Having been parents for 20 years now, my husband’s and my Valentine's Day celebrations are no longer the romantic affairs they once were. On rare occasions we have gone away somewhere but most of the time we have a fancy supper for the entire family and exchange cards. This year was no different. My husband gave me a card and some sugar free chocolate and shrubs for the yard and I gave him a card and sugar free candy and then spent two days cooking a big supper. I made sirloin steaks that were vaguely heart-shaped, splurged on carbs with mashed potatoes and salad, and then I adapted a couple cake recipes to create a Keto Almond Mocha Fudge Cake. I've been craving dense, rich chocolate cake lately and this fit the bill perfectly! Scroll down for the recipe!
Keto Almond Mocha Fudge Cake
4 large eggs, separated
8 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate
3/4 Cup Powdered Monkfruit Sweetener, divided
1/2 Cup Golden Monkfruit Sweetener
8-10 drops Chocolate Liquid Monkfruit Drops
1/4 tsp salt
1 Cup Almond Flour
8 ounces Unsalted Butter
1 TBSP Brewed Espresso or Strong Coffee
1/2 TBSP Pure Almond Extract
Unsweetened Cocoa Powder for Dusting
Sugar-Free Whipped Cream for garnishing (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease one 8-9 inch springform pan with butter and then dust with unsweetened cocoa powder, turning to coat evenly. Melt the unsweetened chocolate, butter, and 1/4 cup of powdered monkfruit sweetener in a double boiler or over very low heat, stirring constantly. Once the mixture is melted, remove from heat and stir in the almond flour and liquid chocolate monkfruit drops. Set aside to cool.
Separate the eggs. Beat the egg whites with 1/2 cup powdered monkfruit until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
Blend the egg yolks with the espresso, almond extract, and 1/2 cup golden monkfruit sweetener. When the chocolate mixture is still workable but cool enough so it will not cook the egg yolks stir in the egg yolk mixture. Fold the egg whites gradually and gently into the chocolate mixture until blended.
Set the springform pan on a jellyroll or similar pan, in case of leaks, and bake 30-35 minutes until the center of the cake is set but not completely dry and the edges are done. A toothpick should NOT come out clean from the center.
Remove to a wire rack to cool. When cooled, remove the sides of the pan and then refrigerate at least four hours. Allow the cake to warm to room temperature before serving to make it easier to slice. Serve with whipped cream if desired.
This cake is heavy and dense and extremely rich, with a texture similar to cheesecake. The hint of mocha and almond aroma make it a perfect accompaniment to coffee or red wine. You will want to slice it into smaller servings, as most people will find they are unable to eat a large piece. When taken straight from the refrigerator the texture is almost like a solid block of chocolate and it's difficult to slice, so you will want to allow enough time for it to warm up before serving. Everyone really enjoyed this dessert and I was thrilled to lose over 5 pounds this week even after a Valentine's Day splurge! If it were up to me alone I would probably cut down the sweetener a bit but most everyone likes dessert to be sweeter than I. I didn't sweeten the whipped cream very much so it made the cake more palatable for me. I've been fasting around 20 hours each day this week and only eating one meal a day, ending my eating window earlier in the evening and going to bed earlier, so I was ready for the big Valentine's meal and rich dessert! I linked my favorite brand of sweetener, Lakanto, in the ingredients. My family agrees, this is the only sweetener that really tastes like sugar!
In other news, I added some new inventory to my shops, including this 1971 Fisher Price toy school. This was one of my beloved toys as a child (not this exact one but the same toy)! I came across a large lot of NASCAR collectible duffel bags from 1993, all unused and unsold, still wrapped in the original plastic, and got those listed. The bags feature the Winston Racing Team logo and would be a unique gift. Other new additions include vintage books and ceramics as well as some electronics. You can link to all my shops from the Home page.
Months ago I promised to write a tutorial showing how to convert your Blythe doll's color change eyes to sleep eyes and now I have finally gotten around to writing it. I know I've been the world's worst blog writer and newsletter poster lately and I am trying really hard to get back on track.
So, if you are a Blythe owner you know the Blythe doll comes with really cool color change eyes. When you pull a string in the doll's head the eyes close and click and re-open with a different color and gaze direction. Blythe eyes don't stay closed, however, and some people like to be able to close the eyes so Blythe can "sleep". A word of warning: if you convert the eyes don't leave them in the closed position for long periods, as some Blythe owners claim this warps the eyes so they no longer work.
To begin your repair you will need to remove the spring in the back of Blythe's head. You can lift it up with a skewer or pliers and unhook it from the shaft. You will not need this spring if you plan to create sleeping eyes but you might want to save it for future repairs of other dolls.
After you unhook the spring unscrew the back of the head and gently pry it open with a flat head screwdriver or similar tool. I used a zipper bag to corral all the screws and other pieces so I wouldn't lose them.
Lift off the back of the head and make sure to note the location of all the pieces and screws. It is helpful to take a picture so you can refer to it during re-assembly.
Remove the screw and the tiny paddle-shaped piece under the eye mechanism. Don't lose this piece! This is the piece which holds the eye chips in place so the color shows and the eye opens.
After you remove the paddle untie the drawstring from the eye mechanism. It's helpful to use a pair of tweezers to untie the knot. Remove the drawstring and set aside. You can re-use this, bead it and decorate it, or replace it entirely. You will be using two strings instead of just one with the sleep eyes, so most people replace the string with two new matching strings.
Remove the eye mechanism by pushing against the side of the eyes and lifting them out of the head. You will have to press hard, so be careful not to scratch the eyes. At this time also remove the scalp from the head. You may or may not need to unscrew it depending on which Blythe version you have. Remove the spring from inside the head as well. You can just unhook it with pliers and set it aside.
Find two strings or narrow ribbons at least as long as the original drawstring. If you want to embellish them with beads do that prior to insertion. Take the first string and thread it into the back of the head through the round hole next to the rectangular hole. Then thread it through the half-circle shaped piece on the back of the eye mechanism as shown. It can be helpful to use a sewing needle to get it through the hole. Tie the string in place using a double or triple knot so it doesn't come undone.
When you have the first drawstring inserted you can replace the eye mechanism in the front of the face by just pushing the little pegs on each side into the tubes in the sides of the face front. Just insert one at a time. Take your second drawstring and thread it through the rectangular hole in the back of the head. Bring it into the head and tie it to the triangular shaped piece above the eye mechanism as shown (tie it to the hole where the spring was attached). I've shown this from several angles to give you a good idea of the way the strings are attached. When the strings are tied in place re-attach the paddle shaped piece under the eye mechanism.
Replace the scalp and the back of the head and screw them in place. The ribbons should appear as shown in the photos below. To work the eyes now you will pull one string to close the eyes and change the color/gaze and pull the other string to open the eyes.
Initially I replaced the factory eyelashes and painted eyeshadow on the eyelids before I converted the eyes, but I found when I opened and closed them the paint all scraped off. So I made eyeshadow by grinding soft pastels into powder and applying them with a brush like eyeshadow. You can also use real human eyeshadow for this. Then I sprayed the face with Mr. Super Clear flat UV Cut varnish to set it.
Now your doll can close her eyes as shown above! The photo below shows the Blythe face after eye conversion and with her face plate custom sculpted and re-painted. I typically glue hook and loop tape to the scalp and add it inside wigs so the hair can be easily changed, and it is also easy to find rooted scalps you can change out for a different hair color and style. This particular doll has her original eye chips. See my eye chip replacement tutorial to see how to change the eye colors from the factory options.
Please remember, I am happy to create a custom Blythe just for you! I also sell eye chips, bodies, and other Blythe conversion supplies, as well as ready-made custom Blythe dolls, in my shops. Link to all my shops from the Home page.
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!
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.
The doll above is a Factory Blythe with the original eye chips and positioning, although with eyes modified to "sleep" and replaced eyelashes. I cover those changes my sleep eyes tutorial. Today I'm going to show you how to replace the original Blythe doll eye chips and change the positioning of the gaze as shown in the doll below.
If you've been following along you may remember a couple months ago I customized my first Blythe dolls and promised tutorials. but then my son required a bone graft surgery and we spent November going to one or more doctor's appointments every week to prepare. My son had surgery on Monday. It went exactly as planned and we spent only one night in the hospital, less than half the time usually required. He's recovering well and you can keep up with his progress and see photos on my Instagram and Facebook. I had a suspicious number of orders for a Monday, almost all from repeat customers, and I know that's because many of you are trying to support us. I want you to know we are all sincerely touched and extremely appreciative!
So, on to the tutorial. I apologize if it's a little confusing; I took photos of the same process using two different dolls. Just follow the steps for any Blythe doll, and possibly also for Pullip dolls, although I will have to update once I've customized one of those. Begin by gathering your materials. You will need a candle, glue sticks, a Blythe doll, and new eye chips. You can purchase new eye chips from my shops, especially Etsy, from the link in the Home page. Make sure the eye chips you buy will fit the Blythe doll you are customizing. There are several sizes of Blythe dolls. Right now all the eye chips I am selling are for the 12 inch Blythe. I am also working on a Blythe eye kit.
To remove the eye mechanism first remove the back of the head. Remove the screws first and make sure you save them.
Next use pliers or a skewer to unhook the spring from the bar next to the eye pull string. If you want the eyes to "sleep" you will not need the spring, but if you want them to work as the originals you will need to save the spring and not pull it out of shape, so be gentle.
When you have removed the screws and spring you can pop the back plate off with a flat head screwdriver, butter knife, or similar implement.
Here is the original mechanism. Make sure to take a photo or make note of the arrangement of all the pieces before you remove anything.
Unscrew the gaze bar, which is the little paddle-shaped plastic piece screwed in as shown above. The original Blythe gaze is slightly downcast, as shown in the first (blond) doll in this post. If you desire that just leave the paddle as is. If you want Blythe to look up, as shown in the second (brunette) doll in this post you will need to sand the straight top edge of the paddle's "handle". That is the part of the paddle without the screw hole. The more you sand this edge the more your Blythe's gaze will look up. Be very careful when removing and sanding this piece and don't lose it. It is essential to the function of Blythe's eyes and is not easily replaced.
Next remove the pull string. You can use tweezers to help you untie the end if you want to save the string. If not you can just cut the string, but you will need ribbon or something to replace it.
As gently as possible use a flathead screwdriver to pry the eye mechanism out of its slot. This can be quite difficult. Sometimes slightly heating the plastic with a hair dryer can ease this process.
Remove the eye mechanism.
If you have a factory or Tomy Blythe you will need to remove the screw to take off the scalp.
Save any pieces you remove in a baggie or somewhere they won't get lost.
To remove the eye chips heat the ends of the glue sticks so they melt slightly but don't drip.
Adhere the glue sticks to the eye chips.
To speed the process you can do four eye chips at a time. Leave the glue sticks in place until they cool.
Draw a straight pin or knife blade around the edges of the eye chips to loosen them.
Then pull the glue stick off and the eye chip should come with it. Often the eye chips will stick and you will have to repeat the process two or three times before it comes out.
The doll I'm working with here is a Basaak Blythe and the eye chips were extremely tight. Some of them broke when I removed them and I had to cut and sand out the pieces before I could proceed. I've never seen this happen on another tutorial, so I don't know if it was a fluke or if this is a specific problem with the Basaak dolls, but if this does happen be prepared to remove the broken pieces fully or the new eye chips will not adhere. You can actually purchase blank Blythe dolls without eye chips and I think in the future this may be what I do as it will save a great deal of time!
I used an X-Acto knife and sandpaper to remove the broken eye chip pieces. Supposedly all you have to do most of the time is just wash out the white glue with warm water, but that didn't work at all with the Basaak Blythe. They obviously used super glue to fix the eye chips in place!
When the eye channels are completely clear you are ready to insert new eye chips.
I ordered custom eye chips and they were too tall to fit in the Basaak Blythe eye sockets so I had to sand down the posts and repaint the pupils. Sometimes you will have to sand the sides as well to get them to fit, especially with custom eye chips.
When your eye chips are sanded and painted, if necessary, use white water-soluble glue to insert them. That way you can easily remove them later if you want to change them out. If they are stuck you can soak the eye mechanism in warm water and the glue will dissolve.
Press the eye chips in place. Sometimes they snap right in and other times you have to hold them until the glue sets.
Once you've inserted all the eye chips and let them dry you can insert new eyelashes and color the eyeshadow if you desire.
After I re-inserted the eyes I had to touch up the face paint where it was smudged. Then I re-inserted all the components I removed earlier. Look at the photo below to see how the gaze changed after I sanded down the gaze bar paddle. You can purchase eye chips and other Blythe parts and even ready-made Blythe dolls from the links to my shops on the Home page. Stay tuned for more Blythe tutorials as my son's recovery advances.
As many of you know, I am self-employed largely as a result of our adoption of two children with special needs. I feel incredibly blessed to live in an age when I can work from home, create my own career, and communicate with people all over the world. The Internet changed my life and has given me more opportunity than I ever imagined it could. That does not, however, mean it's made this life terribly easy. The fourth quarter of the year is a notoriously busy time for anyone in retail, and for a solo momtrepreneur like myself it's just insanity.
This year, more than ever, I'm feeling the pressure of trying to be a mother as well as run a successful business. Our youngest son has a major surgery scheduled this Monday. He will be getting a bone graft and some facial revision to help correct his cleft lip and palate. We've always known he would need this surgery and his team of specialists have been working together for years to get him ready. This particular surgery is time-sensitive and must absolutely be performed during the optimal window of his dental development. We hoped to have it done during one of the school breaks but it just didn't work out that way. So now, right at the height of the sales season and my busiest professional time of the year, we have the surgery, and last month we learned our cleft team had gone out of network with our insurance company. Facing a $10,000 bill, we applied for Gap Coverage so we could pay in network, and thankfully it was granted. That process, however, required extensive phone calling and paperwork-filling for myself and my husband, and my son has visited almost his entire network of doctors in the past month to get all his pre-surgery check-ups and procedures finished.
If you watch my social media on Instagram and Facebook you also know we discovered a rotten support post on our house that spread mold and decay into the interior walls and floor and then we had yet another water heater leak, so besides all the doctor visits we've had to work around contractor and plumber schedules. We performed much of the interior renovation ourselves. My husband has become a champ at installing drywall and I helped out with the painting.
Add to that all the cooking and cleaning and entertaining of the holiday season, and you'll understand why I haven't written a blog post or newsletter for ages. I sincerely apologize. I have been working hard to get new things made and posted for sale and the slideshow above shows a few of these. I know how much people love trunk sets during the holidays so I managed to finish a few, as well as one doll and book set, and some single dolls. I was honored to create an adorable matryoshka birth announcement set, and my daughter and I collaborated to design some cozy winter poncho wraps.
We are trying to fit an early birthday celebration into the weekend since it will be so long until our son can eat solid food and run around again, so I have my stores either on vacation or set for really long handling times. You can still place orders but I am not guaranteeing new custom order deliveries for Christmas and anything paid after 9PM on Sunday will likely not ship until Friday at the earliest. I truly hope you will still place orders because to be honest I need the money! As soon as I know how long we will be in the hospital and how well my son recovers I will update my handling time and get everything out as soon as I possibly can.
Please keep us in your thoughts and please know as soon as I am able I will get back to writing tutorials and posting new projects. This is my "why". I am so grateful to all of you for supporting me, reading my blog, shopping with me, emailing me , over all these years. You made my little family possible. You gave me the ability to drop everything and step away from my career when it's necessary for me to be just Mom. I'll be spending the day and night in the hospital on Monday, at the very least, and possibly longer. There may be a delay in my response to messages and questions during that time.
Many blessings on you fall, until I can write again, Amanda
For some time now I've been curious about Blythe dolls with the color change eyes. All of a sudden my Pinterest and Instagram feeds have exploded with images of amazingly beautiful customized Blythe dolls. I finally decided to order one and teach myself to customize these dolls. I've now finished two dolls and I have enough material for at least three different tutorials. I'm trying to organize my photos and thoughts to get those finished for you. My first doll already sold but the second doll and some doll parts are available from my shops (shop links on the Home page).
There are several different Blythe dolls and I'm not familiar with them all yet, but the first is the original 1972 Kenner Blythe doll with color change eyes. Those were regular toys, a little scary-looking, back in the day but now they are worth thousands of dollars. Apparently the rights to manufacture Blythe were bought by Hasbro and then Takara. These dolls are worth several hundred dollars. Finally, there are a slew of off-market Blythe dolls. There's what is called a "factory" Blythe, which is marked Blythe and sometimes Takara and sometimes Hasbro on the body and head, supposedly just nude dolls with or without wigs, that come from the factory before packaging. I kind of doubt that's true, but who knows? I can't afford any of the real Blythe dolls to see how they compare. Then there are fake copycat Blythe dolls called Basaak Blythes or Basaar Blythes or Icy dolls or others. The Basaak and Basaar Blythes look just like Blythe but the quality is noticeably worse than the factory Blythe dolls. The Icy doll is nearly identical to Blythe but with a slightly different face sculpt. There are also nude dolls with a Blythe faceplate but without hair or eye chips, solely for customization. Besides the 12 inch Blythe shown here there is also "Neo Blythe", "Middle Blythe", "Petite Blythe", and "Mini Blythe", but I'm still foggy on those and I don't own any. It seems like the Blythe heads can be used with a dizzying array of bodies. You can buy bodies by themselves or poach them from existing dolls. So far I have made two custom Blythe dolls. One is made from a Factory Blythe and one is made from a Basaak Blythe.
This alluring beauty is Vadoma, a fortune teller. Vadoma is a Romani name meaning, "one who knows" and comes from a word once used to describe magicians in the gypsy culture. Vadoma is my second Blythe customization. My first Factory Blythe taught me these dolls are an expensive hobby to acquire, with the basic nude dolls costing around $70, so I used cheaper parts for this one since I'm still teaching myself how to make these. I started by re-sculpting and re-painting a Basaak Blythe faceplate. Then I replaced the Basaak eye chips with a pair of galaxy chips I made and three pairs of chips by another artist from eBay. I converted the eyes to sleep eyes and hand-beaded the pull strings. I replaced the sparse eyelashes and colored the eyelids with ombre shadow. I picked up a distressed Azone ball-jointed body for a fire sale price because it had a broken neck and very custom paint job. I removed the paint and re-painted the body and made a new neck attachment. I added my exclusive "quick change" Velcro skull dome and wig, so a new owner can easily change out wigs. Finally I put together an outfit from vintage and handmade clothes and jewelry.
You can choose from four different color for Vadoma's eyes as well as change the direction of her gaze.
Because Vadoma's crystal ball is attached to her pull string she always has it with her.
You can use Vadoma's Velcro skull with one of my wigs or place a rooted scalp over it to change her hair.
The Basaak dolls aren't the greatest quality, and this one had a couple issues. The skull cap kept coming loose so I had to glue it down with white glue to stabilize it. You can soak the head in warm water to remove the glue if you need to get inside her head. The head seams don't meet at the bottom on one side (see the slide show for a photo) but Vadoma's hair covers that problem.
I'm most proud of Vadoma's pierced ears, which I did myself, her galaxy eye chips, which are the first I've painted, and her pull strings. I bought the crystal ball charm months ago on clearance because it was cool and I've just been waiting for a way to use it. This was the perfect project! I have Vadoma for sale in my shops and I can also sell her at a discount if the buyer contacts me through this website and pays through PayPal. I hate to let her go, though! She's just gorgeous and I'm really proud of how she turned out.
My first custom Blythe doll is this Taylor Swift portrait doll. A few weeks ago I ordered a Factory Blythe on a ball-jointed body for myself. As soon as she arrived I posted photos on my Facebook page and my sister immediately asked to buy her as a Christmas gift for my niece. My niece had a photo of Taylor Swift, one of her heroines, and asked the doll be made to look like the photo. So, I sculpted and re-painted the faceplate to get it as close as possible. My sister won't want to have to open the head to change out the scalps if my niece ever wants to change the hair, so I added a Velcro dome and chose a wig that can be worn up or down. I converted the eyes to sleep eyes but I left the eye chips as-is, since my niece really likes to change the color and at that point I hadn't learned to change the eye chips and didn't have any to replace them anyway. Amazingly, while I was looking for an outfit I found a banjo in my doll stash and I was able to string it so it really plays!
You can order your own custom portrait Blythe (made from a Factory Blythe doll) from the contact form below. A custom Blythe includes the doll, one outfit with shoes, either a wig or rooted scalp, eye chip change, custom eye lids, and sleep eye conversion, and your choice of body, for $400 on this website with payment though this site or PayPal or $500 with payment through Etsy or eBay. Add $150 to the price if you'd like me to use a Takara or Hasbro Blythe as the base. Please allow 6 weeks for completion of your doll, as almost all the parts have to be ordered from Asia and take up to a month to arrive. I am working to obtain and list Blythe parts in order to speed up the turnaround time! Check my shops on the Home page for ready-to-ship dolls that cost less than the custom order dolls.
Last week my oldest was home from university for several days so of course I had to make all his favorites foods. He's diabetic, so these foods have all been adapted to fit into a ketogenic lifestyle, with the exception of his favorite Ragu of Beef over Mashed Potatoes. He requested I make the potatoes but we limit how much he and I eat. He, in particular, was able to eat a lot this time due to a great deal of manual labor cleaning up our yard after Hurricane Michael. Physical activity lowers blood sugar and he did so much wood chopping he had to correct with sugar and starches several times in one day, so it was alright for him to have a large serving of mashed potatoes. Although we are several hours inland the wind was strong here and we had several branches the size of small trees down and hanging dangerously. My husband had to work long hours, of course, so I was grateful for my son's help and the help of our neighbors cleaning up.
After several days of low carb pizza and Keto chocolate cream pie and Halo Top ice cream I gained about six pounds, so now that things are back to normal I decided to do a long fast. Autophagy, the process through which the body removes and replaces damaged cells, kicks in after about 12 hours of fasting and peaks around 40 hours. I rarely fast longer than 42 hours because of that and also because I start to feel unwell around that time. Once I made it to 72 hours fasting, but today at 40 hours I couldn't remember the user name to log into our banking app to deposit a check, even though I was just on it earlier paying bills, so I decided it was time to eat! I didn't eat because I felt hungry, however, and today's Keto-Ade recipe is one reason for that. This is a vinegar tonic, very popular right now, but made without all the sweeteners and juice and stuff you usually find in them. This will fit right into a ketogenic lifestyle and will even work for a less-strict carnivore diet.
Keto-Ade Vinegar Tonic
2 TBSP vinegar
3 drops each Young Living Slique Essence, Cinnamon Bark, Black Pepper, Ginger, Bergamot, and Lemon Essential Oils
2 cups water
Mix all ingredients and sip upon awakening, before meals, or when feeling hungry while fasting.
As most of you know I am in Dr. Fung's private Facebook fasting group and the moderators there are very much against coffee with cream during fasting. Any food, even Keto food, raises insulin response which can knock you out of autophagy and which causes weight gain, and they believe the cream prevents autophagy and that broth also does this. However, Dr. Fung himself allows both cream with coffee and broth during fasting (Dr. Fung approves the group but does not monitor it himself) and I avail myself of both to extend my fasts when I would otherwise be unable. Last night, for example, I was terribly hungry around 22 hours of fasting so I had some broth and coffee with cream while everyone else ate supper and that was enough to help me go to bed early and actually fall asleep without eating. Just in case, however, I like to have a vinegar tonic.
In The Obesity Code Dr. Fung explains vinegar is a protective compound because it dampens insulin response. While most magazine and Internet recipes will tell you the only vinegar that works is the raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar, Dr. Fung uses sushi as an example of a high-carb food made safe through the use of vinegar and sushi vinegar is rice vinegar which is not raw. So, although I used the apple cider vinegar because I had some, I think any vinegar you prefer will work. I've heard good things about coconut vinegar but haven't found any around here. The oils I use are all from fruits and herbs that have been shown in studies to reduce hunger and increase metabolism and autophagy. Because they are essential oils they have no carbs or calories and you only need a tiny bit. The Slique Essence does contain stevia but because it is so diluted you can't taste it. If you want to avoid stevia all together during fasting you can substitute Grapefruit Essential Oil. Remember, most essential oils are NOT safe to eat. Young Living's Vitality oils are specially formulated to be edible (although any YL oil that is made as a Vitality oil is edible; they are just labeled differently for FDA compliance but they are the same oils). You can purchase Young Living oils from the link on the Home page.
One of the things I've really been missing since we switched to the ketogenic diet are doughnuts. I know I'm not the only one; all my kids have wished for them at some point. It's not like we ate doughnuts all the time before, although if I'd known our son would get Type 1 Diabetes I would have gotten them more often while we still could! We did have them every so often, however. Luckily for me, I prefer cake doughnuts to the yeast-raised kind, most likely due to my Midwestern upbringing. Cake doughnuts are the prevalent recipe in the Midwest and yeast-raised, like the famous Krispy Kreme or Cafe Du Monde are iconic in the South. The reason I say I'm lucky is, as far as I can see, the yeast-raised are impossible to replicate without using wheat.
I've been messing around with doughnut recipes and I think I've gotten pretty to close to a regular cake doughnut. These do require a couple things for success: a silicone doughnut pan and Vital Wheat Gluten. Wheat Gluten is the protein found in wheat. It helps make baked goods elastic, like regular wheat products and has very few carbs. If you have Celiac Disease you will have to substitute eggs or something else. The original recipes I found for doughnuts were either too eggy or tasted very dry. I added butter for moisture, but it does make the doughnuts very apt to crumble. If you want a sturdier doughnut you can replace the butter in my recipe with heavy whipping cream or eggs. I was the only one who found that dough too dry; everyone else loved it! I'm at my lowest weight in two years, and if I can lose that much while eating doughnuts for dinner I'll take it!
Keto Chocolate Doughnuts
3 TBSP Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
3 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
7 TBSP Sour Cream
3/4-1 cup Unsalted Butter, softened
1/4 cup Powdered Monkfruit Sweetener
1 TBSP Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
2 TBSP Heavy Whipping Cream
1/4 tsp Vanilla Extract
1.5 TBSP Water
Mix all frosting ingredients until smooth and set aside. The frosting will firm up and become the texture of chocolate mousse. Preheat 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. Do not over-bake. Cool the doughnuts completely in the pan and then turn out onto a platter. Frost with the frosting very gently (in my quest to make these moist I made them quite fragile) and add sprinkles if desired. I can't find Keto sprinkles, so I just add a tiny bit because my youngest always requests them!
Keto Apple Dumpling 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
3 apples, cored and diced
1/4 cup Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup Granulated Monkfruit Sweetener
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/4 cup Water
1 tsp Cinnamon
Powdered Monkfruit Sweetener, for sprinkling
Make topping: melt butter and add apples. Stir to coat. Lower heat to Med-Low and add all other ingredients. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until topping is soft. Mash with a spoon or potato masher until the topping is the texture of chunky applesauce. Remove from heat and set aside. Heat oven to 300 degrees. Grease a doughnut pan well with butter or coconut oil. Proceed as with the chocolate doughnuts: 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. Do not over-bake. Cool the doughnuts completely in the pan and then turn out onto a platter. Cover each doughnut with topping very gently (in my quest to make these moist I made them quite fragile). Sprinkle with powdered confectioners monkfruit.
We were so excited about these we had them for supper one night. The kids were thrilled! I never have understood why doughnuts are acceptable as a meal for breakfast only. I'm sorry it took me so long to get this posted. Both kids had a little stomach bug last week and I got it over the weekend. Today I had one home from school with a cough and runny eyes and sore throat. I had a Parent-Teacher Conference with his teacher and when I got there she was taking cough drops for the same thing. I took a bunch of ImmuPro and Inner Defense supplements when I got home, because I sure can't afford to catch another illness! Those are some Young Living products I really recommend.
The eBay links for the doughnut pan 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.
I am beyond thrilled to announce the arrival of my custom-designed Atelier Mandaline Truly Fitting™️ doll eyes! I've been working since February to bring these eyes to you and I am not disappointed. I worked with a manufacturer to design eyes especially for dolls with shallow, wide, almond-shaped eye pockets such as American Girl and similar dolls and I am happy to announce these are a perfect fit. Now you can change out your doll's eyes for a different color or replace eyes that are stuck, damaged, or cloudy. I have four eye colors right now and plan to order more as I can afford it. You can buy them from my Etsy and eBay shops at the moment and I plan to add them to this site soon. You can link to all my shops from the Home page. Read on to find out exactly how to replace your doll's eyes. This method will work for any vinyl doll and it's perfect for dolls with a narrow neck opening. For another eye swapping method see my tutorial for dolls with wider neck openings.
The doll I am working on today is Tenney by American Girl. As you can see, Tenney has one sticky eye that no longer wants to open all the way as well as a little chunk bitten from her nose. I will replace the eyes in this tutorial and tackle the nose later.
Step 1: Soften the head. In the case of American Girl you can untie the drawstring in the neck or cut the zip tie to remove the head and soften it. You need to heat up the vinyl to make it pliable. Cover the doll's hair and face paint if desired with a plastic bag to protect it in case it gets wet. Line a bowl with a towel and set the head in the bowl with the eyes facing downward. Boil water and pour the boiling water into the doll's neck opening. Use a flashlight to see inside the head and make sure you cover the little lumps inside the head with water. Those are the eye pockets and they need to be soft to remove the eyes. I used to boil the whole head to soften it, as I saw on You Tube, but Camille of Camille's Doll Spa in Chicago posted this genius method on Instagram and that's the only way I do it now. It is much easier on the hair and paint. Please note, if your doll has pierced ears or rooted hair you will need to line the inside of the head with an oven bag, like the kind you roast Thanksgiving turkeys in, before you pour in the water or the water will just all run out. I may or may not have learned that the hard way!
Let the water sit inside the head for 8-10 minutes or until the face is very pliable when you squeeze it. You can lift the head out of the bowl to test how squishy the vinyl has become. When you can easily change the shape of the face by squeezing it you are ready to remove the eyes.
Step 2: Remove the eyes. Using a long implement like the handle of a wooden spoon, press on the backs of the eye pockets inside the head. Push on them to force the eyes out the front of the face.
You will probably also have to squeeze the front of the doll's face around the eyes as well until you can pop them out. You may have to warm the head more than once if it takes you a while to get the first eye out. If the face has become too cool to remove the second eye warm it up again before you proceed.
Do your best to keep the eyes straight in the sockets when you are trying to get them out or in. I got one of the eyes turned a little sideways and it became hopelessly stuck. I had to re-warm the head several times and ended up having to dig out the eye with a nut pick and gave myself a big blister!
I chose my Variegated Violet eyes as a replacement for the originals. As you can see, these eyes are a near-perfect match for the originals, size wise, and in my opinion are even better because the silver rim around the eye is smaller. These are much easier to situate so the rim doesn't show when the eyes are inserted.
Step 3: Insert the new eyes. Soften the head again by filling it with water as before. While you wait for it to get soft go ahead and carefully rub baby oil on the back and sides of the eye casing. Make sure you don't get the oil into the eye casings. The baby oil makes it much easier to insert the eyes. If you feel like it's too runny you could also use petroleum jelly. You can apply the oil to the eyes or inside the eye sockets or both. I use a cotton swab to apply the oil.
When the face is pliable and the eyes or sockets are oiled place one new eye directly over the eye socket. Make sure the eye is as straight as possible because if it gets turned sideways it will get stuck and could be damaged. These eyes are almost exactly the same size as the eye pocket. Press the eye into the eye pocket. You can squeeze the face around the eye with your other hand while you press the eye in to make it easier. The eye should pop right into the socket. Repeat with the other eye. If you work fast you can get them both inserted without softening the head in between.
Step 4: Straighten the eyes. When you insert the eyes they are often a little wonky, gazing in slightly different directions or with the silver rim visible. Very gently press on the frames of the eyes with a nut pick or bamboo skewer to straighten them up. Make sure they are looking in the same direction and the rim isn't showing.
Voila! Look at those gorgeous eyes! I am even more pleased with these than I thought I would be! These new eyes just popped right in for me, far more easily than the last eyes I replaced using actual American Girl eyes. Now you can make your doll look exactly as you want or repair your doll without having to pay the pricey American Girl Hospital fees!
My eyes come in four colors: the classic Blue Pinwheel similar to the originals used in vintage American Girl dolls, jade green with a hint of aqua called Sea Jade, Root Beer Brown, and Variegated Violet, which range from lavender to dark purple. These are my most popular and requested shades but as they sell I hope to offer even more colors. I do offer custom-painted eyes in my Etsy shop. I've created everything from glow-in-the-dark reptile eyes to zombie eyes to just ordinary hazel eyes and I'm happy to work with you to bring your vision to life! As always, please take a look at my shops using the links 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.