In the interest of continuing my rag doll hairstyle experiments, I made a second Jess Brown rag doll from her book (see my first doll here). Jess' book doesn't explain how she creates the hair for her dolls beyond instructions to layer strips of fabric or felted wool across the head. Unlike her clothing patterns, there are no diagrams for the hair, leaving it up to us to invent something unique.
A search online led me to this photo of the back of her doll head, but I wanted something more textured for Tamika. By knotting strips cut from a felted wool sweater I created a hairstyle that looks less like a cap and is more interesting to me. Below are photos and directions if you want to try it:
A few weeks ago we had our house painted and changed the door color from varnished wood to a beautiful mellow orange. Our house is a creamy khaki color with deep olive green trim, so the orange door is the perfect compliment. However every time I see that door I start craving pumpkin products! Hopefully this is just a passing phase for fall or my diet is in trouble :)
That leads me to today's tasty dessert: pumpkin pie parfaits! The parfaits are made with sweetened pumpkin puree and vanilla yogurt topped with granola, so they're fairly healthy (unless you add a heaping spoonful of chocolate chips to the top, like I do!).
Pumpkin Pie Parfaits (serves 6)
1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree 1 tsp ground cinnamon 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg 1 tsp vanilla extract 2 Tbsp reduced-fat milk 1/4 cup sugar 18 oz. low-fat vanilla yogurt 3/4 cup granola with raisins chocolate chips, optional
In a bowl, stir together the pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, milk, and sugar. Layer the pumpkin and yogurt in 6 small glasses or ramekins. Sprinkle the tops with granola and serve with a bowl of chocolate chips on the side.
Recipe adapted from the Sprouts grocery flyer.
More delicious pumpkin products I've tried lately:
Pumpkin Snaps and Sparkling Pumpkin Apple Cider from Sprouts Frontera Chipolte Pumpkin Salsa from World Market Pumpkin pie - a classic choice! (not shown)
I am enjoying my dahlias for as long as they last. The warm weather we've been enjoying could end at any time, shutting down my flowering plants for the season. These two plants, one pink and one plum, have been blooming since July. I hope they brighten your day as they did mine :)
I've been fantasizing about decorating parts of my house in farmhouse chic for fall. My version adds a bit more color than most for a dollop of cozy. Here's how I'd decorate my imaginary kitchen nook if I had the cash for such things.
(Photos of products are by the Etsy sellers. Click on the links to learn more about each item.)
Golden yellow is my favorite fall color. In my mind's eye there's an applesauce cake cooling on the pedestal, I'm sitting in the yellow wicker chair, wrapped in the afghan, with a French bowl of hot cocoa in my hand. I'm also looking through those children's books for toy design inspiration. Wouldn't these items set a cheerful mood on a rainy day?
Sweet potatoes and black beans are coated in cumin, chile and coriander in this delicious, warming chili. Lime and orange zest add sweetness and complexity. Serve topped with avocado chunks, sour cream, fresh cilantro and tortilla chips for a hearty lunch or supper.
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili (serves 4)
3 Tbs. olive oil 1 onion, chopped 3 garlic cloves, chopped 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped 1 lb. sweet potatoes (about 2 small), peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice 1 Tbs. New Mexico chile powder, or 1 1/2 tsp. cayenne chili powder 1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin 1/2 tsp. ground coriander 1 can (14 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed 2 cups vegetable broth Salt and pepper, to taste For toppings: 1 orange, 1 lime, chopped cilantro leaves, diced avocado, low fat sour cream, and tortilla chips
Heat oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, bell pepper, and sweet potatoes and cook, stirring, until vegetables soften, about 5 minutes. Add New Mexico or cayenne chili powder, cumin, and coriander and cook until spices are fragrant, about 20 seconds. Stir in beans and broth and partially cover. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until sweet potatoes are soft and chili is slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, zest the orange and lime into a small bowl (you should have about 1 Tbs. orange and 2 tsp. lime zest). Add cilantro leaves. Quarter the lime. Reserve orange for another use.
Ladle chili into 4 bowls. Top with a tablespoon of sour cream, cilantro-lime zest mixture, avocado chunks and lime wedges. Serve with tortilla chips on the side.
Sewing in 3D is a challenge and the better you understand your materials and techniques, the more tools you have to solve the puzzle. By reading past issues of Stuffed magazine I have learned techniques used by softie pros. Here are 15 smart sewing tips gleaned from artists featured in the magazine:
1. Iron all cotton pieces before and while making each softie, for accurate cuts and smooth sewing.
2. If you are hand stitching something small, stitch it first and then cut it out. This will give you a larger surface to work with.
3. Don’t be discouraged if your first softies look scary or wonky. It happens to everyone.
4. If you are making your toys for children, double stitch the joint seams to make the toy durable.
5. Zigzag stitch the edges of your fabric so it won’t fray when you are hand sewing the closure.
6. When sewing your softie together, use lots of pins and sew slowly.
7. Paying attention to the details, such as using contrasting thread to sew an eye or mouth, can give a special touch to your design.
8. Rag dolls need undergarments - children often carry their dolls around by one leg!
9. Before turning your softie right side out, examine the seams on the front and back to spot areas you might have missed or sewn too close to the fabric edge. Sew a second seam, overlapping the original seam, to close and reinforce weak areas.
10. Trim your edges and clip curves to avoid bunching and wrinkles.
11. Stuff firmly, as much as you can fit in. Be patient and use small bits of polyfil to avoid lumps.
12. Keep your patterns in one spot in separate folders. It is so much easier in the long run if they are organized into some sort of system.
13. When designing a new doll, try to incorporate something different: a new type of fabric, a new sewing technique, a new accessory or an interesting theme keeps your sewing exciting.
14. An economical way to acquire fabric is to recycle your own clothing or that of your family. Thrift store clothing is another option.
15. Make sure your materials can stand the hug test: Make a prototype and give it to a child to love, which will test the seams and fabric. If you want to sell your product you should also wash a toy so you can advise on how to care for it.
These tips have helped to strengthen my sewing skills and I hope they add to yours. Do you have a sewing tip to share?
Here is a new way to enjoy your zucchini patch: a savory zucchini curry soup dressed with chunks of ripe pear! When I first made this soup I liked the curry notes but felt it needed a little sweetness to balance the spice. Chunks of ripe pear added just before serving was the solution. They add a dollop of sweetness without overpowering the zucchini. In the winter months a handful of raisins added to the soup pot would offer a similar sweet note.
Zucchini Curry Soup with Fresh Pear Chunks (serves 4)
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil 1 small onion, chopped 1 garlic clove, chopped 2 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch half moons 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger 1 tsp curry powder 1/2 tsp garam masala (optional) 3 cups vegetable broth 1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt 2 ripe Bartlett or other sweet pears
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add zucchini, ginger, curry powder, and garam masala, if using. Cook 3 more minutes.
Add broth and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Purée soup in a blender or food processor until smooth. Whisk in yogurt, ladle into bowls and top each with pear chunks just before serving.
Note: I added a garnish of yogurt and a mint leaf for these photos. Yum!
Last week I had a lot of fun making a Jess Brown rag doll and clothing, using patterns from her new book. I named my doll Jasmine.
The book is filled with beautiful photos of Jess' studio, dolls and her process for making them. The patterns have clear instructions with diagrams for everything except the doll's hair style. Since there wasn't an image of the back of the head, I made up my own design. I chose to give my doll long hair made from strips of a brown wool sweater that had bright pink accent stripes.
I really enjoyed making the clothing: two complete outfits with matching accessories! Each outfit has coordinating knickers, dress and coat with accessories of my own design (a headband and a turban). Because I love color, I deviated from Jess' mostly neutral palette, customizing my toy to my taste. I created snap closures in back for the dresses and lined the fronts of the coats for a smooth finish. Instead of a tie neckline, a vintage clip-on earring is used to close the front of the coat. Jasmine's clothing colors were influenced by my recent trip to Santa Fe.
Read on to learn how to make a feathered headband and turban for your doll, with free PDF instructions included.
Where does inspiration come from? What triggers that curious attraction that signals wonder and a desire to explore something more fully?
Its different for everybody. For me it starts with color: bright, happy colors combined in unique ways, in art, clothing or environment. Color is followed by form - preferably curvy and whimsical. Loopy swirls, ruffles, wings, polka dots, anthropomorphic animals, colorful costumes, silly exaggeration - they're all signs of fun, aren't they?
If I were to offer prizes for the best examples of whimsical art I've seen, first prize would go to the International Folk Art Museum in Santa Fe. I found so much there to excite my love of color, fanciful forms, imaginative settings and playful interpretations of life. In short, loads of wonderful toys!
German dollhouse village
The International Folk Art Museum started in 1953 in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a way to bridge cultural gaps by offering a place to see and interact with folk art. In 1982 Alexander Girard donated his immense collection of folk art, toys, miniatures and textiles from more than 100 nations. He designed the exhibit with no label text other than a case number so that visitors could choose to learn about the displays via a museum guide book (free, returned at the end of the tour) or enjoy them without explanation.
There was so much to see in these exhibits, literally thousands of figures, structures and toys, that you'll have to forgive the lack of information with my photos. I got caught up in the magic and didn't want to stop to write everything down from the guidebook. Also the displays are behind Plexiglas so please excuse any glare or color distortions caused by lack of camera flash. Enjoy these toys as I did - like a kid in a candy store :)
Hi, I'm Sharon Rohloff. I'm an artist living in Boulder, CO. This is my visual journal of crafts, recipes and photo excursions. I hope you enjoy it - leave a comment if you do!
You can also email me at theteacupincident (at) outlook (dot) com.
About the blog name
The Teacup Incident refers to a broken teacup that was the catalyst for writing this blog. You can read about in this post: Tempest In A Teacup
Unless stated otherwise, all photographs on the teacup incident are copyrighted by me and may not be used without my permission. Feel free to blog my photos but please link back to this page. Thank you!