Making Dolls For Orphans

You know those friends who make you want to be a better version of your current self? The good examples? The ones who you know you can turn to when difficulties present themselves in your lives for advice or help? The ones who leave you feeling centered and stronger than you thought you were after talking to them? The ones who make you think and laugh and relax and may challenge your views but never hold them against you?  I am so lucky and thankful to have a number of those friends in my life. Two of my favorites are John and Jeanne. I want to share some information about one of their current projects, what I’m doing to help and how you can help, if inspired and able, as well.

Early this year John and Jeanne Conca brought their family on a mission trip to a rural town in Baja to help at an orphanage. I’ve heard their trip was humbling and life changing. John wrote about that trip here. Their stories touched my heart and when I heard that they were returning for 3 weeks over Christmas and New Years and are hoping to bring a Christmas gift for each child (there are just under 100 children there), I wanted to help.

I did a little research and realizing that I can’t very well go buying a bunch of gifts for them to bring along (what with starting a business…money is tight)  I decided I could make something. I found www.dollydonation.blogspot.com, pulled some of my supplies I had on hand together and started making dolls using their free pattern! It turns out I have A LOT of yarn and not much felt (green and weird yellow only) for hair so once I made some dolls I used this tutorial to make their hair.

It is a process which I’m currently trying to make more efficient by sewing one lone row of hair and just sewing down partially then sewing down the sides and then folding the long row over and sewing it back and forth down onto the head to make 2 or 3 layers of hair. It’s way fun with the variegated colors! I hope the kids like funky doll hair. :) When I’m done with all the doll’s hair I will paint the faces and if there’s still time I’ll make some accessories skirts/shoes/bags/hair bows…

Here are 5 thus faceless dollies…and one little girl who is pre-loving them for the orphans:

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This was my first “hair”.

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These are more fun than I thought they’d be. :) Sirena definitely needs one for Christmas. After this project I think I’ll make my own doll pattern so I can make them and call them my own. Drayke has also requested a wife for ZhaZha, his teddy bear, so I need to figure out how to make teddy bears too.

If you wish to help Jeanne and John with providing Christmas gifts to the orphans or if you would like to assist them in providing donations to support the orphanage and their community please contact me or John before December 14th to find out how you can help. If you want to help after that date, by all means, contact us anyway as this isn’t a project with an expiration date. The orphanage, children and their community can always use a little extra help.

This project has opened a new path in my life. I think it comes from finding the opportunities to help others. Look for those opportunities whenever you have the chance. Especially when you feel like you need a little extra help yourself. Helping others has an amazing, perhaps unexpected effect- it gives you a sense of gratitude which seems to be a healing emotion. It also opens positive doors to paths which lead you exactly where you need to be.

I hope you find some of your own opportunities this holiday season.

Sometime in the next couple weeks I’ll show you the finishing pictures and other projects we’re finishing up……finally. ;)

My Apologies…Moving On…

Hi all. I have been terribly neglectful. Again. This may be a theme…I would expect it to continue for at least through the holiday season. Sorry! It’s nothing personal, I just have a lot going on.

For the last few weeks I have really wanted to do a post about the orphanage that my friends are going to help out at over Christmas and New Years. I thought I’d have a bunch of time while recovering from my silly head surgery but my head hurt SO bad afterward that I just couldn’t be happy or creative or typey or anything. And for the record, if you get stitches or holes in your head, Tylenol REALLY doesn’t cut it. And that’s coming from a lady who happily refused drugs during both water births! An epidural following de-numbing of my head would have been SO welcome! Anyway….thank goodness THAT’S over. And I am making friends with the ones left on my head until the day I am no longer breastfeeding and can take vicoden! I may even name them! No, don’t worry, I really don’t want to do that. Think of the nightmares!

SO! On to what I’ve wanted to blog about for daaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyysssssss….

Nope, this calls for it’s own title and everything…see on the next post! (I’m really not procrastinating here…going to begin as soon as I click “publish post”, I promise!!!)

 

Pre op?

Hi there, sorry I’ve been absent. I have had a lot on my plate! I have been making dolls (more on that later), trying to get people to help me make dolls and preparing myself for….scalp…surgery. :T

I guess certain genetics have been expressing themselves in the form of bumps on my head. Bumps that hurt when bumped (ironic?) and either contribute to or cause headaches. So I’m getting them removed. I have about 8 of them and unfortunately for everyone I can only get 2 removed at a time. I’d rather just do it all in one blow. I’m supposed to stay in bed for 2 days following and stay calm and keep my blood pressure down for 2 days following each surgery so….what a pain for my family.
So that’s happening today in a couple hours. Weeeeee.
I should have PLENTY of time to blog in the next few days though! And plenty of time to figure out how to make yarn doll hair!
:)
Have a better day than I’m having!

Excellent Autumn Beverages

Well, color me slacker….colored….(that sounded better in my head) I have been neglectful of my wonderful blog readers! So sorry! You see, I normally blog late late at night after I’ve given up on getting anything else done. :D And I’ve had several late nights/early mornings…this is not normal.

I want to share the joys of pumpkin cider with you! If you’re into beer (or not…I’m not) or wine…or even mixed drinks then you’ll probably dig hard cider. It is sweeter than beer and most wines, but has a refreshing, clear fizz to it which is fun for senses. I like apple cider but as I’ve gone away from sugary sweet things I find it a little too sweet for me. I bought a 6-pack of ACE Hard Pumpkin Cider around Halloween and ohhh…I love pumpkin…I do…but I didn’t think I could love a pumpkiny drink THIS MUCH. It’s divine! Really made from pumpkin too! It is pricier than apple cider-around $10 I think, but really great for a once-in-a-while beverage.

So good! I’ve tried pumpkin ale and pumpkin beer before…..not a fan. But, like I said, I’m not a big fan of beer in general so maybe they’re worth a try if beer floats your boat.

Today, after warming up by the fire, I wanted to make my kiddos a “yummy thing”…that desire occurs especially strong when they are constantly begging for a “yummy thing”. I am the “yummy thing” maker. I was tired and needed something with minimal time commitment and maximum child happiness payout so I went (ahem…again…this was a replay of the previous evening) with coconut milk hot cocoa! I made it from coconut milk because we use raw milk and making hot cocoa (unless we use a candy thermometer to make sure it doesn’t get above 110 degrees)  would pasteurize it, killing all the good enzymes and…healthy critters! :) But even if someday I lose my mind and start buying pasteurized milk again I will still use coconut milk for making the hot cocoa. It is SO rich and creamy…very thick. I always just buy canned whole organic coconut milk, but you could make your own from a coconut. I know you can. I’ve seen people on other blogs do it. Google it!

Coconut milk hot cocoa (clever name, eh?)

Serves 2 or 1 and 2 halves…or fills one big one if you just need a gigantic mug of awesome cocoa!

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbs butter (actually we used 1 tbs butter and 1 tbs high vitamin butter oil but you can also use coconut oil)
  • 4 tbs Ghirardelli cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • dash of salt
  • 1 can of full fat canned coconut milk
  • some sweetener (we used a long drizzle of honey…maybe 2 tsp, but we like ours on the dark dark side)
  • a dash of vanilla extract
  • *real whipped cream and cinnamon for sprinkling *optional (the “extra creamy” whipped cream is the best I’ve found…has the most real ingredients, no corn syrup, least things I can’t pronounce…)

Method-

  1. Melt the butter or oil in a pan and stir in cocoa powder over low-medium heat until melted taking care not to scorch. Add the cinnamon and salt.
  2. Pour in the coconut milk and sweetener. Stir until it reaches the desired warmth. It will not all dissolve together like you’d expect, but I promise it won’t matter at all.
  3. Ladle into mugs. Add whipped cream and sprinkle with cinnamon.
  4. If it’s still very hot add a metal spoon…it helps direct the heat out of the cocoa…and sip sloooowlyyyyyy through the whipped cream. I tell you this because it has taken years of burnt tongues to perfect this method and I thought I’d save you the pain. :)
  5. When the kids are off doing other things and there is a whipped cream-less mug of cocoa on the table, ask first if they’re done, then enjoy theirs as well. :} (WHAT?!?!?! Oh, like you don’t do it.)

Now….has anyone tried making whipped cream out of coconut milk?  I have a can in the fridge waiting for the right moment.

Sweet dreams, good people.

:*

Driving In The First Snow Of The Season

I drove alone in the snow today for the very first time. I’ve driven before with Alex and the kids, but never alone. At first, before it was sticking, I was excited about doing something new independently. Then as the slush was building up and cars were slowing down i started thinking, this is a lower elevation than what I have to get through…hope i can make it without chains!

Then i passed an accident. It looked like everyone was ok…I hope…looked like someone had slid and hit a truck and the truck ended up facing the wrong way on the side of the freeway in some small trees. So everyone slowed down a little more. I was driving in the tire tracks of the car in front of me who looked like they were glued to the suv in front of them. We all had the same exit…good timing…i was white knuckling it in the areas where there was a steep drop off the side of the freeway.

I stayed behind the same cars and we pulled onto the main road through our town…a long, winding road that is flat and windy at first, then raises in elevation with wider curves and then drops in elevation with tighter curves and then flattens out pretty good again with some turns here and there before I get to my street. It usually takes about 10 minutes to drive from my place to the freeway…today it took me about 25 going home.

The cars pulled off at the first housing development….wimps. *sigh* Now who was I going to follow? It is so much easier following someone in snow or fog than it is going it alone. But go it alone i must. There was a truck behind me…the kind I wish I had with a king cab and 4 wheel drive and tires tall enough to conquer a foot of snow, at least. He passed me and I thought, Oh good! Someone to lead!, but he zooms off at comfortable speeds as if there wasn’t an inch of snow on the road. Fine. Who needs ya!

I was doing ok going slow and steady through the twists but I knew I was going to have to face an area that caught me up last year- a wide but tight switchback that heads up a hill then turns the other way right after. Last year I couldn’t make it up. The snow was a little deeper, but Alex said if I’d kept the speed up I would’ve made it and not had to use chains since it’s pretty much all downhill from there. So this time I sped up a little, to 30mph, stayed in the fading tire marks from previous cars and gave myself pep talk after pep talk…”you can do it!, you’re doing it! You’re gonna make it! You’re doing great!” …and I was…there was a little slip here and there but finally I was up the hill and through the first curve.

The second was a piece of cake after that but I slowed down since it literally was downhill from there. My friend ended up in a ditch with four wheel drive last year…I didn’t need that. Especially since I couldn’t exactly call for easy help-Alex had the kids and his truck and no carseats and I didn’t want to bother my local friends who have busy enough lives already without having to help someone out of a ditch.

I watched my speed the rest of the way, keeping within the tracks ahead of me and soon there was only slush on the road. Passing the lake the roads were only wet and light snow was falling and by the time I got to my street I was missing the snow and my adventure was over.

Looks like we were dusted and we might get 4 inches overnight. :) I needed this first snow. It was a long summer!

Don’t throw the snowballs too hard when I ask, where’s the Christmas music already?!?!

VOTE!!!!!!!!

Don’t forget to vote Tuesday! I don’t care what or who you are voting for, but get out there and do it!

As far as presidents……………….eh. Good luck, USA. There are many pluses and minuses to both. As a Mom of 2 children I want the freedom to make all the parenting decisions I can without being told “no”. As the wife of a man who is starting a business I want that road to success to be very smooth. As a woman who daydreams of someday living on a self-sustainable farm and having a cow for fresh milk with some to share, a small organic orchard and garden, many chickens and some sheep and alpaca, I want to keep those wonderful things open without much government interference. These are my priorities now and so this time around, unfortunately, I”m not voting for who will give me what. I’ll be voting for who will do less damage to me and my family and my dreams.

That. SUCKS.

But go vote anyway and then shake your fellow American’s hand, regardless of how they voted and, together, hope for the best.

November Cake: Grain Free Yellow Cake With Pumpkin Cream Cheese AND Pumpkin Sour Cream Filling

I’d intended this to be Alex’s birthday cake, but he wanted cobbler, then I’d decided to make it an anniversary cake, but that didn’t happen, then I’d thought I’d make it for Halloween, but that day was SO busy, so I made it our NOVEMBER CAKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Genius!!!!!! :) I recommend EVERYONE makes a November Cake! For me, it was sort of a symbol of relaxation after a month of RUSHING and DOING and SO MUCH MUCHNESS!!!!!

I made this same grain free/paleo-ish cake for Sirena’s birthday cake so I could enjoy some cake without eating grains which causes inflamation…visible in my face and elsewhere. I’m there right now…had a sandwich at a sub shop a couple days before Halloween and just finished off a week of not-so-paleo eating with a shared pizza! I allowed myself that week…it was planned…not regretted, but the effects were expected and…not so fun to recover from. I don’t love looking in the mirror looking like I’d put on 15 lbs. But THIS cake did not contribute to the cheek-poof!

It is SO yummy! It’s moist and carmelly and warm flavoured! For Sirena’s birthday I’d made a sour cream frosting, but this time I wanted some kind of pumpkin frosting that didn’t include powdered sugar (4 cups…really?). It turned out great! The picture shows a dip in the frosting- I’d bought those little pumpkin cake candies and put them on but they dissolved into an unappetizing moosh so I removed that spot. :) DO NOT USE CAKE CANDIES ON THIS FROSTING!!!!

2 layer Grain Free Yellow Cake:

Ingredients-

  • 6 eggs, seperated
  • 2 tsp vinegar (for egg whites)
  • 4 tbs honey
  • 4 tbs real maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup (one stick) butter, melted and lightly browned in a pan (careful not to burn!) and cooled slightly
  • 2 tbs vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • 2 cups almond flour (finely ground, blanched almonds)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Prepare 2 8 inch round cake pans by rubbing butter or oil on the inside and lining the bottoms with a round cutout of parchment paper. This makes sure your cake doesn’t stick. I trace the bottom of the pan onto the paper and then cut it out for a perfect fit.
  3. In a pan, melt and brown your butter but be careful not to burn! Err on the side of not-burned here so you don’t end up throwing out good grass-fed butter! Put in a bowl in the freezer or fridge for a minute to cool…you don’t want it too hot.
  4. In a large mixing bowl mix the browned butter, honey, maple syrup, vanilla and baking soda and blend well.
  5. In a very clean medium bowl beat the egg whites and the vinegar until soft peaks form.
  6. Add the lemon juice to the butter/egg yolk mixture and blend well. Add almond flour and mix well and finally fold in egg whites until blended well.
  7. Divide evenly into prepared pans and bake for about 23 minutes until a knife stuck in the center comes out clean. It will be pretty brown as almond flour browns up quickly, but it won’t effect the end result…in fact, I have slightly overcooked this cake and it still turns out delicious as it’s a very moist and slightly spongy cake (because of the air bubbles from the whipped egg whites).
  8. Cool on a rack and then run a knife around the edges and turn out. Remove the parchment paper from the cake. Wait until completely cooled to frost.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting-

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz organic cream cheese (really…it’s actually food. Cultured, non-ultra-pasteurized…good stuff as far as cream cheese goes)
  • 1/2 cup pureed pumpkin (canned is fine)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 5 tbs organic dehydrated cane juice

Method:

  1. Mix or with a mixer until smooth (I used a whisk…don’t recommend it. That’s what the little lumps of white here and there are.)

Pumpkin Sour Creme Frosting (for center layer)

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup Organic full fat sour creme
  • 1/3 cup butter (since I’m being so specific, I use organic grass-fed)
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbs dehydrated cane juice (or whatever dry sweetener you want)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • pinch of salt

Method:

  1. Mix all ingredients with a mixer until smooth.
  2. Adjust for sweetness or spice…I threw this one together through taste tests and guessing, so if you think it’d be better with more/less sugar or more/less sour creme  or butter, go for it!

Center the first layer of cake on a plate or cake stand and plop the sour cream frosting into the center. Spread out to the sides with a rubber spatula. Carefully place the second layer of cake onto the first, adjust to center if necessary. Scoop all of the cream cheese frosting onto the cake in the middle and use rubber spatula to spread out to the edges and down the sides.

Devour with family and friends!

Thank me in the comments. :D