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  • Writer's pictureDonna Brown

New year’s resolutions, a doll collection and more

Donna Brown

Another year has come and gone. Left behind were broken hearts and amazing memories. Celebrities died and were remembered with tributes and tears. Homeless people died without a passing thought from others. Babies were born in gleaming hospitals to doting parents and babies were born in squalor or left abandoned. Some pets were pampered with affection and love, while other pets were neglected or worse. People fell in love and others were left in disappointing solitude. Four college students were massacred in their sleep while others get to live long productive lives.

These are things that can be changed. Each one of us can make 2023 a little better than 2022 if we approach every day, every action we take with compassion and kindness. Believe me, this is personally difficult. I seem to overextend myself, take on too much, and then rush through life juggling and not giving 100 percent to any of my commitments. So, my New Year’s resolution is to slow down, think before I make plans so that each square on my calendar is not filled with scribbles of appointments and obligations. I want to wake up each day with the thought that I can make things better.

• • • • •

As I sat down at the computer, I asked my granddaughter what I should write about. Ellie said, “Write about collecting dolls.” I was never a doll collector. Sure, I have my Shirley Temple doll and Barbies from childhood, and a few hard plastic dolls from the 1950s that I have picked up at flea markets. Most of my vintage dolls I purchased in poor condition, spiffied them up and used them to illustrate articles I wrote for Antique Doll Collector magazine. I then resold the dolls on eBay.

A few years ago, Ellie decided that every doll I purchased became her possession and now my sewing room is overrun with dolls. Donny and Marie Osmond gaze down from a room length shelf above my sewing machine as Ginger, Toni, Miss Revlon and Chatty Cathy, with their fixed smiles, look on approvingly as I stitch. All in all, we have 124 vintage dolls and since I have been assigned several more articles an additional shelf may be needed.

If you still have your childhood dolls and would like to be featured in an upcoming magazine article, please get in touch with me. I would love to hear your childhood doll stories and use photos of you and your dolls in a future issue.

• • • • •

On my kitchen shelf is a tiny spiral recipe book that I have had since the 1969. The first recipe is of a cheesecake which uses two-and-a-half packages of cream cheese, a pint of sour cream and six eggs, separated. It is without a doubt the most delicious cheesecake I have ever tasted.

I decided to make one for my son’s birthday and my granddaughter Ellie helped me. All went well until we began to separate the eggs. We had a dozen eggs and three empty bowls to keep the yokes away from the whites that needed to be whipped. I explained to Ellie, an eight-year-old who is an expert egg cracker, how to separate the eggs. In theory it seemed my instructions were foolproof.

All went well until we got confused, broke a few yokes, lost count and had to start over. Believe me, you cannot get even a drop of yoke out of egg whites. We used up a dozen eggs to separate six and ended up with eight dirty bowls. The counter was covered in slime and there was more egg on Ellie’s hands than in the bowl’s, but we were laughing together the entire time. Life doesn’t get any better than that.

• • • • •

As we advance in age it becomes obvious that we have too much stuff. Nice stuff, sentimental stuff and stuff we can’t even identify. It is time to get rid of a lifetime of items or wait until we die, and our children will be burdened with the task of emptying our houses. Sometimes I think back to my 20s while living in a small apartment with sparse furnishings and empty kitchen cabinets. I now look around at my house of 43 years and wonder how I accumulated so much.

So, I went to where all women go to get great advice, Etsy, and searched tidying up. The best advice I found was to get rid of five things every day. They can be five small things. Clean out the mug that holds your pens and pencils. Sort through your sock drawer or medicine cabinet. Throw out junk mail immediately or pass on clothing you haven’t worn in a year. This is my second New Year’s resolution. May 2023 be your best year ever.

Donna Brown is a former Hammonton Middle School librarian and a columnist for The Gazette. To reach Donna Brown, send an email to


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