bought the face and hands sets and then used brocades and velvets to create the clothing with the dip and drape fabric beneath it.  She cut all her clothes first then the dip and drape fabric.  Once the dip and drape fabric was wet she folded the velvets and brocades around it, and draped it.  These figures have multiple layers so she worked from the inside outwards.

Beneath the layers of material is a simple Styrofoam cone, which formed the base for her sculpture.

The material of these clothes adhered to the dried dip and drape fabric and is permanently affixed to the dolls.  I wonder how she worked with the velvets without getting sticky finger prints all over it.

Her detail is incredible, and I think you will agree these figures are works of art.

This particular set is the set she made for her church.  It is the set that I have been working on for the past couple of weeks.  Some of the jewels had fallen off over the years, heads were crooked etc... I am donating these to my church, which would make Mom very happy, as this was always where she intended these Wisemen to be.

Mom completed this set along with the rest of the nativity for her church, and I will share the rest of the figures with you next week.
She made one set of Wisemen for each of her children.  With the church set - 5 sets in all.  I don't know if my siblings still have or use theirs, but mine sit under our tree every Christmas and remain a most precious gift from Mom/ Grandma.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Vintage Craft!

Back in the 70's, crafters used many mediums for their work.  Some of the more popular mediums were feathers; fun fur  - to make flowers of course; tin cans and wire.  Another craft that became an instant fad was making dolls from dip and drape material.

Dip and drape material was sold in packages of 1 yard, and it was a white, fairly dense cotton (i think) which had a sizing or a glue of some type dried right in to the material.

To make a doll you would use rather common items, such as a bottle for a body, or a Styrofoam cone, Heads were usually a large Styrofoam ball, hands were smaller balls shaped like hands, and feet were sometimes several of a lot of things.  You formed the structure first, and then you would wet the dip and drape fabric and shape the doll, by moulding the fabric over the body form.  Once the doll was dry you would then paint on features and detail your doll.

Books were sold with patterns and instructions, like the one above.  My Mom had several of these books and she made quite a few of the different dolls, but she was always frustrated with her results.

I really don't know why - her dolls were great, but she said she didn't have the artistic talent for this type of work.

In the meantime she had purchased a lot of the fabric.  Every time she went down to Wisconsin to visit my Aunt she would buy up all the fabric they had... I guess she had intentions on perfecting the craft.

What she ended up doing was not perfecting that craft at all - she changed it.

She used the fabric, still draped it, but when you looked at her sculpture you could not see the fabric at all.

I have been restoring some of her original designs the past few weeks, and while I have been working on them I have taken a real close look at her workwomanship!  She was a true artist.
I'll be sharing her creations with you over the next few days - and I'm sure you will agree.  Only a true artist could create these very usual and beautiful dolls.

Do you remember the flowers made from fun fur?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Moving along...

Another Thanksgiving has come and gone.  In some respects it's hard to believe that it is already this time of year, but mother nature has been trying her best to get us used to the idea of fall, and even winter these past few days.  We have had considerably cooler temperatures, rain - and yes, even snow.  The snow has pretty much melted when it hit the ground, but there were a couple of mornings when it must have been cold enough to allow it to stay on the car.

My mind has been on Christmas - seriously, I have been thinking about which projects I'd like to do for gifts.  The top of that list is quilted table runners.  I found a great little tutorial for a fairly simple but wonderfully pretty table runner that I think I can manage for a early wanna-be quilter project, so on saturday my friend and I hit the fabric store looking for Christmas fabric.

We were all excited about the Christmas print right by the front door, until we happened upon the racks of print at the back of the store.  You know what they say about fabric at the back of a store - it is cheaper - and in this case there was a lot more to choose from.  I surprised myself by choosing  very non-traditional patterns and colors.  It is Christmas, but defiantly not green and red!

I have 4 runners cut and ready to sew - only to discover that I neglected to buy batting!  Told you I was a novice!

So this takes care of the ladies - what about the men?  Not that I need the challenge (or maybe I do) but I have been thinking about knitting gloves... REALLY!  I tried knitting gloves once a long time ago, and never finished even one hand.  So I am cautiously thinking I will try 1pair!  But in Dale fashion I have already decided to make 6 pair (but you didn't really read that)! Wish me luck!  The pattern I have uses the 4 needle method - something challenging, and really frustrating (to me) at times.

If anyone out there knows a simpler and less stressful method of knitting gloves - please let me know!

So off I go to make Christmas gifts...

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Think Pink!

It's October - that means its Breast Cancer Awareness Month... are you aware?

I am a 6 yr breast cancer survivor, happy to be so - but still sad that this disease continues to grow and take more womens' lives than almost any other disease affecting women today.  Huge strides are being made every day in finding a cure - diagnosis' are being made earlier, treatments are more effective, and survivors are living longer - still Breast Cancer is a reality for many women like me, that will never ever go away.

Today I am going to share a poem I wrote during my breast cancer journey - actually this was written early in that journey.  I have shared it with many women who have or are going through the process and every one of them said that my thoughts, feelings and general attitude were exactly what they felt or are feeling - they were comforted to know that they were not different, alone, forgotten.

So here it is and here I am ......Perennially Pink!


By Dale Graumann

T’was a hot July day when first we met,
Through circumstances I’ll not forget.
I the seeker, he the sought,
To save my life or so I thought.

The office crowded with such as me,
I ventured forth at five to three.
Mind aflutter I took a seat,
Controlling tears that weren’t discrete.

Nerves kicked in, my breath drew short,
I’d never been a panicked sort;
But this was wrought with pain and fear,
This very thing that’d brought me here.

A lengthy wait for one and all,
Then certain dread when name was called.
Two steps, three steps, ten or more;
Then “Have a seat, I’ll close the door.”

First impressions seldom fade,
Especially when so gently made.
Soft warm eyes, a caring smile,
Advised that I’d be here awhile.

Biopsy past, breast cancer cells;
Percent involved - no one can tell.
Surgery certain, more treatment too;
As much as needed – okay with you?

Feeling sick, head’s buzzing some,
Husband’s crying; I’m feeling numb.
Swallow the lump that quickly has gathered,
Focus on thoughts that suddenly matter. 

                    Death is first on my list of fears,
Then leaving my son of tender years.
Don’t want to go, not ready yet;
So much of life, I’ve yet to get.

Plans are made, operation’s booked,
A week today - well I’ll be hooked!
No wait indeed, no none at all;
And here I thought I’d wait till fall.

First cut’s not quite deep enough,
This demon seems to be so tough.
Return again this time it’s fall,
And now this time, they take it all.

Awake my eyes awake and see,
This brand new view of who I’ll be.
One breast gone, the other there,
Is this much more than I can bear?

Not so I cry, not so at all,
Pity and grief are so appall.
Make of life the most I say,
Don’t you waste one single day!

Take your burdens, throw them aft,
Cling to life as though a raft.
Make it your’s and make it strong,
Ride it hard and ride it long.

Fast forward now two years or more,
Am I cured? Not known for sure.
Time will tell what lies ahead,
No matter if I fear or dread.

This is me; it’s who I am;
A pebble in the master’s plan.
Happy I, and grateful too;
For all the folks that helped me through.

Life goes on, it always does;
I can’t go back to what it was.
But I am here, and here I’ll stay,
Until my Lord takes me away.