American Girl “Doll Dining” Activity Book Review

I’ve never purchased any of the American Girl activity books. I’ve looked at a couple of them when I’ve been at Michael’s, but never took the plunge. Back in March I was ordering some of the sale items from American Girl and I decided to buy this since at that time it was only $5. It is regularly $21.99, I have a hunch they were trying to clear out some excess inventory in anticipation of the Truly Yours launch coming in May as they will more than likely change the covers on these. At $21.99 I think it’s probably a little overpriced, but at $5–that’s a steal!

Here’s what it looks like when you get it:
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First off: The book!  This book is full of all sorts of great ideas, some using the included materials and others using basic craft items and other things.  I love this little book, it has so many great ideas in it for aspiring doll restaunteurs.

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First thing you see in the supplies is a sheet that shows you all of the included items, some paper plates and an adorable order pad!

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Lots of paper supplies: open/closed signs, placemats, napkin rings–everything you need to get started.  It also is nice to have this as a sizing guideline if you wanted to make your own out of scrapbooking paper.

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I LOVE these–boxes!!!  Also some gift cards, debit cards, etc.  I intend on copying these on to cardstock to make more before I start cutting these up so I can have lots and lots of boxes!

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Menu’s and signs to decorate with.

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A “Name Your Restaurant” game (FUN!) and a template to make aprons from! 🙂

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More signs, money and coupons as well as folders to put the “bill” in.

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Stickers you can use to make food with (instructions in book) and some others for decorating.

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A nice large sheet of tissue paper to make a chef’s hat.  Instructions also in book and the band for the hat is included in the paper supplies pictured above.

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After going through all of that, you get to the bottom of the package–check it out!  An easel, some bags and a second order pad! 🙂

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The board for the easel is dry erase on one side and chalkboard on the other, very clever!

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Love the little bags and the order pads, aren’t they cute?!  I may scan the order pad into my computer so I can make loose sheets from it and not have to tear these apart.  Just adorable!!!

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I am so glad I decided to take a chance on this set.  I don’t know that I would have if I hadn’t been working on the Broke Girl Bakery.  Well worth the $5 I paid and I think a lot of play value, even at the regular price of $21.99.  I don’t remember if they had this at Michael’s, but if they did, you could get it cheaper with one of their 40% or 50% off coupons.  I definitely will be trying some of the other activity books, I hope they are as nice as this one. Have you purchased any of the American Girl activity books? If so, which ones, and what did you think?

Doll Sized Finds–some good finds!

The last couple of weeks have yielded some interesting doll-sized finds in a variety of places. I’m not finding a lot at any one place or any one time, just a little bit here and there. It all adds up though, and when I started working on this post, I was even surprised myself at how much I had found.

I had an errand running day close to home. I decided to stop at TJMaxx where I found some of the most delicious fudge (I wish they had more, but they don’t 😦 ) and also these two cute little plates. I’m not sure what their real purpose is, I’m thinking maybe melted butter for lobster? Regardless, I was super psyched to see these, I recently bought some doll food that doesn’t fit well in the plates I have and these were just the right size!
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I love the little sea horse and sea turtle logo on these, I can just picture doll sized “surf and turf” served on them, can’t you? Here they are with the doll food I mentioned, perfect. 🙂
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These were a little pricey at $1.99 each, but they were exactly what I was needing, so I didn’t worry about that. Doll food is from Dolly’s Dining Room.

From there I went to the Salvation Army. I do have to say that the thrift stores around here still haven’t recovered from the horrible winter. I’m hopeful that once yard sale season gets into full swing we will see an increase in items available. I only found one thing, only 99 cents. It was brand new too, it still had all of the original stickers on it.
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When I was growing up my mom had a large collection of jars like these in various shapes and sizes. She used them for storing beans, noodles and other dried items. This one is a perfect mini version of the ones she had, and I thought it would be a nice addition to my doll kitchen or in the Broke Girl Bakery. I decided to put my OG scones from the tea set in it to see how it looked, I think it works very well.
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Last stop for the day–Dollar Tree. I didn’t find much, but I did come across something that surprised me. I’ve seen this on many doll blogs, but they are usually posts from a while back, they haven’t been in the stores for quite a while.
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In case you haven’t seen these, they are candles with coffee colored wax in them. They are lightly scented as well. I think they are a little large, but you just have to pretend that they are like those mugs from “Friends”.
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A picture of Kit relaxing, enjoying her morning “joe”. (I promise, she doesn’t do this often!)  I need to burn the wick down in it and let the wax resettle, it looks rather crystalized at the moment, not very realistic.  I think it will look better after I do that and trim the wick flush with the wax.

My next shopping adventure was to Pittsburgh, I had to take my husband to meet the rest of his group for a business trip.  Since I was already in the area, I decided to head to my favorite thrift store in the world, Red White & Blue.  It was a horrible let down 😦  They are suffering from the same problem the thrift stores around here are, I don’t remember the last time I saw so little.  I bought three things–two neckties for my husband and this:

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I’ve seen a lot of these in thrift stores but they are usually beat up with broken areas in them.  They had four of them, and after looking them over carefully, decided on this one, it was in perfect condition.  $4.95–I didn’t think that was horrible, and I am just starting to pick up things for Alya’s room.  Won’t it look cute with a blanket draped over it?

Kit just had to try it out!

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She says it’s very comfy.  My only complaint (and this is more with the doll than with the chair) is that when you sit a doll in it, it looks rather awkward since their knee joints don’t bend.  Oh well.  Otherwise, it is in proportion with other things I have.  Does anyone remember what these were originally sold for?  I’m thinking they came with a plant arrangement on them sitting on the seat?

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On the way home I stopped at Target. Of course I HAD to look at that dangerous section at the front of the store with all the cool dollar items. I found this!
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And it was only $1!!! It will be perfect in the bakery and even when it’s not being used there, I think it will be a fun addition to the doll house. The easel is very well made, it would be perfect for someone wanting to re-create Saige’s painting set.

A few nights ago I ventured to TJMaxx again. In addition to getting what I went for (pillows) I found not one but two really awesome things for Alya’s bedroom.

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I’d been keeping my eyes open for some of those cute Punch Studio boxes like I found at the thrift store a while ago, but I hadn’t seen any until this trip. This particular style came in four different designs: butterfly, Paris/Eiffel Tower, Roses and one I can’t remember. I picked this one because it was somewhat neutral. I have another brooch box from them with butterflies all over it, this pattern reminded me a lot of that, and I liked the neutral tones in it.
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These are really sturdy and well made, I was especially impressed with the fact that the crystal drawer pulls aren’t just glued on, they are held in place with screws. I think the front of these have a very oriental feel to them, and even if I decide to cover the top and the sides, I will leave the fronts as is because I think they look very realistic. I especially love the “legs” on these, probably the reason I chose this one over the other designs. At $7.99 it wasn’t super cheap, but remember, I also got two bars of soap with it!
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Lastly, I found this in the clearance section for $8:
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Yes, it’s a dresser tray, and in case you are scratching your head, I’m not going to use it that way, I’m going to use it THIS way:
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Stand it on end and it’s a cute little shelving unit! I’m not wild about the green backdrop, I may cover that with some scrapbooking paper, but otherwise I think it’s ideal for displaying all of Alya’s little toys, purses, etc.

Now that I’ve found all this fun stuff, I guess it’s time to get to work on Alya’s bedroom.  I have the material already for her bedding, I’ll be working on that and the tutorial to go along with that, I will probably start posting that in June.

What have you found recently?

Alya’s stuff arrives!

When Alya found out she was coming here to live, she didn’t have much time to get packed. Her parents had also just gotten word that her dad’s job was transferring him to Italy from London. Since they were going to be packing things up anyhow and it’s so expensive to take much on a plane, they told Alya that she just needed to take what she absolutely needed with her and they would ship the rest. Yesterday she was so excited, she’d gotten an email telling her that her things would be arriving! She couldn’t wait to get home from school.

When Alya, Kit and Cassandra walked in to the house, there were two great big boxes sitting in the laundry room.
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“Wow” exclaimed Kit, “those are some HUGE boxes!” Alya responded “If you could give me a hand with these, I would really appreciate it.”
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They opened the first box. “Oh good, all of my toys, bags and other stuff!” said Alya. “You guys have all been great about letting me borrow stuff, but it sure will be nice to have my own things.”
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“Oh great, my roller skates!” exclaimed Alya. Kit replied “hey, it will be cool now that you have those, you can come along with me when I go on my skateboard, and Rebecca can bring her bike. It will be just like on that blog we read about that girl from the 70’s–you know, Julie?”
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Then she pulled out a stuffed animal. “Hey Cassandra, it has a camera around it’s neck.” “Oh wow, that is really neat!” said Cassandra.

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“Oh thank heavens, my backpack.  I can’t believe I forgot to bring that with me, duh!”

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There were all sorts of things in the box:  a rubber duck, a notebook, an mp3 player, some purses, a giant Minnie Mouse puzzle that she got at Disneyland Paris.  It seemed like the box had everything!

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The girls helped her move the box to the living room so she could open the second box.  “Oh good, the rest of my clothes!”

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Kit pulled something out of the box.  “What’s this?” she asked.  “That is my number from a marathon I ran in with both of my parents before we moved to London.  It was to raise money for a cancer center.”  “That’s really cool, I didn’t know you were a runner,” said Kit.  “Maybe you can go out for cross country in the fall?”

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“Yay, my favorite hat!”

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When they got to the bottom of the box of clothes, there was a package wrapped in purple paper with a note attached.

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It read “Dear Alya, We went to Paris one last time & picked up a few things we thought you would like.  Enjoy! Love Mom & Dad”.

“I wonder what in the world it could be?” questioned Alya.  “We went to Paris a couple of times from London, I just loved it there.  It could be anything!”

She opened the package and let out a big squeal!

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In the package there was a tote bag with the Eiffel Tower on it and a t-shirt that said “Paris” on it.  “Those are awesome!” said Kit and Cassandra.

There was also a silver box in the package as well.

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When Alya opened it up, she couldn’t believe her eyes!

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It was a necklace of the Eiffel Tower, just like her mom bought when they were there last fall.  “Now every time I wear it, I will think of her!”

All of a sudden Alya went running out of the room carrying the t-shirt, the necklace and a pair of shorts with her.  Kit and Cassandra thought maybe something was wrong, but in a few minutes she returned.

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“TA-DA!  What do you guys think?”

“I think it looks great!” responded Cassandra.  “You know I love sharing a room with you until yours is finished cuz, but exactly what are we going to do with all of this stuff?”  Then Cassandra, Alya and Kit burst out laughing.

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In case you are curious, the Paris bag, t-shirt and the denim shorts came from Etsy seller If Dolls Could Dream. She has a number of things with a Paris theme, be sure to check them out!