Doll Sized Finds: a bit of this, that, and the other!

This past week was a good week for finding human sized stuff that would work well for dolls, I guess my Craigslist karma is carrying over. Planning a trip with my sister-in-law to thrift store shop in Pittsburgh in the next week, hopefully it will hang on just a few more days?!?! One can hope!

Where to start…I guess I’ll begin with TJMaxx. I went there looking for something else completely, when I stumbled across this:
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It’s actually intended to be a holder for sweetener packets, but when I saw it, all I could see was a doll sized bin, for either kitchen or bath. I pictured my little doll curling iron, straightening iron and other hair accessories in it, can’t you? It was only $1.99 too, I couldn’t pass it up, I almost wish they had more (it was the only one) because it looks like it could be stacked.

We’ve had horrid weather here in the northeast, not quite as bad as Boston, but super cold with temps in the negative a few overnights and early mornings. I haven’t felt like going much of anywhere because of it, but one day I got a good case of cabin fever and decided to go check out the thrift stores close by. Goodwill was a complete and total waste of time. It has been the last few times too, and not just the one here. So bad that I may just quit going there for a while. First off, I’m seeing the same stuff over and over, and it’s been there since fall! Then to make matters worse, I had someone I know tell me a story that made me angry and then another person told me another not so good story-Goodwill either needs to clean their act up or change their name, because I’m feeling nothing but Badwill towards them at the moment.

Anyhow, from there I headed to the Salvation Army. Definitely worth the time! Earlier in the week I managed to pick up Kit’s bed on the Jill’s Steals and Deals sale, YAY! I knew I wanted a little nightstand for it, and thought I’d just keep my eye out for something. Never in a million years did I think I would find something so quickly.

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It’s a box that held soap, made by a company called Punch Studio.  I LOVE their stuff, it is so pretty, but I’d never seen a two drawer box like this, and it’s the perfect height for a nightstand.  It even still smells like the soap it contained. $1.99.

Walked a little further and found this:

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Cute, huh? I figure a bit of ribbon and it will make an adorable doll sized Easter basket. Besides, you (and your dolls) can never have too many baskets?!  Especially when it’s only 99 cents.

As I was walking towards the checkout, this item just happened to catch my eye. It was on the $1 rack and I was as excited about it as I was the other two items:
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In case you’re not familiar, it’s a vintage girl scout uniform shirt. I plan on cutting it up to make a couple of doll sized shirts, it’s a small enough print that it won’t look odd. I’ve been wanting to make a couple of Junior uniforms and this should be more than enough fabric to make at least two shirts if not more if I cut VERY carefully. For $1, how could I pass it up? One of my BFF’s is a lifetime Girl Scout and has a ton of patches, I’m going to see if I can borrow them from her to scan in to my computer to make some patches for my dolls sashes. I’ll be sure to let you know how that goes.

My last find for the week isn’t really my find. I have to give complete and total credit on this to Sophie and Brenda from The Savage Dolls. They discovered that Preemie sized infant sleepers not only make cute clothing for Bitty Baby/Bitty Twins dolls but that they also fit regular AG dolls as well! I had to run to Walmart for a few things, and while I was there, I looked to see what they had. I was surprised to see quite a few Preemie footed sleepers, so I picked up two, one made by Carters and the other by Garanimals. I got them home and immediately tried them on a doll. The Carters one fit beautifully, the Garanimals one not so well. It’s cut totally different, wider first off so it is a bit on the big side that way, but then the legs are cut really short so the crotch isn’t in the right place. It would probably work fine on a Bitty Baby, but not so great on a regular AG doll, so I ended up returning it and getting another of the Carters ones. They have some absolutely adorable designs out right now, unfortunately one that I really wanted wasn’t available at our Walmart in the Preemie size, but I’ll be checking other Walmarts when I’m near! Be sure to check out Sophie and Brenda’s post, they have some really cute photos of their dolls in them as well.

Rebecca and Marie-Grace agreed to try these on, and once they put them on, I couldn’t get them out of them!!
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Perfect for lounging around on a cold, snowy, winter morning while watching television, don’t you agree?

Behind the scenes of the Valentine’s Day party

For those of you who do photo shoots/stories on your blogs, you know just how hard some of these can be, and how much work is involved. I thought it might be interesting to those who don’t do these to hear from one blogger what goes in to one. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I bow down to anyone who does these all the time, or does them with large numbers of dolls. 6 dolls for me is a lot of work, I can’t even imagine much beyond that.

As for the story itself-for me, there is a little planning involved, but not a ton. Usually I get an idea and it kind of develops on it’s own, based on things I find or already have, and how much time I have between when I come up with the idea and when I need to post it. The Valentine’s Day post came about when I did the New Year’s Eve slumber party post, so I had a good six weeks to get things and thoughts together. Several of the stories include elements and incidents that come directly from experiences I had as a young girl (and even a few as an adult!)

I’m also someone who keeps their eyes open constantly for things I can use for my dolls, so picking up items I can use for these is an ongoing thing. Some of the items used for this post were purchased even before Christmas, they were items that I saw and thought “oh, I can eventually use that!” Which ones? The walking dinosaur ($1 at Dollar General), the Feng Shui book ($2 at a local bookseller), and the Strawberry Shortcake doll ($4 at a local discount retailer). The sparkly trim used to decorate in the kitchen was something I found in the Christmas clearance stuff at RiteAid one day for all of 33 cents, couldn’t pass that up!  The bead trim I picked up at a local craft store for $2 when I went to look for Christmas clearance stuff, didn’t find much of that, but at least found something.

Doll food-I think we all have some of that! I did add a few things, but not a lot, the bulk of it was stuff I had:
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The macarons, chocolate cookies and the little sandwiches were pieces I had from various OG sets. The cheese and crackers, Hershey Kiss cookies, almond bark, peppermint bark and the little tomatoes are all from Pippaloo, purchased a while ago.  The balloon with the chocolates I picked up at Dollar General for $3, I am hoping the balloon holds air for a long time!  I thought it was perfect for this project, and a lot cheaper than the one that AG has.

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The cake stand here you should recognize as the piece I bought at Joann’s for the Broke Girl challenge. The cupcakes? Those are REAL chocolates, sold by a place we love called Philadelphia Candies. They make these for every holiday and one day it just popped in to my head that they would be perfect as little cupcakes. Best part was I got to eat them once the photo shoot was done. 🙂

I made a lot of stuff for this shoot as well:
The skirts that Rebecca and Abby wore along with the headbands that they and Kit were wearing. I used the mini skirt pattern from Liberty Jane that I featured here before and just lengthened it. The headbands I made up as I went along.  I also made the tablecloth and the runner.
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I made the heart shaped lollipops myself out of toothpicks and Model Magic. I then filled a clear plastic shot glass with the clear beads that I bought to use as ice cubes, then stuck the toothpicks in it, I was pleased with how well they stood up in this. Easy, huh?
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I also made all the little petit fours from Model Magic as well as the heart shaped cookies, the icing on the cookies is puffy fabric paint with a little added glitter. The Hershey’s syrup is a lip gloss I picked up at Claire’s a while ago and the Ben and Jerry’s Ice cream container is an individual sized ice cream I bought at the grocery store and then “tortured” my husband by making him eat it. (yeah right!)
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Several of the gift items were super cheap, costing only a dollar: the gorilla came from Dollar Tree, the box of chocolates from Rite Aid, and the Peace Sign bag from a local craft store. The other items were a few dollars more, but not much. The Hello Kitty was part of a set I purchased at Walmart (the candy was dreadful and quickly ended up in the trash!), the bunny slippers from Hobby Lobby. The “Keep Calm” and “Hello Kitty” books I picked up at Barnes and Noble. The two most expensive things were the Downton Abbey figure and the skating bag, but both worth it. I got the Downton Abbey piece also at Barnes and Noble and the skating bag from Etsy seller If Dolls Could Dream. She didn’t have a skating bag available, but when I asked about one, she quickly whipped this one up and liked the idea so much, she made it available for sale on her site for others as well (just in case you are interested). I had seen the Downton Abbey building online before and almost bought it, but held off. Once I saw it in person, I just had to have it for Kit.

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Let me just clarify that most of what I bought for the “presents” part wasnt pre-planned either. It was primarily stuff that I came across in my travels and thought “hey, that would work!” or something I wanted for my dollhouse anyhow. After I had everything purchased, I sat down and figured out who got what based on various things.  Only the skating bag for Rebecca and the Downton Abbey set were bought with a specific doll in mind.  The paper bag idea actually came from an experience I had in the work place when we did a Secret Santa exchange and discovered one of the guys was cheating, so everyone had to put their stuff in a plain brown grocery bag.  Real life meets doll life!

One of the most time consuming parts in doing these is all the prep work-dressing the dolls, setting everything up, etc.  I usually start out by picking out the clothing for the dolls and dressing them.  Posts like this are a little more difficult when there is a specific theme involved.  With this one I wanted them all dressed in pink or red, so I had to go through my doll clothes and figure out what I had and went from there.  Then comes the fun part–dragging all the stuff to the area where I want to do the photography.  Right now the weather is dreadful and gloomy, and my dollhouse is in a place where it gets very poor light, so I decided to move the dining area to a better place.  My dining room has a nice big window which faces north, giving me better light.  My sewing cabinet was the perfect place to set everything up.  However, it made it impossible for me to sew for a few days while I had this set up, so I had to be sure that everything I needed was already done! I will admit that having the dolls up off the floor like this made me nervous, I’m always concerned with someone doing a face plant and getting “injured”.

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Rebecca and Abby chatting while waiting for me…

 

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See, it’s really a sewing machine cabinet!

 

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Tables and chairs out of the way on the floor beside aforementioned sewing machine.

While doing this, the dining room was a mess, but I can deal with it for a little while!

A chair full of dolls:

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“Get your toe out of my ear!!!”

Finn and Coconut waiting for their closeup:

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After everything is done with the photo shoot comes the fun part:  writing all of it.  And editing/cropping photos.  I usually take way more photos than I need, I’d rather do that than realize that I was missing something as I start to write, and have to stop to go re-photograph.  Depending on circumstances, I will take several photos of the same shot, with or without flash as well, and then decide which one is best afterwards.  I know it sounds like a lot of work, and I’m not going to lie, it is.  But to me it is worth it, and I think back to what a pain in the neck film was and what a blessing digital is!

Oh, and then there’s that whole cleaning up the mess thing.  I do that last, once I’m sure that the post is exactly how I want it and not before.  Thank heavens my husband isn’t a neat freak or anything.  It can be a real disaster area at times.  When I was working on the “Sled Dog” post, I had a laundry basket full of dolls and dogs sitting in the living room for a day or so.  (which reminds me, the sled is still sitting in the dining room, oooops!)

So, that’s it, a day (or two or three) in the life of a crazy doll blogger.  I hope if you took the time to read this, you perhaps learned something or got some ideas of your own.  For me, it’s a creative outlet, and a whole lot of fun. I wish I had more time to “play” like this, but life has a bad habit of getting in the way and we do need to eat.

Also, for your enjoyment: I uploaded a short film showing how the Downton Abbey “house” actually works.  I think it might be the only video of this around!

 

Home Run!

A couple of weeks ago I posted about a terrific Craigslist find, and how I’d felt that I’d hit the jackpot. My good find karma didn’t carry over for my thrift store shopping, but I did have it work for me on another Craigslist find and this one is “outta the park!” Are you ready to see what I got?

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Yup, the Our Generation laundry set! It’s missing a couple of things, but not enough to worry about, the main pieces are intact, and I’m not wild about their hangers anyhow. I’ve looked at this set a couple of times and debated on purchasing it, but I couldn’t justify the $65 price. And am I ever glad I resisted buying it. It is really cute and fairly well made, but it really isn’t worth the $65. I also think that someone needs to teach Our Generation how to make boxes, the dryer sheet and detergent boxes are the typical poor quality that I’ve seen in some of their other sets. I can overlook that though, I’m going to reinforce them somehow and for what I paid, it’s not an issue.  Otherwise the whole set is in very good condition, very well cared for.

However folks, that’s not all I got! The story behind all of this is that the girls are now teenagers and the family is getting ready to move. Dad said it made more sense to him to sell all of this stuff at reasonable prices before the move instead of moving it all. They made it up in to lots for sale, it was actually kind of funny, I met him at a shopping center in the Pittsburgh area and while I was there, two other ladies came to pick up two of the other lots. One of them joked “hey, it’s an American Girl yard sale in a parking lot!” Everyone was happy because the stuff was definitely priced to move. I don’t think anyone was as excited as I was to get this lot though, not so much because of the laundry set, but because of this next item. Put it this way: I would have paid what I paid for the whole lot, just to get this piece.

DRUMROLL PLEASE…………………………………………………………………

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YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My girls FINALLY have a sewing machine! I’ve found the elusive “unicorn”! (I loved when someone described this set and the turquoise blue laundry set this way on another doll blog) I mean, come on, for as much sewing as I do, it seems crazy that my dolls didn’t have a sewing machine.  Let me just say, when I opened this listing Sunday morning, I think my mouth probably dropped open. I quicky e-mailed the seller and I’ll be honest, I didn’t think I had a snowball’s chance in Florida of getting this, I thought for sure it would be gone. When he e-mailed me back to tell me it was available, I darned near fainted. It may have been Valentine’s weekend, but for me, it was Christmas. It gets better too:

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It was only missing a few things and they were things I didn’t really care about. It even had some of the little sewing accessories, and not one pair, but 2 pairs of scissors, yippee!!
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To say that I am thrilled about this find is putting it mildly. When I started working seriously on my collection, I had three things that I thought I would like to have because they were things that I can’t imagine not having personally: a good camera, a laptop and a sewing machine. My dolls now have it all!

I know you are probably curious as to what I paid for all of this. Only $30. Yup, the same as what I paid for that last Craigslist purchase. I couldn’t help but think as I was driving home that I’ve gotten all of this stuff (this lot plus the bed and the kitchen) for less than what I would have paid for JUST the laundry set had I paid full retail. Is Craigslist great or what?!?! Plus I can thumb my nose at Target, no more running from store to store to find (or not find) these items. The best part is that I now have nearly everything I need furnishing wise for the doll house, quite honestly, I’m almost out of room. I need a toilet, and I found a seller on Etsy that makes them should I decide I don’t want to make it myself or I don’t find one in my thrift store searches.

Another fun thing about this experience was the lady who made the yard sale comment. We got to talking, she was buying the kitchen (the silver OG set with a table and chairs) for her daughter who is 7. She just recently got in to American Girl because her name is Grace, and was excited to see that the GOTY had the same name. They even went to Columbus so she could pick out her doll there. She said that they had already started making doll clothes, it was fun that her daughter was learning to sew. I told her that she needed to get on Pinterest, that there were all sorts of fun things that they could make. I also told her about the many blogs on the internet and about all of the creative people and how all of this creativity with both young and old was probably what impressed me more than anything with all of the doll fans. I hope she does check it out, she commented that she was an engineer by trade, perhaps somewhere down the road we will see something she has designed!