Archives for category: Collections

a blue a lavender

When I was little there was always a hankie in my pocket.  My mother put them there.  And on the days I got to buy lunch in school she tied 15 cents into the corner.  I remember struggling to get the knot out so I could pay for my lunch.  Another memory from 4th grade was going to the “lavatory” and washing our hankies and taking them back to the classroom to dry them on the radiators.  It didn’t take much to entertain us in those days.

Yesterday Ted and I stopped at a garage sale and on the way in I ran into a friend who knows I love fabric and textiles.  She told me there was a pile of hankies inside, for sale for ten cents each.  I enjoyed going through them and picking out a few to add to my collection.  Some are really beautiful and I marvel at the tiny stitches and the patience it took to create them. Even those made by machine are charming.   It make me sad that they are only valued at “ten cents.”

a pink  a yellow

a tatteda pink print

a red

I also bought some hand crocheted and stitched pillow cases.  I love to sleep on old cotton pillow cases.   They were 25 cents each.   Our house is full of treasures like these.   I love and use old things.

a pillow 2

Pillow cases

a pillow

Life has just shifted for me.  I have taken a job with the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe as the ”Elder and Youth Healthy Relationship Mentoring Program Coordinator.”  That is a hefty title, but what I do is plan activates for elders and youth with the goal of helping them develop relationships that will help both groups in overcoming abuse and abusive situations.  We will be starting with Native crafts, beading, basket making and so forth.  I think it will be interesting and fun and I am enjoying the people I am working with.

I am not sure what this will mean for my blogging.  For now I’ll keep my spot on the internet just blog less often.  I know readership drops off when blogging becomes irregular, so I’ll see if I can keep up!!

merrrily wl little doll


Anyone who knows me knows of my love for dolls. I have a large collection and Ted and I once had a doll shop. I still buy and sell dolls at shows and online. But my favorite part of doll collecting is the doll collecting friends I have made over the years.

One such friend is Melissa, who collects dolls but is also a miniaturist, she creates and recreates costumes for dolls, often based on famous illustrations and including accessories. See her blog here.   I was thrilled when she told me, after reading my recent blog, that she wanted to make a little “Merrily” doll that would represent the Merrily doll in the illustration of the cartoon character that gave me my name. I found a doll in my collection that I thought looked like the picture of “Merrily” and sent her to Melissa to recreate.

Melissa said, “As with all my creations, they take time and careful study of the subject matter.  For Merrily it was the shape of the sleeves on the dress, the stripe in the socks, the French braids in her hair, her little Jap doll.  I’d been looking at the illustration time and again since you posted it.  One of the things I knew might be a challenge, was blending, or concealing her wooden leg color.  I chose a pair child’s ballet pink tights to create leg covers, so the deep yellow undertone of the wood might blend with the pink for a more natural look.”

Melissa thinks of every detail. This doll has a wooden body, arms and legs, which allow her to be posed but creates a bit of a problem when the doll wears a short skirt as Melissa mentioned.   And I love it that the little red band on the socks in the illustration matches the band on the dolls socks.

This doll is a special treasure and I am placing her by my desk where I can see her and enjoy the pleasure of her company.

Internet groups are a popular way for doll collectors to get to know each other and to share information about their dolls. One such group, known as the is for collectors of dolls made by Wendy Lawton, and members from across the country have become friends as a result of their love of these special dolls.   See some of my favorite Wendy Lawton dolls below.

Melissa and I met in this internet  group “on-line” but it was later that we first met in person. I had a booth at a doll show and one of the items I had for sale was a rare and much sought after doll called Mignonette and her Malle du Voyage.   Melissa came into my booth and spotted the doll and I thought she was going to go into shock she was so excited. I was asking a fair price and we quickly sealed the deal, and Mignonette went home with Melissa.

Be sure to see some of Melissa’s other creations, check her blog at House of Missy Mouse.

A special friend and a special doll, I am so lucky!


wl min

Mignonette, this is my doll but similar to the one Melissa bought from me years ago.




Here are  of my favorite dolls by Wendy Lawton.   “Merrily” was originally a Wendy Lawton doll, redressed by Melissa.                    we african safarie - Copy

African Safari comes with a trunk full of clothing



wl anneke - Copy




wl little women

Little Women


wl more dolls

Two more favorites


wl four dolls - Copy

Three of these dolls represent illustrations from children’s books





Niyama with her quilt

Nyima (Andrea) with a baby quilt she hand stitched in India. A quilter will know how complicated it would be to set this many small blocks in a quilt like this.

sewing label

She stitches a label in a quilt

When I asked my friend Nyima for some words of wisdom for living a good life, she replied:

Have courage.

See the humor

Be useful.

Be kind.

Nyima Lhamo  is a Buddhist nun living simple life in Mongoo, a village high in the Himalayan mountains near Darjeeling in India. Until 12 years ago she was Andrea Balosky, quilter and good friend living at Camp Sherman near Sisters, Oregon. While there she made the decision to begin to learn about Tibetan Buddhism and she needed to be closer to those who practiced it to do that, she sold everything and moved to India. She says she has never looked back. Recently she was in the U.S. to attend to her visa and she stayed with our family last week. We spent the time talking about life in the remote mountains, and about our kids, and about quilting.

andrea with anna

Andrea plays with our little foster daughter

Andrea Balosky was a well-known quilter, and is the author of the book “Transitions.”   This is my “go to” book I need an inspiration for a new quilt. I met her when I was looking for someone to hand quilt a Hawaiian quilt top I had purchased. Andrea was born in Hawaii and her first quilt was in the Hawaiian style, done for her mother. She said she loved to hand quilt while watching sports on TV on the long snowy evenings in Camp Sherman. She estimated would take her until Christmas to finish, and actually it took her a couple of years but the result is spectacular.

andrea with hawaiian quilt

Andres stands behind the Hawaiian quilt she hand quilted for Ted and me.

hand quilting

An example of Andrea’s fine quilting.

She is famous for her small quilts, which she calls “doll quilts” and an exhibit of 100 of them was displayed at the Latimer Quilt Museum in Tillamook Oregon.

quilt show

Latimer Quilt Museum display

dolls and  quilts

The museum displayed my dolls with Andrea’s quilts

doll quilt

One of the Small Wonders collection

When she left the U.S. she sold her collection of small quilts and Ted and I purchased this charming collection. They can be seen in this book, “Small Wonders.”   We don’t receive income from the sale of the book, only have satisfaction of sharing them. She doesn’t quilt much now, she doesn’t have access to good fabric or batting in India, but in preparation for her trip, she made 50 small potholders which will be sold by the Pine Needler quilt group in Camp Sherman to raise money to purchase a defibulator. And she made one for me! pot holder

And her additional words of wisdom, for me were:
Learn what is enough.
Learn what is essential

Oh my. What am I doing with all of the “stuff” in this house?

And her final word—

“Do the difficult while it is easy.” — Lao Tzu

Andrea with Merrily


jerry's garden

“Cross Currents #2” by Andrea and now belonging to Bill Volkening

salute to the Sun
“Salute to the Sun” a small quilt done by hand in India for the Alzheimer’s Quilt Project.[/caption]

Some of the photos in this blog are by  William Volkening


It is hard to find a good photo of Gramma, she liked to hide from the camera

My grandmother had many tips and quips about life and she loved to share them. Though she has been gone for more than 25 years, her words of wisdom come back to me.

Many of her “rules” came from her basic philosophy and had to do with what she believed and how she lived her life. She told me many times, that there are three important things that one should always have, even if finances are tight.

She believed that everyone should have good bedding. Quality bedding, sheets pulled tight and bed made every morning, were things I learned from her.

She believed that everyone should have plenty of good quality underwear. Our underwear generally comes from Penney’s but when it sags or tears, out it goes.

The third things she insisted was important was that we not eat from cracked or chipped dishes.   With a houseful of children we often chip dishes. But we couldn’t toss a whole set when a few became chipped.


Yes, some of the dishes were in very bad shape.

Recently we realized that many of our dishes were chipped in more than one spot and they needed replacing. However, the dish sets we found all contained cups and saucers as part of the set. We use coffee mugs rather than cups and saucers and didn’t want buy them when we wouldn’t need them. Finally we found an attractive set that came with only plates in two sizes, and bowls. They were so reasonably priced that we bought six sets. We will have plenty of replacement parts.


While going through the cupboard we sorted out the many many little dishes that had been collecting.l

Gramma was right, it does feel good to look at a nicely set table with no chipped dishes. And there is an great sense of satisfaction that paying attention to these three principles brings me.

New dishes neatly stacked.

New dishes neatly stacked!


Red bins full of Christmas memories

It is time to trim our collection of Christmas memorabilia. We decided to spend the morning sorting.

When we were first married, while Ted was still in law school, we didn’t have much money to spend, but each Christmas we would buy a small figure of an angel and one of a Santa. The tradition stayed with us and now 53 years later we have dozens and dozens. Time for some sorting and thinning. Silly Santas had joined the collection as well as stuffed Santas, a Santa stapler, a napkin holder, things that really didn’t add to the of meaning of the collection.   So we began tossing.

miss piggy

Miss Piggy is gone now, along with this box of odds and ends.

Miss Piggy in a Santa costume was easy to toss and a few others as well. Then we got to bins with things like the tin of half burned candles. Out. A box of ornaments carefully wrapped in paper dated 1987, which should have been tossed then, went out, they had not been opened since then. Tarnished? Chipped? Out they went.


Dozens of Christmas stocking most belonging to children who have lived with us.

Next were the Christmas stocking, all of our kids, grand kids, foster kids and a few assorted others, had stockings with their names on them, no matter how many years had passed since they spent a Christmas with us.. These I could not part with. Each brought special memories, especially the two that had belonged to our sons who are no longer living.


My childhood stocking. My mother embroidered my name on it. Two of these stockings belonged to our first born children and the Hawaiian Santa belonged to my father.

We sorted through all 12 bins. We sent two boxes to the trash and sent three boxes to the Good Will. And brought our total down to 8 bins. It is a start!


We spent the week following Christmas at our Ocean Shores place where I keep most of my quilting supplies and equipment.  My plan was to finish a several projects so I could get started on new projects in the new year.

This bright pink and turquoise quilt was made with pre-cut squares which I used when I was recovering from my broken arm to reduce the amount of cutting required.    It didn’t take long to sew it together but I decided to hand quilt it which takes me a long time.  I finally finished the quilting this week, and sewed on the binding.


Next I needed to make 15 red twirling star blocks for the exchange I have been participating in.    We have done squares of a different color every six weeks for nearly a year, and the red ones are last.  Soon I’ll be able to start thinking about how to put the squares together.

more red

Red blocks for the Rainbow Twirling Star block exchange

red squares in process

Assembling the red twirling star blocks


Sample of finished rainbow variety of blocks

And I got the borders on a blue and white scrap quilt I put together this fall. Each of the blue squares is different, it takes lots time to do the cutting and in some ways it is a waste of time, but it uses up scraps and I have some lovely blue fabric is very small pieces.


Blue and white with borders attached

blue full

This quilt is too large for me to photograph inside


On New Year’s day I participated in an on-line mystery quilt project.  We were given clues throughout the day and it wasn’t until evening that we got an idea of what the quilt would look like, lots of fun as those participating chatted throughout the day on Facebook, and the group email list.  Mine is made of flannel and will be available for a foster child this year.


Pink flannel mystery block

My quilting goal for the new year is to be able to use the quilting machine that is sitting near my computer.    I have been trying to give a quilt to each foster child that comes to us, they do love them, but in 2013 we had 31 different children.  I couldn’t keep up, though some friends have helped!  The quilting machine will help too, once I have it figured out.

So, let 2014 begin!!

I love bright colors and large prints. I have many in my collection of fabric scraps and was searching for a pattern that would use a variety of them and result in a quilt that was visually “orderly.” I stumbled on this idea in a quilt magazine and got right to work. That was three summers ago.

dresden plates resized

Now some quilters will start a project and move onto the next before finishing, but not me, I am usually a “finisher.” However, just as I was getting the last of the plates appliquéd onto the backgrounds I broke my arm. It was the upper bone in my arm, actually shattered into many pieces and impossible to cast. I wore a brace and could not quilt. We kept waiting for the bones to knit and though the little breaks did heal the large break refused and finally a year and a half later there was surgery to implant a plate and finally the bone was able to knit. As soon as I was able I finished the quilt top, and I liked it so much I decided to hand quilt it.
My hand quilting time is limited these days. Evenings are short as we usually follow the kids to bed. I do find it very relaxing though and though I am not a skilled quilter, I enjoy doing it. Finally this week I finished, put the binding on the quilt and added the label. It is now ready to be entered in the quilt show this summer.
I made some small projects during the three years, wedding, baby and graduation gifts, Christmas gifts, and quilts for foster children, but none required hand quilting. It is so good to have full use of my arm again.





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Ready for the holiday

Today is Memorial Day, the day to honor those who have defended our country.  I cannot agree with all of the things our government has done since I have been old enough to vote but still I am grateful to be where I live without fear and I am very grateful to those men and women who fought to create our country and to those who continue to keep it free.

To celebrate I have created a tribute in patriotic dolls.    The first represents a soldier from Desert Storm.  Created by Madame Alexander.  Note that that this soldier is both a woman and African American.   Freedom for women and African Americans has certainly increased in my life time.  Go little soldier!

Patriotic Desert Storm

Dessert Storm

Betsy Ross is given credit for creating the symbol of our country, the flag.  These dolls, Betsy and her friend The Patriot were created by Wendy Lawton.


Betsy Ross and the Patriot by Wendy Lawton

Patriotic Zaundria is a more modern girl, a BJD or ball jointed doll, she can be posed in many positions and here is wearing a dress originally designed for Ginny.


Zaundria, a BJD

Joy, who is my favorite doll, is wearing the red, white and blue but the style of the “old world.”  For this photo she is pictured with her friend the Annalee mouse. Another Wendy Lawton doll.


Joy by Wendy Lawton

Red Riding Hood is not a doll that would be thought of as being “patriotic” but this version in red, white and blue was given to me by Ted for my last birthday, she begged to be included in this collection of photos. She is from Madame Alexander.


Amelia is the latest addition to my doll collection, just four inches tall, she is sitting on a peanut.  She wears tiny clothing originally made for a doll in the Barbie doll family.


Amelia, 4 inches tall, sits on a peanut.


Patriotic Group

Dolls are more than a hobby for me, I have a doll shop which is now on-line only.  To see other lovely dolls go to Apple Tree Dolls & Bears or

Yesterday Ted and I watched the movie “Lincoln” with our kids who are 8 and 11.  They seemed to understand the story of the Emancipation Proclamation.  It gave us a good opportunity to discuss the evolution of “freedom.”   It shows what people were willing to sacrifice for their country and why change needed to happen.

We have had more than a half inch of gentle rain so far this weekend.  Playing with dolls and watching movies is not a bad way to spend a holiday, with some time left for quilting of course!!

I love to read your comments.

Today I have been photographing dolls for my doll store web site.  Some are new dolls and some are dolls that are being moved from the old web site to the new one.    I love having contact with the dolls, posing them and trying to get them in the best light.  They are dressed so nicely with their hair perfectly arranged.  They never fuss or argue or make a mess.   Here are some of my favorites from this morning.

These two are creations of Wendy Lawton, from California.  Wendy has created many dolls over the years and she took heads, wigs and clothing from 100 of them, mixed them up and created 100 one-of-a-kind dolls.    The dolls are 9 inches tall with detailed clothing and beautiful wigs.

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These two are by Lynne and Michael Roche of England.  She sculpts the heads and works with the clothing while he creates wooden jointed bodies for each doll.  Again, the clothing is detailed and charming.

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This doll is more of a play doll.  She is Betsy McCall, after the paperdoll that appeared in the McCall’s magazine when I was little.   Betsy is vinyl and is also jointed.  She is about 8 inches tall.


I have loved dolls all of my life.  My parents were in the toy business and I sold dolls and toys while in high school and college. It was a natural for Ted and me to develop a doll business in the 1990s.    I miss personal interaction with the customers but get to know many of them through email as they make their selections from our on-line shop.     You can the dolls at Apple Tree Dolls and Bears .

Wendy and Keith Lawton

Wendy and Keith Lawton at the entrance to their home

Creative, talented, charming, compassionate, full of fun, full of new ideas, these are some of the words and phrases used to describe Wendy Lawton.   Wendy comes up with the ideas for the dolls she creates, then brings them to life with amazing sculpts.  These are not just pretty faces but faces that tell the stories and put you in the time and place of the dolls.   She designs the costumes often using antique fabrics and laces and always with fine detail.  Until a few years ago the dolls were produced in the Lawton workshop in Turlock, California, but with the challenge of economic conditions they scaled down and doll production has been moved to their home.  Wendy believes in quality and encourages people to play with their dolls.  She has a large following of collectors.

Our kids are very familiar with Wendy Lawton dolls as we have many in our home and we all were looking forward to our visit with Wendy and Keith.   They live in a beautifully furnished home in area of nice homes surrounded by farms where produce and dairy herds are raised.  This is in the San Joaquin Valley area of California.

Seneca and Raven enjoyed meeting the family dog, Betsy (named for the character Betsy in “Betsy-Tacy and Tibb,” a children’s book) and they went outside to play with her.  We had  a short visit then proceeded to the Hilmar Cheese Company for lunch.

R and S with Betsy

Betsy, the Lawton dog, got lots of attention from Seneca and Raven

Hilmar Cheese Company was developed by local dairy farmers who needed a market for their milk.  It is now the largest cheese producing plant in the world.   We had an assortment of sandwiches and pizza from the Hilmar Cafe, then the children went upstairs to observe cheese production from the visitor’s windows which look down on the plant.  They enjoyed the exhibits and hands-on activities.

Seneca at Hilmer cheese

Seneca dressed in a “cheese maker” outfit

Raven at Hillmar cheese

Raven viewing the educational exhibits at the cheese factory

Back at the Lawton home we had a tour of the new landscaping being done, saw the workshop where the dolls are fired and visited Wendy’s work area, which at the moment is filled with doll heads and clothing, waiting for their wooden bodies to be sent from the supplier.  Wendy did not want me to take a photo, and is just hoping that the bodies arrive soon.  Then the dolls will be assembled, dressed and wigged and her work room will be back to normal again.

Wendy and Merrily

Merrily and Wendy outside Wendy’s studio

It is always a treat to chat with Wendy, she is a great story-teller and actually is also an author.   She shared about how her family had also cared for foster childrenwhen she was a child and what a good experience it was for her.

Raven viewed a display of Wendy’s dolls and recognized them saying “Oh, those are Wendy Lawton Dolls” but he didn’t seem to realize that Wendy Lawton, the person, was across the room.

Mailing May

One of Seneca and Raven’s favorite dolls is MAILING MAY. She comes with the children’s classic storybook about being sent by mail to visit her grandmother

The big treat of the afternoon for the kids was the lovely little cakes that had been purchased from OLDE TYME PASTRIES a special bakery in Turlock.


Very special pastry treats

I am a huge Wendy Lawton fan and have many of her dolls in my collection.  We have sold Wendy Lawton dolls since opening our doll business Apple Tree Dolls & Bears in the late 1990’s.   One of my favorites is Nalauqataq who reminds me of our son Ben who came from Korea, but died of cancer.


One of my favorite dolls, Nalaugqtaq, who reminds me of our son Ben.

We enjoyed our time with Wendy and Keith.  When we left we headed for home, spending one night in Yreka, California on the way.  It was good to be home after 18 days and 4500 miles.  I have one more blog to write about the trip, that is about our four days in Salt Lake City with daughter Robin and her family.  I had to skip that part to keep up with happenings and I want to go back to tell you about that.