A very special day approaches…

There’s a big day coming up–and no, it’s not MY birthday, but the 1 year anniversary of this blog! YEAH, A ONE YEAR BLOGAVERSARY!!! I can’t believe that a year has gone by since I started this, and I have to say that it’s been a lot of work, but also a whole lot of fun. I’ve learned a lot about American Girl and other dolls, I’ve met some super nice people and I’ve tried some craft projects that I don’t know that I would have tried had it not been for the blog.

The funny part is when I started it, my goals were very simple: share my project of doing one (yes, one!) doll room and my love of my dolls Samantha and Rebecca. Hmmmmmm…uh, a whole doll house and 7 more dolls later, here we are! I wouldn’t change any of it either, it has been a terrific learning experience and has turned into such a fun hobby.

Now a blog would be nothing without it’s readers, and I thank you all for reading, commenting and just being all around fantastic. I’ve made several friends because of this blog that I wouldn’t have met otherwise. And I’m continually amazed at how many talented and funny young girls there are out there who also write their own blogs. You are an inspiration and give me hope that there are still people who realize how important creativity and creative play are.

I wanted to do something special to celebrate this very special day and to thank those who have kept the blog going, so I decided that I would do a contest. I don’t usually do contests for a number of reasons, but I thought that this was worthy of an exception.

So, you want to know how to enter? It’s really pretty easy. Post in the comments that you want to enter, be sure to give me your name. That’s it! ONLY ONE ENTRY PER HOUSEHOLD, and my family members are not eligible to enter. I will be checking IP addresses to be sure someone is not entered more than once. I am also opening this contest up to all ages, if you are under 13 and entering, please check to make sure that you have permission from a parent or guardian and please note that in your comment. COMMENTS WILL NOT BE MADE PUBLIC–I am doing that to protect everyone. What will happen is when I receive your request to enter, you will be assigned a number and I will add your number with your name to this post. The comment will not appear (or if it does will be removed), so be sure to check back later and see if your name has been added. If 24 hours pass and it has not, you may want to try commenting again just to be safe.

The winner will be drawn on July 2, at 6:00 AM EDST by using the random number generator provided by Math Goodies. I will announce the winner sometime that day and will contact them by e-mail as well to get their mailing information. In the event the winner is unable to accept the prize within 3 days, a new winner will be drawn.

I’m sure by now you are curious as to what the prize is…it’s a group of items that I personally really like that I think you will like too:


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Included in the Prize Package:  The My Life As Cupcake Baking Set, a coffee cup/candle, a mini rubber duckie, a doll sized Apples To Apples Game, an Eiffel Tower charm(just like Alya’s!), a mini binder and a mini diary keychain (keychain can easily be removed with pliers).  I decided not to put the Eiffel Tower on a chain, that way the winner can either use it for their dolls or wear it themselves, it is so cute!

Good luck to everyone who enters!

1. Doll Daydreams
2. CutePolarBear
3. Lainey D
4. Sheila
5. Shirley
6. Cat
7. Farrah Lily
8. Sarah
9. Jen/DollsBetweenUs
10. Samantha
11. Polka Dot Bee
12. kaleb
13. Claudia
14. Sarah #2


Broke Girl Bakery: TA DA!!!!

I bet you guys never thought we’d get to this point–something you can play with! It’s actually been mostly finished for a while now, but I’ve had so many other things going on and stuff I wanted to share, I kind of shoved it to the back burner.

Besides the high price tag, one of the major issues with Grace’s Bakery is the size. I’ll just say that it is VERY large, and would take up a lot of space. I know that I don’t have this kind of space in my house and I’m sure that there are plenty of people that have the same issue. I know that it is at least as big as the top of my sewing machine cabinet. Hmmmmm…

One day while in a craft store, I noticed that they had a lot of presentation boards–in colors!!! Red, blue, yellow and green. After some serious thought, I decided that I was going to go a completely different direction with this and make this project my own. Something that my husband and I have fond memories of from our travels to Ireland are the tea rooms scattered about the country. One in particular stuck out in both of our minds. Inspired by that memory, I decided to go with the green and my Irish tea room and bakery was born! My husband named it for me: Connemara Cakes Bakery and Coffee Shop.
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Connemara is a region in the North West area of Ireland, very rugged and very pretty. The photograph is of Kylemore Abbey, taken by me when we were there in 2003. It is one of the most photographed locations in all of Ireland!  Unfortunately my printer is on the fritz, so I wasn’t able to print my signs for in the shop. 😦

Now that I had my inspiration: Off to the craft store! I picked up my green board. Dimensions on the board: 36 inches tall, 22 1/2 inches wide and the flaps are each 13 deep. Only $4.97, not bad. They do make these boards in all white as well, so if you wanted to stick with the original colors, you could easily spray paint it turquoise blue or cover it with paper. I also picked up some scrapbooking paper while I was there that I thought would work well as wallpaper.

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After looking at it, I decided it was way too tall, so I cut 12 inches off the top of it so it was 24 inches tall. I set aside the piece I cut off, I had an idea for it as well. Then I started my wallpapering. I ended up using 5 sheets of the scrapbook paper, at 50 cents each, so that only cost me $2.50. I also picked up 2 book lights at Dollar Tree for $1 each. The book lights are held in place with Velcro, making them easily removable for storage.

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Here we are with the furnishings:
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So, let’s add some baked goods, dolls, and wave the magic wand…

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Alya and Rebecca are all ready to wait on customers!

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“I think I’ve been baking all morning, I hope we have enough!”

bakery finale 5 Look at all of those yummy things Rebecca has been working on, mmm…

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I found a great use for that little cabinet I picked up at the Goodwill, perfect for storing dishes and extras.

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Abby and Kit were the first customers to arrive.

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“This coffee is delicious and will go really well with my peanut butter and jelly sandwich as well as the macaron I got!”

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Abby decided to go the “all sugar” route–a peanutbutter kiss cookie and a cupcake.  At least she got plain tea to drink.

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Just then, Zara showed up.  “Hey guys, how are you?  Everything looks delicious!”

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She ordered a muffin and a chocolate chip frappe. “That will be $5.89.”

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“Don’t forget your frappe!”

 “No, don’t want to forget that, it looks wonderful. I need that chocolate boost too!  I’ve been dragging all morning.”

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“Looks like business is going to go well today” said Rebecca.

Just then, Marie-Grace and Cassandra walked in.

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“Oh dear” said Cassandra, “everything looks sooooooo good!  I don’t know how to decide.”

“Try the pumpkin pie” replied Rebecca.  “When I was cutting it I messed a piece up and OF COURSE I had to try it! I can vouch for it, it’s wonderful.”  “You’ve convinced me, pumpkin pie it is!”

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Marie-Grace didn’t have any trouble deciding what she wanted, she got one of the giant chocolate cupcakes to go.

Then Shivan came in–carrying a flower arrangement.

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“Hi guys!” said Shivan.  “Congratulations on your grand opening!  I brought these flowers for you to celebrate.”

“Awwww, that was so sweet!  Can I get you something to eat?” asked Alya.

“Can I just get a lemonade?  I’m on my power walk, so I don’t want the carbs dragging me down.  But I’ll be back later.”

“One lemonade, coming right up!”

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I think the girls have a very busy day ahead of them, what do you think?

A couple of things that I wanted to point out–if you notice, the bump out that I used to make the dining area was that extra piece from the display board that I cut off. I put the white board behind it so you didn’t see the mess in my living room. You could just buy a second board and decorate it as well.

That piece I picked up recently at the Goodwill made such a great storage cabinet. It’s not going to be a piece only used in the bakery, so I’m not going to count it in my final totals along with the baking area piece, I bought that last summer. I’m not going to count Grace’s baking set because I bought that before I even had the idea for this project, as well as the table and chairs I already had. This is one of the things I did like about this project though, I was able to use quite a few things that I already had, just a matter of repurposing some of them.

Amount spent already as of April 20, 2015 $57.86
Display board: $4.97
Scrapbook paper: $2.50
Book lights: $2.00
Bags: $1.00

Total spent as of June 12, 2015: $68.33

Even if I added in some of those items, we would still be well under $500!!! I think this is every bit as cute and functional as the American Girl set, plus a whole lot easier to store when not in use. I’ll just put all of the things that go in the doll house back, fold the boards up and store them behind something and the few odds and ends pieces that are more bakery specific can be stored in a small box. I’d say I accomplished what I set out to do, don’t you agree?

Field Trip!

A while back I found a very interesting post over at Tea Time With Melody Q about a museum in Western Pennsylvania that I had never heard of. The Coolspring Power Museum looked like a very interesting place, and Xyra and I made tentative plans to get together the next time she and her husband had a trip there. A few weeks ago I got an e-mail from her letting me know that they were definitely coming, I was so excited!

So, who to take?  Big decision!  My usual go-to girl for these kinds of things is Cassandra, she loves going places.  Shivan hadn’t been here very long though, and I thought perhaps a day out with me would be just the thing that she needed to help her settle in to her new surroundings.  We headed out early in the morning, arriving around 10:30.  I didn’t know which of her girls Xyra was bringing, so I was excited to see that she’d brought Kirsten along!  Kirsten and Shivan hit it off right away, they had a great time.

I’m going to let Shivan take over from here, she’s really a good story teller.  Take it away Shivan!

Hi guys, it’s Shivan here!  I’m going to tell you about the trip I took with mom to The Coolspring Power Museum.  We had a nice drive out, did hit some construction traffic, but it didn’t delay us too much.  It was hot outside though, the humidity was really high due to the fact that this side of the state has had ridiculous amounts of rain.  Mom doesn’t do too well with humidity, I thought she was going to melt!  We had a lot of fun checking out all the different engines they had on the grounds.  They had different kinds, sizes, shapes, colors, it was very interesting.  They were used for all sorts of things, starting in the 1800’s, from pumping natural gas to water, helping with farm operations, some even were used to generate electricity.  They had some cool tiny ones too.  Xyra’s husband Franz and a couple of friends were working with a little one that had actually been sold as a toy, Xyra laughed as she told us about the instructions for using it–it said to “disconnect mom’s gas stove and hook it up to that line.”  I wonder how many kitchens ended up scorched back in those days from wreckless kids!

Here is Kirsten and I in front of the biggest one they have on the grounds called “The Snow”.  It would have been used to pump natural gas, there was a super cool picture of a room full of them all working together!

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Two more pictures so you can get an idea of just how big this engine was, look how little we both look beside it!
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Unfortunately we didn’t get to see it running, Xyra said that it is pretty awesome when it is on.
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Here we are with a much more averaged size engine, there were lots of them this size and bigger, but not huge like the Snow. Mom and I were both amazed at how many there were! Mom thought it was very interesting to learn just how many of them were manufactured in Western Pennsylvania–Butler, Grove City, Erie and Oil City were all represented as were many other towns in the area. There were some foreign made ones too.

These were the more valuable engines in this building. Xyra explained that most of them were very rare, and that the building even had climate control in it to help preserve them. Some of them were so well restored they looked brand new.
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Check out these cool little ones! Some would have been made as toys this size, but most of these were prototypes that would have been sent to the patent office for approval. I wonder if we could have electrified our little house with one this size??
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We wandered around the grounds for quite a while, there was so much to see! Eventually mom’s bad knee started bothering her, so we found a nice spot on a bench under a tree and the four of us sat and chatted about all sorts of things: blogs, books, American Girl–we all had so much in common. I was very happy to get to meet another girl close to my age too.

Finally it was time for us to head home. There was some bad weather in the forecast for our area (more rain, ugh!) and mom wanted to try and get most of the way home before it hit. She doesn’t like driving in the rain at all. Before we headed out, both Xyra and mom wanted to be sure to get one last picture of the two of us together:
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Thank you so much to Xyra and Kirsten for inviting us and being such great hosts and guides!  We had a really great time checking everything out, hopefully we will get to go back.  Xyra also sent me home with a present to share with the girls:

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A Snakes and Ladder game and a combo Checkers/TicTac Toe game. Cool! We’ll have lots of fun with these, thank you!

She also sent us home with some more information on the museum in case we want to come back.
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I was tired after we got home, and I settled down in dad’s recliner since he wasn’t home yet.
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Hi Mom!  I see you with that camera!

Then I got really tired, so I took my boots off and put on my slippers. It was lights out!
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I hope you enjoyed hearing about our trip! We had a great time and I can’t wait for the next adventure.

Curious about the Coolspring Power Museum? You can check it out here: http://www.coolspringpowermuseum.org/index.htm Easiest way to find it on a map–follow interstate 80 in Pennsylvania, you will find the town of Brookville on the map in the Western part of the state. Coolspring is just south of there, located mid-way between Brookville and Punxsutawney–yeah, that place where the groundhog lives!