Doll Trunks

My dolls Emalie and Mernie are going to visit the 1860s soon at the Huntington Beach Civil War Days, so they need to pack their things. In the “olden times” trunks were the primary form of luggage for a long visit. I found these craft boxes that are the approximate shape that was common in the mid 19th century and decided to give them some customization.

Ready for the train

The rounded top isn’t exactly like the original trunks, but it’s close enough for my dollies.

Trunk #1 I stained maple with some MinWax stain. It is super handy for crafty people with small projects and can be found on Amazon for less than $4.

Maple staining cloths

I found them both handy and squirrelly. It’s very convenient that the cloths are presaturated with the stain. They fold easily and have plenty of stain to cover a small project with left over. They were fiddly when I needed to fold them to find a new bit of stain as I used it up in one area of the cloth. Holding the project in one hand and the cloth in the other prevented me from using both hands. They also didn’t work in the small space inside the box very well and the corners were tricky. My final criticism is that they got caught going against the grain and would stop in place, so be sure to sand your work surface very smooth. Some of this may be operator error as my next attempt at staining is much better (more on that in a minute).

After the stain dried – in about an hour – I noticed areas where I had hit the brass fittings and was not able to rub the stain off. I don’t love that. But again, that’s operator error.


I fitted some paper in the bottom that looks a bit like newspaper and then wrote Emalie’s direction on the front.

Finally I applied a clear varnish from DecoArt to protect it while in transit. I’m looking forward to putting all of Emalie’s belongings into the trunk. Note to self: make some more belongings.

The next trunk is Mernie’s. I decided on this one I would try painting. This gave me much more control and I realized it would be better to break the painting into smaller sections. First I painted the inside black, and then part of the outside was painted green.

Black inside

It was much easier to keep the paint off the fittings although I’m not a pro so I still got a little bit on the hinges.

More tidy

Finally after putting a fancy paper on the inside of the lid I added Mernie’s hometown to the front. the straps are painted black and this trunk is finished with a Krylon spray finish.

Trunk #3 might be used at the event or might not. I haven’t decided if Aunt Inez will be made by then – or if I will have time to make Aunt Inez haha. Regardless, Inez has a very nice trunk, probably because I practiced on the first two.

This trunk I used the same staining cloths from MinWax but in the mahogany stain. It’s lovely. Kind of like with the green trunk, I broke it up into smaller sessions and I attempted to tape over the fittings to best protect them.

Papered inside

I also discovered I could use a fine paintbrush to get into the cracks. I just pressed it against the stain cloth to soak up some stain. This gave me the most control over the tricky spaces.

I’m pleased with these trunks for my dolls. They are available on Amazon or probably craft store sites. I hope you can learn a little bit from me and have a nice outcome too.


On staying silent

This past week has been rough for America, on top of an already rough year. I don’t think any sane American can look over the divisive political race or the devastating number of people shot through various means and think everything is peachy right now. I don’t have an answer or a solution or even advice for other people who are dealing with this; I can only speak for myself.

Through the past year, I found myself becoming more vocal about certain situations, and the more I tried to persuade people of the very logical and rational things I was saying, the more angry and frustrated I became. I made a conscious decision not to post anything about the political climate on my Facebook page because I didn’t want to draw in the ire of those who might disagree with me, or those who wanted to try to convince me of their opinions, nor did I want to offend people I really like and care about who have different opinions from me. It’s a well known fact that you can’t change someone’s mind by arguing with them on the internet, and if it isn’t a fact it should be. The internet gives us the ability to think through our arguments, planning with carefully researched data points and articles to reinforce our position, but to what end? The other guy is doing the same damn thing, and all it really does is bolster our own opinion of how right we are.

So, no more politics on my page. I was much happier, until last week. We saw some terrible events unfold last week, and I was truly devastated by them. Those of you who know me know I am extremely patriotic. I fly my flag, I support our troops, I teach my Girl Scouts patriotic songs, I place flags on veterans markers at the cemetery. I cry when I read about the death of a police officer, heck a police dog will have me bawling. I respect our law enforcement officers and I fear for the LEOs I know because their jobs are dangerous and getting worse every day it seems.

Strangely enough, if you believe that police brutality should be investigated and eliminated, to some people that means you are anti-police. This is not the case. The same as I believe doctors should not be given a pass on malpractice that injures a patient, a police officer should not be able to use excessive force in the performance of their duties. There are thousands of police officers who maintain ethics and standards every single day, regardless of the fact that they usually see Americans at their worst. They do not roll up on people in the best mood of their lives, happy and sharing lemonade and sunshine with all who cross their paths. The fact remains that the percentage of officers who find themselves in the spotlight or on the evening news is a very small percentage of officers in America, but these are the ones shaping the country’s view of how law enforcement works. These are the exception to the rule, and these are situations that warrant an investigation.

After the shooting of a man sitting in his car, I said something on a friend’s post. What I said at the time is not important. What is important is that a mutual acquaintance took offense to what I said. He not only argued at me in public, but then followed me into Facebook Messenger and sent me messages every day for several days. I repeatedly told him to stop messaging me, which he ignored, all so he could “prove he was right” about me. Whatever that means. He accused me of not supporting the police because I didn’t change my Facebook status to denounce the terrible shooting of police officers in Dallas, all while ignoring the fact that I hadn’t said anything about any shooting of any person.

Do I really need to publicly state that I am devastated, outraged and weep for our country?

I am, and I do.

Do I really need to justify myself to someone I have literally met one time for five minutes?

No, no I do not.

This has led me to evaluate how I use Facebook, and I think I’m going to stay silent for a while. I’ll be there, looking at posts and pictures, I might even like some. I don’t think, though, that I am going to be using it to define who I am for someone who doesn’t really know me. Facebook is something that makes you feel like you know someone, or makes you feel like you are keeping in touch with friends and family, when in reality people really only post what they want you to see about their lives. If you want to really get to know me, shoot me an email, find me at an event, make friends with me. I love coffee and wine, not in the same glass and not at the same time, but both are good with conversation. I’m not all that bad and I bet you aren’t either. I might disagree with you on something, but that doesn’t make either of us bad people. If we can talk about our opinions in a healthy fashion, it might actually make us better friends and stronger individuals. It’s amazing what actual conversation can do. Until such time as I don’t fear I will be harassed by someone who doesn’t know me, I’ll be staying silent.


Dance like everyone is watching

Melody Dance 2015 4 - W Melody Dance 2015 3 - W Melody Dance 2015 1 - W Melody Dance 2015 -W

The fussing over whether she will wear make up is over – the only girl in the universe who can’t wait to take off her lipstick has completed her dances for Impact Dance Center to the overwhelming pride of her parents! After dropping ballet because it was too boring, Melody successfully completed her lessons in tap dance and jazz dance. And, we were delighted to discover she was performing both dances in only one show – last year she was in two shows, necessitating tickets to both. Mom & Dad, Gramma & Papa and Auntie thoroughly enjoyed our tiny dancer’s shining moments in the spotlight!

Birthday party dilemma

Okay readers, I need your input. What should we do for Melody’s 4th birthday? We had a bounce house the past two years so I’d like to do something different. I despise Chuck E Cheese. It needs to be something that kids and adults will enjoy, not break the bank, and allow us to bring our own cake.

Bumper bowling?

La Habra Children’s Museum?

Stay home and play?

And, by the way, she likes Barbie, Tinkerbell, and Johnny Sokko & His Giant Robot. We have a few weeks ahead of us to decide, but…..HELP!!

History lessons

Sometimes my best work is in response to something I’ve seen or read elsewhere. Take this for example. How much information do you give your little kids about why we celebrate Christmas? In my house, it might go something like this…

“Well, now Melody, we celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25th, even though he was probably born in September. Well, the Bible tells us that the shepherds were tending their flocks and that concluded at the end of summer. So we celebrate his birthday in December because a man called the Pope decided in 350 that since pagan religions had been celebrating their own holidays on December 25th for hundreds of years before Jesus was ever born, it was already a day of great celebration and it would be easier than establishing another celebration in September. No, I don’t know why he didn’t just make Christmas in September. They were called Yule and Saturnalia. No, I don’t know why they couldn’t continue celebrating their own holiday. Okay, back to the story. We put up a Christmas tree because it represents rebirth of the sun god, Yule, really, and early Christian leaders felt it was blasphemous, but people thought they were really pretty, so they just did what they wanted, and that’s been the tradition since the 1500s. Next, there was a really wonderful monk named Nicholas who gave gifts anonymously, and he was sainted and called St. Nicholas, but we can’t really talk about HIM because some people think he’s fake. Santa Claus? Well, he was a legend hundreds of years ago in The Netherlands who magically brought toys to good children and he was really called Sinterklaas, but again, we can’t talk about him because some people think that HE is fake too, when in reality his name is derived from St Nicholas and he’s thought to be based on the Norse god Odin. What honey? Yes, it’s all very confusing, let’s just go have some hot chocolate…”