I Implore You! Don’t Throw Out That Turkey Carcass!

This is an impromptu post that I am inspired to write as I prepare my Thanksgiving menu and shopping list.

I take my Scottish thriftiness seriously, and cooking is no exception. As long as I can remember, I have saved poultry bones to make broth for soups. This practice is nutritious as well as thrifty. Homemade broth tastes SO much better than what you can buy in cans and cartons, and it is easy to make! Sally Fallon informs us in Nourishing Traditions that bone broth is one of the best sources of protein, as well as usable calcium. Bone broth includes all of the macrominerals: sodium chloride, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and sulpher, as a true electrolyte solution. It’s like a free superfood! So here is how to take advantage of all those nutrients just hanging out in your post-holiday-dinner turkey.

Turkey Bone Broth

**Before you start the broth, pull out the turkey wishbone for a nifty vintage crochet project! I’ll post this one soon.

Place all of your turkey, or other poultry, bones (except the wishbone)  in a pot large enough to hold them comfortably. You may add onion and celery chunks for flavor, but I use just bones. Cover with water and heat on high until boiling. Reduce heat so that the pot remains at a low simmer. Simmer for 3 to 3 1/2 hours, adding more water as needed. Cool slightly, then strain broth with a colander. NOW you can discard the bones.

At this point, the broth is great to make Turkey Noodle Soup, using some of the leftover turkey, or divide it into 2 cup containers and freeze for future use in soups and sauces. Third alternative, make this yummy Cream of Celery soup! My teenage daughter and her friend asked for seconds when I served this soup (made with chicken broth) for lunch today.

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Cream of Celery Soup

Stage 1:

  • 4 cups celery in 1″ chunks
  • 3 cups potatoes in 1″ chunks
  • 4 cups poultry broth (If the broth is heavy, use 2 C broth and 2 C water)
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Bring to a boil in a pot. Cook until soft. Blend with a submersion blender. (Or blend and return to pot.)

Stage 2:

  • 1 cup very finely minced celery
  • 1 cup minced onion
  • scant 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons butter

Saute onion in butter until translucent. Add celery and celery seed, and saute until tender. Add to soup in pot.

Stage 3:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup (or more) sour cream OR heavy whipping cream
  • White pepper

Whisk into soup about 10 minutes before serving.

Heat soup gently–don’t cook it at this point. Serve as soon as it is hot. Crusty bread goes well with this!

Soup recipe adapted from Mollie Katzen’s The Moosewood Cookbook.

In true Scottish American and Native American style, may you use every part of the buffalo–um, turkey!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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To Have and to Hold: Introducing Miss Ruby, an American Folk Doll

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For average people with low incomes, like me, some antique dolls are just unattainable, and that’s that. I can barely afford the monthly payments, maintenance, and insurance on my used car, along with a few well-chosen, and not too expensive, antique dolls. (When I get a little money, I buy dolls and books. If there is anything left over, I buy food and clothing. 🙂 ) I certainly cannot afford a doll in the multiples-of-ten-thousand dollars range, plus insurance for it. Albert Marque bisque dolls, if you can find one for sale, cost as much as a house! Bru Jne Co. bisques cost in the range of a new car. 1840’s brown haired chinas, Queen Anne and English wooden dolls, and Izannah Walker American folk dolls tend to be in this price range as well. These are the dolls that I will have to admire just from the pages of books and magazines, and from opportune museum visits.

Fortunately, for those of us with less-than-wealthy incomes who admire antique dolls, there are some amazing reproduction doll artists making true-to-antique-standards dolls. Paula Walton is just such an artist, and the newest member of my doll family, a reproduction Izannah Walker American folk doll, is Paula’s creation.

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Miss Ruby wears her antique red print dress with her chemise’s lace showing at the top. She has her apron and her coral bead lecklace.

Izannah Walker

For most collectors and admirers of antique dolls, Izannah Walker is a household name. Any book about American folk dolls features her work at the forefront of this category of antique dolls.  Since her dolls are oil painted cloth dolls, many refer to them as three dimensional folk art, similar to the oil paintings of the time.

Izannah Frankford Walker was born on September 25, 1817 in Bristol, Rhode Island. Orphaned at the age of seven, she and two sisters were raised by her mother’s sister in Somerset, Massachusetts. As an adult, she lived in Central Falls, Rhode Island, making dolls in her cottage industry with the help of her three sisters and her aunt. She seems to have been making her dolls as early as 1840, though her patent was not registered until 1873. The pre- and post-patent dolls have slight differences to their construction.

Antique photo Mary Ella Jenks w Izannah doll close-up ca 1855

Ella Jenks with her Izannah Walker doll. circa 1855

Izannah Walker’s dolls were innovative for their time for several reasons. Most of the German and English dolls that were imported to the United States in the mid 19th century represented ladies. The china, papier mache, and wood that these dolls were made of could be hard and unyielding as playthings, and they, along with the bisque dolls later in the century, were breakable. Many of the imported dolls in the first half of the 19th century were meant to be for adults to admire, or they were symbols of wealth, only to be brought out and played with on special occasions. Izannah Walker dolls, however, represented children, allowing them to become playmates and confidants. And they were soft, and the right size for small hands to hold and play with.

Izannah Walker lived her life in relative obscurity, except for the beautiful folk art that she left as her legacy in the form of her dolls. She died in 1886.

Here are some sites for more information about Izannah Walker and her exceptional dolls:

“Izannah Walker’s Iconic Dolls”  Early American Life magazine, Christmas, 2011

Izannah Walker Doll Reunion Slide Show  The August, 2011 issue of Antique Doll Collector magazine featured a display of Izannah Walker Dolls for the 75th anniversary of the Doll Collectors of America. This slide show of the dolls is a real treat!

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Paula Walton’s antique 1860’s Izannah Walker doll, and her 2012 reproduction doll

Paula Walton

Even though Paula’s dolls are advertized in Antique Doll Collector magazine, I first noticed her work  in Early American Life magazine’s 27th Directory of Traditional American Crafts (August, 2012). By 2013, Paula Walton has been juried into this directory of the very best of traditional crafts people 29 times for her dolls and toys! Paula’s reproduction doll, True Blue, was featured in the 27th directory, and I admired this doll’s early American style so much that I eventually made the move to contact her artist. The rest, as they say, is history! Here is what Paula says about her reproduction Izannah Walker dolls:

The culmination of over 10 years of research and trial and error, these painted cloth dolls are reproductions of pre-patent c. 1850-1860 Izannah Walker dolls in my collection. They are made specifically for the Izannah purist who values a strict adherence to original construction methods and materials. My goal is to make each doll, as closely as possible, in the same way Izannah Walker made her dolls. I pour every bit of my 26 years of doll making experience into making my reproductions look like authentic antique Izannah Walker dolls from the inside out.

I drafted my patterns and made the molds for the pressed cloth heads directly from my antique Izannahs. The doll bodies are made from 100% cotton fabric, their heads are stiffened silk stockinet, and their “second skin” is made from glazed antique linen. They are stuffed with organic cotton stuffing to match the stuffing in the original dolls. All painted areas on the dolls are first painted with gesso and then with several layers of artist oils. I drafted the patterns for the doll clothing from the garments worn by my antique Izannah Walker dolls (which are original to the dolls) and from additional antique dresses in my collection. The dress fabrics are either antique fabrics or reproduction cotton prints, which are usually lined with brown cotton sateen, aka polished cotton. The sheeting used in the undergarments is taken from vintage cotton sheets and matches that which was used in the doll’s original chemise and pantalets. All buttons and almost all lace are antiques. I sew the clothing by machine and by hand exactly in the same manner as the originals.

[There is a base price for purchasing my dolls.] Dolls with bare feet, or clothing that is especially elaborate and/or made from antique materials, costs more. Accessories such as bonnets, pockets, and outerwear are additional. I am happy to offer layaway. There are two ways to purchase my dolls. You may either buy one of my completed dolls or you may order a custom doll made to your specifications. Each doll takes “forever” to make, so I never have very many finished dolls available at once. I list available dolls on my website, A Sweet Remembrance, and on my blog, Izannah Walker.

Paula now has three different Izannah heads to choose from for her reproduction dolls, using molds from two different dolls in her collection, and an additional choice from a third Izannah doll which belongs to a friend.

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The antique fabric bonnet frames Ruby’s face. She holds her rag doll and the crocheted doilies we sent to Paula to thank her.

Miss Ruby

I will join Paula’s chorus (about her antique dolls) and sing, “I love this doll!” Though I would have been satisfied with an already made doll from Paula, there were none available when I visited her store—they sell as fast as she can make them! I must say, though, that it was very empowering, and infinitely satisfying to be in on the creation process. Paula was very thorough with her questions to ascertain exactly what I wanted in characteristics for my custom doll—things that I never would have thought to comment on before this creation process. And choosing just the right antique fabrics for dresses from her “stash” was a treat in itself! All the attention to details makes for a very, very, special doll. With all due respect to Izannah Walker and her legacy, it is almost (but not quite!) insignificant to me that this little Miss, who I can now have with me, and hold to my heart’s content, is not an antique, but a new creation.

Ruby is light to hold, compared with the china dolls, yet she radiates her own substantial presence. Her oil painted face glows with warmth and her eyes suggest an aura of soul. Even the patina of her painted face, with the stockinet texture showing through in spots, adds to her realism. She has detailed hands with what my daughter calls “piano fingers,” because they are long and appear nimble. Her separately sewn thumb is marvelous! Her arms bend at her high elbows, so she can “hold” things on her lap. Though many Izannah dolls have painted-on shoes, Ruby has bare feet with sweet downward pointed toes. She wears knitted silk stockings, and red leather shoes with scalloped edges that Paula made. Her pantalets, chemise, petticoats, and apron all include intricate little details inherent in the antique textiles from which they were made.

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A close-up of one of the red leather shoes that Paula made for Ruby.

I wanted vivid colors for my doll’s clothing, and I am so impressed with the antique red fabric for her classic gathered bodice and puff sleeved dress, and the antique indigo blue of her morning dress. I chose an antique brown “coral” print that is very 19th century-looking for her bonnet. All the fabrics combine so well for her striking, yet unassuming, wardrobe. And to top all that, Paula offers a pattern for the doll’s wardrobe, too. Hmm, I think an all-white ensemble is in order for springtime. Be sure and view Paula’s photos of my doll before she came to her home with me.

There are some antique dolls that are out of reach and unattainable for collectors who are of less-than-wealthy means. Izannah Walker antique dolls tend to fall into the unattainable category for most of us. Yet with the skill, attention to historic detail, and exacting craftsmanship of artists such as Paula Walton, a reproduction Izannah Walker doll that is hard to distinguish from her original antique dolls, is an attainable alternative. This newly made antique type doll also has the advantage of being holdable, unlike some of her more fragile antique forebearers.

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Miss Ruby is comfortable and warm in her long sleeved morning dress sewn from antique indigo blue fabric.

Check back to see how Miss Ruby celebrates Thanksgiving in her new home with me. Then, I think you will be delighted to meet three fancy haired china dolls in my collection, and to learn a little more about the history of German china dolls.

Blessings to all of you,

Jennie

Highland Mary Morgan and Her New Blue Frock

What contentment we feel when just the right antique doll comes home to live with us! More often than not, in our time, in order to acquire the doll we want, we have to be willing to accept a less-than-perfect doll, or one who is not dressed to our satisfaction. Mildred Seeley (1918 – 2001), a well respected doll collector, artist, and author, said in her book, Beloved China Dolls, “In my early books, I said one shouldn’t even buy a doll with a hairline crack for investment. Now, in order to get that 160-year-old doll, we have to forgive a shoulder-plate crack or a hairline; there are more and more collectors and the same number of antique dolls. . . . While listening to these young collectors say they cannot find china dolls complete with head, body, limbs, and original clothing, I realized the rules were too harsh.” (Seeley p. 50)

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Mary Morgan in her new frock

(Click on each photo to enlarge it, then click the “back” button on your browser to return to the blog page.)

Once I find that intriguing china doll that I have been searching for, using Mildred Seeley’s rule of four “D’s” (desire, discipline, determination, dedication), I usually have to find a way to dress her appropriately. Sometimes that means tracking down just the right antique dress, but usually for me, with my limited budget, interest in history, and love of sewing, it means researching and creating a costume that is just right for the doll. That is what happened with this Highland Mary china doll.

When I began viewing china dolls in museums, many years ago, I was intrigued by the name “Highland Mary” because of the song, “Sweet Highland Mary,” featured in my beloved “Little House” books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Many Highland Mary china dolls have blonde hair like Laura’s sister, Mary. I don’t know how this particular type of china shoulder-head doll came to have the name bestowed upon her, or him, as the case may be. Their defining features are that they are German-made child dolls with bangs and short hair with curls, first created in the 1880’s. They are just lovely, and beg to be cuddled, with their innocent childish countenance.

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That sweet, sweet face! Notice the eye details, and the new sew-hole tabs

The Doll

After buying my first antique china doll in an antique shop in Connecticut, I began searching eBay for Highland Mary dolls because this was my dream china doll. The acquisition of this doll has a bit of a story. The first time I went on e-bay and searched antique china dolls, I found a beautiful Highland Mary as a buy-it-now with a price tag over $200, which was a big expenditure for my budget. This was late at night, and I decided to sleep on it before I committed to spend so much. Well, next morning when I decided I did want her, she was already sold. I bid on several other Highland Mary types that were smaller, heads only, or not in good condition, and lost those auctions, which is probably just as well, keeping in mind Mildred Seeley’s rules. Then I received an e-mail that another Highland Mary was listed, and when I checked this auction, it was the same type of doll I wanted, and she had already sold as a buy-it-now within a few hours of being listed. I searched for another six weeks before I found another comparable doll, but she was more expensive, and I didn’t think I could justify the price.  I let that buy-it-now auction end without bidding.  Then, the same doll was re-listed with a discounted price.  I decided to get my Highland Mary, even though she was more expensive than the first one. That one had a cracked shoulder plate, and mine has perfect china, so I think the price is justified, and I am so happy she is here with me!

My doll, Mary Morgan, is a 21” German antique china shoulder-head doll from the Alt, Beck & Gottschalck factory. ABG made dolls from 1854 into the 1930’s at their porcelain factory in Nauendorf, near Ohrdruf, Thuringia, Germany. Her shoulder-head measures 5” high. Mary Morgan has the characteristic face painting of ABG dolls with blue eyes that have a three quarter circle darker outline around the iris, and a white highlight dot to the side of each pupil. She has mold number and size, “1000 #9” incised under the glaze on the back of her shoulder plate, a number that first came into use with ABG in 1890, according to Mary Krombholz in her book, Identifying German Chinas. This doll has a short child’s neck, a shoulder plate with four sew holes, and indents at the underarms to indicate shoulders. She has blonde hair with bangs, and all-over short curls in back.

Her seller, Turn of the Century Antiques, Denver, CO, who seems to be quite knowledgeable about antique dolls, called her body “one of those well made ones from the 1950s.” Though not original to the china parts, it is older than I am. It is very firm, stuffed with sawdust. It has the wonderful wood smell of antique house, and reminds me of the museum just down the street from where I once lived in Indiana.  Mary Morgan’s china hands are C shaped, and like her high heeled boots with the V-shaped top, they are correct for ABG dolls of this time period. When she came to me, her shoulder-head was sewn to her body with thread through the sew holes, and her head wobbled. I replaced the thread with vintage cotton seam binding tabs sewn onto her body, and now her head sits more firmly.

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The blue raw silk 1860’s frock

The Frock

Mary Morgan came dressed in a white cotton blouse with elbow length sleeves with lace at neckline and cuffs, and bloomers with elastic waist and legs with lace at the bottom. Putting together an outfit to suit her countenance to the best advantage, using original, antique, and home sewn parts, has been a satisfying venture. To tide her over until her new dress was finished, I bought her a pink 1880-90’s style dress that is new with modern material. Though the style works well for her, the color causes her complexion to fade out, and the modern materials do not work well for her.

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Mary Morgan in her modern material 1890’s dress

I researched books on antique dolls and costumes to find the right dress for my doll. I decided on a circa 1860’s frock with narrow black ribbon trim. I found an example of this frock in an auction catalog, What Dolls Wore Before, by Florence Theriault. The original gown was made of light brown linen, and sold at auction in 1997 for $1,100.

Although the original gown that my dress is based on was made two decades before my doll’s time, I decided the style was classic and timeless enough to work for my 1880’s doll. The 1880’s style girls’ dresses with their drop-waist are typically seen on bisque dolls of this time. I wanted a dress style that would work well, both for my china doll’s more shapely figure, and for her stage of development as a young girl. Because this dress has straight lines to its construction, I thought I could copy it without the aid of a pattern.

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The Theriault Auction antique linen gown

Blue is the color that I thought would best compliment Mary Morgan’s blonde hair, blue eyes, and pink cheeks. I re-purposed a 1980’s raw silk wrap skirt for the fabric, and chose bleached muslin for the lining rather than the polyester lining material that was in the skirt. The first challenge that I encountered was figuring out what a double box pleat was from the catalog description. On closer examination of the photograph, I could just see one of the double pleats on the side of the original gown, under the sleeve.

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The double box pleats toward the back of the skirt

My construction started from the bottom. I lined the skirt, made the wide tuck at the bottom, hemmed it, and hand stitched the black velvet ribbon trim. Next, I attached the pleated skirt to the waistband. The bodice was gathered to the front and back yoke bands, the shoulder straps added, and then the sleeves attached. The ribbon was hand sewn on the different parts at each stage of construction, before the facings were applied. My first attempt at cutting the sleeves did not work. They were too narrow at the top. I re-cut them to resemble those in the photograph better, and made them narrower at the underarm for less bulk there. The sleeves accomplished, I basted the gathered bodice to the waistband and it was time for a fitting!

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Hand stitches behind the black velvet ribbon trim

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The wrong and right sleeve shapes and the flat sleeve with underarm cutout shape

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Basting the sleeve in place

With the fitting, I encountered two problems. The bodice was too long and puckered too much around the doll’s midriff, and the skirt was too long for a young girl’s fashion of the time. It was a simple process to shorten the bodice and re-stitch it. I contemplated accepting the skirt length, but decided it would be worth the extra effort to shorten it for the effect I wanted for this child doll. I could not shorten the skirt at the hem because of the spacing with the wide tuck, so I took it off the waistband, having to partially re-set the pleats, and reattached it. I liked the results much better at the next fitting.

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Interior, showing lining and facings

The frock is hand and machine sewn, as would have been the case for a dress constructed in the second half of the 19th century. It is fully lined with facings at the waistband, yoke bands, and sleeves.  Exposed seams at the skirt center back and armholes are whip stitched, as would have appeared on dresses made in the 19th century. It closes in the back with four hooks and thread bars. An antique black glass button tops each sleeve, and four similar buttons adorn the back.

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The finished sleeve with antique black glass button

The drape of my dress is much softer than the crisp lines and pressed pleats of the original linen dress. The proportions are also not quite the same, yet they are fitted well to my doll. I wanted the skirt to fall below the knee but above the boot top, as is the girl’s style in many Godey’s Lady’s Book illustrations of the 1860’s to 1880’s. Because of the proportions of the doll’s china legs to her fabric legs, the skirt appears long, but falls above her boot top.

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My dress has a softer drape and wider proportions than the antique linen dress.

The blouse in which Mary Morgan arrived works well under her frock. I found an antique pair of split drawers with dimity fabric and lace at the bottom for her costume. I also found a child doll’s corset. This corset is made for a leather or composition doll body with a straight waistline, but it fits Mary Morgan’s curved waist by wrapping the bottom ties around and tying them in front so that the back edges overlap slightly at the waist. I made her a petticoat from a lovely batiste remnant that appears to have been an apron or pinafore. It has narrow and wide tucks, and cutwork machine embroidery at the hem in a diamond pattern that compliments the straight lines of the frock.

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Mary Morgan in her child’s corset and petticoat made from an antique apron remnant

Our dolls are travelers through time. It may be hard to think about now, but in future years the dolls who live with us now will be passed down to our children and grandchildren, or they will move on to new families, or maybe even museums. Either way, it is our responsibility to the future to document a new costume we create for an antique doll with an attached tag in the dress. Some seamstresses are so skilled at recreating antique techniques that dealers and collectors may not be able to tell the difference between an antique costume and a recreation. I do hope that I will have grandchildren to cherish at least some of my special dolls, and I want to leave a record for them of what I have accomplished. These acid-free paper tags, with a record of the costume I made and the date, are pinned inside of the dress on the antique doll.

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Acid-free tags with provenance to pin inside the new dress

Antique dolls that are all original with original antique costumes are a prize to be marveled at. Still, there are many dolls of more humble estate that are worthy of an appropriate wardrobe. When a doll has lost her costume in her travels through time, she can still become fashionably dressed once more with a little research and a needle well plied. I cherish the antique dresses that are a part of my doll collection. Yet, I am proud that some of my antique dolls will carry forth dresses that were created by me just for them.

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Mary Morgan loves playing with her wooden toys, but she’s always happy to stop for a moment to show off her new frock!

Bibliography:

Krombholz, Mary Gorham. Identifying German Chinas 1840s – 1930s. Grantsville, MD: Hobby House Press, Inc., 2004.

Seeley, Mildred. Beloved China Dolls. Livonia, MI: Scott Publications, 1996.

Theriault, Florence. What Dolls Wore Before: Doll Costumes and Accessories, 1850 – 1910. Annapolis, MD: Theriault’s Gold Horse Publishing, 1997.

Wilder, Laura Ingalls. By the Shores of Silver Lake. New York: Harper & Row, 1939.

About the author:

Jennifer fell in love with antique dolls at the age of four, after a brief encounter of viewing and holding antique bisque dolls at a home she was visiting. She has collected dolls and sewn for them ever since. Once she discovered her grandmother’s childhood lowbrow china, antique china dolls have been her first love in doll collecting. Jennifer currently lives in a small apartment in Portland, Oregon with her teenage daughter. Their dolls vie for space and keep them company as they display their wardrobes or wait patiently for an appropriate new dress.

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Teaser for A New Blue Frock

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At last, Highland Mary Morgan’s new blue frock is complete, and works so well for the presentation of this antique 1880’s child doll. I have just submitted an article on this very topic to a magazine. That is why I’m offering only the teaser here for now. Soon, you will receive either information about my article publication, or sans publication, the complete article right here!  (Click for the  **Complete Article**)

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Many exciting things are happening with antique dolls here! I will have much more to share with you soon.

O yasumi nasaii. (That is Japanese for Sweet dreams and good night!)