Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Hello / Goodbye

Today I have another introduction to my doll family- and a heavier post. I mentioned briefly in my last blog that I was feeling slightly inclined to purchase Tenney for a custom character because I am learning how to play guitar. Well, Tenney (new name to be determined), ended up joining my collection after all, but not for the reasons I had anticipated.



On April 10th, 2017 my adopted grandmother passed away unexpectedly at the age of 88. She was a German immigrant, born in Germany in 1929. She lived in Berlin during WWII and moved to the US following the end of the war to become a nanny. From her I learned a basic grasp of the German language, how to brave the jump from the diving board into the deep end, and the very important lesson of allowing yourself to indulge in a treat once in a while. (Even if that meant sneaking Krispy Kreme donuts from around the corner so your grandchildren didn't notice). She recounted her life history & memories to me, knowing that I adored and desired to know my family's history. 

My grandmother lived in Texas, and from the moment she stepped into my life she was forever 'grandma in Texas.' In fact, her last card to me was signed "Love always, your grandma in Texas." She loved the South- the music, the sunshine, the food... And Tenney reminded me of that. Tenney has come into my life at a time when I needed it the most. She has sat and kept me company while I recall and write down many memories with my grandma. When my family decided to forgo having a funeral or memorial service for her, Tenney was there to hug while I cried out my frustration. 

I lucked out as two of my three grandma's share/d my love of dolls with me. My grandma in Texas is the one who surprised me with Felicity's School Outfit and her Traveling Outfit. She always brought out her tiny replica cast iron stove for me to play with when I stayed overnight and brought Felicity. She encouraged my love of reading and bought me several American Girl books. My collection will always have a tie to her. 

Grief is fickle- it is unkind. I have found myself going from the edge of despair, to deep anger, and elated happiness all within the same day, hours even. I have the guiding hand of my counselor and the unwavering support of my wife. Time will continue to pass without my grandmother and during that time I will work through my grief and hold my memories dear. I am so very fortunate to have called her grandma and be adopted into her family. May she rest in peace. 



Wednesday, April 5, 2017

It's Spring, Finally.

And I mean it's finally spring. Minnesota is known for it's harsh winters, but even more brutal (at least to me) is the time between February and March. Why? Because it can be 60 degrees and sunny one day and 10 degrees and snowing the next. Those little teasers of spring make it so hard to stay positive! It's finally warming up here now and most of the winter snow is gone. These last couple of months I've still been struggling with low energy and chronic fatigue which has taken a toll on the time I used to spend interacting with my collection. I'm hoping that this beautiful weather will bring a blast of fresh energy with it! For now, here are a couple of updates on my end.

And finally an updated collection photo!
Most of the girls are dressed for spring time, except Felicity who received a surprise gift of the ribbon from her ribbons set that matches her school outfit so she's wearing that. My wife, who continues to be a well of support, bought me the gorgeous trunk the dolls are standing against to store most of them in. This means that I can access a good portion of my dolls and my hairstyling kit from the living room. I cannot begin to describe how nice this is in regards to my CFS. I'm finally spending more time with them! 

I also took Zosia, my #26, to go and get her hearing aids! I've seen them in store and have wanted to have a doll with them for a long time. I was pleasantly surprised to see how nice they sit on the doll and how durable they are. During this time she also received her gardening bench and outfit. Zosia is the gardener in my gang and I have waited and waited and waited to get these sets. Even better? It was on clearance! I was able to buy both items for way less than the gardening bench's original price.

She's an aspiring beekeeper!


My boycott of Tenney & Logan is still ongoing. I find myself weakening in that I'd like to have Tenney & her guitar, but with a completely different story. She may yet find a place with me, rid of her problematic story. We'll see... I've weakened mostly because I'll be taking guitar lessons in the near future, which is something I've always wanted to do. Then on a totally different note I find myself wanted to narrow down my collection to 5 dolls and their collections... Hahaha. I find that this is not only something I struggle with, a lot of collectors go between wanting a bigger collection and a smaller collection. I have to find some way of feeling content in the meantime. 

Lastly, I found someone who was willing to create a version of Caroline's Battle Dress for me! I've loved that dress since I first saw it on the cover of her book and still am amazed that American Girl never made it an official part of her collection. Caroline's time period fascinates me, both the history and the fashion, so I'm always happy to add something for her.

Isn't it wonderful?
That's about it for now! Hope you all are having a wonderful spring!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

When life knocks you down

After a long hiatus I am back! Between the holidays and my birthday (January 15th) things were remarkably busy and I was unable to post as much as I would have liked to. Most of that was because of good things, for instance, my mom receiving her Julie for Christmas! Julie already has built up quite the wardrobe, and even made an appearance at my birthday lunch at AGPMOA. To say my mom loves her would be an understatement.

Celebrating my 26th birthday at the Mall of America
Anyone want to take a guess at my birthday gift? I received Gabriela, the 2017 Girl of the Year! I adore her collection and have really enjoyed the bit of her story that I've read so far. I love that we've finally received an African American GOTY. I'm slowly accumulating her collection and plan to have it mostly complete by the end of the year. Gabi needs her stuff! That being said I am also participating in the boycott against Tenney Grant & Logan. I'm very disappointed that AG would finally release a DOC GOTY and then little more than a month later release a fully fleshed out white character with sidekick and extravagant collection. Not to mention Logan's use of the Kaya mold which makes me more than infuriated. Nope. I will not stand for them overshadowing Gabriela like this. Another example that they think DOCs will not sell.

Ahem, that all being said Gabriela is FABULOUS and everyone should take the time to check her out and let AG know that she deserves more.

"I'm Gabriela and I deserve better,"

Two more updates until I get to the part of my post I intended to write on. After a long time trying to bond with Kanani she is off to a new home. Buyer tells me that it's her daughter's dream doll so I have a feeling she's going to be really loved. With the funds from selling Kanani I was finally able to bring home Maryellen. She's been on my wishlist for a long time and I knew I needed to pick her up before this perma-undie situation takes effect. I lucked out and got one with neck strings too! I'm currently reading her mystery and cannot wait to add to her collection.

Maryellen- bringing comfort and spontaneity to my home.
Life hasn't been great lately. A huge factor in that is the election- I'm a Jewish lesbian. Things are frightening. I have a right to be scared, no matter what friends (or family) might say. My wife has seen swastikas carved into the trees outside of her work. I've lost friends and family over this election because I've truly seen where their priorities lie- In keeping their closed off white worlds protected. They've basically told me such. This has been highly stressful and I know I'm not the only one going through this. Heck, I have white privilege and cis privilege- I cannot imagine what other communities are feeling and experiencing. I've been doing the best to make my voice heard and listen when it's my turn to listen. I marched in the Women's March, I marched against the refugee ban- I need to make it clear where I stand. I will not tolerate any hate on my page.



In addition to that I've been struggling with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, otherwise known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I'm finally seeing a rheumatologist for the first time next Friday. My doctor has been incredibly supportive and finally got me into see them after running every test in the book with no answers. In the last two years I've gone from a 24 year old who was highly active to a 26 year old who can barely work a full work week. My social life has all but disappeared and my work is suffering. I go to work, prop myself up to do whatever I can, and I lie down from the moment I get home until I go back to work in the morning. I get out of breath and have to sit down when I'm showering or cooking. Last week was my first week working all 5 days in 2 months. I'm watching my independence just shrivel away. It sucks. I'm still grappling with it. That's the main reason I've been gone from here and instagram. I have no energy and I miss it incredibly. Hopefully I'll have some semblance of an answer after my appointment. I can hope at least.

Sometime soon I hope to cover the upcoming spring release. My first arrival Felicity is semi making her way out of retirement and there's a lot to cover there. Hope you all are having a good start to the year.

Shannon

Monday, December 5, 2016

December, already?

Isn't it amazing how the holiday season can sneak up on you? Every year I find myself saying, "Well only 364 days until the next holidays." Somehow it still manages to surprise me every year. So here I am, realizing that I haven't put up a blog post in a while!

So what am I looking forward to this holiday season? Hanukkah & Christmas, both of which my wife and I celebrate. Putting all of my girls in their holiday best, which I think will be the subject of my next post here. Most of all I am excited for what I've dubbed the Great Christmas Surprise. I've mentioned it before over on Instagram, but last year we gifted Maryellen to my grandma. She grew up in the 50's and has fallen in love with her entire collection. It was such a treat being able to share American Girl with my grandma in a whole new way. My mom is the other person who started my love of AG and for the last two years there is no doll she has wanted more than Julie Albright. She grew up in the 70's and shares the same love of funky colors, banana bikes and Dr. Scholl's sandals. Every visit to AG Place she'll admire Julie and then set her down saying there's no way my dad would understand spending that on a doll for herself.

I'm guessing you can see where this is going?

I decided to test her hunch and called my dad who agreed that my mom needed a Julie of her own. After I quick search on eBay I was happy to find a Julie in our price range who was a former clothes model for an Etsy shop. She was in great condition- confirmed at her arrival. After a quick fix of her braid and dressing her up in her retired Dog Walking Outfit she is now ready and waiting under my Christmas tree. I think the waiting is hardest for me! I cannot wait to see the look on my mom's face when she realizes we all went in and got Julie for her. I think it's going to be a magical day.

Shannon

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween!

Today is the BIG DAY- it's Halloween! Tied for first place with Hanukkah & Christmas as my favorite holiday(s). I can never decide, but I've learned to accept it. Last week I promised a special review post and I'm happy to follow through on that. Today I'll be reviewing a regency ballgown created by Elizabeth over at Pemberley Threads on Etsy. Her shop specializes in historical and fantasy clothing for 18" dolls.


The Regency era includes some of my favorite fashions, so I immediately knew that I wanted this outfit for Caroline. I've been looking at ways to supplement her collection since her retirement. The outfit includes the dress, a necklace, and a ribbon headband.

The necklace is threaded with gold seed beads and has a jeweled pendant hanging in the center. It fastens with a lobster clasp. There are two main things I love about this piece. One, that it accents the outfit without looking gaudy. There have been plenty of bejeweled items offered by AG, a lot of them too big or too cheap looking. Felicity's Gala Gown monstrosity is the first item that comes to mind here. Two, it is the perfect length for this outfit. Necklaces that are either too short or too long for the outfit they go with is another pet peeve of mine. An example is the pearl necklace that comes with Cecile's Special Day outfit. This necklace avoids being both of these things and thus earns a solid A from me.

The headband is pretty straightforward. It's comprised of a black and gold ribbon twisted around each other and banded with elastic on one side. You have to monkey with it a little to get the colors and twist sitting right, but otherwise the elastic keeps it secure and it's easy to get on and off. It's a beautiful accent and I like it. A.

The dress itself is a black silk ballgown and a sheer net overlay. The dress fastens with snaps, which I have to say is so nice when dealing with Caroline's hair. No matter how careful I am it always finds a way to the velcro on her other outfits. The sheer layer features a dotted print as well as elbow length sleeves and a train with hand sewn beading. The bottom of the sheer layer is sewn with a gold trimming. I have no other words for it- it's intricate, it's gold, it trims the gown. I'm sure there's an actual word for what it is. Needless to say it is beautiful and really brings this dress to another level. I actually sat drifting Caroline over my coffee table to see how the train 'moved' with her. The colors of this dress are gorgeous and perfect for Fall, the handiwork is incredible. This is a piece that will definitely hold up in the hands of a collector. A+.

The bottom line? I couldn't be happier with this outfit. It's a safe bet that Caroline will stay in it until it's time to change into her holiday dress. I cannot recommend Pemberley Threads enough and already have my eye on some of her other offerings.

Hope you all enjoy this Halloween!

Shannon



Monday, October 24, 2016

Meet the new addition: Willa James

It's hard to believe it's been over a month since I last posted. Things have been pretty busy on my end. We spent half of the last month assisting in moving my mother in law and the second half moving ourselves. While I'm farther away from an AGP, I am closer to the city and that makes me happy. It also helps that our new apartment has huge windows and fantastic lighting for indoor photographs.

If it wasn't already obvious, the past couple of weeks were incredibly stressful. In addition I've been seeing a therapist for the first time since college to start the hard work on my anxiety, depression and PTSD. (I'm going to take a quick moment to say that it is so important to spread awareness on mental illness and there is no shame in seeking help.) This leg work has left me exhausted and has been bringing forward memories and feelings I've been locking up for a long time.

During this time I saw that a fellow collector was selling her #49. This doll has been on my wishlist for some time, and so today I am introducing Willa James Hart! She is the closest to being a mini-me personality wise. Her interests include Disney, reading, catching up on her favorite TV shows, fairy tales, history, and Harry Potter. Right now her and I are both enjoying anything to do with zombies- we even started watching the Walking Dead last night. She is the dancer in my group of girls. Three words to describe her would be introverted, studious, and passionate. I'm thrilled to have her in my gang and thankful that I could give her a second home within the AG collectors community.

You'll be seeing more of me! 

That's all for now, but I hope to be back this week with a special post for Halloween featuring Caroline. Hope you all are having a wonderful start to this fall season!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The long awaited introduction

Kirsten was my vinyl friend of choice on my wedding day. 
Okay, so this hasn't been a long awaited introduction for all of you, but it has for me! I've been collecting dolls for about 4 years now. I starting by collecting Monster High and Ever After High dolls, but sold my collection and transitioned over to American Girl collecting in the last 2 years. My collection currently stands at 15 American Girl dolls, 1 Wellie Wishers, and my very first A Girl for All Time is in the post office as I write this. My main reason for collecting is much like anyone else- I enjoy it! But my dolls also play an important part in assisting me when I'm having a bad bout of anxiety or depression. I'm very open about these struggles and I'm sure they'll be mentioned at times throughout the course of this blog.

Now more about me. I'm 25 years old and currently reside in Minneapolis, MN. I frequent the American Girl Place at Mall of America enough that they know me by name now. I have a degree in American History, the love of which was definitely fueled by Felicity and her stories. She was my first doll and true childhood companion, I cannot even tell you how many hours I spent pouring over her collection in the catalogs. I am an avid reader and spend more time than I'd like to admit watching an assortment of TV shows. My other interests include knitting, checking out local museums, and playing video games.

This blog has been an idea in my mind for the longest time, but a lot of different reasons have kept me from creating it. The biggest factor was time. For the last year I have been working two jobs alongside my wife. It's been hectic and doesn't leave much room for personal time. I knew that if I were to create a blog while juggling those commitments that I would put a lot of pressure on myself to tend to it. I didn't want this to be an endeavor that I felt like I was forcing myself to do. The other factor was indecisiveness. I honestly could not figure out what I would write about; reviews, history, observations? Needless to say I've realized that that doesn't really matter. This is a blog of my own making and it can take whatever form I'd like it to.

So what am I going to focus on? I'm going to use this blog to write about my personal collection. It's going to be a record of what I add, reviews of what I own, and observations as new items are released. I'm excited to see where it'll take me and how it will create a new connection between my dolls and I. So thanks for joining me and feel free to comment. I love hearing from fellow AG enthusiasts.

Shannon