Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Oh, No! Have I Gone Too Far?

Someone sent these in the mail to me the other day. Do you think it was my husband? Maybe it was my sister or brother? Or, maybe it was my mother? Are they all trying to tell me something? Have I gone too far in my quest to collect and create every conceivable kind of doll? Or, maybe they're all jealous of all the fun I'm having with my Linda's Blog? That's it. Has to be!

Now I'm starting to wonder, "Oh, No! Have I Gone Too Far?"

Sunday, December 25, 2005

My First Linda Walsh Originals Print Ad

I am so excited. I have to tell all my Linda's Blog readers about it. My very first print ad for my Linda Walsh Originals website ran in the Folkart Square Coop ad of Mercantile Gatherings Winter Issue.

I'm so excited and so thankful to Annie at Folkart Square for giving my "Elmers Little Boy" ad such wonderful placement. Doesn't he look adorable? I'm so excited.... I just can't hide it ......(here I go with The Pointer Sisters song, again!) My first ad. I'm going to have to frame it. For posterity purposes, of course.

If you're a reader of my Linda's Blog you may remember that there is a lovely, heart-warming story behind the "Elmer's Little Boy" pattern that I posted previously. If you get a chance please read "The Story Behind Elmer's Little Boy" .

I'm also excited because my very first Business Directory ad also ran in the Mercantile Gatherings Winter issue. See, there I am in the lower right hand corner. That's me - Linda Walsh Originals in the Business & Website Directory of Mercantile Gatherings.

Mercantile Gatherings is a wonderful magazine. If you are a primitive crafter and don't have a subscription to this magazine then you should think about getting one. It's a wonderful primitive magazine that comes out 4X a year. It features various primitive locations, as well as listings and ads for many, many primitive and craft websites. Check it out sometime. I bet you'll like it. Come one! Try it, you'll like it! Now I sound like a cereal commercial?

Friday, December 16, 2005

If Only!

Today would have been my Dad's 80th birthday. In honor of him and during this holiday season I just wanted to share with you a banner and a poem that I found while surfing the web that, in my opinion, epitomizes what he stood for and what holiday spirit is all about.

The banner is from the website and the poem, written by Shane DeRolf, was from Mrs. McGowans 1st Grade Showcase on the website.

I hope you like the banner and that you enjoy the poem. Happy Birthday, Dad.

A Box of Crayons by Shane DeRolf

While walking in a toy store
the day before today,
I overheard a crayon box
with many things to say.

"I don't like red!" said yellow.
And green said, "Nor do I!"
And no one here likes orange,
but no one knows quite why."

"We are a box of crayons
that really doesn't get along,"
said blue to all the others
"something here is wrong!"

Well, I bought that box of crayons
and took it home with me
and laid out all the crayons
so the crayons could all see.

They watched me as I colored
with red and blue and green
and black and white and orange
and every color in between.

They watched as green
became the grass
and blue became the sky.
The yellow sun was shining bright
on white clouds drifting by.

Colors changing as they touched,
becoming something new.
They watched me as I colored.
They watched till I was through.

And when I'd finally finished,
I began to walk away.
And as I did the crayon box
had something more to say...

"I do like red!" said the yellow
and green said, "So do I!"
"And blue you are terrific
so high up in the sky."

"We are a box of crayons
each of us unique,
but when we get together
the picture is complete."


Banner by and

Poem "A Box of Crayons" by Shane DeRolf as found at Mrs. McGowans 1st Grade Showcase on the,1871,34898-119831-38-49158,00.html website.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Oh, What Fun I'm Having!

I'm beginning to think there's something seriously wrong with me. Of course, my husband, brothers' and sister would tell you that they've known that for a long time. Not only is my house filled with all sorts of dolls, but now I've fallen in love with "Dollie Icons!" I just spent two hours on a wonderful website making avatars, portrait icons, and picture diary icons. I'm definitely losing my mind. I'm having fun, but I'm definitely losing it.

So, how do you like the self-portrait illustration avatar that I made? It's the one in the upper left hand corner of this article holding the cup of tea. It does look like me if I do say so myself.

This one I did with the Portrait Icon Maker on the website. This is a more realistic version of how I am just about every day. Working on the computer with "my buddy" at my feet. Of course, the dog in the icon doesn't look anything like my dog. They only had two to choose from so I picked the dog with the cutest face. My dog would take offense with this, of course, as he is a Cairn Terrier not a Basset Hound and is rather full of himself.

The Picture Diary Icon to the right is a representation of my sister and I holding hands. Isn't it just darling? Big sister and little sister outside during the winter making a snowlady. I'm the big sister, of course. She's the little sister with her "IDOL!" When she reads this article I'm sure she's going to guffaw. "Idol!" I don't think so.

The last icon that I made is one I like to call "Taking on the World." It's the one I'll take out and use when I feel like I can conquer the world, or at least the internet. She's the champion of dollie rights. Avenger of lost doll causes. Dollie savior of cyberspace. Yup, I'm definitely losing it. I'm having fun, but I'm definitely losing it.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Oh, Don't Stand Under The Misteltoe!

I thought it might be fun to take a look at some of the long lost Christmas celebration traditions, like mistletoe, to see when and where they started. So, let's begin with bells:

Bells - The ringing of bells originated from pagan mid-winter festivities. They believed that the cold, sunless winters made the evil spirits more powerful. One way to drive the evil spirits away was to make a lot of noise. The bells suited this purpose as you could ring a bell while at the same time you were singing or shouting above it. Believe me, if there were evil spirits near me I'd drop the bells and go running for the hills, yelling at the top of my lungs!

Candles - The Christmas Candle is another tradition which evolved from the pagan mid-winter festivities. It was believed that light was also a way to keep evil spirits away. Those evil spirits just won't go away, will they? It was customary in Victorian England to place lighted candles in the windows during the 12 days of Christmas as a sign to weary travelers that food and shelter could be found here. Also, it was a signal that there were no evil spirits there, or so the wanderer thought.

Holly - Holly was considered magical because of its shiny leaves and its ability to bear fruit during the winter. It was believed that in liquid syrup it would stop coughs and that when hung over one's bed would induce sweet dreams. The prickly holly is called "he" (what a surprise) and the non-prickly holly is called "she" (surprise, surprise). Tradition says that the type of holly which is first brought into the house determines who will rule the household for the coming year. My guess would be that A LOT of non-prickly holly is the first to enter the households.

Christmas Pudding - I can't say as if I've ever had Christmas pudding. The tradition surrounding the Christmas pudding originated in the 14th century. It was actually a porridge made by boiling beef and mutton which was combined with raisins, currants, prunes, wines and spices (sounds delicious, doesn't it?) It was made in large copper kettles and prepared several weeks before Christmas with all of the household members particitpating.

Each member of the household had to take their turn at stirring the stew and making a wish. By the 1600's the addition of eggs and breadcrumbs, ale and spirits (of course), improved its taste significantly. As with other Christmas traditions, Christmas pudding was banned during the Protestant Reformation, but re-established as part of the traditional Christmas feast by King George I. Tradition calls for a silver coin to be placed in the pudding along with a ring, button and thimble. Somewhat dangerous, I would think, especially for small children. It was believed that the finders of these objects in their Christmas pudding would be given the gift of wealth, be married within the year or be doomed to bachelor or spinsterhood.

First Footing - This tradition sounds a lot like Santa Claus coming to me. In any event, in some countries, first-footing takes place at the New Year. In England, it occurs on Christmas Day. The first-footer is the first person to enter the house and, according to tradition, is said to let in Christmas. In some areas, he is a professionally hired First Footer (try putting that on your resume) to make sure that the tradition is carried out properly. He carries an evergreen twig, and comes in through the front door. He then passes through the house and exits through the rear (sounds like a burglar to me.) According to tradition, you may give him salt or bread or some other small gift as a symbol of your hospitality. Boy, at least Santa Clause gets cookies. This poor man gets salt and bread. Also, according to tradition he has dark hair, not red and is always a male. I'm not sure what to say about that!

The Kissing Bough (or the Kissing Ball) - Ah! Now this seems like a nice tradition. Until the introduction of the Christmas tree, the kissing bough was the primary piece of decorative greenery in the English Christmas. It was formed in the shape of a double hoop with streamers going up to a central point and was made up of evergreen boughs, holly, ivy, apples, pears, ribbons and other ornaments along with lighted candles. A sprig of mistletoe was hung from its center (wonder what that's for?) As the name implies, any lady who accidentally (yeah, accidentally, like we'd believe that) wanders under the kissing bough has to pay the price and allows herself to be kissed. That's okay as long as you're kissing a prince. With my luck, I'd probably end up kissing a frog. Maybe he'd turn into a prince.

Wassail - The word wassail comes from the Anglo-Saxon term was hale, which means be well. It means to drink a toast to one's health or to express good will at a festive event. The tradition of wassailing, as with a lot of traditions, started as a pagan agricultural festival. In order to increase the yield of the apple orchards, the pagans believed that the trees needed to be toasted in the winter. So, during the twelve days of Christmas, the pagans would visit selected trees from various orchards which were either sprinkled with the wassail mixture, or had a bottle of wassail broken against their trunk. The wassail mixture consisted of mulled ale, cider or wine with sugar, roasted apples or eggs in it.

The Yule Log - We touched on this briefly in another of my Linda Walsh Originals - Linda's Blog articles. After Christmas all the branches of the tree are removed and the trunk is saved to be decorated in the spring as a "May Pole." After the May Pole ceremonies are finished the decorations are removed and the trunk is cut into pieces. The largest log is then saved for the following Christmas to become the Yule Log.

The tradition of the Yule log has very deep pagan roots, as well. Surprise! Surprise! It stemmed from the Celtic, Teutons, and Druids burning the logs in their winter ceremonies in celebration of the sun. The selection of the log took on the utmost of importance and was surrounded by a ceremony. According to tradition, the largest end of the log is placed into the hearth while the rest of the tree trunk sticks out into the room. The new log is lit from the remains of the previous year's log which had been carefully stored away.

Many superstitions surround the Yule Log. It had to be ignited the first time a flame was put to it or bad luck would surely follow. Also, it had to be lit with a stick saved from the fire from the year before or the house would burn down. And, unless charcoal from the great fire was kept under the family beds for the following year (what fun), the house might be struck by lightning. Burning the log was said to bring good luck in the new year, as well as protection from fire in the home from which it is burned.

Fruitcake - Ah, fruitcakes! Who doesn't love a fruitcake? I for one have never had one. Don't know why. It just never appealed to me to eat something that was over a year old. Plus, I just never really liked the looks of them.

In any event, fruitcakes started with the Romans who needed to find a way to sustain their armies in faraway lands. Lucky Romans! The fruitcake became so popular in Europe that it was a law that fruitcake (also known as plum cake) could only be served on certain holidays and only on the most important milestones (e.g., weddings and funerals). Boy, they must have really loved their fruitcakes!

Prior to the 1700's, crusaders and hunters carried fruitcakes to sustain themselves over long periods of time away from home. Nowadays fruitcake is generally associated with Christmas. It has, however, since the 1700's been used in ceremonial celebrations of all kinds throughout Europe, including religious holidays, harvest celebrations, birthdays and weddings.

Traditionally, the top layer of the wedding cake called the "Bride's Cake", was a dark fruitcake that was removed and stored for the bridal couple to savor on their anniversaries. Oh, Boy! Lucky couple! A separate piece of fruitcake from the "Groom's cake" was wrapped in a wedding napkin, tied with a white ribbon and put at each guest's place at the table. Single women would put it under their pillow to dream of a groom of their own (I'm not sure I'd want to sleep with fruitcake under my pillow.)

Most people today feel that fruitcake is best used as a doorstop, as a gift for someone else, or just plain thrown away. I don't even know anyone who has ever baked a fruitcake. Do you?
This tradition can definitely become a long long tradition from which it is never to return.

Mistletoe - We touched on mistletoe a little in the paragraph above under the Kissing Bough. Mistletoe is a plant with white berries and has been used as a decoration in houses for thousands of years. It's also associated with many pagan rituals. Marriage ceremonies always included kissing under mistletoe. For Scandinavians, the goddess of love (Frigga) is strongly associated with mistletoe. The early church viewed this as a pagan ceremony and tried to stamp it out. In spite of this attempt the mistletoe survived as a Yuletide symbol. The practice of kissing under the mistletoe has persisted, even in song. Hey! People just love to kiss!

Poinsettias - Poinsettas were added to Christmas tradition starting in 1828. According to tradition, Joel Roberts Poinsett, then the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico, imported the plant from Mexico, which had a Christmas "miracle" story about how the plants leaves became red. The Mexicans in the eighteenth century thought the plants were symbolic of the Star of Bethlehem. Thus the Poinsettia became associated with the Christmas season. Personally, I love poinsetta's. I love to put a bunches of different colored small poinsetta plants together in a group and place several groups around the house.

So, now you know where some of these long lost Christmas traditions began. Personally, I think we can all do without the fruitcake, but that's me. Maybe you like your fruitcake. I'll take the Kissing Bough and mistletoe!

"Oh, don't stand under the mistletoe with anyone else but me,"
" anyone else but me! Anyone else but me!"
"Don't stand under the mistletoe with anyone else but me,"
"anyone else but me......."
Come on. Sing along....

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Yes, Linda, There Really Is a Santa Claus!

I can remember my Mother telling me that, as I'm sure most of you can too. We all know Santa as the familiar image with his red suit, sled or sleigh, reindeers, and sacks of toys delivering packages to "all the good girls and boys!" I love the Christmas season and I always have. It is by far one of my favorite times of the year.

The familiar image of Santa Claus is an American invention that first appeared in a drawing by Thomas Nast in Harper's Magazine in 1868 (see picture on the right). Thomas Nast helped create the kinder, more fatherly, plumper Santa as we know him today. But, Thomas Nast wasn't the only person to contribute to this legend. Clement Clarke Moore was a huge contributor as in 1822 he published his poem "A visit From St. Nicholas," bittern known as "The Night Before Christmas." His poem is the first mention of a sleigh powered by "eight tiny reindeer" and mentioning their names.

The legend of Father Christmas, however, is ancient and far more complex. Part of the legend is attributed to St. Nicholas and part to a jovial medieval figure in the "Spirit of Christmas." In Russia, Father Christmas carries a piglet under one arm. St. Nicholas is also know as Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Heilige Nikolaus, and Pere Noel.

In the early part of the 19th century there was a revival of a Viking tradition of a jovial, winter figure who was associated with the winter festival. He was referred to as the "Spirit of Christmas." It was believed that by inviting him in through the "front door" to join in your holiday feasting, that the winter would be kind. The "Spirit of Christmas" was subsequently renamed "Father Christmas". Instead of him visiting through the front door, his visits were to be a surprise, with him arriving during the night and down the chimney. Victorian children would write letters to him and then throw them into the fireplace. Why burn the letters? Because, my dear, Father Christmas can read smoke.

But, where did St. Nicholas really come from? It is said that St. Nicholas was born in 245 A.D. in Patara near Fethiye and died in 326 A.D. having spent his life in Anatolia (which I believe is in Turkey.) St. Nicholas was the son of a wealthy family and had a good education. He became the Bishop of Demur, trying to solve the problems of his people in a most humane way. He devoted himself to mankind. He was known as the protector of children and sailors. In a number of countries the death of St. Nicholas is commemorated by the giving of presents to children.

But, how did the legend really begin? Well, it is said that St. Nicholas heard of a family with three daughters who were unable to wed as they had no dowry. St. Nicholas had come from a wealthy family and had given up all his worldy possessions to become a bishop. He took 3 bags of gold coins and dropped them down the family's chimney. The coins landed in the girls stockings that had been hung to dry on the fireplace (ah, that's where stockings come from!) St. Nicholas was caught in the act by the girls father, but he begged him to keep his secret. Two days later, however the entire village heard of his gift and so the tradition of stockings and St. Nicholas began.

In 1951-1955 St. Nicholas became synonymous with Santa Claus and in 1955 a Father Christmas stamp was issued. St. Nicholas devoted his life to his love of humanity, love for people of all different religions and beliefs. Most of all, his love for peace, friendship, and brotherhood.

Santa Claus, Father Christmas, or St. Nicholas is also a favorite of all crafters and doll makers. Why? Because we can make him anything we want him to be. Jovial, fat, skinny, Victorian, woodland, primitive, ugly. It doesn't matter. We love them all. Well, at least I do.

So, this Christmas season when you are hurrying around to get everything done and are fighting the crowd of shoppers just remember that St. Nicholas's message is one of peace, love, and humanity. Slow down, take a breath, and enjoy the season. And, remember these words from a very old, wise, good man: "Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas!"

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Our Christmas Pin Tradition

If you're a reader of my Linda's Blog then you know that I've been writing a series of Christmas Tradition articles. In light of that I just wanted to share with you a wonderful, sentimental Christmas tradition that my Dad started a long time ago. My Dad wanted to give "his girls" meaning my Mother, myself, and my sister something special for Christmas. Back then the term "his girls" did not imply the possessive chauvinistic implications that it does today. To my Dad it was nothing more then a term of endearment. One that separated us from "his boys", my brothers.

So my Dad decided to buy each of "his girls" a special Christmas pin to wear during the holidays. He bought us pins the first year, and then the second, and so on and so on and so on. My wonderful husband decided to carry my Dad's tradition on after he passed away. So, every year he gives me a Christmas pin. Sometimes he can't decide which one he likes best so I get two special Christmas pins. That's okay with me as I cherish each and every one of them.

Every year I take them all out and look at them. What always amazes me is how they have changed in design from the first pin I received (the little Bambi deer above) to my latest (the candy canes above). And, believe it or not, I don't have any duplicates. Also (and I know this will be hard to believe), I don't have any "dollies." So, a heartfelt thanks to you Dad for starting this tradition and a heartfelt and sentimental thanks to my husband for continuing his pin tradition.

If you don't have your own special tradition, perhaps this little article will inspire you to start one. May each and every one of you have a wonderful holiday season.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Caroling, Caroling, Now We Go Christmas Bells Are Ringing!

Caroling & carolers - another long lost tradition. Unfortunately, I think the lovely Christmas tradition of caroling for your neighbors has been replaced with collecting caroling dolls. Not that I think collecting any kind of doll is bad. It's just that caroling and singing holiday songs is such a lovely way to wish your neighbors a wonderful, holiday season. So, before we lose the tradition I think we need to understand why the tradition began.

Well, what exactly is a "carol." For most, a carol is a song of rejoicing associated with festive occasions and religious celebrations. The word "caroling" originally meant a circle dance accompanied by a song and carols have carried on the glad tidings of Christmas since medieval times. Unlike hymns, carols are often light and gay.

According to one religious legend, the very first carol was sung by the angels announcing Christ's birth to the shepherds. Some say the tradition of caroling began as early as the 1400s when wandering minstrels performed songs in exchange for donations to be given to the needy. Later, the English night watchmen would sing while making their rounds at holiday times. In the United States, until about 100 years ago carols were limited to only being sung in church. At that time, the practice of singing door to door became a popular and joyous Christmas event.

In the mid 17th century when the celebration of Christmas was banned, the carols might have been lost forever. But, the carols were kept alive for almost 200 years by people singing them in private. With the invention of inexpensive printing processes in the 1800s, traditional carols were published in book form.

The origins of many popular carols, including "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and "The First Noel," are unknown. However, one of the most famous carols, "Silent Night," was written in Austria by Josef Mohr and church organist, Franz Gruber when the church organ malfunctioned on Christmas Eve. Hurriedly Mohr wrote the song and asked Gruber to pick out a guitar accompaniment. The rest is history.

I can remember caroling as a child. We'd go out on a cold, windy night with our little caroling books and would stop at each of our neighbors houses. I couldn't sing worth beans, but that didn't seem to matter to me. Maybe that's why some of the neighbors never came out. Sometimes our neighbors would offer us hot cocoa, sometimes candy. Most of our neighbors would come outside while we were singing. Some didn't. In any event, it was a joyous event and one that I've never forgotten.

For me, caroling nowadays involves creating caroling dolls or crafts. In fact, some of my newest dolls patterns are for Victorian carolers, a male caroler, female caroler, little boy caroler, and little girl caroler. They're still in the design phase, but should be done soon.

Well, you might not like caroling, but who doesn't love a Christmas Caroler doll. I've never seen one I didn't want (of course, I've never seen a doll I didn't want either.) That's beside the point. Anyways, I've made many caroler dolls myself either out of wood, cloth, terra cotta, pinecones, etc.

When I was a child every Christmas we'd have a family Christmas craft project. One year my Father and I made a white styrofoam church which housed a lighted angel. Outside it was decorated with wax candles (you remember those, don't you?) of lots and lots of carolers. The light from the angel lit up the church's steeple and was such a beautiful sight for many years. Styrofoam, however, doesn't last forever and neither do wax candles. In any event, the tradition of a family Christmas crafting event can be so much fun for the whole family and provide everyone with a lifetime of memories.

If you decide to get the whole family involved in a Christmas crafting project please make sure that while you're crafting that you're singing Christmas carols and have the hot cocoa waiting.

"Caroling, caroling, now we go Christmas Bells are ringing.................." Linda, when are you going to learn how to sing?

Come on everyone, sing along!

Caroling, caroling, now we go
Christmas bells are ringing
Caroling, caroling thru the snow
Christmas bells are ringing
Joyous voices sweet and clear
Sing the sad of heart to cheer
Ding dong, ding dong
Christmas bells are ringing!

Caroling, caroling thru the town
Christmas bells are ringing
Caroling, caroling up and down
Christmas bells are ringing
Mark ye well the song we sing
Gladsome tidings now we bring
Ding dong, ding dong
Christmas bells are ringing!

Caroling, caroling, near and far
Christmas bells are ringing
Following, following yonder star
Christmas bells are ringing
Sing we all this happy morn
"Lo, the King of heaven is born!"
Ding dong, ding dong
Christmas bells are ringing!

A Wonderful Doll Collection

If you follow my Victorian Dolls, Victorian Traditions, The Victorian Era and Me Blog you know that I just LOVE the Victorian Era, love history, and love to do research. In doing all of that I ran across the Metropolitan Museum of Art website the other day and fell in love with their collections, the ability to see everything they have in their collections, and the ability to set-up my own "My Met" space to bookmark items at the MET that I love.

Well, while "Moseying At The MET!" last week I came across items from their French Doll Fashion Collection and fell in love with them.  Now all you have to know as to why I would fall in LOVE with them is they have to do with dolls and have to do with the fashions of the Victorian Era and periods before and after that.

They are in fact a collection of fashion dolls displaying French fashions from 1715 until 1906.  There seems to be 42 dolls int he collection and they give you a wonderful picture of the way French fashion has changed through the ages.  I would love to see this collection in person, but it isn't on display.

If you'd like to read more about this collection please CLICK HERE for my Victorian Dolls, Victorian Traditions, The Victorian Era and Me Blog post entitled, "The French Doll Fashion Collection At The MET."

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Just Hang Us Anywhere!

Why do crafters love wreaths? Because wreaths are inviting and they convey warmth and warm welcomes. Wreaths can be made of real evergreens or made of fabric, wire, bamboo, pinecones, dried florals, wood, grapevine, straw, combination wood and grapevine, etc. They can be created in any shape and can fit any season. Therefore, the possibilities for decorations are endless.

I'm made numerous kinds of wreaths and have them up all year long varying them by the holiday or season. For me, I like the combination of wood, grapevine, floral, and fabric used in one way or another on one wreath. Kind of combines everything I like to do. I've even found ways to combine my love of dolls with my wreaths.

But, my favorite wreath is a Christmas wreath. Why? I'm not sure. There's just something about the Christmas holidays and the bright red and green colors that draws me to it. Something about the endless possibilities for placement. A Christmas wreath can look good just about anywhere.

So, as usual, I got to thinking about the origins of the Christmas wreath and wanted to find out about this tradition.

When you think about Christmas wreaths the Advent Wreath with all its religious significances may come to mind. Or, just a plain evergreen wreath with a red velvet bow hung on a door might be what you think of.

The Christmas Wreath is usually a circle which symbolizes continuance - and is never ending. Christmas wreaths are traditionally made with evergreens, which symbolize life. They are often decorated with other natural plant parts, such as pine cones, red ribbons and holly berries. But, they can be as varied as any other type of wreath.

As with a lot of traditions, the wreath creation and use dates back to a time when warding off evil spirits was paramount. The idea of the wreath dates back to the ancient Germanic custom of a wreath made of straw and/or evergreen boughs, tied with colorful ribbons (but mostly red and gold) which would be hung on doors to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck to the occupants.

So, if you're looking for something to ward off evil spirits, to convey a warm welcome to your guests, or just for a lovely decoration, then wreaths fit the bill.

"Wreaths can hang inside or outside."
"They don't care."
"They just want to be hung, anywhere."

Friday, December 02, 2005

Christmas Cards - A Wonderful Tradition!

Christmas Cards are such a wonderful tradition. They allow you to wish your friends and family a happy holiday season. They also provide a way to catch up on what is happening with everyone.

Sadly, however, Christmas Cards are becoming a long lost tradition. People just don't want or have the time anymore to send you a card.

I love Christmas Cards, especially if they contain a handwritten note or handwritten letter. The handwritten note signifies that the person actually stopped to write something to you. In this fast paced, no time for anything world that is important. Some Christmas Cards contain computerized notes informing everyone of what is happening with them and their families. In a computerized world this was bound to happen. This is fine as well.

Why do I love sending and receiving Christmas Cards? Because I love catching up with what is going on whether it's a handwritten note or a computerized letter. I cherish all the Christmas Cards that I have ever received with handwritten notes or computerized letters. For some of my friends this is the only correspondence that we have every year and provides a way for both of us to stay in touch. In fact, I have never thrown a Christmas Card with a handwritten note or computerized letter away. All of them are in my memory books (albeit I'm on Volume #32 now, but...). For someone like me who is getting older my memory books provide a means of looking back and remembering. The Christmas Cards provide the timeframe.

I know my family would be astonished by this, too. I have kept every single Birthday card, Valentine's Day card, Anniversary card, Christmas card, etc. that I have ever received from anyone since I was about 7 years old. It's so nice to be able to go back and look at the cards I received and what was said by my beautiful Step-Daughter, Grandmothers, Grandfather, Old Family Friends, and my Father, all of whom are no longer with us. Re-reading them always brings back such warm and cherished memories for me. I know, call me an old softy. I admit it.

Okay, Linda, let's get back on track. Since, we're coming into the Christmas Card giving season I thought it would be a nice idea to take a look at this Christmas tradition for my Linda Walsh Originals - Linda's Blog. So, where did the tradition of giving Christmas Cards begin?

Well (surprise, surprise), it began in Victorian England in 1843, the same year that Charles Dickens wrote "A Christmas Carol." John C. Horsley is actually credited with this, but it was actually at the suggestion of his friend, Sir Henry Cole, that the first Christmas Card was created and published.

It seems that Sir Henry Cole was caught in the mad holiday rush (sound familiar) and was unable to send the traditional written Christmas message to his friends and associates. Instead he sent them an illustrated holiday greeting. The card was divided into three panels and was designed by his friend John C. Horsley. The main illustration showed the three elders at a party raising wine glasses in a toast the side panels showed two Yuletide traditions - feeding the hungry and clothing the needy. The message inside 150 years later is still the most popular greeting of all: "A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you." Henry Cole's cards caused quite a stir. Back then you could send letters for just a penny each (can you imagine 1 penny!)

In the 1860's greeting card companies began appearing all over England. In 1846 Christmas Cards started in America, but didn't really take off until 1920 when advances in printing technology added to the popularity of Christmas Cards. That's also when the color red started being associated with Christmas.

Christmas Cards started due to a mad rush and sadly, their decline may be due to a lack of time during the mad rush of the holiday season. I sincerely hope not. It is such a wonderful and lovely tradition. Sending warm holiday greetings is such a beautiful way to say "A Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year To You!"

would like to wish everyone a Happy Holiday Season and a Happy, Healthy, and Safe New Year.

image -

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Blinkies - Don't You Just Love Blinkies?

This may sound strange but I am a woman who is having a love affair. Not a traditional love affair but, a love affair with "blinkies." I cannot get enough of them. If you're a reader of my Linda's Blog then you'll know what I mean when I say, "It's a good thing that they aren't like dolls or I'd have them all over my house, too."

I have to confess, however, that I might have a few too many "blinkies." I dare not look at how much space they are taking up on my hard drive. Needless to say its probably a lot.

Since it was gloomy and raining most of the week I thought I'd do some web surfing for "blinkies." I'm happy to report that I found some wonderful new websites and some wonderful new computer "blinkies." They're the "blinkies" shown at the top of this post and they are from "Val's Kingdom."

Aren't they wonderful? Don't you just love them? Okay, okay! So you're not having a love affair with "blinkies" like I am.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

You've Got To Be Kidding!

If you're been reading my BLOG for awhile then you know I love history, research, and that I'm a big advocate for women's rights. You also know that I love the victorian period and love to design victorian doll patterns for my Linda Walsh Originals website.

So, I decided to do a little research on Women's Rights (or I should say lack of women's rights) in the Victorian Era and my fascination for that period. I quickly came to the conclusion that while I love the fashions of the Victorian period, I clearly could never have been a victorian woman and here's why.

The following excerpts were taken from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. "The Victorian Era (1837 to 1901) symbolized by the reign of British monarch Queen Victoria was a very difficult period for women, because of the vision of the "ideal women" shared by most in the society."

"The legal rights of married women were similar to those of children. They could not vote or sue or even own property. Also, they were seen as pure and clean. Because of this view, their bodies were seen as temples which should not be adorned with makeup nor should they be used for such pleasurable things as sex. The role of women was to have children and tend to the house. They could not hold jobs unless they were those of a teacher nor were they allowed to have their own checking accounts or savings accounts. In the end, they were to be treated as saints, but saints that had no legal rights. "

Does this sound like "women should be barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen" or what? I can't see a modern day woman wanting to tolerate that. No voting, no suing, no property. Must remain pure and clean in body and soul. I don't think so.

"In the Victorian Era the law regarded a married couple as one person. The husband was responsible for his wife and bound by law to protect her. She was supposed to obey him and he had the right to enforce this. The personal property the wife brought into the marriage was then owned by the husband, even in case of a divorce. The income of the wife belonged completely to her husband and the custody of children belonged to the father as well. He was able to refuse any contact between the mother and her children. The wife was not able to conclude a contract on her own. She needed her husband’s agreement. In addition, the married woman could not be punished for certain offences, such as theft or burglary if she acted under the command of her husband. It was impossible to charge the wife for concealing her husband and for stealing from her husband as they were one person in law. "

I can't possibly imagine that any female in her right mind would think that this made sense. Is it any wonder that they wrote "obey" out of the marriage vows of today? Personal property of the wife became the husband's. Can you imagine a husband saying to his wife "What's mine is mine and what's yours is mine, too." And, the wife saying, "Yes, of course, dear!"

During this time women had no legal say in how many children they would have nor would they get custody of children if the marriage ended in divorce. You have to say to yourself, "Were they out of their minds!" No say in how many children you're going to have? I just shake my head.

"A very special connection existed between women and their brothers. Sisters had to treat their brothers as they would treat their future husbands. They were dependent on their male family members as the brother’s affection might secure their future in case their husband treated them badly or they did not get married at all. "

The Victorian men had the Victorian women trapped. If you didn't get married, basically, your brother owned you. If you did get married then your husband owned you.

At that time educated women working in academic jobs were considered abnormal and monstrous. ABNORMAL and MONSTEROUS! I bet all the women professors of today would just love to hear this. The only jobs open to women were governess, servant, teacher at boarding school, nurse or author.

"The attitude towards women and education was that education of women needn’t be the same as that of men. Women were supposed to know the things necessary to bring up their children and to keep house. That’s why subjects as history, geography and general literature were of extreme importance, whereas Latin and Greek were of little importance. Woman who wanted to study something like law, physics, engineering, science or art were satirized and dismissed. People thought that it was unnecessary for women to go to a university. It was even said that studying was against their nature and that it could make them ill. They should stay more or less an “Ornament of Society” and be subordinate to their husbands. Obedience was the only requirement. "

Studying was against their nature and could make them ill. I MUST be very sick then. Ornament of society - NEVER. No wonder the women revolted. No wonder the feminist movement was born out of this period?

But, best of all Victorian women had to be SUBORDINATE to their husbands. All I can say to that is, "You've got to be kidding! My husband would hate that."

Friday, November 11, 2005

I Am All That and More!

When I think of a "Lady" either I picture someone like Audrey Hepburns' character in "My Fair Lady" or I picture a Victorian woman like the picture to the left. Someone refined and dignified. Someone who has good manners and who also just happens to be wearing a beautiful Victorian dress. I always seem to get back to the Victorian dresses, don't I? Must be an obsession. Yah think? In my mind, a "Lady" is the ultimate perfect female. But, is she really?

So, let's take a good look at what constitutes a "Lady." According to the American Heritage Dictionary a "Lady" is a woman having the refined habits, gentle manners, and sense of responsibility often associated with breeding, culture, and high station; the feminine equivalent of a gentleman.

Hmmm! That definition is too narrow minded and socially conscious. Not exactly the definition I had in mind. So, maybe we should take a look at the qualities of a "Lady" in her home and on the street as defined by the dictionary, and others:

1) A Lady should be quiet in her manners. Okay, easy enough. But, not to the point of being invisible.

2) A Lady should speak in a gentle tone of voice. Even when scolding your children? Hmmm! Or someone who is picking on someone else. Hmmm!

3) A Lady should be careful to wound no ones feelings. This is not always possible.

4) A Lady should give generously and freely from the treasures of her pure mind to her friends. Generously and freely, yes. Purely! I don't know about that.

5) A Lady should scorn no one openly. Sometimes this is exactly what is required.

6) A Lady should should feel gentle pity for the unfortunate, the inferior and the ignorant. A "Lady" should do everything she can to help others in need, but NOT to judge anyone as inferior or ignorant. That would be placing herself above others and smacks of a "caste" system.

7) A Lady should carry herself with an innocence and single heartedness which disarms ill nature, and wins respect and love from all. Couldn't agree more.

8) A true Lady walks the street, wrapped in a mantle of proper reserve, so impenetrable that insult and coarse familiarity shrink from her. Some would confuse this with being a snob and looking down one's nose at others.

9) A true Lady carries with her a congenial atmosphere which attracts all, and puts all at their ease. I think everyone should act this way, not just a "Lady."

10) A Lady walks quietly through the streets, seeing and hearing nothing that she ought not to. Not a good idea to walk through the city streets with blindfolds on. You need to be aware of everything that is going on around you. Also, who determines what a "Lady" should or should not see? Doesn't she have a mind of her own?

11) A Lady walks through the streets recognizing acquaintances with a courteous bow, and friends with words of greeting. Manners are always a good thing.

12) A Lady is always unobtrusive, never talks loudly, or laughs boisterously, or does anything to attract the attention of the passers-by. Don't draw attention to yourself. Come on? Is she never supposed to have a good laugh?

13) A Lady walks along in her own quiet, lady-like way, and by her preoccupation is secure from any annoyance. What do you want her to do scurry along the street like a mouse? Don't be noticed and definitely don't mingle with the "common" folk. They might annoy you.

14) A true lady in the street, as in the parlor is modest, discreet, kind and obliging. This rule was definitely made up by a "man" or should I say "Gentleman."

15) A Lady never speaks or acts in anger. Sometimes this can't be helped. Generally, it's not a good idea to speak or act when angry whether you're a male or a female.

16) A Lady learns to govern herself and to be gentle and patient. Self control, self discipline, and patience are good qualities.

17) A true Lady always remembers that, valuable as the gift of speech is, silence is often more valuable. A truly intelligent person knows this, not just a "Lady."

18) A true Lady does not neglect the little things as they can affect the comfort of others. We should always think of others first.

19) A true Lady learns to deny herself and prefers others. Not sure I agree.

Well, now we know what a true "Lady" is. Not exactly my idea of the ultimate female. I think the definition and qualities of a "Lady" if she is to be the ultimate female needs to be redefined to fit the modern woman of today.

I think a true "Lady" should be defined as someone who is confident in herself and her capabilities. Someone who has goals and aspirations and isn't afraid to pursue them. Someone who isn't afraid to speak her mind and reprimand someone when that is what is required. Someone who can lead and command respect. Someone who is loyal to her family and friends. Someone who inspires others to always strive for the best in themselves in in others. Someone who has the courage of her convictions. Someone who can use her authority when it is required. Someone who can caress and comfort anyone who is in distress. Someone who can laugh with children and lose herself in their imagination once in awhile. Someone who isn't afraid to get her hands "dirty." Someone with skills who is willing to try anything, at least once. Someone who loves and respects others and wants nothing but the best for them. Someone who tries to see the good in others. Someone who will try her best to help others succeed. Someone who will accept others with all their faults and love them just the same. Someone who always tries to put her best foot forward, but isn't afraid to fail. Someone who can see the beauty in life. Someone who doesn't judge others by their pocketbook or social standing. Someone who can stand tall and be dignified at the same time. Someone who allows herself to be "human." Someone who doesn't define herself by her gender and doesn't allow others to do so either. A "Lady" is someone who is proud to say "I am all that and more." Bring the Victorian dress on!


Saturday, November 05, 2005

A Dead Heat! Which Way Will It Go?

We promised to let you know from time to time what the results were for our "Should our Victorian "Ladies" remain faceless?" poll. Well, we are in a dead heat. That's right. A DEAD HEAT! It's 50 to 50. Fifty percent of you say the Victorians should remain faceless and fifty percent of you say the Victorian "Ladies" should have faces.

As far as the sexes are concerned, 95% of the respondents were female (no surprise there) with only ONE lone vote cast by a very brave male. My older brother would have a heart attack if he knew that a male had visited my Linda Walsh Originals doll pattern website. He hates dolls. Personally, I can't understand how anyone could hate dolls, but that's me.

In any event, it could now go either way.

Stay tuned. It may be such a close race that we'll need the Supreme Court to decide the outcome. How exciting! A Dead Heat! Which Way Will It Go?

Friday, November 04, 2005

The Fun Is In The Learning

Don't you just love it when you learn something new. I do. I must take after my father who was always tinkering on things just to see how they work. No sooner had we gotten a TV set (back when TV sets were the latest invention - yes, I'm dating myself) then my Dad was tinkering with his new "toy." He'd take the tubes (I think that's what they were called) out and move them around just to see what would happen. Naturally, since he was tinkering with a brand new TV set my Mother would want to strangle him. Sometimes, of course, he'd totally screw up the picture and then we were without the latest invention until he figured out how to fix it. When we'd complain he'd say "Kids, the fun is in the learning!"

So, I must take after my Dad as I love to try something new and figure out how it works all by myself. My husband, of course, thinks it would be easier to just read the manual and learn how something works that way. To that I respond, "Where's the fun in that? I want to figure it out on my own." My brothers and sister and I must all take after our Dad in this way as we all love to "tinker".

So, today, I decided I wanted to take a screenshot of my Linda Walsh Originals home page. I knew there had to be a way to do it. I decided to go out to "Ask Jeeves" and ask "How do I take a screenshot of a webpage?" The answer was so simple. Go to the webpage you want, hit the PRINT SCRN button on your keyboard (which copies the image to the clipboard), open up any graphics program (I used the reliable old dinosaur MSPaint), and then paste the image from the clipboard.

Two seconds later I had my Linda Walsh Originals home page open in MSPaint. Of course, I also had my browser's topbars and sidebars so I had to crop them out of the picture and then save my image as a .jpeg file. The image was rather large so I decided to resize my image in Adobe Photoshop down to 332x248 pixels. I could have down this in MS Picture It (another old dinosaur program) but, decided instead to do it in Adobe Photoshop as it is so easy to resize an image in that program. Since Adobe saves the image with it's own extensions (I used .psd) I had to re-open the image in MS Picture It and re-save it as a .jpeg file.

A couple minutes later I had a manageable screenshot of my Linda Walsh Originals homepage. So, since I'm like a little kid in a candy shop when I've learned something new I just had to share it. As my Dad said "The fun is in the learning!" As usual, Dad, you were right.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Hey, Mom, Fix My Toy! Woof! Woof!

Don't you just love this picture. I do. It reminds me of the countless times I had to mend my doll and/or their clothes. This picture was part of the Vintage Workshop package of FREE Holiday Art Download made available to subscribers of Country Marketplace magazine in their October 2005 issue.

It also reminds me of what I'm doing today which is fixing an electronic plush doll that my dog has broken. My guy doesn't like plain old plush toys. Nope. Not him. His have to be electronic toys. The kind that say something, move, vibrate, sing, or dance. You know, the kind of toy you might buy for your children to play with.

You see, he thinks he's human. I actually have to go to the toy store to buy electronic toys for him. Usually the clerk will say "Oh, who's having a birthday." I respond "They're for my dog!" They, of course, look at me like I'm crazy.

So, I take the toys home and he bites at them until he bites thru the little wire that is connected to the area on their arm or leg that you press to turn them on. Then he brings them over to me and dumps them in my lap. He looks up at me with his little eyes as if to say "Hey, Mom, fix em! He won't work!" Then I have to cut them open and fix them for him.

He sits patiently next to my sewing chair until I do. Then he's off to the races, barking and biting at the toy until he breaks it again. Oh, well. He loves his electronic toys. Woof! Woof! "Hey, Mom, fix my toy! He won't work!" Kids! Make that dogs!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Grandma, Will You Read Me A Story?

Don't you just love this quote from Dr. Seuss:

The more that you read,
the more things you will know.
The more that you learn,
the more places you'll go.
~ Dr. Seuss ~

A verse so simple yet so very true. Children learn to read from their parents or as Emilie Buchwald said in 1994, "Children are made readers on the laps of their parents." So, it is vitally important for parents to read to their children from infancy. The more children read, the better they become at reading. And, the more young children are read to, the greater their interest in reading. Reading out loud to children helps them with their verbal skills, enhances their development and teaches them how to express themselves verbally.

Other people have also stated this so eloquently:

Books, to the reading child, are so much more than books -- they
are dreams and knowledge, they are a future, and a past.(1940)
~ Esther Meynell ~

There is no substitute for books in the life of a child. (1952)
~ Mary Ellen Chase ~

It is not enough to simply teach children to read;
we have to give them something worth reading.
Something that will stretch their imaginations-
something that will help them make sense of their own
lives and encourage them to reach out toward people
whose lives are quite different from their own.
~ Katherine Paterson ~

If you've been a reader of my Linda Walsh Originals - Linda's Blog you know that I've had a long term love affair with dolls, doll patterns, the Victorian era, floral design, and genealogy. You also know that I love research and history. What you don't know until now is that I have always LOVED books and reading, too. As far as I'm concerned you can never have enough dolls and you can never have enough books.

My house is filled with them. Books of all kinds. My love affair with books began very early on. My Mother is an avid reader, my Father was an avid reader, my Grandmother and Great-Aunt were avid readers, and so it was passed down to my siblings and I.

I can remember sitting in my Grandmother's rocking chair (which I still have) and having her read me a story. Sometimes we would sit there while she was watching her soap opera's and then she would read me my story. I never minded just sitting there with her. I always knew there would be a story. And, I always felt safe in her arms.

Now, when I read I think about sitting with my Grandmother or listening to my Mom and Dad talk about their love of reading and it brings back warm and pleasant feelings for me.

Reading is such an escape. You can literally get lost in a book. The book for a brief moment becomes your life and you can imagine that you're experiencing it. There is nothing more powerful then your imagination. Even the most spectacular movie with all its wonderful special effects and cinematography cannot compare to what you own imagination can create. There are no limits, no boundaries to your imagination when you are reading. Reading can take you anywhere. If you know how to read you can do anything because there isn't anything you can't do if you put your mind to it.

I am a firm believer in books and reading as a way of teaching children. And it must be taught at a very young age, on the laps of our parents, as the graphic above nicely conveys. As Mccosh quoted, "The book to read is not the one which thinks for you, but the one which makes you think."

In fact, my Grandchildren can attest to the fact that every Christmas or Birthday they know what at least one of their presents will be from their Grandmother: books. To me, that is one of the best presents I could give them. By giving them books all the time, I hope somehow I'm conveying a love of reading to them. Reinforcing the value of reading time and time again. Making them think. Hopefully, by developing good reading skills they learn how to think for themselves.

For I firmly believe in the following quote:

To read is to empower
To empower is to write
To write is to influence
To Influence is to change
To change is to live.
~ Jane Evershed ~
More than a Tea Party

In fact, I was watching a show on one of the cable channels about the greatest invention mankind has ever seen. They counted down through hundreds of inventions until they got to #1. Do you know what it was? The greatest invention mankind has ever seen was the invention of the printing press. Why, because it opened the whole world up to everyone and mankind was never the same again.

So, grab a book. Take it to a quiet place and get lost in your own imagination. And the next time your Grandchildren come to visit spend the weekend reading to them, not watching T.V. or playing video games. Just reading from books. Your Grandchildren may surprise you and love it. And, you will open up a magical world to them from which they will never return.

I did it!
Come and look
At what I've done!
I read a book!
When someone wrote it
Long ago
For me to read,
How did he know
That this was the book
I'd take from the shelf
And lie on the floor
And read by myself?
I really read it!
Just like that!
Word by word,
From first to last!
I'm sleeping with
This book in bed,
This first FIRST book
I've ever read!
~ David L. Harrison ~
(from Somebody Catch My Homework)

Friday, October 14, 2005

Just A Little of This and A Little of That!

I'm asked quite a lot, "Linda, just what do you sell on your Linda Walsh Originals website?" "Do you only sell Victorian?" "Do you only sell primitive?" Well, the answer is quite simple. We sell Victorian, we sell primitive and we sell a little of this and a little of that in doll patterns. But, what kind of doll patterns exactly? Okay, pull it out of me! All kinds. We're plain crazy for dolls!

Here's my list: Victorian doll patterns, raggedy Ann & Andy doll patterns, primitive doll patterns, Victorian snowlady doll patterns, bridal doll patterns, graduation doll patterns, little boy doll patterns, gypsy doll patterns and primitive raggedy Ann & Andy doll patterns. Is that all! Are you kidding? We also sell: scarecrow patterns, Santa patterns, angel patterns, witch patterns, frankenstein patterns, ghost patterns, pilgrim doll patterns, snowmen patterns, snowgirl patterns, woodland patterns, Uncle Sam patterns, and a few craft patterns.

Is that it? Well, for now, but we have hundreds in the design process. In other words, the best is yet to come? Of, course! Did you expect anything less?

Why so many different varieties? Because at Linda Walsh Originals we're nuts. We're just plain crazy for dolls. We have never found any kind of doll that we didn't love or didn't want to design. And I don't suspect we ever will. We love them all. We love "just a little of this, and a little of that, and that, and that, and.....!" yah! I know! We're crazy!

Friday, September 30, 2005

Cutest Victorian Graphics

Don't you just love these four animated Victorian Graphics. They came from (Graphics by, The Victorian Era Online). They are all part of the collection of animated gifs assembled from the original 19th century illustrations.

I had to share them all with you because I think they are all just so precious. Of course, then I am biased. My passion is THE VICTORIAN ERA. Of course, you'd never know that by looking at the types of dolls and doll patterns that I design and have available on my Linda Walsh Originals website, now would you?

Friday, September 16, 2005

My Mom, A Classic Beauty At Any Age

Everone in our family and everyone who knows me knows that I poke fun of my mother all the time. How can I resist the urge? I can't. She's a classic beauty. Plus, I'm her eldest daughter, the one she is toughest on. And, unfortunately, I'm just like her (yikes! heaven help me! - see what I mean), minus the classic beauty part.

Anyway, I can't help it because my mother is just so easy to kid around with and is so good natured about it. She puts up with a lot of grief, kidding, and loving aggravation from her five adult (and I use this word loosely) children all the time. She even has to put up with it from her sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, and even her grandchildren. We tell her, after all, you created us! We didn't ask to be born. She just smiles and says "Yes, Dears!"

A little while ago I was shopping with my mother and found a pillow that was embroidered with these words: "Mirror, mirror on the wall - I am my Mother after all!" When my mother and I saw this we both burst out laughing. Much to my horror, it was true.

My mother was born in 1930 and grew up during the depression. She lived with her brother, parents, grandfather, and great Aunt in what was common at the times, one great big extended family all under one roof. At times there were other people living with them as well. She watched her brother go off to war in WWII, went to college, was a beauty queen, and married a WWII war veteran, my Dad. If any of you have seen the movie "Mona Lisa Smile" then you know what I mean when I say she was a "dutiful housewife." However, she raised her two daughters to be proud of who we were, to think for ourselves, to always treat others like we wished to be treated, and to give everything our best shot. For my mother there was never anything we couldn't do. She was the Julia Roberts character in "Mona Lisa Smile" before Julia was.

So, what is the point of this story? My point is this. My mother is a classic beauty at any age. Beautiful inside and beautiful outside. What better example do I have for my "Gray is Beautiful, Too! doll pattern series than my mother. She has aged beautifully and has never done anything artificial to herself. There is nothing fake or phony about her. She is proud of who she is, proud of how she looks, proud of her age, and proud of her life. And, it shows. She is the epitome of DROP DEAD GORGEOUS!

So, Mom, I give you a lot of grief, you know that. However, you are and always have been my BEST FRIEND. You are and always will be my BIGGEST Linda Walsh Originals fan, my own personal cheering section. You are my role model, my mother, and I love you for it.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

What Is A Doll Really?

In thinking about the anniversary of Raggedy Ann and about dolls in general I had to wonder "What is a Doll, Really?"

According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, a doll is defined as: a model of a human (often a baby), a humanoid (like Bert and Ernie), an animal or a fictional character (like a Troll or a Smurf), usually made of cloth or plastic. Sometimes, intended as keepsakes or collections for older children and adults, it could be made in wood, porcelain, bisque, celluloid or wax. Some dolls are intended as toys for children, usually girls, to play with. Others are for decoration or have some cultural significance, possibly for use in some ceremony or ritual, or as a physical representation of a deity. Archaeological evidence places dolls as foremost candidate for oldest known toy, having been found in Egyptian tombs which date to as early as 2000 BC.

While I think all of that may be the physical representation of what a doll is, the definition is sorely lacking and misses the point entirely. Dolls are much, much more to those of us who loved them as little girls and who still love them as grown-up girls.

They are and were our first BEST friend. They are and were the keeper of all our hopes, dreams, and secrets. We would tell them things we would not tell anyone else. They shared our joys and our sorrows. They were cherished items that if destroyed would break our hearts. We learned and practiced our social skills from our tea parties.

They were our first forums for they listened to our fears, gave us advice, and offered silent counsel. They helped us to think for ourselves, and provided us with a sounding board to bounce our ideas off of. They were what we held if we cried ourselves to sleep at night. They were the first to hear about our sorrows and dry our tears. They offered us counsel, albeit not always wise counsel. If we were angry and mad they bore the full brunt of it, sometimes losing limbs in the process.

No matter what we did to them they ALWAYS stood by us. They ALWAYS remained faithful, loving, and hopeful. They were our first and biggest fan club. Always rooting us on from their perch on our bed, shelf, floor, or where ever they lay. They were usually the first thing we saw in the morning and the last thing we saw at night. For us, at the time, our dollie was everything.

So, while the description in the encyclopedia is correct as to what a doll really is, they are much, much more to us. For all of us that loved them as little girls and continue to love them as grown-up girls, our dolls are priceless and cannot be defined.

Copyright © 2005—All Rights Reserved - Written By Linda Walsh 

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Celia's Doll

I thought everyone might enjoy reading the story of Celia's Doll. Celia is my sister-in-laws Mother. She is a feisty, wonderful, loving, beautiful old soul who has a bit of a wild streak in her. She's in her mid eighties and I get tired just watching her. Talk about boundless energy. I just love her.

Celia is married to Elmer (see my post The Story Behind Elmers Little Boy). They have been happily married for over 50 years and were recently moving into their new home. Since they were downsizing they had to either get rid of a lot of items or throw a lot away. So, they decided what to throw away and what to sell at their yard sale. When you've been married over fifty years there are a LOT of items.

In any event, one of the items Celia had decided to throw away was this old, grundgy, doll who was just plain "a mess". She had lost most of her hair on the top of her head and had one long bunch of strands down one side of her head. Her fingers were all broken and her face was dirty. She had on an old, dirty, prairie dress and bonnet. I wish I had taken a picture of her so you could have seen how she was. Needless to say she was in desperate need of a make over. I think she was considering going to a day spa, but she wasn't aware of any dollie day spas. There definitely weren't any in the yellow pages.

So, of course, I took her home and we pondered her fate together. We decided she should be elegant. She'd had enough of this simple, primitive, country look and wanted to be a real "Lady". So we decided on a bit of a "French" aristocratic look for her. We needed something that would cover up her bald spots while still making it seem like she had a full head of hair. Definitely a twist was in store. The problem, however, was what to do with the rest of her head. I though maybe a combination of a large hat and "Gloria Swanson" type of turban would work. Celia was skeptical. It was a drastic step.

So we twisted the one long bunch of hair strands she had on the right side of her head into a bun over her ear. We decided that some old green velour material that I had would make a good turban, high-waisted jacket top, and part of her fancy hat. The other part of her fancy hat was made out of the same material as her dress. You have to be coordinated, you know, to be an elegant "Lady" from France. We arranged some of the green velour material so that it appeared to be a turban around her head. We put her fancy bonnet together and decided it would look very "elegant" if it was slanted towards the left side of her head and tied in a bow on the right side of her neck.

Of course, she had on all the underclothes and items proper "Ladies" just do not discuss. Celia was shaking and had her hands (or what was left of her hands and fingers) over her eyes. I positioned her in front of the mirror and told her to look. Reluctantly, after 15 minutes of coaxing she finally looked. What she saw took her breathe away. She spent the next week just looking at herself in the mirror. Talk about someone getting a "big" head. Celia wanted to change her name to "Venus" as she was now the most beautiful woman, or should I say dollie, in the world. I'd had enough of this and decided it was time for Celia to go home.

So, we took Celia back to the real Celia. She couldn't believe it was the same doll. So elegant, so beautiful, so "aristocratic", so...... well, conceited. Well, I tell you, when you've been around for 80+ years you know how to tame an ego that was getting out of control. Celia sat Celia down and told her "Enough of this crap! You're a doll named after me. The beauty belongs to me, not you." Celia was humbled, or so we think. She now resides in the real Celia's bedroom, turned away from any mirrors. Once in a while she does, however, manage to catch a glimpse of her beauty in a mirror and she just smiles.

Well, since I had already created the patterns for the undergarments, dress, fancy hat, etc. I decided that I should make a Celia cloth doll and pattern. My version of the Celia doll is shown below. “Celia” is dressed in her Sunday best. She has a fancy double-tiered lace and ruffled trim lined jacket with long puffed up sleeves, very fancy lace & floral decorated lined hat with tulle, fancy lace & double-ruffle tiered dress, lace gloves, lace trimmed and gathered slip, lace trimmed and gathered bloomers, and blonde hair tied in a bun. She has boots tied with laces and her lined jacket has large ribbon ties which are tied in a bow in the front. She also has a fabric covered head and body.