Thursday, June 29, 2017

A Late Spring Cleaning

Finally the rough spring is over and summer has begun! I'll be honest, summer is pretty low on my list of favorite seasons. I don't do well in the heat and a minor sun allergy makes being outside troublesome. Nonetheless summer brings some of my favorite things; Pride, camping, and American Girl releases! Last week AG debuted the first of two summer releases and this one was strictly about the moddies, contemporary characters (minus Z), and Wellie Wishers. I am happy to say that I loved this release. American Girl has stepped it up a few notches this time, though I still will give them some points off for not including anything for Z.
Zosia & Sawyer have hit it off!
Like many other collectors I am in love with the new meet. I ended up bringing home TM #69. She is the new TM classic mold, brown eyes, and wavy dark brown hair. She's one in a line of many white TM dolls, but her middle part, eyes and hair are a combination I wanted for my moddies. She is going to take the place of Willa, my #49 who I have been unable to bond with. That will complete my moddie group of Meiko (#54), Zosia (#26), and Sawyer (#69). Between the three of them they will share all of my modern AG clothing, besides the outfits that belong to named GOTY.

So much in love with this outfit. Gabi is going to wear it forever, haha. 
The other things that made up my must have list were the new Travel in Style outfit, Gabriela's Take Flight outfit, Wellie Wishers Firefly Nightgown, and Wellie Wishers Outdoors Overalls. I hope to do more detailed reviews on each outfit later, but for now I will say that all of the outfits are beyond cute and I am very happy with the overall quality. I also picked up the new TM meet accessories and they are the best yet! They mix n' match perfectly with the new meet outfit and create a ton of options to style the doll. Definitely worth the price.

Sawyer + accessories.
My current taskat hand has been doing a 'spring cleaning' of my collection. I've gotten to the point where I've decided I want less dolls so that I have room to add more to the collections of the dolls I really bond with. Willa and Cecile have both left for new homes because I was unable to bond with them. Possibly up for rehoming are Julie, Kit, Melody and Tenney. Yep, Tenney. While she reminds me of my grandmother I have no interest in her big ticket items, nor do I care for the latest edition to her collection- the sparkling sequins outfit. The velvet of the blazer just *cringe*. Velvet has always been a fabric that almost hurts me to touch. It's hard to explain. While Tenney may be rehomed I will be focusing on adding to Felicity's collection as she is a doll that my grandma often bought me things for. I've realized there are other ways too I can make her feel known in my collection.

There is a loop for her hammer!
I've spent the last week writing and throwing away and writing more lists trying to determine how I'd like my collection to look. For now I know that I want complete or mostly complete collections for Felicity, Kaya, Caroline, Kirsten, and Josefina. I'd like to continue adding items for Rebecca, Addy, and Maryellen. Lea, Grace, Gabriella, Zosia, Sawyer, and Meiko will continue to represent my modern dolls. Hopefully this will give me more of the breathing room I am looking for and will allow me to feel like I'm really able to focus on all of my dolls instead of just some.

Also Happy Pride! My wife and I got to meet Al Franken!
I'm also hoping this will give me room for Nanea and ALL of her things, haha. That's the next release coming up in August and I cannot wait! Rumor is that Kaya will also be getting new things, which makes my heart so happy! So all is well on my front. I hope you all are having a fabulous summer!




Wednesday, May 3, 2017

My initial thoughts on Z Yang!

It's a new month and a fresh beginning. At least that's how I'm looking at it. 😄

It's also an exciting month at AG- though haven't they all been? Z Yang is here marking the 5th doll released by American Girl this year. I'll be honest, it's a little bit overwhelming. Five dolls in five months is unprecedented for the time I've been collecting. To give you some background Suzie 'Z' Yang is a Korean-American girl who lives in Seattle. She started off as a character who AG used to make the Z Crew stopmotion videos with. Now Z has been released with her own story and collection. Her interests include filming videos, photography, blogging, and writing. She even has her very own Kit Kittredge doll that she makes stop motion videos with! (Yes- if I get Z she'll have to have a mini Kit of her own!)

I went into the Mall of America location and had to actively find where Z was placed on display because the GOTY aisle is now Gabriela and Tenney/Logan. I was worried she'd be stuffed into a sad little display like what poor Addy is currently in, but much to my surprise Z has her own little alcove on the first floor. My initial thoughts were that AG had done a fantastic job with her collection. Yes, some of the items are repeats from previous sets. Honestly? I expected that. After all, Z was made solely for the Z Crew videos and her items and wardrobes in the videos were a mix of previous pieces.  So I was thrilled to see this trend continue into her collection. Z loves filming videos and taking photographs, another trait that made it into her available collection. Her film accessories are so detailed- much better than either of Lea's cameras. It's a must have set, in my opinion, and is on my wishlist!

I was really excited to see the doll in person too. Z is irresistible, which makes me so happy considering she is the first Korean-American character they've produced, but she's currently the only named East Asian character available direct from AG. For those arguing that Z looks too much like #30, #40, or #64- I can tell you that her mole, the longer length of her hair, and her hair being parted on the opposite side makes Z unique. It's much like Tenney and #24- yes, they share a lot of similar characteristics but they're each different enough to stand out as unique characters.

Between her unique sense of style and wonderful characterization, I adore Z. I hope to bring her home as soon as I can. In fact, a particular Z captured my heart at AGP and I just had to take a photo of her. I hope to find my Z with a similar expression of friendship & warmth.

Isn't she the cutest?

At this point you might think I've forgotten something huge- and you would be right. Yes, Z has permanently sewn on underwear. Yes, it changes the bottom shape of the doll in some cases to appear as though it's got a lump. Yes, the band of the underwear does peek above the current swim bottoms. For me? It's not really a huge deal. The only dolls in my collection who who wear swimsuits are Lea & Rebecca, and they hardly do anyways. The shape could be frustrating, but I don't change my dolls underwear nor do some of them even have them at this point. Once it's under the clothing it's not something I'm paying attention to. Given a choice I'd prefer that my dolls not have them, but it isn't bad enough for me to not want Z. I'm sure there are collectors who would disagree with me and that's okay.

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