Join the Club!
Join the new Mandaline Doll Club! Enjoy learning about dolls and doll restoration and make new friends. https://www.facebook.com/groups/280502621066282
Let Me Know!I need your help! I just finished a 5-day Masterclass on hosting live challenges and I want to run my ideas past you. Would you like to virtually attend a live class and if so, which topic do you prefer? Here are my ideas. Please fill out the survey or email firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know your opinion.
1) Doll Doctor Bootcamp: 5 days to master the basics of doll repair. I know this is a needed class because of the huge number of requests I get from people wanting to know how to do certain repairs. Should I just cover doll repair or should I add a day to cover setting up your doll hospital business or doll shop? Please let me know.
2) Clutter to Cash Challenge: Turn your messy house into money in just a few days. This class would cover how to start a business with no money and nothing but a library card and unwanted household items.
3) Instant Author: Learn to become a published author for free, even if you’re not a great writer! I will teach you to publish books, journals, and printables for free and create a stream of passive income for yourself. Just set up your own “press” and get paid. No shipping or inventory storage required!
These are all businesses I started and currently run. Eventually I will host all of these challenges but I want to know which you think I should run first. I also need to know what you think of the names. If you were scrolling on social media would these challenge names make you pause and click to find out more? Is there another topic, like essential oils, you'd like me to cover? As my readers you are my most important customers and I want to serve you first and best so please let me know your opinion. I sincerely appreciate your help!
Easy Construction Hacks
We are making progress on our kitchen remodel and I've gathered a few tips to make construction easier. I thought I would share them. Yesterday we had the countertops installed. That's the only thing we hired someone else to do because we don't have the specialized equipment for that. Besides. we removed the old countertops and the one on the bar top was so heavy we could barely lift it down. I did something to my neck during that adventure. Now we are preparing to tile the backsplash. The slideshow above shows my husband, Jerry's, drywall sanding tip. He used drywall mud to fill in holes left by the column and old backsplash removal. He puts this on as smooth as possible with a trowel and lets it dry for about 24 hours. Then it has to be sanded until it's perfectly smooth. To keep the dust under control Jerry bought a drywall kit that included a sanding pad with vacuum hose attachment. You attach the sander to your Shop-Vac hose and it sucks up all the dust while you sand. He uses electrical tape to keep the two hoses securely together.
The next tip is something Jerry saw on YouTube and it's so smart. When attaching trim or anything with finish nails you will have to fill in the nail holes for a professional look. If you place a piece of painter's tape over the spot BEFORE you hammer in the nail (so you hammer the nail through the tape) and leave it in place you can then fill in the hole with wood filler or spackle over the tape. Then you just remove the tape and you don't have to sand or wipe any excess filler off the trim! That little tip saved a ton of time when he re-attached the trim under the bar top! I like the tape tip because it makes it easier to see where you need to place the nail.
I hope you find these tips useful for your next DIY project!
Cambria Quartz Countertop Review
On Friday our new countertops were installed and I thought I would show you some of the steps involved in preparation and share my thoughts on the brand. We did not install the countertops but we did remove the old ones, which saved us $500. One thing we've learned is, even if you're paying for installation or removal a lot of contractors won't do everything. We paid for our new gas stove to be installed but the delivery men brought it in and hooked it up to the gas line and that was it. My husband, Jerry had to install a new electrical outlet for it because they don't do that part. They also didn't install any of the support brackets around the stove; we had to do all that and it was hard because we didn't have some special tools necessary. Likewise, we wanted the countertop installers to remove the bar top counter and columns but they informed us they don't remove any columns. It was up to us to find out if the columns were load-bearing and remove them. Scroll back a couple weeks to see that blog post.
Anyway, we decided we weren't paying them $500 for removal if we had to do the hardest part ourselves! We also had to remove the sink and disposal because we got a new sink. Jerry pried the sink and counters up with a crow bar so we could lift them out. It's a good thing I've been working out with my new trainer! The old sink is porcelain coated cast iron and it weighs a ton. I am going to donate it to Habitat for Humanity because it seems a shame to throw away such a high quality sink and there's nothing wrong with it except it's a drop-in rather than the under-mounted sink I wanted.
When we pulled off the old backsplash, which was just a tiny strip, we found it had not done its job, particularly behind the sink. The drywall was all moldy. It's no wonder my allergies have been so bad since we moved here; every time we renovate a room we find more mold! So, we had to replace the drywall behind the sink. At first we worried the mold went down behind the cabinet but upon inspection it did not. We learned to install drywall several years ago after several leaks from our defective pipes. We think we have replaced all the bad pipes now so we were hoping our drywall days were ended, but alas. At any rate we have all the stuff. Jerry learned to do drywall from watching YouTube videos and he's really good at it; the drywall he installed looks better that any originally in the house! We put up the new drywall and mudded the seams the day before the countertops were installed. After installation we mudded the walls and ceiling to fill in holes left by removing the old columns and counters. I say "we" but my job mainly involves holding things and finding tools and sanding stuff.
I absolutely love the new counters! We got Cambria quartz counters in the "Montgomery" shade. It's amazing how much brighter the kitchen looks now that those old dingy brown counters are gone. Once all the construction dust abates I'm sure I will breathe easier without all the dust and mold behind them. I wasn't even thinking of quartz because it used to be so expensive. I planned to try to find granite that looked as much like marble as possible. But certain shades of the Cambria quartz are actually less than some of the granite we liked! I will say, if you are considering it, be aware the colors are much darker in person that they appear on the website. At least, the Montgomery is. It looks white in the model kitchen on the website but in our kitchen the overall look is gray (which is fine with me because I was looking at gray marble and granite anyway). I almost picked the Praa Sands shade because I thought the Montgomery would be too light but I'm really glad I didn't since the Montgomery is so much darker than I anticipated. We looked at a little 12 inch square sample at the dealer and it looked lighter there too. Some of the Cambria colors have big veins going across the counter that I think look really fake. You couldn't see that at all in the little samples, so I originally planned to get a completely different color but when I saw it on the website I hated it! So, definitely check the website and look at in-person samples before you order, and keep in mind the colors will be darker than the website photos.
Our old counters were Corian and I can tell you I will NEVER buy Corian counters after having them. They're supposed to be really durable but the first thing I saw when we moved in was the bar top was cracked all along two sides. I know it wasn't like that when we viewed the house. I didn't come to the final walk-through with the inspector because I was back in Raleigh with the kids while Jerry was living and working here. I really wanted to but we couldn't work out childcare and logistics. Well those dang men completely missed the cracked counters! I know what happened; the movers slammed some furniture against the bar top when they were taking the previous owners' things away and they cracked it. The Corian is a very thin shell over plywood and besides cracking ours stained and scratched fairly easily. I also wonder how safe it is because Jerry had to cut through the counters to remove the larger pieces and install the new stove and every time he would cut it my throat would burn like crazy and I couldn't breathe. I had to leave the house! The smell the Corian released when he cut it would linger for days so we had to have all the windows open. It makes me feel like we shouldn't have been preparing food on it all these years! The Cambria quartz is a lot harder than the Corian as I found when a bottle of essential oil fell out of the cabinet after we got the new counters and it chipped the bottle. I have essential oils everywhere around here and the bottles fall or get dropped frequently and none of them ever chipped when they hit the Corian!
I know granite is considered out-dated now but I absolutely loved our granite in the old house. It was called Verde Butterfly and it looked black from a distance but when you got up close it was full of greens and blues and silvers. It looks almost identical to the very expensive Peacock granite but for way less cost. If this house weren't all cream-colored I would have ordered the Butterfly again, Besides I attended the Etsy Up conference the other day and the trend report for home interiors is all the light Scandinavian blond and gray is out and jewel tones and dark shades are in. This is why I don't pay too much attention to that stuff; every five years designers and realtors act like you need to rip out all your woodwork and flooring and install something else! As much as possible I try to use medium colors and shades. I like brushed nickel metal because it looks both gold and silver at the same time. I like medium oak or maple shades and I always try to pick stone and tile with both warm and cool tones. The Montgomery quartz has blue, gray, white, cream, and beige tones so it will go with all kinds of colors. We picked glass and marble mosaic tiles for the island and marble subway tiles for the rest of the kitchen. The glass is white and gray but the marble adds some cream and beige and even pink and brown to the mix so it should work with most trends as well. You can see it all in the video.
Get $40 from Rakuten
I recently joined Rakuten, not quite 2 weeks ago, and I’ve already made almost $50 in cash back just buying stuff I was going to buy anyway! I want to invite you to join using this link: https://www.rakuten.com/r/MANDAL1828?eeid=44749. You’ll get $40 plus 15% cash back and I will too! The $40 offer only lasts until 5/15.
I tried Rakuten a long time ago, like 11 or 12 years ago when it was new and couldn’t ever get it to work but it’s much improved now. The customer service is immediate and top notch. It’s really nice to get paid to shop!
We are still in the thick of our kitchen remodel. The cabinets are painted and we are waiting the requisite 30 days for the paint to cure. Some of the specialty hardware got broken during door removal so we are waiting on replacements to arrive. The new countertops will be installed in a week. The countertop contractor won't remove the columns on the island so we have to do it or have it done before then. When I wrote my tiny cabin book some people were upset that I didn't show exactly how to do certain projects, so I am documenting the kitchen renovation in more detail.
I actually kind of liked the columns on the island but my husband has always hated them. I was sure they must be load-bearing because they were a good decade out of style when this house was built. Why would you include them if not for function? However, it turns out they were just decorative. I don't know who made the decor choices in this house, but current trends were certainly not a priority for them. The master bedroom had horrible mustard yellow shag carpeting when we moved in! The columns are actually one of their least-objectionable choices. Here's how we determined they were not load-bearing.
In the photo above my husband is starting the column removal after deciding they probably aren't load bearing. Here's how he decided that. He removed the trim around the top and bottom of the columns and drilled small holes in the columns, counter top, and ceiling in unobtrusive areas that would be covered by new trim if we had to keep the columns. You can see one of the holes in the photo below. Please excuse all the junk all over the bar top. We can't use several shelves until the paint cures, so for about three more weeks. We did move all that stuff out of the way before we removed the columns.
I forgot to take a photo of it, but my husband has a wireless endoscope video camera, which is a camera on a flexible tube, similar to the one I linked above. You can thread it into hollow spaces and see what's inside on a little handheld screen. That was an inspired gift from our son; my husband uses it all the time for everything from installing the stovepipe in the cabin to looking in the ceiling for leaking pipes to construction. Ours is unbranded so I am not recommending any particular brand but it is a great thing to have if you do a lot of your own handiwork around the house.
Anyway, he drilled the holes just large enough for the camera and looked inside. He consulted with a structural engineer from his office and watched YouTube videos so he knew what to look for. If the columns were load-bearing they would most likely have a post going through the center all the way from floor to ceiling. These columns were not only hollow but one of them wasn't even touching the countertop on one side; it was just held on with trim wood and caulk! The columns are made of thick fiberglass so it's possible they could be load-bearing despite being hollow. In that case, however, you would expect them to be really shored up with beams both under the counter and in the ceiling above. In this case there was just a frame of 2x4s inside the island and a regular stud in the ceiling. Jerry, my husband, showed the video from the camera to the structural engineer who agreed they were not load-bearing due to their lack of support. Just in an abundance of caution however, Jerry set up a final test.
Before removing the columns, Jerry set up his laser level, similar to the one I tagged on eBay, and marked along the laser beam lightly with pencil. That way if the pencil marks sagged below the laser beam we would know the ceiling was sinking and could quickly set the columns back in place. To remove the columns Jerry cut small holes in the base so he could hit them with a sledge hammer until they began to tilt (that's what he is doing in the first photo). My job was to push on the base of the columns while he hit the top until they tilted sideways and we could carry them out to the garage. We left the laser level up for several hours after removing the columns and the ceiling stayed level, so we know the columns were just decorative. I kind of miss them but everyone else thinks the kitchen looks way larger and more open so I guess I'm outvoted! I must admit, I won't miss dusting them all the time. If you've never lived in the South you have no idea how much dusting is required. According to my allergist this is the dust capital of the USA and the worst place I could possibly choose to live with my set of allergies! So the columns like everything else had to be wet-dusted all the time (because dry dusting just doesn't cut it here in our humidity), which made the paint flake off so they also had to be re-painted every few years. I guess it will lessen my chore list to get rid of them.
Who's That Doll?
As always, I have been fielding questions about people's dolls. Lots of people own dolls from childhood and the name is lost in the mists of time. Other people inherit dolls or find them in thrift stores or online and want to know who they are and how much they're worth. I'm currently putting together a "doll club" where like-minded people can join and talk at length about dolls. I will post and invite you all once I get it set up. In the meantime you can follow my Facebook page. The private group will be on my own website, not hosted by any social media platform.
I can understand why people get confused about their doll, especially the older dolls. Prior to the 1970s many companies illustrated their catalogs and advertisements rather than using photography. Doll companies shamelessly copied one another and even sold their molds to competitors. Madame Alexander was notorious for that. It was a nice gesture, really. Madame Alexander dolls were carried in upscale shops like FAO Schwartz as well as their flagship store in New York City. The dolls were very expensive. I remember one of the highlights of my childhood was our annual back-to-school shopping trip to the Hudson Belk department store in downtown Raleigh. We would spend the day shopping for new school clothes, taking a break for lunch in the Belk's cafe. At the end of the day my mother would take us down to the basement, which had a Madame Alexander doll shop. We would look at the floor to ceiling display and point out the dolls we liked best in hope of getting one for Christmas. However, Beatrice Alexander realized her dolls were out of reach for many less-affluent families, so when the Alexander company was finished producing a doll she would sell the molds to other manufacturers who then made cheaper "grocery store" dolls, so-called because they were sold at grocery stores, dime stores, even gas stations sometimes. Just to add to the confusion, Madame Alexander occasionally only tagged the doll's clothing and didn't put a visible mark on the doll itself, so nowadays it can be very difficult to identify a doll that lost its original outfit.
The prime example of this is the Kathy Crybaby doll. Madame Alexander made the Kathy Crybaby in the 1950s in various sizes. Although the doll had molded hair the Alexander company often rooted hair over it. The dolls were drink and wet dolls with a crying voice inside. After a few years Alexander moved on to the Kathy Toddler doll, who had a completely different face mold. The Kathy baby molds were sold to other manufacturers and that doll exploded in popularity. Based on my experience in my doll hospital I would say the Kathy face doll was by far the most-sold doll from the 1950s-1970s. I have seen her made in very squishy vinyl as well as hard plastic. People sometimes tell me their doll was sold as a boy instead of a girl. The quality of the dolls varies greatly, and sometimes they look very different from one another because of the way their faces are painted. I don't think I've ever seen one in person with a crying voice, which is often described as a squeaker rather than an actual crying box. I think I have only ever restored one actual Madame Alexander Kathy baby but I and my customers have restored hundreds of the cheaper dolls. Just as an aside, if you grew up in the 80s or 90s your baby doll is probably a Zapf Creation doll or knock-off. Zapf appears to have sold one particular baby doll mold to other manufacturers because pretty much everyone of a certain age had that one and it shows up in my hospital all the time needing either new eyes or a new body or both!
My mother illustrated this identification problem perfectly when I was growing up and she talked all the time about her Ginny doll and how she loved her. Well, my grandparents found the "Ginny" doll cleaning house and it turns out it wasn't Ginny at all, but Muffie. There were hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands of Ginny lookalikes. One of the competing companies, Cosmopolitan, made a doll named Ginger. Ginger looks very much like the early Muffie rather than Ginny but in the illustrated catalogs and advertisements of the time you can't tell one from another. Cosmopolitan sold the Ginger molds to everyone, literally. They even allowed a craft company to use the molds in a "Make your own doll kit", which was just a blister pack of parts you had to assemble. Rather like the IKEA version of the doll! Madame Alexander already had a line of small composition dolls called Wendy Ann, named after Beatrice's granddaughter, but they were skinnier and looked like older children. With Ginny dolls reaching peak popularity, the Alexander company re-designed Wendy Ann as a toddler in hard plastic called "Wendy-Kins" and "Alexander-Kins". The real Wendy Ann was killed in a car crash around that time and the name was retired. Thereafter the dolls were just called "Wendy". The nice thing about Ginny is the Vogue doll company ALWAYS marked them, either with Vogue or Ginny or a combination. If you see a doll being sold as an "unmarked Ginny" be aware it is not an authentic Ginny doll. Madame Alexander marked most of her Wendy and Alexander-Kins dolls as well. Some are just marked "Alex".
My mother also talked a lot about her sister's Toni doll, who was named "Roberta". I know exactly what happened there. Toni dolls were vey expensive because they were licensed by the Toni hair company. For some reason, even though the dolls were essentially an advertising vehicle for Toni hair color and permanent waves, Ideal had to pay hefty fees to use the Toni name and branding. The dolls came with little packages of miniature curlers and perm "solution" or "hair color" with the Toni label and you could give them perms and then wash out the curls and perm the hair again. The real Toni dolls were very expensive and it didn't take long for other companies to make similar hard plastic walking dolls who came with curlers. Instead of Toni-branded perm solution they just had instructions to perm the hair using hot water, so they didn't have the licensing fees and were much cheaper. One of these knock-offs was the Roberta doll. Roberta had a different face mold from Toni but was otherwise the same: a hard plastic walker hairstyling doll who came with curlers. My guess is my aunt wanted a Toni doll but they were out of my grandparents' budget or were possibly not even available in their little town so they bought her a Roberta doll. She and my mom just thought she was a Toni doll named Roberta.
So, how do you figure out which doll you have? One of the ways I learned about dolls and still learn about dolls is to follow doll boards on Pinterest. You can also search online for your doll. Just put in the size, any markings you see, the approximate age, and any identifying features, like curly hair or big eyes. I always search first on dollreference.com, which is the most comprehensive list of dolls. Over the years I have amassed a large collection of doll books. I have a lot of Patricia Smith books on dolls. Her husband did the photography, which tends to be awful, but the information can usually send me in the right direction. These books are cheap on sites like eBay and often your local library will have a collection of them you can reference for free. The Stover Small Dolls of the 40s and 50s book is essential if you're interested in Ginny and her competitors. You can search for your doll on eBay and similar sites by just typing in the same search characteristics. Often one will come up with the actual name.
I also use eBay for valuation. The books I mentioned have values but those are out of date. The advent of the Internet revealed many "rare" dolls are not actually very rare at all and values dropped precipitously. To get the current value of a doll I search for it on eBay and filter the search by "Completed" and "Sold" results. This shows the sales in the past 90 days and you can see what they sold for. You will see there are always really low values because someone did an auction starting at 99 cents or something and only one person bid on it but I just throw those results out and average the rest. Searching on eBay is also a great way to gauge the rarity of a doll. Literally everything is on eBay so if there aren't any or there are just a couple you know the doll is very rare and you can basically set your own price if you're selling. If not you can use it to determine whether a doll should be insured. Some dolls are worth thousands of dollars so before you scoff at that you should be aware you might have an heirloom worthy of passing down through the family.
If you find you have a very valuable doll always inform you heirs so they don't sell it at a yard sale or give it to charity. Many valuable dolls don't look it at all. For example, in the late 90s or early 2000s Disney made The Little Mermaid 2 film. This film featured Melody, Ariel's daughter, and Tyco manufactured the merchandise for the film, including the Melody doll. As often happens, my son had this movie on video tape but wasn't really into it. Then my daughter came along and she was OBSESSED with the movie. She loved Melody, who had black hair like hers. So, I tried and tried to get one of the dolls for her, as well as a new video tape because she watched ours until it fell apart. I quickly found the used video tapes were selling for $65+ back in 2006 and used dolls were selling for around $800. New in the box dolls sold for well over $1000! Now, this is a cheaply-made doll, not produced by Disney, that doesn't look like it would be worth a thing. Its face looks a lot like a dollar store Barbie clone! Needless to say, my daughter never got one. I still see people in my social media find these at thrift stores or yard sales occasionally, priced at just a couple bucks. I dream it will someday happen to me! My daughter's college tuition is $500 a semester, so a new-in-box Melody would cover one full year!
Before you get your hopes up, remember that if you grew up in or after the 1970s your "collector" dolls are likely worthless. Around that time Madame Alexander and other doll companies started making dolls to collect and display rather than to play with. I remember the 8 inch Alexander-Kins cost like $80 each back in the 1980s; way too expensive for anyone to give a child as a toy! Mine were placed way up high on top of my dresser so I couldn't reach them. I had a friend with an entire collection but hers were kept in their boxes in the linen closet and we were allowed to look at them but never touch them or remove them from the boxes. The result of this is a glut of pristine dolls in thrift stores and online, so they aren't worth anything. They're actually worth more if you part them out, so a lot of sellers offer the doll, clothing, shoes, and box for sale separately. That trend will increase the scarcity so if you have a bunch of them just hang on to them and wait if you have the space. Dolls from the 70s and 80s that are valuable were all made as play dolls. Sasha dolls, Ghostbusters action figures, especially glow in the dark ones, certain Star Wars dolls, figures, and plush, and the Kenner Blythe with color changing eyes are all worth a lot because they were played with and got broken or sold at yard sales or lost so now they're rare. The Kenner Blythe is another dolls that's worth north of $1000 if she has her original dress and working eyes! Barbies aren't worth nearly what they were before the Internet and the special holiday ones and other collectible types are basically worthless as well unless you part them out, with the exception of some of the FAO Schwartz exclusives and designer collaborations.
I hope this helps you identify and value your doll. For the most part I no longer respond to inquiries asking me to do this. Random people contact me constantly wanting me to spend the time to value their doll but I only do it for my newsletter subscribers or Facebook or social media followers. Once I get my private group set up these requests will simply have an option to join the group, where I will occasionally provide information. I am trying to think of a way to offer this as a paid service so it's fair, because it does take up a lot of my time.
If you bought my Doll University book you know how I started my own business. However, my business has so many different branches and audiences I would guess most people aren't familiar with my "origin story". I started my current business without spending any money at all ~ that's right, not one dime! Given the number of people currently facing layoffs and economic insecurity I want to tell you how I did it so you can too.
As you may or may not know, in 1998 I was flying high. My husband and I just bought our first home and we were expecting our oldest son. I was working for a publishing company, a long-held dream, and exhibiting my fine artwork. I even made it into a juried exhibition at CAM, the Contemporary Art Museum, in Raleigh! Then one day, the very first day I was wearing "maternity" clothes (which were just size L clothes with elastic waists, I was so skinny back then), I got a call at work from the hospital. My husband had an accident at his job. It transpired my husband was lucky to survive and he did become disabled that day. Our combined salaries back then were just under $40K per year and that included $600 in overtime my husband made as an electrical lineman. He was out of work for three months on disability and afterward went into a desk job with no overtime opportunity. With our new house payment as well as a baby on the way things looked really dire.
My foray into selling dolls happened by accident. My grandparents cleaned a closet and found my mother's childhood Betsy McCall doll. It was a mess, missing half its leg and with its eyes fallen back inside its head. I decided to fix it for my mom as a gift and I started trying to buy dolls with the parts I needed on eBay. When I kept getting outbid on dolls that were in every bit as bad a condition as my mom's I knew I was on to something. I taught myself to repair dolls. I took the money I earned on eBay and bought boxes of dolls from yard sales, thrift stores, and eBay. Then I fixed them up and resold them. I just kept re-investing my money in more inventory and selling it.
My eBay story will work for anyone, with any product, and it's way easier now. Most people already have a smart phone and that's all you need. Go around your house and find things you aren't using. Clean your closets and you'll get the house cleaned while you "shop" for store inventory! Take photos of your stuff and put it up for sale. eBay and Mercari are two sites that will let you list for free and they will even give you a QR code when you sell something so you can take it to the post office for them to scan and print a label. So, you don't even need a printer! Poshmark will let you sell for free but you do need a printer. I know some people who didn't have a phone or printer but started a shop anyway by using the public library's computers and printers. I used a food scale I already owned to weigh my packages when I first started. You can also sell on social marketplaces like Facebook Marketplace or Facebook or other online groups you're in (make sure they allow selling first). Look at what things sell best for you and use your earnings to buy more of those things. Eventually you'll get to the point you can keep some of your money as well as buying more inventory.
Another great option to start a business without money is print-on-demand. If you're good at design or even just good at coming up with funny tee shirt ideas you can open a shop on a POD site like Redbubble or Printful. You design your product and then list it for sale. When someone orders one of your pieces the site prints the item and ships it out for you, so all you need to do is collect your payment. Amazon has a free POD site called KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). You can self-publish books on the site but you can also just design things like blank books, coloring books, journals, and write-in recipe books so you don't need to be an author. Amazon will print and fulfill these orders for you as well.
If you're someone who loves posting on social media, affiliate marketing might be for you. I am an eBay affiliate, which I signed up to do through eBay Partner Network. All you do as an affiliate marketer is post about how great the product or service is and add a special link, which the company provides, to your posts. I like eBay Partner Network because they create coupon codes and other ready-made graphics so all I need to do is download their post and add my link. You don't want to get a reputation for being untrustworthy by promoting a product that's no good, so I recommend you only work for companies you use and believe in. You can find out if a company you like has an affiliate program by searching online for "(name of company) affiliate program".
I combine all these methods: selling online, print on demand, and affiliate marketing, to make money. Over the years I found it's best not to have all my eggs in one basket, so to speak. Right now, for example, my eBay sales are really slow but my Poshmark boutique and Mercari stores are doing well. It can get hectic, trying to keep up with everything. I'm taking classes on automation and expanding businesses by hiring employees and affiliates so I can try to grow more. I've gotten to the point that I can't physically do any more while also being a mother and wife and homeowner. Soon I hope you'll be able to sign up as a Mandaline affiliate to help me while making money!
Another tip I have is not to worry about taxes and the business side of things at first. I held myself back for years worrying about that stuff, but it's really not very hard. When you start open a bank account and credit card in your name (not even a business account) and only use it for your business. Make a spreadsheet or keep a ledger with all the money you make and spend. Save your receipts. When you make more than $600 in profit you report it on your regular taxes. Once you're making a regular profit then you can get software like QuickBooks Self Employed to help you with your bookkeeping. You just connect your accounts to QuickBooks or manually enter your income and expenses and it tells you how much you owe in taxes and when to pay them and everything. When you go full time it's good to get a CPA and I recommend Not Your Dad's CPA.
Are you going to try any of these business ideas, either as a side hustle or full time? Let me know in the comments or messages!
How to replace a cloth doll body
Here is another tutorial showing my least favorite repair: doll body replacement. I keep making tutorials in the hopes everyone will learn to do this themselves! I'm currently charging $100 for a replacement but it will probably go up because people keep sending me dolls. It is just too labor-intensive; I don't make anywhere near my regular salary doing this repair and it hurts my hands.
Besides that, there is a super-easy way to do this yourself. You can get on eBay or go to a thrift store and get a doll of the same size with a good body and just move your head to the better body. That way it's still "your" doll. When you get on eBay you will probably find you can buy a brand new version of your doll for way less than sending it to me. From what I can see, 95% of kids had the same baby doll during their childhood and they are plentiful. The doll in this video was owned by all the 80s and 90s kids (originally a Zapf Creation head mold). The late 50s-70s kids had the Madame Alexander Kathy Baby face mold doll. They were manufactured by different suppliers using the same molds and sold everywhere from gas stations to grocery stores to department stores and toy shops so the quality varies but they are pretty ubiquitous still. I know a lot of people don't want a new doll because they see their doll as a real person but moving the head solves that issue.
However, if you still want to use the original head and limbs here is how to make a new body. You can watch the fast version in the video or follow these steps.
First, cut the zip tie or untie the drawstring attaching the head. Remove the head and set aside. Remove the stuffing from the body. If the stuffing isn't dirty you can save it to re-use. This stuffing wasn't dirty and it's unusually heavy and unlike what I can buy today so I saved it. Plus the owner said something about wanting the body to be the same and not "fat" and I wasn't sure what that meant so I elected to just use the original stuffing. I save the stuffing in a grocery bag until I'm ready to use it again.
When you've removed the stuffing you will need to carefully remove the limbs. Use a seam ripper to cut each stitch until it detaches from the body. You might want to take photos of each stage as you work so you will remember how to put the new body together. Set aside the limbs and then carefully pick apart the body pieces. You are going to use the body pieces as a pattern to make a new body so it's important to keep the pieces as intact as possible. Use a seam ripper to take apart the pieces. You can get a seam ripper from fabric stores or sewing sections of stores like Walmart. Carefully pick each stitch to break it until the pieces are free from each other. Set the body pieces aside somewhere they won't get lost because you will need them.
Once the body pieces and limbs are separate you will need to get every bit of thread out of the holes in the limbs so you can sew them to the new body. I use a seam ripper and sometimes even have to pull out bits of thread with pliers. The limb is done when it's completely free of thread. It's easiest to go ahead and scrub the head and limbs to clean them when they're all separate from the body. You can let them dry while you're making the new body.
Examine the body pieces and figure out which ones are the most intact. People often wait so long to replace the body big sections will be missing or patched. In this case one arm was mostly gone so I had to trace the arm from a different piece to recreate it. Iron the original body pieces to get them flat. Make sure to measure the seam allowance used in the original body. That is the length between the cut edge of the fabric and the row of stitches. In this case it was 1/4". If you have to recreate part of the body make sure to add in the seam allowance. Lay out your new body fabric and pin the old body pieces to it to make a pattern. Cut the fabric. Whenever I can find it I like to use very thick stretch knit for the body. It's more durable for play and the stretch is forgiving if I have to make a new body part and it's not exactly the same as the original. For the neck casing I use wide double fold bias tape, even if the rest of the body is knit. I cut the bias tape an inch or two longer than the original so I can overlap it to cover the zip tie.
Pin the new body pieces with right sides together and make sure you understand how it all fits. Sew the body pieces together. When it is all sewn together add the bias tape for the neck casing. Make sure not to stretch the body fabric if it's knit when you sew on the bias tape.
When the body is finished you can sew on the limbs. I started with an arm which was a mistake; start with the legs, as it's easier to sew them on without the arms in the way. Remember you are sewing the right side (outside) of the body facing the limb so the stitches are on the inside. Pin the limb in place before you sew it to make sure it's in the right spot. It's easy to accidentally put them on backwards. Use heavy duty thread like hand-quilting thread and a thimble to sew through the existing holes in the limb. I sew two or three layers of stitches to make sure the limbs are firmly attached.
When the limbs are attached you can re-stuff the body. If you want the doll to be able to sit make sure to put less stuffing in the hip creases. You also want less stuffing under the arms so they can move freely. You want extra stuffing in the neck and shoulders to hold the head steady. I put extra stuffing in the bottom and tummy like a real baby would have. Shift the stuffing around and test posing the doll different ways to get it like you want it.
Once the stuffing is as you like it you can replace the head. Thread your drawstring or a new zip tie through the neck casing and insert the head into the neck. Make sure to get the zip tie or string into the groove in the neck and tighten it. Then overlap the neck casing and sew it in place to cover the zip tie. Now your doll should be ready for many more years of play! Learn all types of doll repair from my Doll University book.
You might have heard we are remodeling our kitchen. It's needed it since we moved in over 10 years ago but with one thing and another we never had the money. We still aren't doing too much; we are finally replacing the cracked Corian counters and horrible old oven, mostly work we can do ourselves. We repainted the cabinets. I wanted to replace them but got outvoted. Years ago a pipe leaked and made new ceiling drywall necessary, so when we replaced the ceiling we also added much-needed recessed task lighting and got a new central light fixture. The old light was truly horrid: a weak, yellow 70s-style two bar florescent fixture surrounded with a fake wooden box. It was not only hideous but also didn't really work at all to illuminate the space. I fell in love with a fixture from IKEA: just a single bulb but surrounded by the most delicious shade, an oversized blue retro-style round punched all over with quatrefoil cutouts and lined inside with metallic gold. The new kitchen color scheme is taken from that shade.
The kitchen has two-toned cabinets, cream colored lower cabinets and natural maple upper cabinets. We left the upper cabinets as is and re-painted the lower ones the same color as they were. For the sink island we used the dark robin's egg blue of the IKEA shade (Mill Spring Blue by Benjamin Moore is a perfect match). The cabinetry, wall, and two bookcases that happen to fit perfectly under the counter are all re-painted blue to make them look like one big freestanding furniture piece. The island accent color leads into the family room, where it serves as a room divider.
All the cabinet hardware is silver, as is the chandelier over the island. It's not a very common silver either; not brushed nickel and not chrome. It's almost like pewter. I wanted to bring in the gold from the IKEA shade but didn't want the expense of buying all new hardware and another light fixture. So I just added some gold using metallic furniture wax as shown in the video above. I'm doing all the hardware and the fixture over the island. That way no matter what color is in style these should work. And it brings in the gold I wanted to tie into the new light fixture.
I used Rub & Buff, which I got from Walmart. Another brand is Treasure Wax. You can find it at craft and art supply stores. It's really easy to use: just rub it on a large area or use a paint brush on details and then buff it with a soft cloth or cotton swab to set it. I changed our dining room hardware from brass to silver using this stuff about eight years ago and it hasn't rubbed off. You can change metal colors or add metallic accents to furniture, like old fashioned "antiquing" French Provincial type kits. I have gold, silver, copper, and old gold tubes. I used the regular gold, called "gold leaf" on this hardware.
So, there you have it: an easy and inexpensive way to update your light fixtures, cabinet pulls, door knobs, and pretty much anything else! It's made a big change in the look of the kitchen already and we don't even have the new countertops or re-painted doors installed yet.
My name is Amanda, but my childhood nickname was "Mandaline". I am a mother of three turning my passion for creating into a full-time business.