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Friday, 25 December 2015

Happy Christmas

Dear Diary,


The boys and Santa Claus under the Yule tree.

Adam;  It's Christmas Day and we're celebrating.  The weather is stunning - sunny, blue skies and hot and blessedly, no wind.  It's the perfect Christmas Day in the southern hemisphere.  You'll notice that I'm wearing my summer kit - shorts, T-shift and jandals.  The other day I saw Santa Claus in shorts!

Staying cool in the middle of summer.
Angelo:  I love Christmas!  We have a special new tree this year, decorated with vintage New Zealand toys, in particular the Marylou doll.  And, underneath, prezzies for the family.  I love opening my gifts to see what great things I was given.
"Check out my festive snowman socks!"
Adam, Angelo & Jesse:  We wish all of our friends in cyberland a very happy Holiday season.  There are lots of reason to celebrate this day, from the summer solstice here at the bottom of the globe, to the winter solstice at the top, from secular holidays to religious ones.  No matter what your preference and however you celebrate it, we hope you have lots of love and happiness today and always!






We're back!

Dear Diary,

Jesse:  It's been a long three months since we last wrote anything here.  Needless to say, this has been a very trying time for us - technically speaking - given all the problems with computers and phone cameras.  In spite of professional assistance, we've been unable to get back online until today and we are happy to return.  I promise we'll write very frequently.  Many apologies to everyone who has been looking and waiting for word from us.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Knickerbocker boy

Dear Diary,


Angelo:  I am a spoiled boy - really I am.  I have a fantastic wardrobe, almost all of which has been sewed by Ruth in England.  

When people see my clothes in real life, they just can't believe the attention to detail, like real buttonholes, buckles, and trims.  Long ago Papa sold off all the Trendon factory-made outfits as he considered them historical but poorly made when compared to my outfits from Ruth.  We first started to buy clothes from Ruth in around 2001 when I first came to live with my Papa.  At that time Ruth lived in a small village in England and didn't have good access to a large variety of fabrics.  So, Papa would go to the mega fabric stores and purchase cuts of different fabrics. He would then attach a photo from an advertisement which showed the kind of garment he wanted made.  Ruth always came through with the best coat, hat, suit and etc.

Papa ordered a new outfit for me as a surprise and it came a little while back.  We've been very busy but today he showed it to me and had me try it on.  What do you think?  Isn't this the best boy outfit ever?
"Extra!  Extra!  Read all about it!"
"In our area, there is a local Edwardian club which sponsors an annual Edwardian festival in the nearby town.  Lots of people dress up in period clothing.  I'm ready for next year's event!"


"Papa says, "A bowtie is a boy's best friend.'"
"Cool!  They come scuffed; now I won't get into trouble for playing in my good shoes."
Note the matching lining of the coat and vest.
The label of discriminating doll haute couture.

Adam:  I'm happy for Angelo.  I just wish I could get a good newspaper boy hat like his! .I'm going to contact Ruth at Ruthsdollsandbears!



Sunday, 20 September 2015

Please stay tuned. We're experiencing some technical difficulties.

Dear Friends,

I recently purchased a new computer - a Mac - and I trying to find my way around it.  

Currently, the biggest problem I'm having is figuring out how to download my photos so I can put them on this site. Regrettably, I am not from the techno-savvy generation, so this has posed quite a challenge for me.

Please don't abandon the three of us.  Angelo, Adam and I don't want to lose any of our friends.  Hopefully, by the end of this week we can post some more entries.

With warmest regards,

Jesse

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Marvelous in mauve

Dear Diary,

Adam: Not long ago, Jesse came home with some wonderful knitting wool for me to use to make a slipover.  It is made in New Zealand from NZ animals.  It is 60% merino and 40% dehaired angora.  Let me tell you this is soft as can be!  

It is a very fine 2-ply, almost lace weight.  I think I got 34 stitches/10 cm on 2.75 mm needles.  I knitted it flat but used steeks so it is seamless.  It's not easy for me to knit flat, so please excuse my errors at times.  Plus, don't forget I don't have a pattern so I had to just make it up on the fly. But, all things considered it finished up pretty well and I like wearing it.  

I am convinced that mauve is definitely my colour.

Now, about the colour.  It's a beautiful soft shade of mauve which goes well with the size and soft texture of the fabric.  And, we all agree that mauve is a fantastic colour for me.  It brings out the colour of my face and hair, complimenting my handsome, mature looks.  The more primary colours are fine but this is far classier and more fashionable.

I put buttons up the back so the slipover isn't pulled over my head.


At the same time Jesse brought home this wool, he brought some other skeins of the same wool in different colours (the shop was having a sale).  I've already begun to knit a cardigan in an olive green which should look smart as well.

As much as I enjoy knitting, I will be glad when the seamstress starts to sew some garments for me to wear!

Friday, 31 July 2015

Mystery solved; questions remain

Dear Diary,

Jesse: You may remember some time back when I reported that all of Angelo's shoes had disappeared.  At that time I had made many thorough searches of our house, including two trips to the attic.  Sadly, I was unable to find his footwear.

Last weekend, we decided that we needed to clear out some of the things in the attic before the ceiling cave in.  I brought down lots of very large plastic storage containers and we happily decided that since we had forgotten the things inside were even still around, we didn't need to keep them.  In one large box there was an assortment of things, from clothes to kitchenalia.  At the bottom was a white plastic bag and inside - Angelo's shoes! I would not have been able to see them when I looked through the sides of the clear plastic boxes.  I was delighted (and relieved to find them) but for the life of me I have absolutely no idea how this box came to be put into a plastic bag and then put into the bottom of a storage box in the attic.  It just doesn't seem possible but it's the fact.

Angelo is absolutely over the moon about having his shoes back.  As we went through them we discovered we had more pairs of JJ shoes than we remembered (a very nice surprise).

"With heaven as my witness I swear I'll never be shoeless again!" (with apologies to Scarlett O'Hara in 'Gone With the Wind'.)
We're all agreed that Angelo needs more shoes but there's no hurry now.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Thrift store clothing shopping

Dear Diary,

Adam:  For the past 2 1/2 years, Jesse has been a volunteer at the local Red Cross thrift shop.  Once each fortnight he pulls a shift, working in the store.  He loves doing this because he feels he is giving back to the community where we live.  In addition, he has met many people and become well-known.  The other day he went to pick up something he purchased on-line and when he arrived the woman said to him "I know you from the Red Cross shop!"

A few weeks ago when he went for his shift, there was an 18" boy doll for sale.  I use the word "doll" loosely because it isn't really a doll because it could never be played with.  It's more a manikin; you know the type: ceramic head, hands and feet, cloth body and wired into a pose to represent something (like a dancer, little child, etc).  Think Franklin Mint.  Anyway, this boy doll had on an old fashioned newspaper boy outfit and Jesse thought it would probably fit me.  So, he bought the doll, stripped it down and donated it back to the charity shop much to the chagrin of the other volunteers!

As a rule, the clothes on these dolls can be  pretty nice and in this case, they weren't too bad.  The shirt was too large but the leather shoes fit.  The tweed woolen trousers were fine in the waist but too long so Jesse shortened them and added cuffs.  The braces (suspenders) were also too long but they were successfully shortened.  The cap is hopeless.  It was made so poorly that nothing can make it look good.


It has a bit of an Edwardian look.

This cap is absolutely dreadful!

As soon as we're done, I'm going to find a shovel, dig a hole and bury this awful cap!
Anyway, since I'm really short of clothes, this gave me some more options (minus that cap!).  Jesse  says I shouldn't be fussy about where we buy our clothes; after all, he buys lots of his clothing there.  He says you never know what treasure you'll find in a thrift shop.  Perhaps that's why in New Zealand we call them "opportunity shops"!

Thursday, 9 July 2015

"Twinkle, twinkle, little star..."

Dear Diary,

Adam: Living out in the middle of the country has one fantastic benefit – on a clear night we look up and clearly see the starry firmament. There are no big cities or towns nearby pollute the night sky with excess light.

At the end of June, there was an amazing astrological phenomenon: the conjunction of the two planets Venus and Jupiter. It's said that this event hasn't happened for the past 2,000 years and won't happen again until 2023. We were very fortunate to be able to see the stars coming closer and closer.


The planets at dusk

The planets at twilight.  Jupiter is on the left, Venus on the right.
Angelo: Unfortunately, on the night of their actual alignment, there were too many clouds so we couldn't view it. But, it didn't stop us from waiting outside in the winter chill anyway!

"Here we are, bundled up against the winter cold; staying warm under this Peggy square rug."

Jesse: This was a most amazing sight!  Venus, named after the Goddess of Love and Jupiter, named after the God of Thunder, are about to cross paths.  There are many debates on what this all means.  In our opinion, it means a conjunction of planets - nothing more.  But, whatever you believe, we hope you had the chance to observe it and to enjoy it.  I know my lads did.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Dear Haroun,

Dear Diary,

Angelo:  Papa, Adam and I really like making friends and keeping in touch here on our blog.  As more people visit our site and we get more messages, our circle of friends is growing wider.

New friends are wonderful but it's equally wonderful is when old friends resurface after a long absence. Very recently I received this message in the comment section of one of my postings:

Angelo? ANGELO!! 

My dear Angelo, 

So many years have passed since my Mamma and I would sit together to read your Picture Trail blog and so many not very nice things have happened in the meantime. The worst for me was being locked in a box for what I now know was years and years.

Did you know that you are the reason I am here? Probably not, but Mamma saw you and fell in love with the idea of having a boy just like you. She took a few months to find me and then had to keep me a big secret but we would spend an hour or two each day together and looked out for your posts with great excitement.

Do you still have those beautiful tea sets? Does your Papa still make wonderful sweaters? I would ask you so many questions if I could.

A big Welcome to Adam. I think he is very handsome. Please say to him that some humans are just rude and thoughtless. It says more about their lack of understanding of the world when they say bad things about others than it does about the doll or human they are abusing. Believe me, my Mamma only showed me off once and, because I have an Arabic name, we got so much abuse that we gave up on the humans who SAY they like dolls. 

Doll groups are about showing off and are not for Mamma and me. Two people said I must be a terrorist! Me? I'm a Gregor doll, for goodness sake. We are a peaceful, friendly lot, aren't we?

Well, I'll look forward to your next post.
Your friend,
Haroun.


When I read this to Papa, we both became teary-eyed - not because it made us sad but because it touched our hearts.  We both remember Haroun from the pre-blog days when I had an account on Picturetrail.  I loved sharing photos and adventures on it but there came a time when we decided to end it.  I don't think we ever stopping wanting to share with others and that's why Papa started this blog.  

A cozy nook in the secretary for writing a letter.

Here is my reply to Haroun:

Dear Haroun,

Your letter is most welcome and has made me very happy.  Yes, it's been a long time since I was on PictureTrail.  Papa stopped it when he couldn't find the time to keep it up and he didn't really like the format.  Now that we are in the blogger age, it is quicker and easier to do a posting and he likes that format much better.  But, that's not to say that we didn't miss our PT friends - like you!  


I can still remember what it was like to stay in my box for 20+ years until I came to live with my papa.  I'm sorry there have been unpleasantries in your life.  Can you share with me what happened to make you spend so much time put away?  I'm sad to hear it.


No, I didn't know that I was the reason you are with your mama; I am very honoured!  My papa says he understands her feelings about wanting a boy doll to play with.  How exciting that you were her special secret and you both had special times together.


Yes, we still have the tea sets although we lost many pieces in the big earthquake.  But, Papa is a "hunter & gatherer" and thanks to his searching, our sets have multiplied quite a bit. We now have 75 complete sets; we rotate them, using a different one each day for afternoon tea.  


My papa still knits the Fair Isle jumpers.  He just began another one.  He said to tell you he'll post a photo of it here once it's completed.  


I will pass on your nice (and deserving!) comments about Adam to him. (We think he's very handsome, too.) He will certainly appreciate them.  He's been a victim of dolling nastiness but life here has been so positive for him that he's very happy now. Tell your mama to proudly show you off whenever she can! 


My name is Italian.  I didn't know yours was Arabic; I think it's a very nice name.  I can't imagine why people would be abusive about it but then again like you said, people can be rude and thoughtless.  I'm proud of my name - be proud of yours, too!


Frankly, we Sasha dolls could never be terrorists because of the philosophy of our grandmother, Sasha Morgenthaler.  She knew war and its terrors and created us to be playthings for the post-war children.  Never could a Sasha doll do any harm to anyone or anything.


Hearing from you after all these years has warmed my heart. Thank you for remembering me and for taking the time to write to me again.  I hope we can stay in touch for a long time.


Your Friend,


Angelo


And, this is what friendship is all about.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Maplelea Footwear

Dear Diary,

Jesse: I have a footwear fixation and I think my boys should have all the latest styles. Angelo has his custom made but it's a different story for Adam.  As anyone who buys the generic footwear for 18" dolls knows, there is no consistency as each manufacturer makes them in different sizes and shapes, not to mention quality.  My biggest complaint is that they are wide and clunky.


Not long ago, Usha, a member of the Carpatina Yahoo Group, recommended that I try the footwear for the Maplelea doll, Canada's own version of the American Girl.  It seemed like a reasonable risk so I purchased these:

Back row L - R: Summit Boots, Silver Streek, Snowdrifters
Front L - R: Skedaddlers, Carpatina loafers for comparison

They each appear to be nicely made and look good.  Unfortunately, almost all their footwear is for girls and can't cross-over for boys.  I thought I'd show these, comparing them to the proper-fitting and proportional Carpatina shoes.

Summit Boots


These have a good style.  Since they are hiking boots, they are supposed to be bigger than the dress shoes. They are easy to put on and take off.

Comparison of the soles.  These have an appropriately shaped hiking boot sole with correct treading.

Silver Streek


These are my least favourite.  I have seen better motorcycle boots.  However, they have a nicely shaped foot and have an opening secured with velcro down the side for easy putting on and taking off.

Comparison of the soles.  Note the well-shaped shoe.  They are a big longer than the Carpatina shoes.

Snowdrifters


These are the proper size for a snow boot.  The strap doesn't fit properly in my opinion.  They are easy to put on and take off.

Comparison of the soles.  Again, the shape of the sole and the treads are appropriate for a snow boot.

Skedaddlers


Gosh, I've not heard that word in yonks!

These casual running shoes are very proportionate to the doll.

Comparison of the soles.  There is little difference between the Maplelea on the left and the Carpatina on the right.
Although the Carpatina shoes are the best in all ways, unfortunately for us boy doll aficionados, they have only 3 on-offer.  I haven't purchased many of the generic 18" doll shoes but of those which I have purchased, some are very good while others are inferior. I'm happy that Usha steered me to the Maplelea shoes and I encourage others who have an Adam doll to look at their website.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

"Lemon tree very pretty..."

Dear Diary,

Adam:  It's almost the winter solstice and our lemon tree has decided to give us all these beautiful lemons.  

We bought this tree last spring but didn't know where to plant it to keep it out of the winds so it spent all spring and summer in  the glass house.  In the latter part of summer it got too hot inside so we moved it outside.  In early spring we'll plant it. We have another potted lemon tree which thinks it's spring so it's put out new blossoms. Silly tree - fooled by Mother Nature!


"Love those lemons!"
Angelo:  We make a number of wonderful baked goodies for afternoon tea time with fresh lemon juice and zest.  I suppose we never have enough lemons!  Next year we should have a big crop from both trees and lots of lemon cakes and biscuits - yummmmm!

"You don't really need any shade in the winter sun."
Adam: I want to point out our new shoes.  Mine are from Maplelea and Angelo's are from Ruth in England.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Happy birthday, Your Majesty!

Dear Diary,

Adam: Today is the Queen's official birthday. 



"Happy birthday, Ma'am!"

Angelo: It isn't her actual birthday, that's on 21 April but since 1748 the subjects of the British Crown have publicly marked the sovereign's birthday. Each of the 16 countries which comprise the Commonwealth of Nations, selects the day to honour the monarch's birthday and legislates it as a public holiday. In New Zealand, we celebrate it on the first Monday in June. Most celebrations are mainly official, including the important Queen's Birthday Honours list which include Knight or Dame Grand Companion of the Order of Merit, Knight or Dame Companion of the Order of Merit and other honours in recognition of special service to the public.


"How does 'Sir Angelo' and 'Sir Adam' sound?"
Adam: We're all dressed-up and ready just in case our names are on the Queen's Birthday honour list this year!


Queen Elizabeth II

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Ruth to the rescue!

Dear Diary,

Adam:  As you all know by now, I've misplaced all my shoes.  This is a tragedy beyond description.  It's times like this when you know who your friends are.  

A long time ago, Ruth in England started sewing clothes for me.  She is a very expert seamstress and I have an incredible wardrobe.  Along with the clothes, she also made shoes and boots for me.  So, to whom else would I turn in a time like this?  Why, to Ruth, of course!  She remembered that my foot size is a bit smaller than the usual Sasha doll foot and she made a special pattern for me.  I order shoes from her to jump-start my collect and she certainly came through for me.  Look at the wonderful leather shoes I just received from England!  I am so excited because now I can chose the shoes to go with the outfit.  Wonderful!

"I can hardly wait to slip my feet into all this lovely English leather!"

Ruth limits her work to making clothes and shoes for Sasha dolls.  A link to her site is included in this site.  Go and have a look and if you order from Ruth, tell her that Angelo sent you!


Sunday, 17 May 2015

Knitting in Wedgwood Blue

Dear Diary,

Adam: Here is my latest attempt at knitting something for myself.  I still don't have a pattern so I'm really winging it here.

I took some measurements and did some calculations, cast-on and just started knitting. There was some 5 ply knitting wool around the house so I used that.  The stitch size is too large for my taste but it doesn't matter since this is just a trial and error project.

"I think it's a good fit."
I am reasonably satisfied with the finished garment, especially the colour.  I learned a few things, not the least that I can't knit continental and purl back English; it leaves slight ridges.


"The photo is a little blurry but you get the point."
I'm not giving up.  I will find a pattern for a proper fitting garment!

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Footloose and shoe-free


"If clothes make the boy and shoes make the outfit, whatever will become of me?"

Dear Diary,

Angelo:  Oh dear - we've had a terrible thing happen at our house. With the exception of the shoes on my feet and my pair of JJ biker boots, all of my footwear - all 30 pairs - have disappeared into thin air.  

They were all neatly stored in plastic divider boxes and now we can't find them anywhere.  We've searched the house over and over again, even going into the attic multiple times (we don't have a basement).  It wasn't that many months ago we had them when we moved my clothes into a different storage container.  I had a fantastic collection of footwear: original Trendon factory shoes, vintage shoes, custom-made shoes from Jean Jenson and Ruth Hartley, sandals, boots, my vintage wooden snow skies and all kinds of different shoes.  My Jean Jensen shoes are irreplaceable! 

"Ouch!"
I've sent an emergency SOS to Ruth in Great Britain for shoes asap!  Luckily, because she has made shoes for me in the past, she knows my foot size (my foot is a bit smaller than many Sasha dolls) and has promised to make some for me.  I don't know how I will ever be able to replace all my footwear and I was so proud of my collection.  This really is terrible news.


Thursday, 30 April 2015

Back to front yellow knitwear

Dear Diary,

Adam: When I arrived here, I had the clothes on my back and a suit. The people at the Carpatina Doll Company made a mistake in the order and sent the Robin Hood costume instead of the Casual Chic outfit. I really don't see myself running around in the green tights so I found my wardrobe severely limited. Angelo gave me a cardigan which was too large for him as well as an over-sized T shirt.  Jesse reordered the Casual Chic outfit with shoes but they are coming via an US address so I have to wait. All in all, a rather dismal situation.


"My eyes are glazed over from concentrating on all these small stitches!"

I decided to take matters in to my own hands, as it were, and knit a jumper for myself. This was easier said than done. I didn't have a pattern to fit me so I had to try to adapt a pattern I had. It is knitted from the top-down with raglan sleeves so it's all in one piece. Since I never wear any top which has to be pulled over my head, this jumper had to have an opening down the back. This is practical as one garment serves two functions: cardigan and jumper.

"This is when I feel like wearing a cardigan."

This was easy to knit and when it was finished and I tried it on, I was fairly pleased with the final product. It's not perfect by any means.  It has what I'd call a “peasant shirt” style which works fine. I thought that my sandals would complete the counter-cultural look!

"This is me in the jumper option." 

Now, it's time to rethink the pattern and see how I can make it more form-fitting. In reality, what I need is for a professional knitter to make a pattern for me. I've looked online for patterns but they are all for the AG doll so they won't fit any better than what I made. Maybe someone will offer their services.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

What we love most

"Our feelings, exactly!"

Dear Diary,

Jesse: A technical note:  In case you think I was drinking when I took this photo, you're wrong.  The painting is straight!  

I re-took this photo many times with always the same result: a crooked-looking painting. In desperation, I put a level on the painting and it shows perfectly level. There are some possible reasons for it looking crooked.  1. The floor is not level. 2. My head is not on straight. 3. My vision has gone wonky. 4. There is a computer/camera glitch. 5. It's really level - it's all in your imagination!







Friday, 10 April 2015

To know me is to love me

Dear Diary,

Adam: I've been a bit despondent over all the bitchy things doll people have written about me on the internet and on Amazon. Some have called me creepy and grotesque, others a pedophile, others liken me to a ax murder or a sexual predator; there have even been allegations that I inseminated a doll. All lies!



I have to admit my self esteem has been bruised.

I don't understand why they say these things because they've never met me in person. Jesse explained to me that he knows from experience how nasty and unreasonably critical doll collectors can be, making unkind remarks and pretending to be experts, forgetting that dolls are meant to be playthings. He has advised me to ignore them like he does. Their opinions don't matter because they don't know what they're talking about and anyway, they don't even know ME!

"Cheer up, Adam.  You mustn't let these people get to you!"

I was thinking I'd never have a home when suddenly Jesse ordered me from Carpatina. He didn't want another boy doll because he has Angelo. He wasn't interested in the male fashion dolls who are young and great looking with buff bodies. His search was for a mature-looking doll with strong facial features and a solid look. After a search of the internet, he decided that my looks exactly fit the bill. Jesse said he wanted a doll he could play with, not one to keep on the shelf or in the box.

If you look carefully, you can see the smile on my lips!

Now, Jesse is so happy with me. He is glad he didn't let others influence his thinking; he told me I'm all he had hoped for. His best compliment is that I am someone he can talk to. Jesse and Angelo are my best friends; they have excitedly made me feel at home.