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Friday, 21 April 2017

Bottling fever in full swing

Dear Diary,

Jesse:  This is a long weekend in New Zealand and the lads decided to make the most of the time to put up some of our early harvest.

Angelo:  I did the carrots and peas from the garden.  We bottled them with Rosemary, Thyme, Coriander and a pinch of salt.  They will taste delicious.  I'm just shifting them across the bench top to get them closer to the pantry for storage.

Armand:  I bottled the bread & butter pickles, using the gherkins and onions from the garden.  B&B pickles aren't well known in NZ but the people I serve them to all want seconds! Here, I'm putting the labels onto the jars.

Adam:  This year the cherry (which unfortunately don't come from our property) crop was about 2 weeks later than usual but it's also lasted later into the summer.  The cherries this year are beautiful: big and plump, dark and crisp and very sweet.  I bottled 14 quarts to eat this coming winter.  Right now, I'll eat the last of the cherries which wouldn't fit into the jars.  Lucky me!

Hans: My job was to make cordial from the black currents in the berry patch.  This makes a delicious drink when mixed with either water or a clear carbonated beverage just before serving.  Now that I've finished, I'm going to mix some up and serve it to celebrate the completion of our hard work.

Angelo:  As the sole Italian resident, it is my responsibility to monitor the supply of the salsa di Marinara (red tomato sauce) which Papa makes from scratch from his Italian mother's recipe.  Pasta is a staple in this house.  We just finished 24 quarts and there is still some left from 2015.  I've overheard Papa saying that he's going to bottle another 24 quarts next week.

"Yes, all accounted for!"
Jesse: You may notice the stretchy cord running from one end of the shelf to the other.  This is to keep the jars from crashing to the floor in case of an earthquake.  There are many negative effects of a major quake; we learned most of them when we lived through the Christchurch quake 5 years ago.  One of the worst is the awful mess and no water to clean it up.  The shelf also has a lip to keep the jars in place.

Friday, 14 April 2017

A suiting wardrobe

Dear Diary,

Jesse:  I suppose most everyone with dolls and their extra clothing struggles with storage of the latter.  I have tried all kinds of things: plastic containers both large and flat, doll trunks, suitcases, dressers both large and small, doll wardrobes and others I've forgotten.  But, none have really been all that satisfactory. The chief reason for my dissatisfaction has been that doll clothes are small and I like to keep everything in strict order: jumpers with jumpers, trousers with trousers, jackets with jackets and separated from coats, dress shirts with dress shirts and not with casual shirts - you get the picture.  Keeping everything organised and yet easily accessed challenges me constantly.  I do not like to dig very far down in a drawer or container to find something. Each boy who lives here has his own small dresser but even these drawers are too deep for my satisfaction.  

When Hans arrived, I knew I needed something better.  As luck would have it, I discovered this piece of furniture in a local antique shop.  I knew immediately that this would work nicely as the drawers are not deep and so I could find different articles of clothing easily.  The drawers remind me a lot of the old fashioned department stores in the men's wear department.  Behind the counter there were rows of these type of drawers which held merchandise such as handkerchiefs, gloves, underwear, ties and shirts.  Every time I visited this shop, I coveted this piece of furniture, assuming wrongly that it was to display store merchandise and not for sale.  Imagine my delight when I accidentally discovered the price tag on it.  It went home with me the same day! 

The dimensions are:

  • Overall:  Height 100 cm x width 70 cm x depth 45

  • Drawers: Height 9 cm - 12 cm graduation front to back x width 33 cm x depth 35 cm

Here you can see how easy it is to access clothes.  The front sides slope upwards from the from to the back, making it even easier to find, select and retrieve items.

Hans doesn't have a lot of things to wear yet but he does have some jumpers.  See how nicely they fit and how practical this wardrobe is.

I have my eye on another one - if I can talk the person into selling it to me.

Just for kicks, here is how I store doll shoes.  This is one of several cases of Angelo's footwear.  Sadly, there are several more cases just for him.  And, then there are those cases for the other dolls...!

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Making apple pie

Dear Diary,

Adam:  Autumn seems to be the busiest time of the year around here.  The fruit and produce all conspire to ripen at the same time and we have to stay focused to get all the processing of the food done so nothing is wasted.  Spring and summer this year were bleak and rainy with most days having cloudy, grey skies and very little sunshine.  These conditions, coupled with the frequent strong winds, produced harsh conditions on the orchard and all the fruit trees suffered. Even so, we did get some apples.

Angelo:  Now comes the real work.  Because there is so much to do, even we dolls help out.

"I'm putting the jars into the water bath."
"My job is to peel and core the apples.  Luckily, I have this handy gadget to do most of the work."
Angelo:  I like the feeling I get when we've finished and have something to show for it.  We are a self-reliant household and take pride when we make our own food.
"Here we are with the final product."

Next comes the pie.

And, now the best part - the eating.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Around the world in 730 days

Dear Diary,

Jesse:  I am gobsmacked that this blog has been on the internet for 2 years now!  I can't believe that all this time has passed already and we're headed into our third year of sending goodness from New Zealand around the world.

I've kept a record of all the countries which have visited the blog.  The statistics don't show if these visitors return or if everyone is new.  Some countries seem odd and I can't explain how or why someone came by to take a look.  But, for whatever the reason, we've been viewed around the globe.  Here are the 76 countries which have checked us out:

Algeria, Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, Austria, Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Bhutan, Botswana, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Columbia, Cyprus, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Finland, Germany, Greece, Guatamala, Honduras, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Latvia, Luxembourg, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldavia, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Arab Republic, United Kingdom, United States, Vietnam.

That's been quite a ride and without the jet-lag!  We hope that we've made some friends along the way.  Our visits keep increasing; the highest number of visits in one day is 578.

To end, I'll wish "Happy 2nd Birthday!" to A Boy Doll Diary.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Boat necking

Dear Diary,

Hans:  Mein Vati has been knitting away for me.  The latest line are boat neck jumpers.

Jesse:  If I'm correct, boat neck jumpers were popular about 50 years ago but fell out of fashion and I haven't seen any for a while (which means nothing, by the way).  I found this pattern and I decided it would make a great jumper for Hans, with some alterations.  All these jumpers are knitted with DK knitting wools.

Red Jumper

This is the first one knitted.  It originally calls for an opening on each side of the neck, each of which are fastened with a button.  I don't like to pull anything over a doll's head so I closed up the openings and put a full length opening down the back which closes with buttons.  I don't like seams so when I knitted the back up to the top of the sleeves, I just kept knitting down to the bottom ribbing.  I avoided the shoulder seam but I still have 2 seams at the sides and 2 under the arms to work.  I replaced the collar and cuff ribbing with an applied I-cord which suited it nicely.  I remembered that the first boat neck I knitted for myself from my own design was finished with I-cord.

Blue Jumper

The second jumper has some improvements over the first one. I reworked the opening in the back so that the button bands were less bulky. To begin the garment, I knitted all of the body below the sleeves, separating the front and back at the beginning of the sleeves.  This eliminated the side seams.    I then knitted the shoulders, front and back separately  When they were finished, I grafted the shoulder seam, eliminating it altogether. This was a new experience; I'm good at doing Kitchener but I'd never grafted garter stitch before.  It was actually simpler than Kitchener.  So, there were only 2 seams to sew, those under the sleeves.  

Brown & White Jumper

This third jumper came out the best so far.  I made the neck a bit smaller, more like the blue one. But, I think that I prefer to wider opening of the first jumper.  The garter stitch grafting came out excellent this time.  The YouTube video directions say to pull the stitches tightly which I knew doesn't work for Kitchener but I followed these directions on the blue jumper and the join was a bit tight.  This time I did them more loosely as I would for Kitchener and they look invisible.

Red with Silver 

This jumper is a vintage red with a grey strand throughout.  It is lovely.  I chose this photo because I liked the way the shadow played on his face rather than for the jumper.

The jumper shows better here.  I really like how my techniques have brought some quality to this jumper.  I shrunk the neck opening a bit more, put a I-cord around the openings and did an Estonian cast-on which is very flexible and great with ribbing.  I still need to get the join of the underside of the sleeves (the only joins in the garment) more professional looking.  As you probably have guessed, there is an opening with buttons the full length of the garment on the back.

Brown, Tan & Cream

These three colours are mutually complimentary and look great in a garter stitch pattern.

Blue/Green with Multi-Colour Speckles

I really like the colour of this jumper.  The blue/green is very vintage looking and the speckles set it off nicely.

This pattern has been very useful, giving a jump-start to Hans' wardrobe.  In addition, with the modification of technique that I've made, it's easy and quick to knit up.  My boy has no complaints and he's ready for the upcoming winter.

On now to another new knitting pattern.  I think we have enough boat neck jumpers for the rest of our lives.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Hitting the road in comfort and security

Dear Diary,

Jesse:  When I travel, the boys often come along with me. I like them to be safe and secure, but also  discretely carried around for photo ops.  Taking photos is a bit of a pipe dream as I almost never take any when traveling.  We just returned from a 5 day tiki tour around the lower South Island of New Zealand and never did I even take the boys out of their cases, no more take any photos.  Anyway, I can still dream about it and so I have a selection of carriers for them.

BJD carrier

I bought this off eBay from a manufacturer in China.  It is the 1/4 50 cm BJD size and it fits Adam or Angelo perfectly.  I like it because they are safe inside.  It also has a shoulder strap so it can be easily carried around.

Vintage plastic briefcase

I found this in an op shop a month ago. I hesitated to purchase it but now I'm pleased that I did.  Everyone except Armand can ride in it.  It is very sturdy and durable so it's perfect for traveling on the plane.  Everyone knows that a briefcase can it nicely under the seat in front or in the overhead compartment.  It would be difficult for a doll to be damaged while in this case.

Etsy fabric carrier

About 2 years ago I found this on Etsy, made by Twice Loved Dolls (her tag name is "Boy Doll Headquarters").  It was the last one the seller had and I don't know if she makes them any longer.  I immediately was taken by the fabric for obvious reasons!  It has multiple storage pockets and a shoulder strap. It is nicely made but not as discrete as the BJD case.  I use this often for Hans but Adam and Angelo fit nicely inside it.

Old musical instrument case

A year ago, while rummaging through a junk shop, I came across this discarded musical instrument case.  I don't know what instrument is used to house (I bet Henry's mum knows) but it is perfect for the boys.  It is still lined with black velvet. Like the plastic briefcase, this is exceptionally durable and provides safe travel.  In my shopping, I've come across a number of musical instrument cases but not one this long.

Vintage cosmetics travel case

This has been around for as long as Angelo has been; it's his original and current travel case.  It was a ladies' cosmetics case and is in superb condition.  I did remove the mirror as the silver backing had deteriorated.  This is perfect as Angelo can fit inside along with some changes of outfits.  This, like the briefcase and musical instrument case is very sturdy.  As it is smaller than either of those, this would be ideal if traveling on an airplane.

Old locking case

This is another find in the same junk shop where I found the musical instrument case.  I love cases with locks and keys so I was attracted to this immediately.  I had absolutely no use for it but I knew that Armand would fit into it - but only just.  It is made of some kind of stiff and strong cardboard material so it's sturdy but could be crushed.  This is the only case I've been able to find for Armand.  Angelo can also fit inside.  

I suppose I've gone a bit overboard but those who know me know that I love the accessories!  And, it's good to be prepared in case the travel bug bites.

Happy trails!

Friday, 10 March 2017

Commencing nini studio doll "chilly day": a rogues' gallery

Dear Diary,

Jesse:  I have just had an email from Jonny in which he tells  me that he has begun work on my boy doll.  We can all watch on Facebook the creative process Jonny will use to make "Chilly Day" boy a reality.  I've never had a doll specially made for me - it's quite a new experience.  It's a pleasure to share this with my followers.

I thought that now it would be fun to look at how Jonny has brought his other boy dolls to life, from sketch to doll.  This isn't a rogues' gallery in the strictest sense; none of these boys are shady characters!  I am just having some word fun to describe this list of 'mug shots'.


Jacques v

Sergei viii

A Memory of Gene xiii

New York Newsy xvi

Chilly Day xxi

What an adventure this is turning out to be!  Stay tuned and be sure to check Nini Dolls Facebook page for updates.