Friday, December 14, 2018

Holiday Baking 2018

Hey All!!

Long time no post, I know! It's been a month and I have been so caught up in holiday fun and, of course, holiday shipping. :)

OK, if anyone would like the recipe for any of these, just leave me that request in the comments below and I will post them for you. ;)

But I HAVE been baking like CRAZY and wanted to share some of the results with you...

It began in November with St Martin's Day croissants.

St. Martin's day falls on November 11th and is still well-celebrated worldwide. There are many wonderful traditions across the globe that vary from one country to the next and I won't even attempt to cover anything here except for the croissants.

I found these in a book about the old traditions of the season and that led to finding out about Poznan, the Polish village known best for the croissants that they produce for this day. The town has a museum dedicated to the history of the croissants. . . and there is a legal protection on the recipe. Only croissants that fit the size, wight and ingredients can call themselves the official St Martin's croissant. Maybe most amazing of all is that the people of Poznan (with a city population of just over 500,000)  manage to eat a lot of them – as in 700,000 of them on St Martin’s Day alone!

Mine were a little less extravagant (the dough for the "official" ones requires 81 layers of dough!) and smaller to allow for us to keep them fresher.  Apricot jam and a ground almond filling are wonderful together in these.

St Martin's Day croissants

Next were Catern cakes, made for St Catherine's day, November 25th.

Again, celebrations take place the world over but this excerpt from the French description of the day there, made me smile.

On St Catherine's Day, it is customary for unmarried women to pray for husbands, and to honour women who have reached 25 years of age but have not married—called "Catherinettes". Catherinettes send postcards to each other, and friends of the Catherinettes make hats for them—traditionally using the colours yellow (faith) and green (wisdom), often outrageous—and crown them for the day. Pilgrimage is made to St Catherine's statue, and she is asked to intercede in finding husbands for the unmarried lest they "don St. Catherine's bonnet" and become spinsters. The Catherinettes are supposed to wear the hat all day long, and they are usually feted with a meal among friends. Because of this hat-wearing custom, French milliners have big parades to show off their wares on this day.

And these are Cattern cakes:

There is nothing like this cookie/cake.

First, the dough incorporates caraway seed and currants and, second, the dough, when rolled out, is so soft and crumbly that it takes patience to actually get a good roll from them, let alone slice them and get them on the tray. But they come out so well and they'll hold for a week, only getting better and stronger in flavor as they sit!

Then December came. . .

When I was a child, one of my favorite holiday events was the annual bake-good fest that my great Aunts (five of them!) and my grandmother embarked upon. Basically, for the first three weeks of December, our house was inundated in many classic Slovak, Hungarian, Russian and Polish baked goods.

Two of my great aunts, Help and Agnes, who lived together, would call my mother and say "Come pick them up Doll!" Sh'ed corral me and off we'd go, just a few blocks, but the anticipation was off the hook! Walking into their house and seeing the dining room table (which sat 8) completely covered with trays and plates filled with all the traditional goodies!

We'd pack up the few tins we brought and hand them the box of nut roll and poppyseed roll that my grandmother made.

It has been years since I tasted those treats and though, after they passed, some of their daughters and grandkids tried to keep up the traditions, many of the recipes have been lost.

Strangely enough, though I bake very regularly, I never tried finding any of them myself.

This year I decided to give it a try. Thus far I've focused on three in particular, trying to perfect them as I've gone along.

These are Kolaches (spelling varies on ALL of these over different cookbooks) Kiffle and Potitca.

First, both the Kiffle and Kolaches use the same basic dough which is equal parts cream cheese and unsalted butter, flour and salt.

These are the Kolaches

There is NO sugar in the dough but, once the dough has sat in the fridge for at least a few hours, you roll it out on the counter into a dusting of sugar. This caramelizes on the bottom when they cook and is just the right amount of sweetness. The dough which seems like puff pastry when you remove the cookies, puffed and flaky, cools to. a cookie consistency and there is nothing like it in my own recipe box.

The filling is just dried apricots, rehydrated and then cooked down with sugar and water until the reduced liquid is thick like a syrup and then it is all pureed.

And The Kiffle is just rolled instead of pinched and uses a sweetened ground walnut filling with scalded milk, butter and sugar.

These are amazing. The walnut filling almost crystalizes. Both the Kolaches and Kiffle can be made with poppyseed, apricot, nut, cherry or prune filling. These are the two I remember the best though.

And finally, today, I made the Potica. It's essentially a nut roll but with thinner flakier layers and, in many homes, instead of long rolls it was made into bundt shaped cakes, the rolls stacked on top of each other before baking! I was not brave enough to try that but maybe for the new year?

This is Potica: Mine was more like traditional nut roll than I was hoping for  and came up a little short in the layer department and I'll try again but, hey, it was DELICIOUS! :)

So, that is where I am in my holiday bake-fest. When we made the Kolaches and Kiffle, we decided there was no need to look any further this year. We are making a few dozen every other day and giving them away and eating wayyyyy too many ourselves!

I hope you are enjoying the season wherever you are. I'll be around to drop in soon again!

Thank you and happy solstice/holidays until the next time!


Saturday, November 10, 2018

New Work - "First" Friday - November 9th

Soooooo. . .  Yes, I did it. I forgot that the 2nd was the first Friday and when I sat down yesterday to post some new work. . . I felt so silly! :) 

So with FIVE Fridays this month I decided to go ahead and start the month today and count it as first Friday! 

Here is a selection of work from the last month! I hope this finds you all well and preparing for the holiday season ahead. 

I am going to try and post pics of my holiday baking as we go too. First up is Sunday the 11th, that's St Martin's Day and in the Polish town of Poznań, the village bakes and sells  hundreds of thousands of the crescent shaped sweet rolls on Novemebr 11th. I'll post more about it with the images later next week. 

For now, hoping your weekend is wonderful!


I had not made Burano houses or a Gondola for years and never at this tiny N scale size! I love them!! 

A Fairy House with the door on the second floor

A All Hallow's Eve scene with Dracula on the crypt's balcony

A Carnelian Shen amulet

A tiny, blue Anubis Statue

A custom request for a miniature scene of Hagrid's Hut! I loved making this but it will be OOAK for sure. :) 

Monday, October 29, 2018

Ghost Stories - Go Play Elsewhere - The Apartment #3

Go Play Elsewhere

My mother, in her eighties, does not have a very good memory of late but the things she recalls from the past are crystal clear and, by my own experience as a reference point for them, very accurate.

So, when I told her I was writing about the myriad of odd occurrences I've had in my life, and those of the apartment we lived in until I was 11, she raised an occurrence that I had completely forgotten about but, upon hearing it, it had come rushing back to me so clearly.

It wasn't going to be one of the tales I told but may truly be one of the oddest.

The apartment was complex of 8 buildings lettered A through H. Our building, F, formed a corner, a perfect right angle, with building E and the resulting square yard they created was the only flat, grassy area around the complex. It was perfect size for waffle ball and so it became our field by default.  Hitting the wall above the first story was a home run and I can still, with clarity, recall the three times someone hit a plastic ball on top of the third story roof.  I remember these more for the fact that it was out only ball on two of the occasions and ended our game. . .

As you might expect, we were kids and we were loud. The result, with the noise bouncing off the brick facades of the large buildings was, I am sure, rattling to those who's windows faced the grassy diamond.

The management of the complex, due I am sure to the complaints of the noise,  eventually built a play area on a grassy lot behind the buildings but it was habit to play on this field and we returned to it often. I mean, the buildings DID make for the perfect diamond shade and the height of the walls made for a true "stadium feel".  And some summer nights people actually watched us from itheir windows.

Eventually we took to the new play area but it was an adjustment.

So I must have been eight or nine at most at the time this happened.

Very few people complained to us when we played or shooed us away but there was an elderly woman who lived in the very first apartment in F building on the ground floor.  I never knew her name nor can I or my mother recall it now but I will refer to her as Mrs. Smith for the purpose of the story.

Mrs. Smith's living room window overlooked the outfield, left field to be precise, and in the summer, when the heat set in, the window was usually open. These were the old wind-out windows, not the sliding kind with a screen.

Once we had been given the new play area and were not supposed to disturb the neighbors by playing on our old field, she made a habit of yelling at us out her window. Aways the same three words and nothing more:

"Go play elsewhere."

She wouldn't come outside or to the front door ( as I believe she used a walker), but instead would just wait for one of us to be close enough to the window to shout it at us as loud as she was able which was, not very loud. That lucky kid then had to relay the message to the rest of the group and we would, of course, pick up and go around the back.

There were times when she wasn't home for weeks at a time though. Maybe visiting family or in the hospital. Those times we fell back into the habit of playing on the diamond again. We did this because one of the kids had a parent who worked in the office of the complex and she had been told it was mostly Mrs Adams who had done the complaining about us being there. So if she wasn't home, we went right back.

So,  it must have been a few months since we had played on the old diamond field at all and, for some reason,  perhaps the new field had too many small kids on the new swingset, we decided to play a quick game on the diamond between buildings.

It was getting dark earlier then, nearer to Autumn, and as the game was winding down, I was put out in left field. . .Nearest to Mrs Smiths windows.

Later in the inning, as it was almost too dark to see anymore, I had my back to the window but heard Mrs Smith, as usual, calling out to me. . .

"Go Play Elsewhere."

We must have woken her, I thought, because she had not said a word for the hour or so that we had been there up to this point.

Well the game was ending anyway and I told everyone we needed to go. With that, I went inside the building and into our apartment. Soon after, when I was having dinner, mom asked about the game and I told her it had been fine but how mean old Mrs Smith had told us to go play elsewhere as always.

"What?" she asked, her face puzzled.

"She told us to go play elsewhere." I repeated, probably doing a bad impression of her voice.


I looked up mid bite and met her eyes.

"Who told you to go away?"

"Mrs Smith — out of her window like she always does. I was the one who was out there and heard her." I said, the last of my Spaghetti O's heaped on my spoon.

She sat down across from me, seeming confused.

"Honey," she said, "Don't lie to me."

"I'm not mom!" I protested unable to understand why she thought I was.

"Look," she said, " you all know that you're not supposed to play there anymore, so don't. And I don't know who yelled at you to be quiet but it wasn't Mrs. Smith.  Honey, the poor soul passed away a week ago. There's no one in her apartment."

I do not remember what my reaction to that was. I don't think I had any notion of it being odd or strange and I wasn't going to push it with my mother, to whom lying was the worst offense I could commit.  I DO recall now that, though we barely played on the grass diamond afterwards, I refused to play left field when we did. :)

Was it Mrs. Smith? Was it my own self consciousness about us playing there when we were not supposed to? ( I always protested it, knowing it was against the rules, but was often overruled by the Lord of the Flies majority)  was it someone else a floor above who probably heard Mrs Smith call out a dozen times or more over the previous summers?

I cannot say. I am amazed that my mother remembered after all these years and though it had slipped my own set of memories, it came back as soon as she mentioned Mrs. Smith.

Eventually an old man moved into Mrs Smith's old apartment and I had a year long battle with him which I will tell you about some other time. It wasn't supernatural in any way,  but it was a war of stubborn pre teen and old man attrition. . . lol

Friday, October 12, 2018

Inspirations and Oddities - Second Friday Post - October 12th

Hello everyone!

I'll have the next ghost story up later this weekend but I am really trying to maintain my every Friday posts again. So, second Fridays are meant to be for inspirations and oddities and I've decided to try and format the post to include one book recommendation, one podcast link, one Kickstarter project and one oddity link.

So without a moment's delay, here are October's links!


Three Dark Crowns
Fantasy / Young Adult

Add caption

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake is a wonderful story. First of a trilogy.

My favorite aspects of this book are the three main characters, triplets. . . .and all three are queens (first,  I LOVE that they are already queens, not just princesses hoping to become queen one day.) The are born as queens and the only problem is, after the age of 16, only one may rule so, in their 16th year, there is a competition in which they will try to kill each other until just one is left to wear the crown.

One is a poisoner, one an elemental and one a naturalist, each with their own special abilities. . . .except two of them are rather inept/weak at their supposed "gifts". The story has many twists and turns and having read the book AND listened to the audio book, I''d say either is a fine choice. : )

This is NOT your typical royalty competition.


In The Dark 
Investigative journalism

A 27 year old case of child abduction. One I remember from my own teen years.  One that changed the way America handles investigations and sexual offenders.

This podcast had begun hoping to help solve this cold case in St. Joseph, Minnesota. Just weeks before the podcast aired, the perpetrator was caught on an unrelated charge and accepted a plea deal to admit his part in the kidnapping and murder of an 11 year old boy.

That alone is remarkable and riveting but what the podcast became was a remarkable expose of shoddy police work, the repercussions of wanting to have someone to pin it on and the way it tore a community apart. It's a long, well structured look at the false sense of security many of us had then that these sort of crimes are rare and the changes in our laws that were meant to help protect children and solve crimes such as these.

In the Dark Episode 1

This stayed with me for weeks after we completed our listen of it.

 There is a second season dealing with another case that is also worth a listen but very dark and every bit as heartbreaking as this one.


The Oxford Trollomicus by Spike Greenwood

I am a huge fan of the art of Brian and Wendy Froud. This Kickstarter is for a hardcover professionally bound book that I find to be every bit as magical as any of the Froud collections I have in my possession.

Spike Greenwood hails from Oxford England and is a wonderful illustrator and witty writer as well! A fine combination for this sort of volume! I am so excited to support this Kickstarter and I will be so giddy to receive my package from the UK with the book and art print!

I ADORE Trolls and these are truly top-notch. Take a peek if you know anyone who also is a fan of fantasy art and trolls in particular. :)

Oddity Link

Princess Leia's Stolen Death Star Plans

I may have mentioned this last year but it is worth the repeat!!

 If you love Star Wars: A New Hope (original film) and/or the Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band album from the Beatles, this may tickle your fancy. These brilliant kids redid the entire album, music, vocals and all, to tell the story of Star Wars in 11 songs. The tracks are in order s the appeared on the original album but all changed to reflect the movies themes and situations as it goes along. The video is a great addition so check it out! ;)

Faves for me that keep me laughing time and again are the opening piece and Luke is in the Desert and Whining (set to Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds)

Well, that's it for this month! I hope you'll enjoy these and I look forward to sharing more each month!

See you all soon with another ghostly personal tale!


Friday, October 5, 2018

New Work - First Friday - October 5th

Hey all!

Another month. . . I am hoping to get back to regular weekly posts but this month I cannot promise any more than this new work post AND two more of my ghost story series! It's my birthday month and we are headed into the holiday rush already! I cannot believe it!!

I'll also reposting several baking posts in the next few months to show off some of the traditional baking we do for the season. :) Some of it is family inspired and some is old world traditional treats for. the many celebrated days of the season. So keep an eye out for those too! :)

I hope you are enjoying the first few weeks of Autumn. It's my season so I am loving it!

Here are some new creations from the past month. Thank you for dropping by!


Let's start with the season! In honor f All Hallow's Eve I have been making a few graveyard themed scenes!
This one features a ghostly turn of the century lad there in the back. 

And larger tombstones for those who like a little graveyard decor! 

A new Adobe Fairy House

This is the second face of Hathor that I have made and I love them!

Thoth as a baboon. He is also known as Djehuty and represented as an Ibis. 

Bes is a multi-faceted protector and I thought a bell, shaped as the face of Bes, might be a great dispelling tool for an altar/ 

A Wenut / Hare statue

A "Wee Skosh" Fairy House
And a Fairy Tower on a Stump!

Friday, September 28, 2018

Ghost Stories - There is a Light - The Apartment #2

The room itself wasn't especially anything. Just a small, square bedroom with a closet and a little alcove for a toy chest, a clanky hissing radiator for winter heat and the one window in the room overlooked the front lawn of the apartment building so there were no creepy trees or dark woods beyond.

When I was older I remember having friends who lived across the street from the graveyard where they filmed the original 'Night of the Living Dead' and I would think, How bad would my childhood nightmares have been if we lived there?! 

Anyway, the room was fine, as long as it was day time and I was awake. It was in my dreams tha the room came to life. The thick orange curtains, more specifically, or, perhaps, what lay behind them in that realm.

But those were dreams, so I won't count them as a "ghost story". Still, at some point, I realized they were connected to the waking world somehow. There was a portal. Had to be, right? As long as the two worlds stayed separated I was fine.

That's when it started.

I can remember a dozen or so of my favorite things from, this period in my life. The old red Playskool record player (45s only!), my original Star Wars toys, my giant me-sized teddy bear, the wood rocking chair that had a music box attached to it's rail, my collection of plastic batting helmets from the ballpark.

Now any of these seem ripe for the telling of a ghost story right? In such story, perhaps the record player would play on it's own or the rocking chair might start rocking just enough to elicit one or two tones from the music box beneath it. . . but those sorts of made for movie things never happened.

But there was my night-light.

Oh I loved that light.

It was actually a light box that hung on the wall between the alcove and the closet door and I could see it clearly from my bed which faced it. It was the size of a sheet of paper but a bit longer. On it was an image of a little boy sitting up in his bed with striped walls behind hi, and a nightstand that had an old bell-on-top style alarm clock sitting on it. the clock was larger in proportion to the rest of the scene and the face of that little clock was actually a working clock.  The light itself came from the clock face. At night, when mom turned out the lights, the clock cast a pale glow that lit up the room just enough to see the end of my bed and the few feet around the night light in every direction. Of course, that tends to make everything else a little darker in the room so I made the effort to look only at the light when I felt a little frightened. ( Could not avoid those old black and white monster movies as a boy!)

The clock hands were silhouetted by the light and I would stare at that light until I fell asleep. It never took long as I have always been a go-til-you-drop kind of kid, high metabolism, crash and burn sleeper. Still am.

I'd wake from those occasional nightmares to find comfort in the light being there on the wall. I knew I was back in my room and safe.

Then, one night, not sure when or at what age but definitely single-digit young as I think I outgrew that clock by 9 or 10 years old, something changed. By then I was feeling a little more threatened by the nightmares as they had worsened and so there were nights that went to bed and did not want to fall asleep. So I would stare at the clock, at the light, and tell myself that I was safe.

That's when it happened. One night, as I was staring at the clock, probably repeating one of the many mantras I had made-up to keep me safe, the light began to. . . fade.

As I stared at the clock, it was becoming dimmer the longer I focused on it. Less of the room seemed to be lit by it and I felt an ominous feeling as it progressed, moving closer towards black.

Let's keep in mind this was NOT a battery operated clock. It plugged into the wall and the bulb was not a dimmer bulb but the standard 15 watt nightlight bulb of our youth.

So it shouldn't have been able to dim. Yet it did.

And my eyes, as all of our eyes do in the dark, should have adjusted in the opposite direction. By nature, it gets easier to see the longer we are in the dark but in this case, the room itself, like the light, grew darker, disappearing as I watched.

At some point I'd close my eyes and bury my head under the pillow and, eventually, I would fall asleep.

It did not happen every night. even nights where I stared at the light like any other, it would sometimes stay bright.  There was no rhyme or reason to it but one thing that was consistent was, when it happened, I'd always have a nightmare that night. In them, the heavy rusty orange drapes would move, billowing out and a deep voice, un intelligible, would speak to me from beyond the window.

I've written here before about how that all ended. A dream where the roof above my bed opened and thousands upon thousands of tiny gold, spinning "snowflakes" fell over me as I sat up in bed. I woke, still able to feel them falling on my skin, like tiny pine needles pinching at my entire upper body. I never had another nightmare in that room again afterwards.  Not one.

To this day, when I think of that dream, or of the gold snowflakes in particular, I can conjure one right in front of my face. Spinning and hovering about six inches away. I have, since those days, taken it as a sign I was "protected" somehow.

I still do.

Next time: The nosebleeds . . .  and the apartment building and it's darkest corners

Friday, September 7, 2018

New Work - First Friday - September 7th

Hey everyone!

I've made no effort to hide how Autumn is my favorite season coming after summer, which is my least favorite. This summer was actually quite fine though. Only one day over 80 degrees through the whole season here (that's unusual)!

Even so,  as I have also mentioned before, too many sunny days in a row sends me down the reverse SADS path and I am there now. But here we are, the first week of September, schools back in, tourists have faded away, picked the last of the blackberries and today on our walk we found leaves covering the forest floor. All good signs but, best of all, it seems we may have three or four rainy days ahead this week!

With that in mind, I have so many new pieces and custom orders coming to completion THIS month so next first Friday there will be a lot to show. This time, just a small selection but new work and a few upgrades none the less!

Enjoy and thank you for dropping by!

I've improved my patina finishes to give them one more layer of depth that also holds without losing it's luster.
It's a slight change but on something small like this Jizo, it really seems to pop! 

Wenut,  full stylized hare statue.

It's time for All Hallow's Eve! New tombstones and more to come next month. . . stay tuned! 

My houses evolve with the novel and the descriptions of each village as I refine them. 

I've wanted to make something like this for years. Not a house, just a forest guardian. :) 

I hadn't;t made an HO scale hermitage like this in awhile and I have to say, it seems SO large to me now! :) Still, I will be making more of this size building for the holidays. Adobe houses, stone towers and more. 

Love making these little pyramids. This one features both an ankh. . .

. . . and an Eye of Horus on the other side. 

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Ghost Stories - The Apartment #1

Hey everyone!

So yeah, still not back on track with a weekly post but its all good. It has been really busy here with family visiting and the book and the shops and the cooking and the garden and reading and . . . ok, you get it.

I've been listening to one of my favorite Podcasts, "Spooked" which is put on by the same folks who do "Snap Judgement", another great storytelling podcast. They're telling one persons ghost story each week between now and All Hallow's Eve.

It made me think about the strange experiences I have had over the years, which as I am told time and again, are more numerous than most it seems and I thought it might be fun to share them here.

I've decided to tell them in order, as best I can recall, meaning from my earliest odd memories on up to now. Some are truly scary, some are beautiful to me, and some are odd.

I won't claim which are truly otherworldly, I leave that to you.

It's no surprise to me that so many of them are childhood memories. We are, as children, in some other world much of the time and my wealth of experiences has led me to think that children really are "watching some other show in their heads" a lot of the time. Once, while watching a group of children on a Head Start field trip to a farm, I saw a young boy, maybe 9 or so, who stodgy himself watching a cage that held three rabbits inside. Now, I love rabbits, am awed by every one of nature's creatures, but this kid? The way his eyes were glued to the rabbits, the way his lips formed words, as if he were speaking to them, the way he smiled as the rabbits stopped and turned their large eyes to look at him. The way his own eyes wide and filled with wonder?

Did they. . . speak to him?

Yeah, he was experiencing something I was not.  I was 28 or so then. And I decided I needed to get that back. To find my way into that world once more.

I try to find that same type of wonder every day now. Trying to reclaim as much of that time, those frames of mind, as I can. It's what my work is all about. My writing. My art. My daily existence. Choosing those realms over the usual adult fare.

And even spooky stories have their place there too, yes?

Other worlds. Thin veils. Connections adults may never regain. . .

"The Apartment - F3"

My mother and dad divorced when I was young, four years old maybe. I didn't know until I was six or so because he was in merchandising and always traveling. He wanted us to move to NY with him for his job and my mother, who has lived within a half mile of her current location her entire 80 plus years, refused.

The apartment we lived in holds a lot of memories. Not all of them good. I am sure there were some repercussions from the divorce but, in all honesty, I never recall feeling anything lacking or that I was "abandoned" etc. My mother was incredible. More than I could have needed.

The apartment was our home. It just wasn't as kind to me as I might like to recall.

So there were a few creepy things in this building. The old incinerator shaft that seemed to go on forever, the basement with it's classic horror movie, water-drip sounds that echoed through the basement halls, the roar of the furnace/hot water heaters, and the old, cage style storage lockers with the dim bulbs casting wicked shadows across the floor.

But those were all avoidable or limited to daylight visits. The apartment itself? Well, when you live IN it, where can you go?

I built a LOT of forts. No particular reason though, looking back now, I wonder if it was something I did for "protection". I'd stock them with my drawing supplies and toys and spend hours there in my own world.

Another favorite place I played was behind the old sofa. There was room between it and the wall because of the old fashioned steam radiators that were in every room. So, there was the picture window, then the radiator, then the couch and, with my mother's never ending fear of fire, the couch was a good foot or more in front of the radiator. This left a nice space between the back of the couch and the wall to play in.

So, one day, I was no more than five or six, I was playing back there and had my usual compliment of toys, paper, crayons etc. I had my Raggedy Andy and Anne dolls too. I rarely played with them as I recall but I did like them quite a bit. Slept with them. They couldn't "wrestle" with me on the bed like the me-sized stuffed bear or act out scenes like my Star Trek, Superhero and Planet of the Apes action figures, but they were calming to me to have near.

So this night I am playing behind the sofa. Its winter and the hissing and clunk and clatter of the radiator is a constant backdrop.

My mother is in her bedroom and she calls to me to come there for a minute. I set my crayons down and moved the dolls so I could climb over the sofa back without stepping on them. This left Raggedy Anne and Andy sitting side by side against the outside wall where I had been.

I went to see what mom wanted and when I returned, I climbed back over the couch to find Raggedy Andy had slumped over, laying across the other dolls lap, face turned up to the ceiling.

I am sure I thought nothing of this until I picked up Raggedy Andy to set him upright and reclaim my wall spot when both of his shiny black "button eyes" fell right off of his face and into my lap!


What I recall is that they were sew on eyes each with it's own "socket', yet somehow they both came off at exactly the same time, threads hanging from the back of the button loop as is often the case when you lose an old fashioned button due to wear.

To me, even then, it seemed as if they had been ripped out and then set back perfectly in place for me to discover when I picked it up.

I might have hit the doll with my foot scoring over the back of the couch. . .but how do the eye both break their threads and not fall even a bit out of place until I pick the old up?  

I showed the doll to my mother who, in her typical mom form, assumed I had been too rough with it. She left it in her room and I went back to play but I just felt weirded out by it and I do not think I spent too much time back behind that sofa after that, which was fine, as I said, I had a LOT of forts!

What makes it so creepy to me all the years later is that these were the only two toys I was really never rough with. Not that I can recall. Those old action figures? They lost arms, legs, heads etc all the time. My bear? I put more stuffing back into him over the years due to all the roughhousing and wrestling.

My grandmother fixed the doll for me that weekend but, if I remember it right, I never took it back to the apartment, keeping both Raggedy dolls at my grandparents house instead from then on.

So yeah, that was my first experience with the creepiness that dwelled in that old apartment. But it would be far from the last. . .

Thanks for reading all, I hope you will enjoy these tales as I go!


Friday, August 10, 2018

Inspirations and Oddities - Second Friday Post - August 10th

Hey everyone!

Welcome to August's Second Friday, Inspirations and Oddities post!

I've got a just one very exciting inspiration to share with you this month, so lets get right to it!

I am a huge fan of Kickstarter, as I've written about here before. Supporting projects that I fall in love with and seeing them come to fruition is so rewarding.

I had someone tell me recently that the part they didn't like about Kickstarter was the lag time between supporting a project and getting your rewards. Because the funding is often needed to produce a product, this can take months from the time the original project funds. There can be delays if printing, shipping or just life go awry.

I get that. . . but what I LOVE about that delay from funding to delivery is when something shows up in the mail that I had, not forgot about, but simply lost track of when it was going to be arriving.

So, when we went to the Post Office yesterday and found these had been delivered, all the way from Queensland Australia, it was the best of surprises!

Hathor and Thoth Enamel Pins from Mamath's "Tiny Pantheon" Kickstarter

Oh, oh, OHHHHH these are amazing! The illustration work, the quality of the Pins and the complete package of the presentation! All flawless!

The card each pin came on, front and back, simply BEAUTIFUL!
And the heart shaped rubber pin backs! (there are two on each pin, I removed one to show you the text of the card back.) 

One of my favorite things about Kickstarter is the possible rewards that are "unlocked" or added on as a bonus when a project passes the basic funding point. Some folks offer material upgrades on the finished products, post cards, bookmarks or stickers of art prints, extra playing pieces if the Kickstarter is for a tabletop game or deluxe covers / embossing for books.

In this case, over 2,200 backers supported the Kickstarter!!! Here again, Mamath went above and beyond. These are the adorable stickers that were added to EVERY supporter's package as the total funding climbed above the initial requested amount.

And a lovely thank you card in the middle of them as well! 
Of course I was drawn to these, given their Egyptian influences, but I could easily spend wayyyyy too much money on Kickstarter that I don't have. lol So I am selective, to say the least.

I'll be sharing more of the Kickstarter rewards I have received over the coming months.I am currently awaiting a few that should be due this fall! These include a wonderful hardbound Unicorn book of illustrations/paintings and a few "Spell Scrolls" from a very imaginative creator. While the scrolls are meant for D&D players, we have the first of them on our wall, framed as pure magical art, and eagerly await the second. :)

Kickstarter is a fantastic way to get your art out there. I LOVE being part of making it come true for others! :)

Mamath is on Etsy

And instagram where you can see images of more these amazing Pins ( I need more I think!)

And that's all, next month I'll be sharing three new books I've read that have completely captured my imagination!

Have a great weekend everyone! Thank you for dropping by!

nicolas XO

Friday, August 3, 2018

New Work - First Friday Post - August 3rd

Hello Everyone!

We had our first rain here in a few weeks and it feels like fall already! Foggy, gray and moody. A fine walk in the forest this morning revealed many yellow leaves and berries on the ground. It's been a lovely summer but I am ready for fall and winter again! :)

Alright, on to the new work from the last month. . . I want to get back on an every Friday pace AND get back to commenting more regularly on my favorite blogs so I am going to keep the first Friday posts minimal on words. I have lots to share with coming month, new inspirations and oddities, a few book recommendations and a few video links.

Plus, 4th Fridays will be back with a look into my process as I continue to push through the first draft of my fantasy novel.

For now, enjoy the newest and most recent from my shops:

Nicolas XO
Let's get right to it with this fantasy inspired piece. A monk's hermitage set atop a stone spire with a circular staircase cut into the stone and winding it's way up the sides. . . and a tiny N scale Monk figure! 

Rarely get a request for the Goddess Nephthys as a Kite. This may be my favorite that I have made. 

A more detailed and complex Mushroom House Scene

I love the regal simplicity of the Sekhmet face. She truly is the Lady of Light. 

Too Soon? Not for the shop! I've been slowly stocking up on making mini tombstones for the Halloween season! 

This new blue "faience" patina is a mess to work with but yields such amazing results!
My fingers are blue for two days afterwards! (Note to self - gloves!) 

Had some of these enamel pots around from a few years back and just found them again.
So the mini-village makes comeback! 

A request for a set of votive altar candle holders led to the creation of this unique, one of a kind set! 

Tiny terra-cotta pots, tiny houses BIG magic! 

And I know, I know. I have shown many Taweret statues in my blog. . . I cannot help it! There is no other figure I make where I am so giddy while I create it each and every time!  A chubby hippo can really make a "kid" smile. 

Friday, July 20, 2018

Old School - Wicked Little Town #2 - Third Friday Post - July 20th

When I was a small boy I remember going to the neighborhood bakery with my mother every Saturday morning.

Walking in, the place was huge (to my young self at least) with large glass display counters on three sides, wooden racks behind the counters and an old fashioned number/ticket machine on a pedestal inside the door.

Most Saturdays, when we took a number, it might be, say #76, and on the wall behind the counter was a non-digital hand flipped counter that may have read - Now Serving #44.

Yes, there would be thirty plus people ahead of us.

The wait was actually my favorite part. I got to peruse the cases peeking around other customers legs and looking for what I would want to get as my cookie treat. That cookie was in addition to the usuals, 6 honey buns, a loaf of bread, bagels, a layer cake of some sort and a few danishes, brownies or turnovers. (Did I mention how I LOVED weekends!)

The wait was never long at all. This because there must have been 8 or 9 women behind the counter, most of them in their 50's or 60's, librarian glasses on chains, old fashioned salon-set hair styles, all in their pink outfits and white shoes, calling on numbers, taking orders, filling pink bakery boxes, making change.

Then other helpers running trays up to the front to replace the empty ones. The cases were stuffed full, the bread racks filled, the cookie counter piled with trays of cookies.  The counter ladies were super friendly and so sweet to me as a child.

And looking back on that bakery, here's the thing. There was zero pretentiousness. . . Zero foodie / fad diet influence. . . Zero artisanal anything.

A true, old school bakery.

Now, you never know at that age that things will change. Some for the better and some, not so much. In those days, maybe because of the lack of movement in old, generationally settled families, it seemed like every city had many such neighborhoods, each with their own stores and shops.

It seems now that every city I lived in has lost that. The old school shops, eateries, bakeries, bookstores, newsstands, grocery stores and delis replaced with a never ending carousel of whatever the flavor of the month is in the retail world or larger, one-stop stores that seem to be everywhere now.

So when we moved to our little town by the bay, I was thrilled to find a true to life, old school bakery that still did things the old fashioned way and all from scratch.

Unassuming in it's looks when I step out my door at 5:30am just a stone's throw north of here, I can smell the donuts frying and the bread baking! 

It's run by a couple in their sixties who do ALL the baking themselves. They used to have a full staff but finding good help in small towns can be a real headache so now they're only open 4 days a week and they start their work day at 10pm. Yes, you read that right. 10PM.

They open at 5:30am and they close between 1 and 3pm when they run out of things (which is nearly every day)

I usually get a danish for my morning coffee (and a few extra for the weekend if I don't feel like baking on their closed days) and a little something for the afternoon too, which can be a hard choice.

The case if nearly full right at opening and there are trays waiting for room as the day goes on.

They've been at it for over 30 years in this location. At times they've consider selling it and retiring but have never gone through with it. According to them, most people who inquire, don't have clue about the hours or work needed to make it all from scratch each day and they're not willing to sell it to someone who is going to come in and make it a par-baked, freezer-to-oven kind place.

And the best part? Ohhhh yes, the prices. A fresh baked fruit or cheese danish or almond bear claw the size of a salad plate? $1.50. A donut or apple fritter? 75 cents. A loaf of fresh baked and sliced English Muffin Bread? $1.99 A ginormous two-person cinnamon roll? $2.50

At least a dozen times each summer I overhear people from the city in there telling them, "You really need to raise your prices!"

No, they don't. That's old school.

And in the seven years we've been here, I've come to think, when this place goes, it will be about time to move on for me too.

 Seriously.  :)

The harbor is just a few blocks away. A great place to sit with a danish and coffee and watch the fishing boats roll in or out. 
We've got a few old school places like this. The general store, the old grocery store, the counter diner. Yet none of them have kept that feel quite like our little bakery. :)

Thanks for dropping by, as always, see you again soon!


Friday, July 13, 2018

Inspirations and Oddities - Second Friday Post - July 13th

Friday the Thirteenth??

My, oh my. . . may luck and fortune be with you all today!

Well, I feel like this month had been overrun with inspiration AND oddities!  In the process of writing the first draft of my fantasy book, "The Ledgerkeepers", I've been doing a whole lot of research this past month which has led me down some very enticing paths. . .

It's summer so let's start with this link for a very comprehensive list of old world names for our favorite plants and flowers!

Old Flower and Plant Names

My favorite? Far and way it's Foxglove which was once known as fairy fingers!! Oh and check out the list of links on their sidebar. . . SO many herb, plant, witchy, old world links and the such! :)

I think, since his name is in my tag list, that I've spoken about the work of Shaun Tan before. . . surreal illustrations and heart tugging stories, sometimes with no words at all. (as in his book, the Arrival)

This book, which I just read, is wonderful.

And I have been diving further into the amazing creative world of Kickstarter. Games, illustrations, comics, art, paling cards, Tarot, dice, and on and on. . . I have to limit my funding allowance or I would go absolutely CRAZY!

Here are two Kickstarters that I was drawn to lately.

Penzinni's Inklings

From the Creator: -"Penzinni, the old inventor, known for little more than his eccentricity, scratches at his papers like chicken in the dirt. The functional idea, like a worm, always seems just outside his reach. Will this be the one? The one that works? Perhaps not. But given a little time and a few more sleepless nights, who's to say "the one" isn't just around the corner..."

This is an idea I hope the artist will go further with. Mech/Tech creatures drawn as "blueprints" with an aged look to the design. Brilliant! I love old blueprint/design and love the idea of a character who draws these up but they never seem to work.

Saturn Playing Cards

From the Creator  -  "Saturn is considered to rule Capricorn, which is symbolized by the goat, hence the goat-like beings represented in the Saturn court cards. The Jacks allude to Saturn, and its Greek counterpart Cronus, being associated with the passing of time and relevance to the harvest seasons. Notice that the hats worn by the Jacks are shaped like the planet itself. Look closely and you'll find other symbolism woven into the illustrations of the courts."

So, playing cards seem to be one of the hottest things on Kickstarter of late. I've seen a lot of cool designs but this one really caught my eye and hits on so many interests of mine: Planets, zodiac, etc.

Thanks for coming by and have a great weekend everyone!


Friday, July 6, 2018

New Work - First Friday Post - June 6th

Hey everyone!

July has arrived and while much of the country is under the heatwave we've been inundated here with weeks of summer days in the 60's, foggy mornings and breezy afternoons.

I let things slip again the last few weeks as far as blogland goes. It wasn't my intention but there have been so many things going on, mostly good, and I had to cut back somewhere.

But i have aa LOT to share this month and look forward to the usual weekly Friday posts to get caught up!

For now,  just a showing of some of the new work around the studio this past month.

Hoping you've all been well and I look forward to catching up on your blogs this weekend!

Thank you for coming by, as always,

XO Nicolas

The newest of my Adobe Fairy Houses - HO scale

An original design based on ancient Hathor iconology

A new selection of tiny towers with holiday shoppers in mind. . . .I love the patina copper roof on this one.

And I love the texture and aging of the surface brick of this one.

Continuing to expand my Ancient Egyptian bust icons, this is Sutekh or Seth/Set

Looking back at 9 YEARS of selling on Easy. . . this was inspired by one of the first villages I made and sold there. 

An original Auset amulet design with an 8mm Carnelian cabochon

And this Auset throne piece with added ankh and a 12mm carnelian cabochon.