campfire cutie finally found!

I’ve been on the lookout for Our Generation’s Campfire Cutie outfit since it came out. I really wanted that plaid shirt. It was funny to me that American Girl’s boy Logan comes in a t with plaid shirt over it. I wanted to try this plaid on Thomas.

 

Thomas’ cargo pants are from a random retailer as are his boots. They may have come from Antina’s eons ago but I can’t remember. His shirt is not labeled Corolle but it came from a French department store Corolle section almost 20 years ago. My kids had just gotten their American Girl dolls (of which Thomas was one of them) and we didn’t have the dolls with us but purchased on faith that it would be a close fit. Somewhere there is also a light yellow one. I am still so happy they fit!

Out of the box, you can really see how much is in this set – a great value even at the full price of $17.99. In addition to the plaid shirt, you get denim look leggings, boots, a guitar, two smores, a pack of jumbo marshmallows and a stick with a marshmallow and hot dog. Before you think it, no, there’s nothing that hot dog goes with but my daughter determined that the hole in it is smaller than the marshmallow so it’s entire purpose seems to be to keep the marshmallow on the stick.

Thomas was originally a PC Kirsten. As such, his tummy and bum are a little fuller than modern Mattel AG counterparts. OG clothes are often slightly smaller than AG clothes too. I could absolutely use this shirt unbuttoned if I had to. And yes! These are REAL BUTTONS with BUTTONHOLES. How awesome is that?

I do think the shirt is a little snug. Gen popped over to offer her opinion. “I think it fits ok but it would look better on me!”

“I think the rest of the outfit looks great on you, Gen!” Thomas told her.

Gen’s shirt is part of a dance outfit from My Life As (Walmart). The set does not appear on the website right now. It went over something; it wasn’t intended to be worn as a crop top with a wide neck showing. It looks ok to me but not really child play spectacular.

Thomas, being a gentleman, offered Gen a smore. She was delighted.

Suyin popped over to see what all the fuss was. Gen talked Thomas into letting her try on the plaid shirt.

“It looks great!” Thomas told her.

I do think the shirt will fit the newer AGs better. Since the colors do go with Thomas’ blue shirt, I should have tried it over that but didn’t think of it until I saw these photos later (although I think his blue shirt is longer). I am impressed that Gen’s feet fit in these boots with no issues. The leggings also have good coverage.

We had an intruder come check out the accessories. He loved the hot dog. That’s why it’s there! (The bear is a Valentine’s day stuffy from Target. He came with a small box of candy around his neck).

Suyin went to help get the tea ready. Everyone else settled in for a photo. Gen said she might have to learn how to play the guitar because it’s so cute. Our bear friend joined us too!

Gen invited Thomas to tea but he thought it would be more fun to hang with the bear. I mean, how often does one get to hang with a bear?

tea and cupcakes

This weekend I sent an invitation to Xyra and the gang from Tea Time with Melody Q to see who was free to join Gen and Suzi for tea while I got the dolls out of their boxes. Luckily, Xyra, Kaya and Lea were available!

Gen checks to make sure everyone has enough sweets to go with their tea. I used a set of 4 cupcake erasers from the Valentine’s Dollar Section at Target along with the paper mochi I made for Hinamatsuri. The other thing you may see on the plate are red foil hearts meant to simulate chocolates. Xyra and I ate the chocolates with our tea then I crumpled the wrappers into doll size treats.

My daughter and I found this darling ladybug tea set at Home Goods last fall. Personally, I use a giant mug for tea instead of pretty cups most of the time.

Lea and Kaya got to taste three teas which Xyra will post more about soon. (Check Tea Time with Melody Q for the posts)

Here’s a better view of our treats. How did we do? Is this a nice assortment for tea?

The girls stood on one side of the table for a group photo of new friends. Kaya, Gen, and Lea look like they’ve heard something in the tea pot. Only Suzi looked up for the camera. Oh, well. Dollies will be dollies.

two new dolls

Happy Monday, Dollings!

This weekend I finally got a chance to let my new friends out of their boxes. On the left we have American Girl Truly Me Number 54 and on the right, Our Generation Suyin.

I took #54 out of her box first because I thought it would be easier. It was. No hairnet and the neck and ankles were wrapped with plastic foam under the strapping.

Our Generation doll boxes have an insert that slides out. The neck and ankles are secured with zip ties that you must cut carefully to release the doll.

Both dolls stand pretty well. Suyin is a little off balance right out of the box but putting her one arm back balances her nicely. Suyin comes with a beautiful light pink coat. I took it off to see her dress which is also lovely. Suyin is a non poseable (aka regular) doll from OG. She has the same points of articulation as an American Girl. Oh, yes, her eye sticks. I have found this with a few OG dolls; they do loosen up over time with play (movement).

Skivvies test! I removed both dresses and shoes and Suyin’s tights. Suyin’s undies are definitely more bikini’s but I am still glad to see them included on her. #54’s look at little lumpy here for some reason. I was not clever enough to get a picture of their backsides in their own undies.

Undie swap! As you can see, #54’s undies seem to fit Suyin better than her own. Suyin’s bikini’s look good on #54 too.

Suyin is still doing well backside with the Truly Me undies; on both dolls, the bikini underwear is not full enough cut for their bums.

Suyin’s dress, tights and shoes fir #54 well. The Truly Me outfit and shoes also fit Suyin well. The colors aren’t anymore flattering to Suyin that they were to #54. Consensus was that we just really don’t like this Truly Me outfit. The shoes really don’t go except for the little bit of embroidery near the shoulder which feels like an afterthought. If it weren’t for the gold in Suyin’s dress (next to the white dots are gold dots), I would say the AG shoes go better with the OG dress. (The AG shoes have big silver dots on the toes).

“Try the jacket!” Suyin suggested. Now, I bet you were expecting it not to fit over #54’s hands (so was I). I was pleasantly surprised that it did.

I think this jacket looks great on #54! I guess we should stop calling her #54 too. Meet Gen Chen! She is named after my sister’s friend. Her full first name is Genevieve.

Overall, the price points for OG are much fairer than AG which we all already know. The wig on the Our Generation doll crimped in packaging (I’ll try a hot water treatment) but the hair feels soft like a PC AG. I had to trim Gen’s bangs and she had constant flyaways so I’m not that impressed with the AG wigs lately.

The dolls have the same limited range of motion and both sit goofy because of their hip joints. They can’t do much but sit still and look pretty.

I will do separate posts on each doll later so you can see their uniquenesses. (Yes, I made up that word). I really enjoy Suyin’s face sculpt. I wish OG would choose different vinyl colors though. Several of their skin tones photograph out to yellow orange and not very natural looking. Then again, AG tends to pull flat or beige in photos so eh, whatcha gonna do?

While I was taking photos of our new friends, we were also hosting a tea party. Come back tomorrow for that post!

Preview:

“Call me Suzi,” Suyin told Gen, “everyone else does.”

Peter Rabbit

I think when you get on a book kick, you stay on a book kick. 🙂

With Easter approaching, what’s more appropriate than the tale of a mischievous bunny?

I found several sites with Peter Rabbit book images with the text. (Source Credit is given in the pdf).

My printable pdf is formatted for standard copy paper (8.5 by 11 inches). You can use the Momotaro post for additional instructions on assembling the book. Your finished book will be 1.5 inches by 1 inch.

I did add fold lines since the edges of this book are ALL WHITE. The blue lines are the outside folds, the red are the inside. You probably don’t really need the red lines since you want to fold all the blue lines first then fold them to meet each other (you never really see the red lines to be able to fold them).

One tip is to check that you’ve cut off any red or blue lines before final assembly or they will be very noticeable (such as on the tape tabs and front and back covers).  Also, it is a little tricky to cut the sections apart since the edges are white. If you don’t want to eyeball it, remember that each printed row is 1.5 inches high so when cutting them apart, each separated section is 1.5 wide; you can measure and mark with a pencil if you want.

Mini Kit was our model (above) but this size book is also suitable as a “pocket” book for 18 inch dolls. (Peter Rabbit books were originally sized for children’s small hands so the scale works!).

Find the pdf printable here: Peter Rabbit book

the power of a paper doll

Another Hinamatsuri tradition includes floating a straw or paper doll down the river in certain areas of Japan which symbolizes a protection for the image of the person the doll represented. In other words, you make a doll that looks you then you would rub it over your body to pick up anything bad you needed to get rid of (early ju-ju?) then float it away on a tiny boat for a prosperous year.

There are a very obvious problems with this tradition even in modern Japan where the tiny boats/dolls get stuck in fishing nets so now, the dolls are floated away but someone then goes and collects them all, takes them to the temple and burns them to release the bad ju-ju.

Having grown up in Phoenixville (PA) and spent my childhood summers in Ashville (OH and yes really!), I am very familiar with the power of fire for cleansing, rebirth and new chances.

There are lots of fancy ways you could make a paper doll model of yourself. Here are a couple fun websites where you can turn yourself into a Powerpuff Girl like this:

Or a Disney character like this:

I decided a plainer backdrop would be easier to cut out…

So I am going to cut this out and … we’ll see. I don’t know that I need to float away or burn just now (beyond a bath with candles). 😉

Powerpuff Yourself

Disney Yourself

There are also lots of hinamaturi related paper doll printables out there for personal use on pinterest and Google if you’re motivated.

What are you going to do today?

a peach boy for girl’s day!

Hinamatsuri (which means Doll Festival) is not just about dolls. It is also referred to as Momo no sekku which means Peach Festival. On the lunar calendar, March is peach blossom season.

My absolute favorite fairy tale growing up was the story of Momotaro. His legend has him springing forth as a baby from a giant peach found in the river by his poor elderly (adoptive) mother who, with her husband, had wished for a child. Momotaro is also a warrior of virtue and justice. Plus he has a dog, a monkey and a bird for best friends so really, what isn’t to love about this tale? (For an easily read aloud version, go here: https://www.candlelightstories.com/2011/03/13/peach-boy-a-folktale-from-japan/ Their audio version is a bit dreary but there is one on this link too).

My dollies love to read so I decided to make them their own copy of Momotaro. Baxley Stamps has some wonderful versions up online including the 1911 (& 1940 reprint) version as well as a Swedish version (that I couldn’t resist having a dear friend who is Swedish). There is also an excellent write up of how books were bound at the time. I highly encourage you to read through the text when you have time.

To make your own book, you’ll need to print out this handy PDF:

Momotaro

I’m going to caution that I used 11 x 17 paper because it required less taping. Home printers likely aren’t going to accommodate that. A copy center will be able to print the single page for you relatively inexpensively or your local library may have a printer/copier that can handle the larger size paper (standard is 8.5 by 11). If that doesn’t work for you, drop me a line and I will reformat to the standard size for you (or if you’re not in the US and need a different size paper, let me know!).

Before we start cutting, let’s fold things so all our pages are even.

Fold the panel with the cover (the first image)back so you can see it using the edge from the rest of the paper to line up your fold on the top and bottom of the sheet.

We’re going to fold all the outer edge seams first so we need to skip a panel and fold up again. Repeat this until you have folded every other edge. It looks like this now:

To fold the inside seams, use your outside seams as the “edge” folding each “inside” by meeting the two “outside” seams towards each other. When you’ve done them all, it looks like a simple fan fold:

Now we need to separate the sections. I used scissors. An exacto knife, straight edge and cutting mat would be ideal to maintain your size but scissors worked (your book is formatted to 2 inches wide by 3 inches tall). Using the photo below as your guide, separate the sections by rows. Try to keep them in order or use this photo for reference again later! Trim off the extra paper on the top and bottom only for now (as shown)

To connect the sections, use the excess white on your edges by folding them over to create another seam. Fold one in and one out so you can overlap them,

align and secure (with tape or glue, I used tape). Repeat this for the third row.

The front cover also has excess white before it. That’s ok. Fold that around towards the back and secure it (with tape or glue) to the back leaving the back cover free (sorry, I apparently missed that step in the photos).

To hide that white strip, wrap the back cover around (trim the spine to width if your paper is thinner than mine). You can see here that my spine ended up shorter than my book. That happens. I trimmed the bottom edge of the book carefully with scissors at the stage.

Next we need to secure the spine. No more extra book now!

I used regular Scotch tape. I find that if you lay the tape flat and set the book on it, it’s easier to align. I’m showing that here using the edge of my desk. Once I had it aligned on the tape (extra above or below the book is ok, you can trim off extra tape after the book is together) so the tape would go past the spine (so it makes contact with the front cover), I pressed down on the book and carefully rolled the tape up around the spine and front of the book to secure it.

I then used both hands (only one shown, guess where the other one was) to firmly press the spine down on my desktop to square out the spine.

This step isn’t required but it does make the spine look nice.

To show you the scale, here is the book with the tape dispenser. I think they make a lovely couple.

Did you know the story of Momotaro? What do you think of a baby hatching from a peach?

printable wagashi

Hina Matsuri is approaching faster than I want again this year! Last year, I had the best of intentions to make some hishimochi out of clay for my dollies. That clay is still sitting in the wrappers in the clay drawer but hey, at least I bought it (one step closer).

I wanted the dollies to have something for Friday so I started thinking about what I could do with the time I have between now and then and it hit me … do a printable!

WARNING: This printable is a full out craft.

I used white cardstock. I recommend using a thick paper or cardstock. You could also draw these shapes and colors out for yourself if you don’t have a printer.

The first printable is for hishimochi, a traditional tri-colored rice flour dessert for hina matsuri. To make them, use the printable pdf at the end of this post and follow these instructions. Cut where blue lines are in sample. Soft fold (lightly crease with fingers, do not press the folds) the tri colored sides and pink tabs so you have what is basically a box top with the pink section. Continue soft folding the tri colored sides around the pink tabs taping or gluing as you go around. Tuck the extra tri colored sides into the alternate side and secure (with tape or glue). Enjoy!

I did try these as boxes instead of open bottomed and they look sloppier. You can try it for yourself by leaving an equal amount of white to the pink under the lower striped piece if you want, just be sure to give yourself a tab(s) to secure the bottom.

The second printable is for suama, another rice based mochi dessert. This is not for the mildly skilled or easily frustrated. I’m sorry about that. I encourage you to try it but not beat yourself up if it’s not for you.

See, it already looks complicated, doesn’t it? This one is both incredibly simple and awesomely frustrating. The first thing you want to do it cut out each shape with lots of space around it remaining. Before you start trimming the piece, you need to make two hard creased folds (shown in red). (Note: This is not obviously easy. I had to practice. Print out a few extra for yourself just in case. Once you’ve got it – you’ve got it. The first one can be a doozy! Stay with it and you’ll be fine).

Next, cut around the entire outside of the shape starting with the curves. You need to cut the “inside” sides of the curves to continue all the way to your fold lines on their respective sides. Then you can cut the straight outer sides and lop off the extra pink end left as a folding guideline. (The photo does not show the curves cut first but trust me, do it that way).

Fold at both ends of the curves to create the curved parts as the “face” sides of your treat (shown in yellow, do not fold any of the curved part that has become like a tab).  On either side of your folds, you now have a skinny tab (indicated here on one side by the green bracket). You need to fringe that so it will tuck in when you bend it around the curved tabs. Straight cuts to the fold work but I found that tiny triangles worked better because of the limited space. Do whatever works for you!

Next, flatten out the fringe and roll the piece between your fringe around the curved tabs. (I could not take a photo and hold the piece but I found it worked best to use both hands to create a gentle curve by smoothing the paper over my thumb).  You will have extra paper and that’s ok. I tried this multiple times and depending on how you cut, this piece is not going to always be the same length so you intentionally have extra! Fold the extra bit while you have things marked and cut it off. You’re now ready to assemble your treat.

Fold the fringe all in, wrap it so the curved tabs are OUTSIDE this time and secure the bottom to the piece you have curved around (with either tape or glue making sure to hold your piece if you are using something that has drying time!). To secure the curved tabs to the fringe, you can use glue or I found that a single long skinny piece of tape (I used regular old Scotch tape in a strip that I cut to eliminate the texture from the tape dispenser’s edge as well as cutting in half widthwise) over the top only secures the entire piece. (Note: if you have too much extra “face” pieces, you can trim them with a scissor).

Here are my sequential attempts (front to back). I started out with a fading design but it didn’t look as good so I ultimately just switched to a solid color.

If I haven’t totally lost you, here’s the pdf.

Printable Wagashi for Hinamatsuri

(Wagashi are Japanese confections. Mochi are made with rice flour.)

holiday haul

At the end of last year, I obtained two lots of AG stuff from ebth. My sister kindly hand washed it all for me for Christmas. I spent under a $100 for everything including shipping (which I’m pleased with. You have to decide for yourself what something is worth to you).

Photo One – Classic Doll’s Clothes

clockwise from top left:

Molly’s Robe w tie

Kirsten’s Housecoat

Kirsten’s Nightgown

Samantha’s Middy Dress

Samantha’s Nightgown

Samantha’s Robe

Molly’s Pajama Pants

middle from left to right:

Molly’s Skirt

Kirsten’s Bloomers

Photo Two – American Girl of Today and GOTY Jess’ Clothes

IMG_6168 b

by row from left to right starting in the upper left

Top Row:

Jacket, pants, striped shirt from the First Day Outfit (2nd Meet Outfit)

T from the In-line Gear Outfit

Rashguard and Tankini from Jess’ 2-in-1 Kayaking Outfit

Bikini, Hooded Robe and Pink Skirt from the Seaside Wardrobe

Next to bottom row:

as yet identified Green Shorts (possibly Bitty)

Purple Backback from the School Gear Set

as yet identified frilly pink skirt with mesh underlay (from the Jess lot)

Pink Shorts from Jess’ 2-in-1 Kayaking Outfit

Madeline’s Pajamas (not American Girl)

Bottom row:

Molly’s shorts from her Tennis Outfit

Bitty Baby Red Gingham Sun Hat

Knit/crochet booties (could be Bitty)

purple bloomers (probably Bitty)

While most sets are not complete, there were books, shoes and accessories as well. I confess, I packed up the non-clothes and I’m not sure where I put them. But I know you want to see them so here are the original sale photos from ebth. See what else you can make out!

my doll Friday – meet Rey

Meet Rey. Rey was a Christmas present from my clever daughter who ordered her from etsy a week before I sent her the link for the same item saying “something like this would be nice.” She kept the secret to herself until Christmas morning.

Rey is a customized Springfield doll. Her costume is a fantastic match to Star Wars’ Rey character. The staff arrived broken (as shown) but has since been replaced with a fresh one from the seller.

The outfit is extraordinarily well done.

With the full hooded cape and mask on, Rey looks really sharp.

You can’t see the doll’s face but I think this is my favorite shot.

The mask fits her face well.

I think Rey will be a fun addition to the doll house.

breaking up is hard to do

Happy Valentine’s Day, Dollings!

It’s that time of year to celebrate those you love and I want to let you all know how much I cherish the doll community especially YOU.

Unfortunately, this year, there’s something I needed to do to be whole for Valentine’s Day. That’s right, it was time to break up with an unhealthy relationship that left me angered, confused and quite bluntly, feeling betrayed. You know who I mean. Some of you are right here with me.

I am breaking up with Mattel’s American Girl dolls.

Our relationship had become very rocky since Mattel took over American Girl brand. Several things in the past week have made me realize just how unhealthy our relationship had become.

I tried to work it out. I let Mattel know that I wasn’t happy but the response I received felt like an automated customer service machine. I need to feel validated, not dismissed, when I have something to say in order to feel my relationship is healthy. That’s not unreasonable.

Several folks have posted about the new levels of low quality (check out: https://themouselair.com/2017/02/13/the-great-permapanty-debate/). I haven’t seen the flat out denials from Mattel that this isn’t their product but I have heard they’ve said that. I’ve been upset since the limbs changed to lower quality fasteners which will require more dolly hospital trips (Who remembers the Lindsey legs??? Have we learned nothing?). And then I heard that the doll hospital isn’t even addressing things well.

SO many rumors about my beloved!

Yes, I join others in not liking the permanent panty design. (see Flo’s post here: https://sayhellotomylittlefriends.wordpress.com/2017/02/10/the-protest/)

This isn’t just about panties to me though. AG brand quality has been going downhill since Mattel took over.

My worst fears that the rational behind all the changes is Mattel’s profit margin has been confirmed. This is their response to a Jezebel article on the panty uprising (original article here: http://jezebel.com/everyones-really-upset-that-they-cant-take-the-panties-1792137653)

I’m not a media genius but I have no reason to doubt this publication as genuine (aka not fake news as this would be way too much of a liability to publish). I have to question why, if the cost of doll making has gone up so exponentially, that we haven’t seen all doll brands spike in price since they aren’t reducing their quality. Maybe they didn’t include profit margin in their costs? Also, who did Mattel watch play? I’ve never seen a girl not strip a doll and brush her hair like crazy.

What does this mean, Mattel? I tried talking to you. I tried your changes. I wanted to adapt but I miss my American Girl brand. So, it’s over Mattel. I can’t do this anymore. I am letting you go.

When this came today (that’s right, I was a GOLD MEMBER of AG rewards), I clicked unsubscribe.

And I followed through with it. My next step, Facebook.

I’ve unliked you, AG. The new header was a nice touch but I won’t be visiting your website either. For the record, I told you before that I had concerns about the BeForever color selections and you stated the color choices were historically accurate. I’m just going to note that you may be right but just because something was available, doesn’t mean a child had access to it let alone an average child.

That brings me to another issue, one I secretly avoid discussing because it’s so much of a trigger.

You’re an elitist, American Girl. What I believe was once intended to be a toy of hope has become a symbol of greed and privilege.  As a consumer, I accept responsibility for my part this revelation. I think it’s important that I put it out there that I believe Pleasant Roland, AG’s founder, didn’t intend to make an elite toy. I think, like many dollmakers, she set out to make a great doll and I believe she did. I do not have any criticism that her toys were intended to be exclusionary and I believe her record speaks for itself. However, I have sharp criticism of the way things have been handled since Mattel took over.

How many times do I have to say it but why does the depression era Kit have more outfits than any other doll? Profitability, plain and simple. These are not my values. The whole perma-panties escalation genuinely makes me feel like Mattel is body shaming my dollies and children everywhere. I am not ok with that.

AG, I don’t want to be bitter. I want to remember the good times we had. Thank you for Saige, my first GOTY of my own (not my kids). Thank you for the Kirsten that became Thomas when my son wanted to play with his sisters and the memories of the hairdresser who had to answer questions all day while he sat and waited for me to pick him up without the kids seeing so he could be a Christmas surprise. Thank you for Nellie’s sisters who literally fell off a truck and were delivered by a stranger who saw the box fall off the truck, retrieved it, saw the label and HAND DELIVERED it because it was from American Girl and he knew how much it was going to mean to the child awaiting the Christmas package (they were my daughters last two dolls).  Thank you for the doll my daughter named after me.

I am going to cherish what we’ve had American Girl. You have meant a great deal to me and my family.

Here’s my checklist for breaking up with Mattel’s American Girl if you feel you need to be in a healthier relationship too.

Break-up Checklist

  1. Unfinished business: Use any AG giftcards you have (no point in throwing away money). Do not use coupons or enticements unless you have already spent money (use it with a giftcard-paid purchase).
  2. Communicate: Let AG know that you’re done and why in whatever format works for you (social media, email, snail mail).
  3. Disconnect: Unsubscribe, unlike, unfollow…however, you’re connected to the company, let go.
  4. Savor: Be proud of who you are and what made you that way including your dolls and your dreams. It’s still ok to enjoy AG. If you still want to shop, there are many secondary markets available now for older items. New releases will eventually trickle down to the secondary market as well (check your sellers out first always!).
  5. Heal: Acknowledge your priorities, accept limitations, believe in your convictions and values. Don’t chastise yourself for staying informed if you want to keep up. Don’t feel like you’re obligated to do anything you aren’t comfortable with. Utilize your friends in the doll community for support and support them as well.
  6. Move on: Catalog your own collection yourself or on Dollation. Learn more about other products. Make more. Play more!