Mirabelle Preserves

 We picked mirabelles...

 And then made preserves.

 Links to recipes here...


Thank you Angelina Jolie

On May 14th, the NY Times published an op-ed piece written by Angelina Jolie titled My Medical Choice.  In her piece, Ms. Jolie revealed that she had been diagnosed with a BRCA genetic mutation and decided to undergo a prophylactic double mastectomy to avoid the high risk of breast cancer the mutation affords.

The NY Times published this piece by Ms. Jolie two months ago, and I have spent the past two months thinking about it.  Yes, it has taken me a while to write this post.

You see, I too have a BRCA genetic mutation, passed down to me through my mother, and nine years ago I underwent surgeries similar to those Ms. Jolie discusses.  During the time of my surgeries, I had the support of most family & friends, but there were a few who insisted my choice was a radical one.  These several family members & friends suggested I monitor, meditate, sniff magic aromatherapy oils, etc...  Nine years ago, there was no movie star paving the way to help people understand and validate the choice I had made.

I am very grateful to live in an era when I can take a blood test to detect this genetic mutation and then choose to have surgeries to minimize my risk.  The surgeries are long behind me now, but there are still repercussions and ramifications which lead me to write blog posts like this one here.

Thinking about the piece written by Ms. Jolie, what I like most about it is this: she wrote, "I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer," and this is the same thing I tell my children.  Is there any better reason to undergo testing and surgeries than to stay healthy and alive for one's children?  That's why she did it, and that's why I did it, too.

Thank you, Angelina Jolie, for helping women who are faced with a diagnosis of the BRCA genetic mutation. Thank you for paving the way and validating difficult choices.


Picking Mirabelles

These golden plums have as pretty a name as they deserve. Mirabelles... doesn't the name suit these beauties?

Here in my neighborhood there is currently a surplus of mirabelles and yesterday we were graciously invited by a friend of a friend to come and pick to our heart's content.

With everyone scratching their heads about what to do with so many golden plums, I hit the internet for some solutions.  There are these tarts and this tart, and oh my, this tart.  There is this jam, this conserve, and if all these recipes are not enough, here is a link to a Pinterest Board featuring savory recipes created using mirabelle jam.

Now, if you will excuse me please, I have, among other things, five pounds of plums to contend with (if you'd like a few, please stop by -- I have plenty to spare!)


Japanese Inkan Stamps

If you've ever received a doll from me, chances are 50/50 that I remembered to sign it. And if I did remember, my initials were likely hastily scrawled in an untidy jumble.  I've been searching for a solution to this problem and found an answer at the shop Talk to the Sun.

stamp and photo by talktothesun

Riyo, the artist behind Talk to the Sun, carves beautiful stamps, and she also creates custom inkan-style stamps.  Inkan stamps are personal seals used in Japan in lieu of signatures -- and now I have my own inkan-style stamps, hand-carved by Riyo, for marking my dolls.

stamp and photo by talktothesun

Riyo lives in Japan, "in a farm house surrounded by mountains and rice fields." Her style reflects the sensibilities of her homeland, especially in the way she renders elements from nature and everyday life in clean, simple designs.

stamp and photo by talktothesun

 The elegant rubber stamps she carves have the look of wood-block prints...

stamps and photo by talktothesun

And Riyo's work is also influenced by her travels around the world (she says that these stamps were inspired by houses she saw through train windows during visits to Sweden and Germany.)

stamp and photo by talktothesun

You can visit Riyo's etsy shop here, and she has a blog which you can find here.

Riyo was a contributor to the book Stamp it!: DIY Printing with Handmade Stamps.  For the book, she created a fun project of stamped railroad tracks (plus accompanying trains and scenery) for a child's placemat or game-board.

stamps and photo by talktothesun

And guess what?!  Through the end of the year, Riyo is offering a coupon for 5% off purchases over $10. The coupon code is: 4nextpurchase5off

Thank you, Riyo, for creating such lovely stamps for me and my dolls...


Wool Felt 'Finger Leg' Puppets

A few weeks ago I created some finger leg puppets for my wee one, and they were so much fun that I decided to have a go at making more durable versions from felt.  Viola! These new puppets were finished just in time to give him as a little gift for his 3rd birthday!

After a few minutes of searching online for ideas, I came across this pattern at Wee Folk Art.  The concept behind the pattern at Wee Folk Art is clever, uncomplicated, and was easy to adapt to my own design.  There is a downloadable pattern at Wee Folk Art plus very detailed instructions. And, just for fun here are my own step-by-step photos...

After creating my own paper pattern, I cut out two bear-shaped pieces per puppet, plus I cut a piece of just the legs (one per puppet) to form a pocket for fingers of the puppeteer.

Next, I cut faces from contrasting felt and added embroidery...

 Here you can see how the pocket was sewn at the back.

And here you can see their smiling faces!

Happy Birthday little one.  Now it's time to blow out your candle so we can go and play!


Yankee Doodle Dandy

Happy Birthday to our very own little Yankee Doodle Dandy (and Happy Birthday to the U. S. of A., too!)

We will be celebrating with cupcakes and firecrackers, and if you are here in the U.S., I hope you enjoy the fireworks, too!