Recently someone in my weight loss group asked why Americans celebrate everything with food, implying we are the only ones who do so. And then everyone jumped in and bashed American eating habits and the whole discussion devolved, in my opinion, into nonsense. As someone who started her career working in Italy and as a Norwegian-American, I disagree wholeheartedly with this idea. If anything I think other cultures celebrate with food even more than Americans. It's our day-to-day food use that's really different. The best expression of this I can recommend is the book French Women Don't Get Fat, but I have a few experiences to relate.
Our family's tradition, for as many generations as we remember, has been to eat rømmegrøt, or Norwegian cream porridge, for supper on Christmas Eve. We only ever eat this decadent dish on Christmas Eve. As you might imagine, sugar and flour were not common in Norway in the past, so this meal was used as a celebration. We savor it because we eat it so rarely. Even though I created a Keto version of the recipe to make it diabetic-safe, I still only make it on this one night of the year so it keeps its special status.
When I was 21 I spent the summer working as an intern in Italy. Two days a week I worked for an ad agency, where I actually worked on a campaign for Roberto Cavalli, the couture clothing designer. Three days a week I worked for a woman named Laura who owned her own design studio. Working with Laura was very intimate since I was her only employee. Laura was maybe four feet tall and always in a rush. We would go out for breakfast each morning. This was a shot of espresso. Laura would sprint to the counter, slap her hand down on it and yell "cafe!" and then she would down her shot and be on her way out the door, all in about 45 seconds. For lunch we would go to a panini shop for at least two hours, where we would eat our sandwiches and drink an entire bottle of Chianti with pretty much all of Firenze. Laura knew everyone, and I mean EVERYONE in Firenze (Florence). She knew all the shop owners, all the gallery owners and Uffizi tour guides. Even the African guys with the tissue packets they peddled clipped all over their clothes, she knew them. And they would all come sit with us at lunch and shoot the breeze. Laura would drink most of the wine herself. I would have been passed out on the floor if I drank that much compared to my height, but she would go back to the office and work until about eight every night. Lunch with Laura was a huge celebration, a party every single day, but neither of us and none of our friends were overweight.
The difference I saw in Italy was that no one snacked, ever. Meals lasted so long there wasn't time to snack and foods like pop and chips were so expensive no one could afford to eat them. No one ate breakfast. They would drink a coffee, usually just one. No one drank coffee all day or carried giant coffee cups around with them everywhere. No one watched television and snacked. Italian television was horrible back then and after supper, which was eaten around 10PM, everyone would get gelato and stroll along the Arno talking to their friend late into the night.
The difference in America, in my opinion, is that we don't celebrate with food. We eat all the time. We're always consuming trying to become healthy, rigorously drinking our kale smoothies, or we give up and eat fast food and junk food snacks all day and night. Food is anything but special here; it's anything but a celebration. It's either a duty or a guilty rebellion.
My challenge for myself this holiday season has been to celebrate with food and celebrate the food. I'm trying to savor the moment and enjoy myself. I'm eating only when I'm hungry. We went to our favorite restaurant and I enjoyed a low carb pizza and didn't feel one ounce of guilt. I'm not trying to lose weight during this season, just maintain. My weight has been up and down over a five pound range so I've been successful so far. We do stay low carb, if not keto, because of our diabetic son. I have a rash on my face from eating low carb wheat, so I may have to modify to strict keto for that reason, but I'm not giving up celebrating with food. In fact, I encourage you to START celebrating with food! Make eating an event, not a mundane constant, and really enjoy it. I think you might see some really positive changes. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
A couple weeks ago a client approached with me with a rush job: to repair an antique porcelain doll in time for Christmas so she could give it to her grandmother. The doll arrived in pieces, needing stringing, eyes, epoxy repairs, and replacement parts as well as clothes. I actually amazed myself by finishing the restoration in time! I don't usually repair porcelain dolls. The modern ones are mostly not valuable enough to be worth the time to repair and the antique ones are extremely scarce. These dolls were produced in Europe, mostly Germany and France, prior to World War I. During the war the factories were bombed and after the war ceramic doll production moved to Japan. The dolls themselves are fragile and didn't last long as children's toys, so nowadays these dolls are beyond rare!
This doll's head is marked S&H with a Star of David. The star was originally the hallmark of K&R but they merged with S&H and another company, H&H. These were all German companies. The doll's body is a mishmash. The torso is traditional composition. The forearms and knee and elbow joints are wood, the hands are composition, and the rest is a strange kind of composition made of pressed cardboard with a coating over it. When I took the doll out of its basket brown stuff like dirt poured out of the body and I could hear something rattling around inside. Further inspection showed this was due to a mud dauber wasp nest inside the body, so it actually was dirt coming out! I used my trusty hemostat to chip the nest apart so I could remove it through the leg hole.
I thought maybe the body was made of parts of different dolls. The head was repaired at some point in the past, very professionally, so I thought maybe the body was added then. However, a friend of mine told me the body looks like her doll's H&H body, so maybe it is original. Most of the time these dolls have kid leather bodies, so I don't know. The proportions are correct so maybe when the companies merged they used up their spare parts.
The head and body were filthy so I used my go-to Young Living foaming hand soap to clean them up. You can purchase this from the Young Living link on the Home page. This soap is a terrific cleaner to get rid of dirt and grime without removing paint. Luckily I had one pair of eyes in stock to fit this doll. I'll add some tutorials showing porcelain doll eye replacement soon.
One of the soles of the feet was missing. The legs are made of pressed cardboard so I used a piece of cardboard to replace the sole. I traced and cut it out and glued it on. Then I coated it with several coats of acrylic paint and gloss medium. I prefer to add a coating of oil paint over the acrylic but there wasn't time for oil paint to dry in this case. Always use a layer of acrylic on paper before using oil paint, otherwise the oil will eat through the paper and degrade it over time.
I also had to replace some fingers and one elbow joint. For these repairs I used hard plastic epoxy. To strengthen the fingers I inserted straight pins into the hand and used them as armatures. I wanted to use a wooden bead for the elbow joint but I didn't have one large enough and none were available locally. I ended up covering a too-small wooden bead with epoxy to size it up. This wasn't an ideal solution because the acrylic paint doesn't stick to epoxy well and scrapes off the joint as you move the arms, but it was the only way to finish in time for Christmas. The main lesson here is if it's at all possible you want to order your repairs as early as possible so I can do the job as thoroughly as I'd like. My solution was to dress the doll in long sleeves so the joint isn't visible.
One reason I thought the body might be a hodgepodge of parts is the variation of the wire hooks attached to the hands. The wire on the right actually went through the elbow and prevented it from bending so I ended up cutting it down to the same size as the other one.
For really large dolls like this, where I can't reach across to grab the elastic I use a wire as a come-along to pull the cord though. I just wrap the wire around the elastic and pull the wire through with the elastic attached.
Once the doll was strung I did some spot-painting to match the new parts to the old and cover the most egregious scratches. I would have like to do complete body re-paint with oil but there just wasn't time and the buyer didn't ask for that repair in her budget. The dress we chose covers most of the body anyway. Thankfully the doll had her original high-button shoes so that covered the rest of the legs. I didn't have shoes to fit her so it would have been a problem to find some in time otherwise.
The Christmas doll turned out beautifully, if I do say so! She's the perfect classic doll, always shown under Christmas trees in illustrations to this day, even though these dolls are largely non-existent now! When I was a little girl I was a huge fan of the book A is For Annabelle by Tasha Tudor. Annabelle is a doll much like this one and she has a wonderful wardrobe of clothes and accessories and a trunk to hold them all. I wanted one so badly but of course I never got one. My parents tried, but in the pre-Internet days just not possible to find. My grandmother had a photo of herself as a girl with a doll like this but it was long broken by the time I came along. I really felt betrayed she didn't preserve her doll for me! I can't even imagine how difficult it must have been to keep your kid's dolls intact if you were a parent back then. I got a porcelain doll for Christmas once when I was about 12, so not a little girl, and when I picked her up out of the box her legs banged together and one foot broke off! So my dad was having to glue it back on later on Christmas Day!
If you're lucky enough to come across a doll like this one she'll probably need some repairs after a century of play. Over the next few weeks I'll be posting some restoration tips, my holiday gift for you. You can also request an appointment for your doll to visit my doll hospital using the form below.
I hope you have a Merry Christmas and wonderful holiday season!
Anyone who's followed me for a while knows I've been trying and failing for many years to lose weight but finally have been successful using ketogenic dieting and intermittent and extended fasting with the help of Dr. Wade Baskin. The photos above show my transformation from January of this year to today. I still have weight to lose and while I'd like to say I'm always consistent and motivated, sometimes I fail to achieve my goals. This week was one such time. Dr. Wade's group is doing a 5-day fast but I had to drop out less than halfway through. I've completed 5-Day fasts before, so it wasn't a case of being a newbie; I just had several things going against me this time.
Fasting, as I've mentioned before, is simple but it's not easy. I find it far easier to start a fast when I'm in ketosis and after Thanksgiving I certainly was not. I had some non-keto foods and way too many keto treats. It's also difficult for me to fast when I'm stressed out and the combination of running my business during Black Friday and Cyber Monday and solo parenting while my husband was away on business was just too much. Last night I was abnormally cranky and snapping at my kids all out of proportion to their behavior. I also made a bunch of mistakes sewing a scarf for an Etsy order and had to throw away a great deal of fabric I ruined. The kicker, though, was the onset of flu-like symptoms. I'll spare you the details except to say, while autophagy has amazing benefits, too much autophagy can be unpleasant to say the least. I ended up having a bowl of homemade sausage late at night in order to stop the autophagy without adding any more junk to my system. Breaking a fast, especially a long fast, can be dangerous. Most experts agree a small, simple meal of broth or meat works best. I was stuffed after just a few bites, and my stomach settled down, my headache disappeared, and my agitation calmed down so I could fall asleep.
Autophagy means "self-eating", named for the process through which the body begins not only using stored body fat for fuel but also clearing away damaged cells. Dr. Fung describes this phenomenon comprehensively in his book The Complete Guide to Fasting, which I sincerely recommend you read. If you start a fast after eating a bunch of junk or being exposed to a lot of chemicals or being under a bunch of stress or something to cause cellular damage, your body may eject these damaged cells all at once. I get migraines and stomach flu symptoms quite often from fasts of 40 hours or longer, which is because I still have a good 30 more pounds of fat to lose at least. One purpose of fat cells is to insulate the rest of your body from toxins. Your body places these in a cell surrounded by fat to isolate the toxin, so if you have excess body fat you can be sure it's full of lots of bad stuff. Fasting helps detoxify your body but let's just say sometimes this process isn't as gradual as one would hope! So, I failed at my fast this week, but it's okay. I did fast for over 50 hours, so I saw a great deal of autophagy, got back into ketosis, increased my growth hormone levels, and had a decline in insulin production (and increase in insulin sensitivity). I lost nearly all the weight I gained during Thanksgiving. I'm still having cravings for stuffing, my Thanksgiving favorite, so I will most likely switch to OMAD (one meal a day) and fat-heavy keto for the rest of the week to get that carb addiction under control. The reason Dr. Wade started these long fasts is because he read The Fasting Cure by Upton Sinclair and realized how many illnesses were successfully treated though extended fasting in the days before antibiotics. It's a very interesting book and another I recommend.
After a few days of strict low-carb whole foods I should be ready for a long fast. It's a difficult time for fasting, with all the holiday parties and in our case, birthday parties, so I'll do another post about holiday maintenance in a few days. What about you? Do you fast? How do you manage during the holiday season? Comment and let us know!
I got many compliments on my outfit today. Everything but the sweater (palazzo pants in blue or black, LipSense lip gloss, black bra) is available from my eBay store. The change in hair color and straightening of my normally-fuzzy hair is thanks to Overtone Coloring Conditioner. I'm using the Espresso Brown shade but they have lots of colors, including fun colors like red or blue and you can mix them to create your own custom color! Pro Tip: if you see something you like in my eBay (or any of my other stores) contact me using the form below for a discount! If you buy from me directly I can offer discounts of at least 10% -20% because I don't have to pay selling fees to a hosting platform. Make sure you contact me through THIS website though; I am not allowed to mention off-site sales on my store-hosting platforms.
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.