Summer is ending. Yesterday we moved our oldest back into his university. Since he started a semester early he's already halfway through his sophomore year and this was his third move-in. It's almost unbelievable to me, my little boy could be starting his third semester of college. It seems as though I started my third semester of college fairly recently!
The third move-in doesn't warrant nearly the amount of shopping and planning and decorating and commemoration and tears of the first. In fact, I tried to snap a photo but got him looking at his phone and then it started pouring rain so I didn't even get my usual photo off all three kids in front of the campus fountain. We already have all the WCU shirts and hats and chairs and stuff so we didn't go to the university bookstore. Instead we went out for lunch, swung by Walmart to pick up some last-minute essentials, and then we hit the thrift store. I always love checking fresh out-of-town thrift stores when I'm traveling and this one didn't disappoint. My eagle-eyed kids spotted Funko Pops and then found this Tyco My Pretty Ballerina doll from 1990 still in her box. She works and was in such good shape I already got her restored and listed in my shops. You can link to my shops from the Home page.
This is a transitional time in my life, as well as the year. My oldest persuaded me to enroll in entrepreneurship and microeconomics classes to help me run my business better. And finally, after nearly eight months of effort I finally found a trustworthy (I hope!) manufacturer and paid a deposit on my first order of custom-designed doll eyes. The order costs more than I've ever spent on inventory and this is the first time I've ever taken out a loan to purchase goods for my stores. I lay awake for hours after sending the payment! As you know, I've had few of these deals fall through, so please send me all the good vibes you can muster in hopes this works! To begin I ordered eyes to fit American Girl and similar dolls with a wider, shallower eye pocket than most dolls. I designed four colors. If these turn out and sell well I hope to eventually expand my color and size selections.
I took a business trip earlier this month and picked up two huge consignment lots, mostly fashion for girls and women, but also some cameras and electronics and men's shoes. I'm working on getting these listed. All my stores are getting more fall and winter pieces. I'm now a Top Seller Stylist on Poshmark, which means you can request I style you for a season or a specific event, like a wedding or vacation. Just ask for styling and make sure your style card is filled out with your size and preferred brands and styles and I'll create one or more outfits for you and send you a discounted offer.
I really feel like I'm on the cusp of expanding my business in a big way, and it's frightening and exhilarating at once. The entrepreneur classes are helping me feel like I have more of a grasp of what I'm doing, although fitting in yet another thing isn't easy.
I've been working on my personal transition, as most of you know, for almost a year, ever since our son's Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis. I've been going slowly and deliberately. First I researched the disease and changed our diet to ketogenic. After a few months I added intermittent fasting. For the past month or so I've been adding new activities, like mountain biking. I would love to see a faster transformation, but I don't want to burn myself out and quit like I have in the past. August has not been kind to me. I strained a muscle in my shoulder or neck three weeks ago. It seemed like it was better so I went biking and swimming last week and inflamed it all over again. Sitting on the couch with a hot compress on my neck combined with eating out during my business trip (even though I only ate one meal a day) and a couple cheat meals with wheat or potatoes requested by my son before he left combined to pack on four pounds. I know it's not the end of the world, and it doesn't erase all my progress. When my son was diagnosed I was wearing a tight 2X in clothes, but yesterday, even with some weight gain, I wore a size M shirt and I tried on a size L shirt I was planning to sell and found it fits so I'm keeping it. Even so, I don't want things to get out of hand so I am planning at least a few days of meat-heavy zero carb. Several doctors in my Instagram feed have switched to the carnivore diet and transitioned their patients to it and they report great improvement in health from joint pain to diabetes, so I think it won't hurt to try it for a while and I know from experience how well it beats bloating and whisks off weight!
You might remember my tutorial a few months back on how to clean and re-flock a flocked doll which featured the Ideal Baby Dreams Velvet Skin doll. I finished the doll and put her aside planning to make a new bunting but with all the housework and all the ketogenic cooking to support my weight loss journey and our son's diabetes and trying to get a big consignment lot listed I didn't get to it. Now my husband announced he wants us to go through the attics and clean them out, so the kids got out the toys they want to sell and stacked them all over our bonus room, so I guess I have to find time to get to that too. We are going out of town tomorrow until the 9th, and I'm trying to get everything ready to pack and this morning we had to replace rotten fence post so our dogs won't escape while we're away (our son will be here but we didn't want to take chances), so I'm a mess right now trying to finish a thousand things at once. True to life, when things get hectic there's always something more that gets added! I had a customer request to buy the Baby Dreams doll I restored in the flocking tutorial and she wants her dressed, so I stayed up way past midnight to get that done. Please know, I am not complaining! I love when people message me to purchase things they've seen on my website; it makes me feel like it's worth paying the fees to have a personal site!
I used my mint-in-the-box Baby Dreams (she's not for sale) to make a pattern for the bunting. I've done this before, but could I find the pattern anywhere? Of course not! Organizing my office is another thing I really need accomplish, and soon, before the holiday season rush! I used pattern tissue to trace the garment and constructed it the same way. Our Walmart, the only place to buy ribbon trims in town, was sold out of the lone white eyelet they carry so I drove 68 miles round trip to go to Joann Fabrics, and I was glad I did, because they had a nearly identical trim! Pretty impressive since this doll was made in 1975! You can see my outfit is actually much nicer than the original (on the right) because I used better fabric and didn't skimp. You can straight-up see through the original bunting! My mint doll is a later version of the Baby Dreams, and they aren't as nice as the first ones the company produced. The first Baby Dreams had flocked legs, which the later ones don't, and much thicker, longer hair. By the end of production Ideal was clearly cutting costs wherever they could. You can see the difference between the first and later production dolls in this post from a few years back. I think Baby Dreams was made for just one year, so it's odd they would cut back so much in the quality for such a short run.
I'll tell you what, that little face just gets me every time! It tugs at my heart just like looking at pictures of my real babies. I guess since this was my first baby it makes sense! If my client decides she doesn't want this doll after all I will have her listed in my shops. You can link from the Home Page to see all the dolls I have available.
And just a reminder, here's what the doll looked like when she arrived. I'm so glad I was able to save her! It's a good thing the original outfit has a hood, since the hair is probably this doll's greatest weakness. I did my best on it and it actually turned out better than I feared it might because I was able to save it and didn't have to give her a wig! I'm always watching for Baby Dreams. She's my favorite doll to restore! If I find another I'll be sure to post about it!
Sometimes great recipes come from disaster. One of our favorite pre-ketogenic treats were "Ooey-Gooey Sandwiches". These were sold for a while by a restaurant at the Sea Pines Resort on Hilton Head Island, SC. They were pimento cheese, bacon, and pepper jelly sandwiches on grilled homemade bread. The restaurant no longer serves them but whenever we visited Sea Pines we would purchase a jar of pepper jelly and loaf of bread from the Farmer's Market and make those one night. I found a recipe for the "Best Keto Bread on the Internet" and tried it for BLT sandwiches one night. It was okay but didn't rise at all so the sandwiches were tiny. I decided to try to double the recipe for Ooey-Gooey sandwiches but it didn't work at all. It wouldn't get done in the middle and it stuck to the pan and fell all apart when I tried to remove it. I was distraught, as I'd been cooking for hours with no supper to show for it, but my son had a great idea: Southern Style Nachos, with the bacon as "chips" and the pimento cheese and pepper jelly as the sauce. It was delicious and is sure to become a new favorite! Maybe my son created a new food genre: instead of Tex-Mex it's NC-Mex!
Southern Style Keto Nachos
3 pounds nitrate-free bacon, cooked and broken into "chips"
6 Tbsp sugar-free pepper jelly
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp onion powder
4 ounces diced pimentos, drained
1/2 tsp dry mustard
To make the pimento cheese: chop or shred the cheddar cheese in a food processor. Add all remaining ingredients and pulse until blended. For chunky cheese just stop blending before the pimentos disappear. I make mine pretty smooth because it's easier to scoop with the bacon.
After cooking the bacon drain it on paper towels and let it cool some so it becomes crispy like chips. Break it into chip sized pieces. Plate each person's pimento cheese and drizzle a little pepper jelly over the top. Surround with bacon chips and serve.
I couldn't find sugar-free pepper jelly so we just used a tiny drizzle (I used more for the photo to make it more visible). My garden is just about to produce a ton of banana peppers and when it does I plan to try a sugar-free jelly recipe with those. If it turn out I will certainly share it!
Last night we took the kids to The Adventures of Kesha and Macklemore concert. It was our youngest kids' first rock concert. Unfortunately we had outdoor seats and had to sit out in tremendous thunderstorms and rain. We didn't get to hear all that much of Macklemore because of it, which I really regretted since he's a favorite of mine. We can't afford stadium food for the entire family so we planned to tailgate and I needed picnic foods. We ended up eating in our car while it rained, so it was a good thing I made finger foods! The music pavilion sells pimento cheese tacos, this being the South, so I decided to use our leftovers from the nachos and make my own. These are low carb rather than Keto, since I used low carb white wheat tortillas. If you have a recipe for grain free tortillas that don't fall apart please let me know! I noticed looking at photos from before and then after we ate that I had a puffy face and rash on my neck and chest after eating the tortillas, so I know I don't need them.
Low Carb Pimento Cheese Tacos
Pimento Cheese (1/2 of recipe above)
12 low-carb taco sized tortillas
1 pound extra-sage country sausage, cooked and chopped into ground beef texture
6 Tbsp sugar free pepper jelly
1 large tomato, diced
Pan-fry sausage, drain, and chop. Set Aside. Spread a layer of pimento cheese on each tortilla, completely covering it almost to the edge. Drizzle pepper jelly over the cheese. Add sausage to the center of the tortilla. Top with diced tomato pieces. Fold the tortilla in half. Serve hot or cold. For picnics I wrap each taco in aluminum foil to make it easier to hold when eating outdoors or standing.
I'll tell you, it's sad to be so old! It took me several days to recover from the Weezer concert last week and now I have to do it again, with the added muscle strain from dancing all night holding a 9-year-old for much of it so he could see over the crowd! My arms feel like they've been ripped from the sockets! I am also trying really hard to avoid my typical summer visit to the Urgent Care and month on steroids and antibiotics due to allergic reactions. Several days ago I got what I suspect is a spider bite while I was working in my garden. I didn't feel it when it occurred but I have a dark red blotch on one hand that is starting to sting and blister. Often the next step for me with stings is I become tachycardic (my heart beats way too fast) and develop a system-wide allergic reaction and infection. Unfortunately besides the bite I've been exposed to second-hand marijuana smoke twice in two weeks at these rock concerts. I am extremely allergic to marijuana so that even second-hand smoke has landed me in the Urgent Care before. After the last REM concert I attended I was at the doctor early the next morning with tachycardia and an eye infection even though it was an outdoor concert. I hate to even imagine what will happen to me if they ever legalize pot here! They don't seem to enforce the law at all as it is and it's incredibly dangerous for me. It infuriates me, too. If you want to take internal drugs and just hurt yourself, whatever, but don't force me to breathe in smoke that can literally kill me! So, I'm just applying all the essential oils I can think of and taking my allergy oils and drinking tea and resting. I did find the time to list some toys on Amazon today, so please look for me as the seller when you're shopping on that site!
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.