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Tuesday, July 9, 2019

I suck at keeping secrets

I was hoping to keep my newest American Girl a secret until I got around to reviewing her (God only knows when that will be), but thanks to my slippery fingers the secret got out.  Or at least it got out to the most loyal readers!  I accidentally hit "publish" on Z Yang's review WAY before it was ready to go out, and I can name at least one reader who saw it in its rudimentary form.  Barb the Evil Genius saw it (good eye, Barb!), and Korglady correctly guessed the name.  So...no review today, or tomorrow, or probably even next week (!!!), but here's Z with her shelfmate, the one and only Denise.
They really do make a cute pair, don't they???  For reasons that even I don't know I've chosen to whittle my library compadres from eight small dolls and one big one to just two big ones.  Z and Denise will be easy to redress as the seasons change, so that's what I'm going to do.  I even have a couple of football outfits customized for the fall, though I haven't decided yet who's going to be the cheerleader.  Z doesn't really seem like the cheerleader type, but then again neither does Denise.

Anywho, that's Z!  I don't know why I wanted her, considering the following facts:
A)  Z's filmmaking storyline does nothing to interest me.
B)  Z has been archived for about a year, and thus her prices on eBay are some kind of high.
C)  Z looks a lot like Jess McConnell, whom I hope to own one day.

Seriously, Jess is easier to find at a reasonable price than Z is!  But...I chose Z and I've got her now, and I'm not the slightest bit sorry I got her.  She does have some frustrating shortcomings that American Girl dolls should not have, but I still like her.  Y'all keep your eyes peeled for her review, though as I said earlier, God only knows when that'll be.

Much Love,

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Coworker B's unique teddy bear

Who doesn't love a good teddy bear?  LOL, most likely if I hadn't gotten so hot and heavy into dolls I'd be a teddy bear collector instead, but...Lordy, I need two large collections like I need a hole in my head.  This teddy bear isn't mine anyway.  He belongs to Coworker B and is about as original as a teddy bear can get.
Here in Malden there resides a woman named Kelly York Smothers, and she makes teddy bears out of shirts.  I think T-shirts are what she dominantly works with, but she might be able to work with other fabrics as well.  She doesn't add eyes, but that's really the only thing I don't like about these bears, and eyes are easy to add so no big deal.  Anyway, Coworker B is a live-strong, die-hard Cardinals fan like most of us here in the Bootheel are, and she coughed up one of her T-shirts for Miss Kelly to make this bear.  She tells me that the shirt once had Yadier Molina's name on it, but now it's Mr. Bear here!  If he were mine I'd probably name him Yadi Bear.

Hmmm...I think I need to dig up some of my old outgrown T-shirts and see if Miss Kelly will make me a bear!  They run about thirty bucks, not bad for something that's custom-made.

Cheers and cuddles,

Friday, July 5, 2019

Little Gracie

Isabelle's "mother" returned today, but instead of bringing Isabelle, she brought this.
A REBORN DOLL!!!  Or at least I thought she was at first.  Her name is Little Gracie, and she's been well-loved, as evidenced by her matted hair.  She has the sweetest little face, though!
Of course I got curious about the sculptor, so I looked on Gracie's neck to see if there was a name.  Lo and behold, there was!
Linda Murray is the sculptor's name.  I had no idea who this was, but a Google search revealed that Ms. Murray sculpts baby dolls for Ashton-Drake.  Hmmm...Ashton-Drake...that would explain the pitiful root job, which I failed to photograph.  Anywho, a cursory check of Ashton-Drake's site revealed that Little Gracie is still being produced by the company, and "Little Grace" is indeed the name she came with.  Thus this doll is NOT a reborn, though I bet she'd be perfect for reborning.  She's got very unusual eyes.  I think they're supposed to be brown, but instead they're...violet.
LOL, dirt.  More testament to the fact that this doll has been a well-loved plaything.  She's even wearing a new dress, one that has the neckline I spoke of yesterday when I talked about Denise's pink blouse.
See?  More suited for a baby, though Denise's blouse certainly has no trouble fitting over her head!  Anywho, it's always a pleasure seeing my little buddy with her dolls, reborn or Ashton-Drake or American Girl or what have you.  Her social worker worries constantly that she is a nuisance to me since she has boundless energy and an active imagination, but I love seeing her.  I will admit that she leaves me tuckered out though, and we didn't even play dolls today!  We read How the Grinch Stole Christmas and a handful of other kiddie books.  It's worth it, though; a library's future lies with the young ones, and thus I always try to indulge them a little.

Much love,

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Dolly Dress Discussion: summer clothes for Denise

Alrighty, folks, it's time for my yearly obsession with American Girl dolls.  As with my Cabbage Patch Kids I take my American Girls in fits and spurts, buying things and taking pictures, and then I forget them for a few months.  Usually my buying spree is restricted to outfits that are unique or hard to find, and this is the case here.  Most of the American Girl of Today/My American Girl/Truly Me meet outfits were at one time sold separately by American Girl and thus could be obtained without buying a whole new doll, with three exceptions.  The current set, unofficially named Truly Me after the line it is a part of, is currently only available on the secondary market, or if one buys a whole new doll.  The other two exceptions were tied in with that goofy Innerstar University website that was available for a couple of years (some university, the characters didn't learn anything or go to any classes), and the outfits subsequently could only be obtained...you guessed it, if one bought a whole new doll.  I find that move rather peculiar since other outfits with the Innerstar U logo WERE available for separate purchase.  Anyway, the two meet outfits in question were the Real Me ensemble and the one that I have now, called True Spirit by the wiki. 
Actually, my set is a combination of the True Spirit ensemble (skirt, blouse, boots) and the separately sold accessories (hat, purse, jacket, small items that go inside the purse).  I also have two new pairs of shoes and a black American Girl T-shirt, all discontinued.
I'm going to have my beloved Denise model the pieces here in a bit, though I'm not sure she'll be able to wear it; remember that Mattel items are sometimes tight on Pleasant Company dolls.  Denise is a Pleasant Company doll...I think.  I never have been able to establish whether she is PC or transitional, but either way she's certainly not from the Mattel era.  Anywho, the True Spirit outfit is visible on Miss Emily's doll Keira, as well as any Truly Me doll sold between 2012 and 2015.  With the exception of the current Truly Me sets (there's also now a boy's set) I'm not a huge fan of the meet garb sold after 2005.  Too many pastels, not enough pieces for mixing and matching, accessories that were monotonous or nonexistent, it was all just kinda boring for my rainbow-toned sensibilities.  I feel this way with the True Spirit set, but in this case the problem is remedied with the accessories that were available separately.  I'll look at all the pieces of course, but I'll start at the top...literally.
It's pink.  Pink on pink, to be exact.  It's not a bad pink though, with the print consisting of stylized hearts, butterflies, flowers, and stars.  It's subtle enough to not be gaudy, and yet it's still eye-catching. 
The shades of pink remind me a little of Addy's original meet dress, which is referred to as "double pink" on the wiki.  In Addy's case double pink refers to the shade of pink rather than the fact that two shades of pink are present, but Denise's new blouse still makes me think of that.  I prefer Addy in pink, by the way; she looks great in the blue BeForever dress, but I'll always associate Addy with that lovely dark pink frock.  Anyway, the stars on the True Spirit blouse are significant, as they're double stars with a smaller one inside the bigger one.  I think that's where American Girl came up with the name Innerstar University.
The left sleeve has the tag that a great many AG ensembles have.
Let's look a little closer at this neckline, as it's...unusual for the ten-year-old that Denise and her AG cronies are supposed to be.
Miss Emily took note of the neckline saying that it's a lot like the necklines of onesies and other outfits for babies that don't open in the back.  These necklines are meant to accommodate large heads without a big fat hassle, and thus they would be perfect for American Girl dolls...except that this blouse opens in the back.
Mmmkay...that makes absolutely ZERO sense, to have both a neckline that accommodates a large head AND an opening in the back.  That's the only problem I have with this blouse though, as the pattern is an all-over pattern and the seams look nice.  The neckline has a strip of ribbing sewn in, while the bottom hems are plainer but still nice.
Oh, if I had one other complaint it would be that Velcro; there's a minor risk of snagging, but not a huge one.  Miss Emily also took issue with the fact that Keira's cloth torso could be seen along the neckline, but for me that's not a huge deal...not anymore, anyway.  Apparently when I first started featuring Denise in the blog it WAS a big deal.  Rather funny how tastes change, innut?  And yet...and yet I still take issue with two-piece swimsuits for these dolls, even though most of the two-piece numbers I've seen are very cute.  Maybe the swimsuits put me off a bit because American Girl dolls aren't supposed to get in the water.

Back on topic now, the skirt.  It's made of dark gray jersey knit, not a fabric one usually sees utilized with a skirt.
I love the aesthetic of this skirt, as it hangs in a manner similar to the skirt that goes with Denise's Hanukkah set.  The gray skirt is NOT a circle skirt like the Hanukkah skirt is, though.  See the seams on the sides?  Circle skirts don't have those.  Other than the seams this skirt is pretty plain.  It has an elastic waistband with no snaps or Velcro.  The only embellishment on the skirt is this pink belt, which helps tie the ensemble together.  The belt drapes across the front twice and is tied/sewn on the left hip in a stylish knot.
As with the blouse, the seams are flawless, and the hem has the AG logo.
Under the skirt are these little pink panties.  I don't often see those included with doll clothes, but here they are!
Meet outfits usually come with undergarments of some sort, and I'm very thankful that they do.  Denise lost her undergarments years ago (before I got her), and they were pantaloons anyway (Denise used to be a Samantha doll) so they wouldn't have gone with the short skirts that Denise now wears.  When one wears fairly short skirts undergarments are sort of a necessity.  These are nice little panties too; they're pale pink and have elastic at the waist and leg holes.  I haven't seen doll drawers this nicely made since I reviewed Ana Ming, five years ago!

Lastly, these boots.  They look a little like Ugg boots but without the fuzz and fleece.
These Velcro up the back...
...and they have green (green?) butterflies embroidered on.
Green butterflies with a gray and pink ensemble???  Makes me wish there were some green accents in this outfit to pull the whole thing together.  I can do that myself with some handmade jewelry, but I still wish American Girl had saved me the trouble.  BUT, the stitching is nice!  Embroidery can be a minefield for gaffes, but in this case the butterfly is perfect.

Lastly, the soles.  The soles have this cute flower-like tread that probably would provide a nice grip if they were made out of rubber.
Since the soles are plastic they'd be slick as heck if they were real shoes.  I've worn shoes like this on smooth surfaces and believe me, it's a trip...literally.  Anyway, the True Spirit outfit is a nice little outfit in terms of construction, and the style is not too dated, but in terms of AG ensembles it's pretty ordinary.  The simplicity of the style makes me long for the days of multiple mix-and-match pieces, like those that came with my all-time favorite meet outfit, the Urban Outfit.  Oh, how I loved that outfit!  Had I known I'd have adopted Denise I'd have asked for it for Christmas that year!  True Spirit looks a little mundane in comparison, though I do love the fabrics used, and the construction, AND the inclusion of panties!!!  It's just a very simple little outfit.

But then again, True Spirit's simplicity may be a blessing in disguise, as it allows for the addition of accessories.  Meet accessory sets can have a lot of pieces or a few, and usually some sort of purse or hat is involved.  The accessory sets can sometimes be bundled with the doll at purchase, but that apparently was not an option with the True Spirit accessories.  Now then...remember I said that usually a hat or a purse was involved in the accessory sets?  That's the case here.  Let's take a gander first at this hat.
It's your run-of-the-mill knitted beret, a style very dear to the designers at American Girl, made special with the addition of cable-knit ribbing.
The brim has ordinary ribbing that will likely allow for a snug fit.
When I get a piece of knitwear like this I always wonder if it was knitted in the round or flat.  After some searching I discovered this barely visible seam on the back of the hat, meaning that it was knitted flat with copious increases and decreases for sizing.
And...that's all there is for the hat!  Simple, cute, pretty timeless.  Now to the jacket.  The wiki states that this is made of white denim, and indeed the fabric feels like and looks like denim.
It has a collar that can stick up or be folded down (I usually choose the latter), plus two faux breast pockets.
I particularly love the buttons, as they're silver with tiny stars molded into the center.
Each of the four buttons has a corresponding buttonhole, and spoiler alert:  they actually fasten.  Those buttonholes aren't just for show.
For some reason, the AG logo (located on the cuff of the left sleeve) is green, a shade of green different from the butterfly on the boots.  Go figure.
Of course being white means that this jacket has acquired some stains and spots over the years, but the one I find most annoying is this one, on the collar.
That WASN'T there when I bought this set, folks!  I'm at a complete loss as to where it came from, but it would have to be another piece of the set!  Yeah...I'm just a smidge peeved about that.  Hopefully the spot will come out with some TLC.

Now...I'm entering uncharted territory with the purse, as so far none of my American Girls have ever carried purses.  The True Spirit purse is made of lavender pleather with a matching ribbon for a strap.
The ribbon has no stretch or give, and thus putting this purse on Denise proved to be a pain in the posterior...until I discovered that the flap can come undone at one end.  See the Velcro?
Embroidered on the flap is another butterfly, this time in pink.  As with the shoes, the stitching is all but perfect.
Unfortunately this purse appears to have some sort of cark on the bottom corner; I don't know if that'll come off or not.
A small patch of Velcro holds the flap shut.
Obviously that means that the purse can open, and when opened it reveals a space for the small items that came with the accessory set:  three pretend dollars and a library card.
Yes, some libraries still do honest-to-God cards for checking out books, as is evidenced by the accessories that accompany the current meet set.  Malden Library is one that does not, to the shock of baby boomers who come in to sign up for an account here.  Denise's new library card is just your little slip of cardstock with the library info printed on it (plus another butterfly).  Three fake dollars round out the accessory set.  They're huge in comparison to Denise's thick little hand, and indeed I had to fold them in half to fit them inside the purse.
Since I brought it up, here's what these dollars look like in Denise's hand.  Unlike the late, great Tenney Grant, she can't hold them.
Frankly, I'm not sure Tenney could hold these either!  Oddly, these dollars are only printed on one side.  As far as I know, all American Girl dollars are like this.  The library card IS printed on the back, revealing the dolly's hometown hasn't changed since 1995.  Always Pleasantville, U.S.A.
The current accessory set comes with five bucks, meaning that somewhere along the way AG gave its dolls a raise in their allowance.  With the dollar bills folded everything fits nicely into the purse.
And that would be the end of it...except that dolls sold during the Innerstar U era (2010 to 2015) all came with necklaces.  Specifically, THIS necklace.
These were also available separately towards the end of the Innerstar U era, probably so that girls who already had a doll could give their old friend something nice and new.  Indeed, I had to buy mine separately, but it's still the same necklace that can be seen on Miss Emily's doll.  The cord is made of pink cotton (I assume) and is adjustable by virtue of these slipknots.  I suspect that this cord is the reason why the jacket is now decorated with pink smudges, as both items have already been on and off Denise a couple'a times.
The pendant is a metal hoop with a translucent plastic star (probably a further reference to Innerstar U) and a small metal American Girl logo tag.
Cute, no doubt, but there was something else special about this necklace.  The metal hoop unlatches at the top and could accommodate these little charms that came with outfits sold during the Innerstar U era.  These charms were of different colors and shapes, and they came with various cutesy "girl power" words like "smart" or "confident" or "real."  I don't have any of these charms yet even though they're plenty cute, but no worries, because I bought a handful of charms from Hobby Lobby instead.
The point of this necklace was to let one's doll show her unique personality, but since there were only thirty-six charms with a lot of repeats in shapes and designs, I decided to pick out some charms of my own.  I bought the following:
*Rhinestone letter "D":  Denise's first initial.
*Pink enameled ballerina:  Unlike me, Denise can dance...or I pretend she can (LOL).
*Silver treble clef:  Like me, Denise loves music.  She's a die-hard classic rock/hair metal fan, with a smattering of other assorted oldies and some classical stuff (Schubert!) thrown in.
*Enameled pineapple:  Just for the heckuvit, really.  Haven't decided yet how this will factor into Denise's personality.  The leaves are GREEN, not black!  My flash didn't catch the color.
*Silver Missouri:  Denise is a Missouri girl!

My intention was to make Denise's personality an extension of my own, but as y'all can see it didn't exactly go that way!  Oh well, my doll, my rules.  I'd like to find a Star of David too, but I'll likely have to turn to Etsy for that.  Hobby Lobby is a Christian establishment and had plenty of crosses, but no Stars of David.  I kept looking at the crosses and having to remind myself "No Moony, YOU are the Christian.  Denise is Jewish."  Anyway, these little baubles serve an extra purpose in addition to being cute:  their combined weight keeps the cord of the necklace from kinking.  Miss Emily noted that her doll Keira's necklace was lightweight, and that turned out to be true with mine as well.  Oh well, that cord will soften and relax as it ages, and the weight of the charms I've got will help straighten the kinks.  I'm not going to gripe.  And here's an Easter egg for y'all:  the charms in the "loyal" category have butterflies on them, butterflies that match the butterflies on Denise's new boots.  Alrighty, NOW those green butterflies make sense!  I'll have to find one of those to add to Denise's bundle.  Charms were phased out in 2015, but strangely the necklace that held the charms remained in production for one more year, finally being retired in '16.  I quite like the necklace myself, especially since it can take other charms besides the ones American Girl released.

Well!  I do believe that's more than y'all ever wanted to know about the True Spirit set!  Now that that's out of the way, let's look at the separates.  As I noted above, these items (one top and two pairs of shoes) came in a bundle.  Since the blue shoes prompted the purchase we'll start with those.
These were called "light-up embroidered mules" and were only available from 2003 to 2004.  I noticed that they were here one day and gone tomorrow in the catalogs, and now I know why.  When I was young I loved light-up shoes, and indeed I still do (I didn't get a pair until sophomore year).  I assume that like people-sized shoes these are supposed to light up when tapped against a hard surface, but my new/old pair unfortunately does not light up.  The eBay seller was up-front about this, and since all light-up shoes eventually stop working I'm not too bothered by it.  They're still cute shoes, made of blue sateen.  As advertised, the front sides of these shoes are decorated with embroidered flowers of various colors and shapes.  The centers of these flowers are the bits that would've lit up.
It's a small pity that these shoes don't light up, but the flower centers do sparkle in an attractive manner, like little rhinestones.  That makes up for it.  Now the insides...they make me raise an eyebrow.
Is that faux leather in there???  Lordy, if you've ever walked on a shoe lined with faux leather then you know it can be...well, not too much fun, shall we say.  Every time I wear shoes like this my feet stick to them.  LOL, TMI moment over, the soles of these shoes have a slight texture to them, though I doubt that'd be enough to keep Denise from sliding if she were a real little girl.
The other pair of shoes is this pair of sneakers.  These were simply called "gray sneakers" by American Girl and were available from 2002 to about 2004.  These are amazingly realistic little sneakers, not terribly unlike the larger My Twinn shoes that I looked at a few years back.
Unlike the blue shoes, these look like real shoes on the inside.  Nice and soft.
Also unlike the other two pairs of shoes, these have a decent tread on the bottoms.  I wish these came in my size!
Lastly, the shirt.  It's your basic black T-shirt with the American Girl logo printed on it.
The letters look pink under glare of my cell phone's flash, but IRL it's more reddish in color.
As with all the other AG items I've bought the seams are well done, the back closes with Velcro like the True Spirit blouse does.

I think I said in the beginning that Denise may have some trouble wearing these clothes.  <glances back> Yeah, I did.  But as it turned out I needn't have worried, as the basic outfit fits with no problems.  The jacket's sleeves and the shoes are an eensy bit tight, but not prohibitively so.
Remember when I said one had to get a whole new doll in order to obtain the True Spirit ensemble?  Well, I feel like I've got a whole new doll.  I mean, Denise is the same doll as she was five minutes ago, but she looks fresh and new and straight from the store except for her errant hairs here and there.  Furthermore, multiple pieces of an outfit means an increased potential for mixing and matching, as I've done here with the black T-shirt, the sneakers, and parts of the accessory set.
Speaking of the T-shirt, it can be swapped out for another T-shirt, one that has my favorite hockey team on it.
FINALLY, my Blues are Stanley Cup winners!!!  This is a cute shirt, by the way.  It's nothing super-special, just a buttercup-colored T-shirt with a sparkly iron-on patch and Velcro in the back, but I still like it.  Like the rest of Denise's new things it can be worn with a skirt or with a pair of jeans, and with a jacket or without, and with just about any kind of neutral shoe...or any kind of dark blue shoe...or any kind of light yellow shoe.  Any of that works. While the Stanley Cup was in progress I paired the shirt with the items seen above, plus this goofy sombrero that I snagged at...guess where.  Hobby Lobby again!
And with that, my Denise's wardrobe has increased substantially.  I have a couple of other new outfits, but they're pretty autumnal so I won't be trotting those out until around September or so.  I will say though that I plan on using Xenia as a model for one of those outfits, as it's purple and green and thus would look nice with her coloring.  Regarding my overall feelings, I like the brand-name items that I now have, just as I did when I was a little girl, but the off-brand items that I have, like the jeans and the Blues shirt, work just as well.  But y'all probably knew that, didn't ya!  Just about all American Girl fans know a thing or two about dressing their doll on a budget, but I will admit that it's nice to have a few brand-name things, both because they're cute and because...well, because I like the bragging rights, LOL!

In other news, Denise has another friend to play with.  She's another American Girl doll, but I'm not telling y'all who she is now.  I will admit that this new child is not an American Girl that I ever dreamed I'd want.  Her backstory did nothing for me, and she looked too much like plenty of Truly Me dolls that are easier to obtain.  But I'll soon have her and I already know she's very cute.  I'll give y'all a couple of clues, though:  she is NOT a historical, and her home base is Seattle, Washington.  That should narrow the options down quite a bit, LOL.  With her being a Seattle girl I reckon I'd better dig up a Mariners jersey for her...but boy howdy, will that stand out like a sore thumb here in Cardinal Country!

Semi-digression time now.  I say "semi" because it's American Girl-related but doesn't pertain to my dolls specifically.  A couple'a weeks back Debbie Behan Garrett shared a cute story about a young girl from Dayton, Ohio and her American Girl doll, and their encounter with a rather nasty tornado.  Debbie's blog post can be found HERE, and the WHIO articles on the story can be found HERE and HERE.  The little girl in the story is blessed to have an awesome daddy who'd go into a badly damaged house to retrieve her favorite toy, and she was further blessed by a kind stranger (a local seamstress named Jamesetta Taylor) who sewed a whole new wardrobe for the victimized doll.  According to Miss Debbie the doll appears to be a Just Like You #44 (one of the prettier ones in my opinion) and in a later post she noted that Miss Jamesetta HAS AN ETSY SHOP!!!  I gotta go there!  As an aside, the little girl and her family appear to have some major repair work ahead as their house was pretty torn up, so thank God the child at least has something to snuggle if times get tough, AND some nice new things to put her little vinyl friend in.  Never underestimate the healing power of a doll or a teddy bear, folks!

Now...probably when this post goes out I'll be sprawled in front of my box fan waiting to see what the weather does.  I've seen all sorts of weather on Independence Day, ranging from tornadoes to droughts to rainstorms to temperatures low enough to require jackets during the shooting of fireworks.  Seriously, it was so chilly one year that when we went to burn the firework debris the next day Daddy bought marshmallows and weenies, and we roasted them over a huge bonfire.  Today it's hot and muggy with a chance of thunderstorms, and I'm praying that it WILL rain so the temperature will drop.  Did I mention that my AC unit is on the fritz again?  Le sigh...three years in a row.  I'm not the only blogger out there that has to contend with such BS, so that's a bit of comfort.  Anywho, happy Independence Day to all my beloved American readers, and if you're Canadian, I hope you had a nice Canada Day.  Keep your eyes peeled for my new American Girl!

Cheers, love, and rain showers,