Friday, August 4, 2017

Summertime fun!

Long ago when I began to collect Chatty Cathy vintage dolls, I enjoyed setting up scenes for them. Here is a back yard scene using a child's pool filled with a few inches of water, and some cute props.

Tiny Chatty baby is deciding which fruit to try.
The umbrella and towel came from the Build a Bear shop at Metrotown. These are all vintage dolls.

I bought the pool at a $ store. They don't seem to be made anymore, as I can no longer find them. The doll on the left is a JC Penny reproduction doll from 1998. The doll on the right is vintage, wearing a vintage swim suit from old stock doll wear on eBay.

Here two of the Chatty dolls take a break in the shade and read a CC newsletter I purchased on eBay. The little trike is a reproduction.

By Loretta Houben

Thursday, July 27, 2017

My Effanbee doll named Peggy Sue! (Mom's childhood doll)

This is one of my very special dolls!
I've loved her all my life. My Mom got her as a gift from her parents when she was 12, Christmas 1945. She'd spotted her in the JC Penny store in McMinnville, Oregon and begged her Mom for it. Her Mom told her she was way too old for a doll, but her Dad said, oh, let her have it!

Her parents were Adolph and Helen (Gusa) Brutke.
They lived in Amity, OR and would shop once a week in McMinnville. The store is still standing at 203 NE 3rd Street, but it's now owned by Boersma's, a lovely fabric and quilting store. The toy section was in the basement, right at the bottom of the stairs. That's where the display with the Effanbee Sweetie Pie doll was set up, and my Mom was entranced.

 My Mom named her Peggy Sue. Here she is in her original dress and hat and socks. The little suitcase is filled with her hand made clothes. Her Mom and her sister lovingly made them for her, and they are exquisite. 

 I'm so glad my Mom has let me enjoy her dear Peggy Sue all these years. She is a real treasure.

By Loretta Houben

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Tea Time Tuesday!

Tea time Tuesday!
I'm doing this on Facebook, so I'll also add my photos here. I've had many Chatty Cathy teatimes in my home. I think I've covered all the types of teas one could have, and it's been a lot of fun!
Up above is my childhood Chatty Cathy doll on the right in the large blue gingham tea dress. I bought the dress on eBay, and since this was photographed I've adjusted the hemline!
Way back in 2004 I had been collecting Chatty dolls for 2 years, and met a friend in a Yahoo group.
She lived close by and would often come over for tea.
We had a lot of fun.
That's her doll on the left. This was an Easter/spring themed tea, and I had made home baked sugar cookies.

My 2nd tea time was held in the living room at the coffee table. I made ham and cheese roll ups, with a fresh mango/blueberry salad, and purchased dessert.
I always serve a black tea such as Red Rose or Tetley. I don't care for any other tea! I used my Dimity Rose tea set by Royal Albert.

Close up of the goodies.

My 3rd tea time was at Christmas.
I used my Poinsettia pattern tea set by Royal Albert. Leona gave me the teapot at Christmas 1981. I've always treasured it.
This tea was late in the afternoon and I served Christmas desserts. I had the JC Penny Christmas Chatty Cathy doll. She's really cute and says Christmas things. I made the little Chatty Cathy bags. Stay tuned for more tea time Tuesdays!

By Loretta Houben

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Kit's new dress!

I'm so excited to show off Kit's new dress!
It's a 1930's pattern design from Farmcookies on Etsy, by Kathy. She had kindly sent me a free pattern last year, after I announced on my FB page that I just couldn't seem to get back to sewing for dolls.
Wasn't that sweet of her? I cut the pattern out right away, but lost my nerve.

This was due to the fact I had recently purchased a new Pfaff machine, and I was rather scared of using it. That's quite silly as I've sewn since 1972.
But there you have it.

I bought the fabric at Walmart, and I used vintage buttons, all different, from my mother-in-law's stash.
I think she would be pleased.
I used new trim from Dollarama, purchased for this dress. I think it turned out adorable!
What do you think?
The pattern was easy to sew. I began sewing on Monday, July 17 when I had a sewing bee here with my sister Leona. I finished it on Thursday, July 20.

By Loretta Houben

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Mini Grace in Ham Hill, Somerset

I never did finish writing about Grace's adventures in Europe. She had a grand time! 
(when I remembered to photograph her)
Here she is with me and Robert and our new friend, John Chant who lives in Stoke sub Hamdon, and who kindly drove us there, and to Ham Hill.

I had read somewhere that the standing stones were very old. Well, they are, but they were erected in 2000 for the Millennium celebration! I was rather upset when I heard that. I still haven't been to Stonehenge or Avebury, so I'd hoped to see an ancient site.

But this place was lovely. The stones are Ham stone; very old and rare. Many of Stoke's buildings are made out of this stone. A new excavation is taking place where some more Ham stone has been found. It's very valuable.

The most exciting thing about Ham Hill is the monument at the top. My ancestor, Alfred George Palmer, has his name inscribed on it! He's my paternal Grandma's first cousin. He died at age 21 on May 31, 1916 in the Battle of Jutland and is buried at sea. It was so thrilling to visit this memorial but it was very windy and shortly afterwards it began to pour.

Here I am beside a standing stone.
I really loved this place.

By Loretta Houben

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Thrifty Finds Thursday!

If I stick to a theme, I find I blog much more often! Do you?

I'm very scatter brained, so if I have a goal it really helps me to stay on track, as I flit from one thing to another. 
But over the past few years, writing my goals down and sticking to them as helped me achieve a lot of things and also finish projects which would otherwise not be complete.
I've turned Wednesday mornings into gym days. 
My gym isn't too far from my house, so I take the Skytrain there, and walk part way. After the gym yesterday I visited a thrift store. I love thrift stores as you just never know what you'll find! 

I found an adorable little jar/pot for Josephina, only 99 cents Cdn! It has a substance inside which is like a gel perfume, but I can scrape that out. It's very well made out of clay, and painted. I believe somewhere in my doll bins I have a mini Josephina, but I'm not sure.
One of my goals is to organize my dolls and make a list of what I actually own.
I also bought a cute set of 2 playmats for the mini dolls, which would look really cute in a school scene.
But our local children have only been on summer holiday for 3 weeks, so there's a long stretch to go before they return in September! 
Anyhow, it's a lot of fun to shop for the minis. I'm quite addicted to them this year.

By Loretta Houben

Monday, July 17, 2017

07/17/17 Pretty cool, eh?

Today is 7/17/17.
(July 17, 2017)
I love all those sevens!
My sister Leona and I finally had a sewing bee together today. She doesn't live far away, so she brought her items to sew and I had my sewing machine set up on the table.
This is my old Pfaff I bought in 1981, and which I'd replaced 2 years ago with a brand new Pfaff.
I haven't been sewing much sad to say as I'm rather frightened of the new machine.
But today was fun, sewing together at the same table.
I made the little dress for Grace up above, and Leona made 2 pillowcases, and 2 body pillow cases. She sews very rapidly. I also worked on an 18" doll dress but it's not finished yet. Still, it's a beginning and I feel encouraged.

Here I am, sewing on my new machine. My trusty old Pfaff circa 1981 is in the foreground.

By Loretta Houben

Monday, July 10, 2017

Beautiful 18" doll patterns online.

While looking online I came across the most beautiful 18" doll patterns. They are created by Magalie Dawson. If you click on her name the link will take you to the pattern in the photo above. 
One day I'd love to create doll clothes like this.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

New swimsuit for Ruby!

Yesterday while my hubby was in the valley river rafting with our son and his friends, I decided to do something I haven't done yet this year; sew for the 18" dolls.
Ruby, my Asian Newberry doll, hasn't had anything new in a long time. 
I have a few Canadian pattern socks and I saw a cute idea on Pinterest, making a swimsuit out of one. So I cut off the heel and hemmed up the bottom, and sewed a seam in between for the legs, and measured a few times to get the ties at the top the right size.
Ruby is quite pleased, and I think she looks really cute. The sock is a little tight to get on and off, but not bad.

By Loretta Houben

Sunday, July 2, 2017


Yesterday, July 1st, we celebrated Canada Day 150.
That's how old Canada is. It's really quite young compared to other countries!
Maplelea, a Canadian 18" doll company, had the cutest outfit for the dolls so I bought two.

I love celebrations and I love to decorate.
I chose my Hawaiian doll I purchased in Honolulu in 2014 to model one of the outfits. She's on the left holding the Maplelea flag. It doesn't have anything to attach it to the doll's hand. Tenney is on the right and she's holding a flag from Build a Bear, which has an elastic sewn on to attach with. The tin is from Purdy's chocolates. 

Here is a Newberry doll wearing her red and white dress with the AG dolls, plus a pretty plate I purchased downtown in a tourist shop, and a lovely print I found at Winner's.
It was hard finding anything that had 150 on it so I was very pleased with my purchases.

This was a large flag I put in our front window. I got it at London Drugs. I only put the dolls in the window for the photo as they are too valuable to leave in sunshine!
We had a wonderful warm sunny day, and my parents and one sister with her family came over for a delicious BBQ with corn on cob and salads in the afternoon.
Happy Canada 150!

By Loretta Houben

Monday, June 26, 2017


Last evening hubby and I headed for Stanley Park.
We went to Third Beach, our favourite place to have a picnic. We packed tuna salad croissants, chips, fresh black cherries, fresh BC strawberries, cookies and Oh Henry chocolate bars. Mmm....

While there I set up Mary Ellen in her new bathing suit. After playing in the sand with her new flamingo sand pail, she had her own little picnic. She indulged in a McDonald's Big Mac with fries, lemonade, a fruit tart, and a butterfly cookie. We decided to celebrate Canada's 150th birthday a few days early. The beach was very busy, but I think it will be worse on July 1st!

By Loretta Houben

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Mary Ellen's new outfit for summer!

Today I had occasion to travel downtown on an errand, and I was near the American Girl doll boutique. I can never pass up a chance to stop in, and I had money burning a hole in my pocket. My parents gave me a generous cash gift for my birthday last week. I've had my eye on Mary Ellen's flamingo bathing suit ensemble ever since it came out. 

It costs $42 Canadian plus tax, so it isn't cheap, but you get 5 pieces for that cost. I think it's one of the cutest things ever made! I'm very partial to Mary Ellen and she now has quite a wardrobe. 

Besides the darling flamingo print bathing suit, which is smocked in the back and fits very well, there is a pair of cute sunglasses, a pink hair ribbon, and the CUTEST flamingo sand pail!

There's also an adorable pair of sandals. I just love it all!

Now Mary Ellen needs to find a pool and a cold drink and she will be all set for the hot weekend ahead!

By Loretta Houben

Monday, June 19, 2017

Hummel pictures in the doll room.

A few months ago I bought these darling hand stitched prints at a local thrift store. They were in old ratty frames, but I quickly removed them and transferred them to Dollarama store frames. (only $2 each)
Then they sat for a while in a pile, waiting to be put up.
I had just the right spot for them near the window beside the closet.
It takes me ages to get a project done lately, and I don't know why. I'm very pleased once it's done!
I think the pictures look perfect.
I love Hummel prints.

By Loretta Houben

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Mini Grace in London, England

Our 2nd day in London we visited the Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood at Bethnal Green. It was moved here in 1872 from South Kensington. It's a lovely museum with 2 floors of beautifully displayed toys through the centuries. 
Grace was delighted with the doll house and miniature displays.

Grace had never before seen such a neat miniature butcher shop, and neither had I!

Another doll house. One could spend hours staring at all the miniatures.

A view of the museum in 1872.

A view of the museum in 2017!
There is a cafe on the bottom floor and a gift shop.
All museums in London are FREE and this one is well worth the visit.

By Loretta Houben

Mini Grace visits Europe!

Mini Grace was the lucky one chosen to come along with me when I recently paid a visit to Europe from May 17 - June 2, to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary.
It's a little difficult getting a mini doll to come out clear in photos, because you really need 3 hands! So hubby often helped. The pic above shows Grace in the evening on May 25 in a lane we walked down after supper in Oxford. I really wish we had stayed more than one night here, as by the time we came from Dublin on a 2 hour ferry, and then all the way to Oxford by train, it was 4 pm! It was very warm that evening.

One of the highlights of Paris was visiting the Musee de la Poupee down a quiet back lane in the middle of the bustling city. It felt very calm and safe there. It was enjoyable. It cost 8 euros each; not bad. All the 4 rooms of doll displays were very lovely. The museum will be permanently closing on Sept 15, 2017, so I'm glad we got to see it.

We checked out the beautiful but too expensive Layfeyette Galleries in Paris. Grace remembered to wear her Paris dress.

Here is Grace on a bicycle just her size in a very nice shop in Maastricht, Netherlands. Grace does get around!
I'll upload more photos in another post.

By Loretta Houben

Friday, May 12, 2017

Blue Chatty Cathy dresses.

I haven't posted on this blog in ages.
You can blame it on "life"!
My Dad has been quite ill with kidney stones, so I was distracted for a while with that process.
He's doing better now so it's back to the dolls!
In one of my Facebook groups for Chatty Cathy, there is a photo op for dolls in blue dresses. I found this one above from 2004, when I used to sew a lot for the dolls.
I made these two dresses. I sold them at a retreat I attended in El Paso, Texas that June.

Here is my original Chatty Cathy doll I got in 1964.
I still have her. She's the star of my collection!
She is wearing a robins egg blue Canadian dress, which I got from a guy at my Dad's work; his little girl gave away her toys when she was finished, so my Dad would bring home large boxes of stuff which we just loved.
I had this dress for a long time before I realized what exactly it was! It's actually quite valuable.
I don't have the Canadian apron though.
The stroller was a 5th birthday present in 1965.
All my toys are now antiques.

By Loretta Houben

Monday, April 17, 2017

A spring garden party!

Today was spring cleaning in one corner of the bedroom. Ever since last fall the camper had been stored away. Today it was time to get it out again, as Spring is here. And dolls are able to camp in the rain, so I dusted it off and set it up.

Here are my two Heart for Hearts dolls which have never been played with. They took over the camper and love it! I opened the Our Generation garden party set I'd bought last fall. It has butterfly cookies! There was a butterfly flag from last summer, and a few little butterflies.

My husband and I visited the Victoria Butterfly Gardens on April 3 this year, on our 35th anniversary. I absolutely loved that place! Here is one of the beautiful butterflies I saw.

It was fun to set up a doll adventure on a corner of the window seat in our bedroom; I hope to change the display each month.

By Loretta Houben