If you ever ship anything on a regular basis you are no doubt aware of USPS' newest rate hike. It's huge, because they switched to First Class to zone pricing instead of flat rate based on rate and that means the further you are from me the more postage costs. This is a problem since I am most popular on the West Coast when I live on the East Coast! Atelier Mandaline eBay provides free shipping and free 30 day returns for most items, so this hits me hard. My main wholesale supplier also raised rates this year, so I don't have any choice but to raise mine as well. Since my Etsy store does not offer free shipping, prices there will remain stable at least for the time being. Etsy is starting to make motions as if they are going to basically require sellers to offer free shipping and if that happens of course I will have to make accommodations.
To ease the transition for my eBay customers I am holding a storewide sale of up to 40% off for one week only, through 11:59 PM Sunday February 3rd. The more you buy the more you can save! If you have your eye on anything in my eBay Store I suggest you pick it up while it's on sale. This sale includes my newest inventory: eye chips, clothes, and shoes for Blythe dolls! The shoes and some clothes will also fit Tiny Betsy McCall and the Azone and similar 12 inch BJD bodies! A few of these are shown below. I'm getting more and more into customizing BJDs like Blythe, Pullip, and Jun Planning and I hope to have many new tutorials, supplies, and kits for you soon!
In With The New
The new year started as a blur for me. I've been incredibly busy with the kids and my business, especially my doll hospital. Although I don't particularly love to cook I am always trying to make new recipes to replace foods my son loved before he became diabetic. I stayed on Keto fairly well over the holidays but I had a few cheats and lots of Keto indulgences and it made me realize how much better I feel on strict almost-carnivore Keto. Just before New Year's Eve I had the worst migraine I've had in at least five years, with vomiting and everything. I went to bed at 7PM that night and slept for about 12 hours! I'm also aware of how run-down I became during the fourth quarter. I just pushed myself way too far this year, but we really needed me bringing in money for our son's bone graft surgery. I want to thank you profusely if you've purchased from me or sent a doll to the hospital recently; you really don't know how much it means to us. Please read on for some delicious recipes I will share as a special thanks!
First up is my Keto Sesame Yeast-Raised Bread. It turns out you can use a small amount of real sugar with yeast to get a lofty bread very similar in texture to wheat bread. This is safe for diabetics because the sugar is consumed by the yeast as it expands and raises the dough. The sugar does not affect your blood sugar levels because by the time you eat the bread it no longer exists!
Keto Sesame Bread (Image above)
Makes 14 slices
1/2 cup Hot Water
1 tsp Real Sugar
2 1/4 tsp Active Dry Instant Yeast (also called Bread Machine Yeast)
4.5 TBSP Melted Butter
6 Large Eggs
1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
1/4 cup Heavy Cream, warmed to a little more than room temperature
3/4 cup Almond Flour
1/3 cup + 2 TBSP Sesame Flour
1/3 cup Psyllium Husk Powder
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
1/4 cup Golden Monkfruit Sweetener
2 tsp Xanthan Gum
Sesame Seeds for Sprinkling
To activate the yeast, heat the water to 110-120 degrees. I just let my faucet run as hot as it would go but you can use a thermometer if you are new to bread making. If you get the water too hot or cold it won't work. Yeast is a living organism and extreme temperatures can kill it. Dissolve the real sugar in the water. Stir in the yeast and let it rest for 10 minutes. You will see it begin to swell and bubble and it will turn a creamy color if it is working. It is eating the sugar and growing! As the yeast grows, preheat the oven to about 300 degrees and then turn it off and let it cool with the door cracked while you make the bread. This will give your bread a nice warm place to rise.
While you wait for the yeast to grow go ahead and mix the other ingredients. To make the sesame flour I just blitzed toasted sesame seeds in my bullet blender until they were powdered. I buy really large jars of sesame seeds at Asian grocery stores where they are much cheaper than the regular grocery. Try to let the warmed and melted ingredients cool a bit before you add them so you won't cook the eggs. Add the yeast and mix. Try to mix the ingredients as little as necessary. Mix fast for only about 30 seconds and then slow the speed. The resulting dough will be like batter, not dough. If you don't have a silicone pan, line your loaf pan with parchment paper. I just line a regular loaf pan with a silicone pan I have prepared by greasing with butter or coconut oil. It's so much easier and doesn't stick! The ones I use are linked above.
Make sure the oven is warm, not hot. You don't want the bread to start cooking. Place the dough in the oven and let it rise for 1 1/2 hours. When it has risen you will find the texture has changed to a bread dough texture. Remove the pan from the oven and heat it to 350 degrees. Brush the top of the bread gently with water or coconut oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for about 15 minutes and check to make sure the top isn't getting too brown (you might remember our Saga Of The Terrible Oven which burns the outsides of everything and leaves the insides raw and which we can't afford to replace). If you have a similar oven to mine and the top of the bread is looking really brown tent aluminum foil over the pan (don't touch the dough) and return to the oven. Bake for 45 more minutes and check to see if the bread looks mostly done. If so, like if the center isn't obviously raw still, turn off the oven but leave the pan inside with the oven door closed for 10 more minutes. This light cooking finishes the bread nicely. Place the pan on a rack to cool. When the bread is just warm, not hot, turn it onto a board and slice it. Serve with butter or desired topping.
We had this bread with a French Onion Moose Roast I made in the slow cooker. I really wanted bread to soak up the rich gravy and it was perfect for that! I don't like it as well eaten on its own, although it's better if it's toasted. I don't like the flavor of the psyllium husk powder. Everyone else in the family really loved this bread, so I guess it appeals to most people. I will revise this recipe and in the meantime @ketochix on Instagram just posted a coconut milk yeast bread that looks really good. If you are trying Keto I highly recommend her profile.
Besides the bread another new recipe is Keto Maple Bacon Doughnuts. These were a bit sweet for my taste but my kids loved them and a dozen disappeared overnight!
Keto Maple Bacon Doughnuts
6 TBSP Coconut Flour
3 TBSP Almond Flour
6 TBSP Vital Wheat Gluten
3/4 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 cup Monkfruit Granulated Sweetener
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
7 TBSP Sour Cream
3/4-1 cup Unsalted Butter, softened
1 tsp Maple Extract
Frosting and Topping:
3 slices nitrate free bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/4 cup Unsalted Butter, softened
1/4 cup Powdered Monkfruit Sweetener
1 tsp Maple Extract
Make topping: melt butter. Stir in maple extract and powdered monkfruit. Remove from heat and set aside. Cook bacon, cool, and crumble into bits. Set aside.
Heat oven to 300 degrees. Grease a doughnut pan well with butter or coconut oil. Mix all dry ingredients for doughnut dough. Add sour cream and 3/4 cup butter. The dough should seize together into a ball. If it resembles coarse crumbs keep adding butter as needed until it makes a smooth ball of dough. Bake 10-15 minutes or until the edges of the doughnuts just begin to pull away from the pan. If you are baking two batches at once you will need to almost double the cooking time; I start checking at 20 minutes when I double the recipe. Do not over-bake. Cool the doughnuts completely in the pan and then turn out onto a platter. While the doughnuts cool, warm the frosting and whisk it until it has a creamy look and flows easily. Spread frosting on doughnuts one at a time very gently (in my quest to make these moist I made them quite fragile). Sprinkle with bacon bits while the frosting is still warm and moist. The frosting will harden quickly to "glue" the bacon to the doughnuts.
The eBay links for the pans and wheat gluten are affiliate links; there is no cost to you but if you buy something on eBay (anything, not just these products) within 24 hours I will get a small payment. Affiliate links help me keep my tutorials and recipes free for you, so thank you in advance for using them.
After a little over a year on Keto I haven't lost very much weight on the scale, but it seems like every time I enter my closet I find I can wear something that hasn't fit for several years. I am definitely seeing improvement in my body size and composition and especially in how well I feel when I stick to the program. I have a history of undereating and overexercising, as well as binge eating at night, so this month I have backed off extended fasting and instead focused on 14-18 hour fasts each day. I'm trying to move my eating window earlier as well.
Besides evaluating my Keto success in 2018 I have also been looking back over my business. I am trying to define my goals. Last year was one of huge strides for me professionally. I designed my own private label doll eyes and had them manufactured and imported them. I more than doubled my inventory. I ordered wholesale fashion lots. All of this was fun and I learned a lot, but it was truly exhausting. By the end of the year I felt physically and mentally depleted. I didn't increase my income as much as I wanted, either.
I have some decisions to make about the direction Atelier Mandaline will take in this new year. Recently Walmart has been continually reaching out trying to persuade me to sell on Walmart.com. While that would be an amazing opportunity for exposure, it would require a large outlay of revenue to get started. I would need a business address, which I currently don't require. The only inventory have in large enough quantities are my doll eyes, which I don't believe is probably something Walmart shoppers are trying to find, so I would have to purchase huge lots of new inventory. The inventory I already have is taking over our house, so I would need to purchase or lease a storage facility or warehouse. It's really tempting, though, because I have always wanted to design and market my own products, especially dolls and toys, and now I built a relationship with a trustworthy manufacturer. I am just going back and forth about whether it's worth the risk to make such sweeping changes. At this point we are still getting all sorts of random medical bills from our son's bone graft surgery and our insurance company messed everything up and has to re-submit the billing information, so any large business expenditures will definitely be something for later on in the year, not right now.
I did make large fashion inventory purchase from the Goodwill outlet because I desperately needed to replenish my men's and women's larger and plus size stock. Instead of searching for trendy brands I reverted to my earliest niche and focused on fine vintage pieces. I took my oldest son with me and instructed him to help me find quality fabrics, like wool, cashmere, and alpaca and pieces made in the USA, Europe (especially France), and Mexico and the rest of the Americas. This strategy was so successful it actually shocked me. We put half what we found back and still bought over 42 pounds of clothing. Every bit is in exceptional condition, with a few pieces just needing a button or a stitch here and there. I have cleaned and repaired everything and am about a third of the way through photographing and listing it all. Besides that I made some hand crafted nebula jar necklaces with my daughter and got those listed. I've been absolutely slammed with doll hospital requests, with five arriving so far this week. I keep reminding myself it's a blessing to be so busy!
I hope you will stop by the shops to see all the new listings. If you like high-quality, classic, and handmade styles you're going to like them! You can link to the shops from the Home page.
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.