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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Birthday Party at American Girl Doll Store

So earlier this month Hazel was invited to a friend's birthday party at the American Girl Doll Store Boston. Since the store is at least half an hour away, parents went as well. The party included lunch in the Bistro and having each girl's doll's hair done at the Hair Salon. Hazel of course loved it!! We also thought Nonni (my mother-in-law) would love it, so we made plans for the three of us to go and we figured with my birthday coming up, it would be a fun birthday party. Nonni wanted to splurge for the birthday party option in the Bistro. 

Lunch at the Bistro includes your choice of a starter and the main meal as well as a beverage. The non-birthday party price is $7.50 for a child and $16.00 for an adult. The child gets to bring a doll (or two and they do not have to be American Girl brand) and they have high chairs for the dolls. If a child does not have a doll, they have some to borrow. The dolls get a mug and saucer which the girls get to bring home. For the birthday party, the birthday person gets a special crown and all the dolls get a crown. Plus they bring out a cake and sing to the birthday person. Then they serve the cake with vanilla ice cream. The birthday person gets the leftover cake.  Each child gets a goody bag which differ for different ages, but the young girls includes a celebration tee shirt for the doll, a balloon for the doll and a book and stickers, plus a doll size American Girl shopping bag. The prices for the birthday party are $30 for a child and $20 for an adult. We drove one of the other friends (it was all girls from Hazel's class plus the birthday girl's older sister). The friend we drove did not have an 18-inch doll yet, so we had her borrow one of Hazel's. She picked Mimi. Hazel brought her Hazel doll. 

Now the hair prices range from $10 to $25, but most of the styles are $20 or $25. Having seen what they did and heard advice a few of the stylists gave about the dolls hair, I decided this was something I could do on Hazel's dolls. Her oldest 18-inch doll, Barbie, had a mess of hair. I considered having the hair salon deal with it, but after seeing several posts about how to fix doll hair, I decided to give it a go. I used the tips from All Things with a Purpose: Fix American Girl Doll's Hair Without a Trip to the Doll Hospital. However we had bought the American Girl doll hair brush after the birthday party and I found it did not work well. It broke very easily. However I had a cat brush that was made with metal and love that one. The cats hated it so I don't use it on them. I found soaking the dolls hair when it is really messy and then brushing it out works. I had to resoak Barbie's a couple of times to get right, but it worked. Then I was able to copy the styles they would do to Hazel's dolls. I convinced Hazel that we did not need to spend $25 on a doll's hair and we could instead buy baby clothes to make doll clothes.
I took a selfie for the first time!
Well when you book a birthday party, they send you invitations and thank you notes for the number you say. (They ask you for the largest number of people who will be attending when you book it.) Needless to say, we did not use these. When we were seated they gave both Hazel and me a sticker saying "It's my special day!" and gave me the crown, which Hazel of course wanted to wear. The napkin rings are hair elastics with a pink bow. I put Hazel's and Nonni's on Hazel's pigtails and put my hair up since I forgot to bring an elastic for my hair. Hazel also insisted on bringing all four of her 18-inch dolls. (None of them are American Girl dolls and I have explained to her that all four together cost less than one American Girl doll, so she has decided she would rather have more dolls than a brand one.) 

Hazel brought Hazel and Barbie and she dressed Hazel in the Dolly & Me dress that matched her own. They actually were perfect because the matched the crowns as well. Nonni got to bring Emily a BFC, Ink doll and I got Mimi. Now Hazel and Mimi are Madam Alexander dolls (one from KMart and one from Kohl's post Christmas sale), and I actually like their faces better than the American Girl dolls' plus I love that their chest and shoulders are plastic and not cloth like the American Girl dolls (and Barbie). Hazel of course wanted pictures of her with each pair of dolls. She also was excited that she got four mugs and saucers for the dolls.
We had a lovely lunch. Then it was time for cake. While waiting for the cake, Nonni took our picture, and look I get to wear my crown! I should note that Nonni hates having her picture taken, so she will not be pictured in this post. She does not let me take one usually.

The waitress came with a friend and the cake and sang to me.


Hazel and I blew out the candles and took a picture of the top of the cake. The cake is two layers--one white and one chocolate. They then took the cake and brought us each a slice and a dish of ice cream. The dishes look like small flower pots and each one has a fake daisy in it as well.

I also asked them to give pieces of the cake to the mother and daughter eating next to us since they were not celebrating a birthday and the tables were really close together. We still came home with half the cake. Since it was good cake, we didn't mind and Steve was happy to help eat it. I didn't take a picture of the sliced cake, but here is the fruit kabob starter that Hazel got (and most of the girls at the friend's birthday party). The yogurt was served in the same flowerpot dish with daisy as the ice cream.


We stuck the daisy in Hazel's pigtails and my pony tail. Hazel did not get the yogurt due to her dairy intolerance and instead got an extra fruit kabob. They also gave her raspberry sorbet instead of vanilla ice cream.

After lunch we took a picture of Hazel with her Hazel doll and then she wanted one of me and Mimi. She took this one.

Then we went to show Nonni the Hair Salon and all the dolls and accessories. Nonni of course had to buy Hazel something. After the struggle of getting her to chose one or two things, Nonni saw the price of the two things and decided it would be better to buy just one of the expensive things Hazel loved. She bought her Isabelle's Studio. I explained to both of them that this would be Hazel's Christmas and birthday gifts from Nonni. Hopefully Nonni will stick with it though she never does.
Hazel is loving it and has her Hazel doll sewing all the time now. In fact her (the doll's) sleeping bag is next to the studio so she doesn't have to go far. The only thing Hazel thought it was missing was a pencil to go with the sketch book. This brings us to our craft for today. I made Hazel a doll pencil from a bamboo skewer. I painted the tip black and left some wood color and then painted above it yellow for the pencil. Then I cut it off. After the paint dried I glued on a dot of pink foam and tried to make it look somewhat like an eraser.

Hazel took it for her Hazel doll as soon as she saw it. Before we left the American Doll Store however we got some pictures of the two Hazels with Isabelle.

We had to do it with and without the crowns.


Tomorrow I will share some more doll crafts and some Dollar Tree doll finds. 


For more doll ideas check out:

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Pinned it and Did it! Doll Clothes

We have been very into dolls lately and I have been looking at patterns on-line. Now for 18-inch dolls,  Hazel has two What a Doll dolls from Kmart, a BFC doll and a You & Me Doll from Toys 'R Us. The BFC doll is super skinny and an older girl with breasts and jointed everywhere. She came in a bathing suit. The problem being that her straps would get caught in her shoulder joints and then her chest would be completely exposed. I had to make her a dress. I found a simple pattern on Wren-Feathers: Summer Sew-Along Week 7.  She has many great doll patterns on her blog!! Check it out!

I also saw lots of ideas on using baby clothes to make doll clothes.  Since we donated most of Hazel's baby clothes except a few favorite things, we had to purchase some new onsies and a newborn outfit. The first thing we tried was adjusting old baby dresses like the ones I saw at Doll It Up and A Doll for All Seasons. However I started by adjusting one of our favorites of Hazel's baby dresses.  This dress was a 6-9 month size. It had been a gift for Hazel's baptism. I just adjusted the side seams to make it fit the dolls. It is a bit long on them because it was so big, but I didn't want to adjust the length.


Here is Hazel in it as well. I also adjusted the headband so the dolls could wear it.
While shopping we found the cutest newborn outfit/dress. We thought it looked the right size for two of Hazel's baby dolls. 

It fits pretty well except the onsie part underneath is a bit too long, but since you cannot see it with dress, I didn't bother adjusting it or cutting it off.



The final idea we had was to use newborn onsies to make tee shirts like I saw at Nest Full of Eggs. I have not finished the edges yet, but Hazel wanted to use them right away. To make these you simply cut the bottom part of the onesie off. Then finish the edge. 



We also found a pair of 3 month onsies with flamingos on them. I cut the simpler one of them and made a doll night gown. The other one has tulle ruffles it, so I think I am going to try to make it into a dress.


Tomorrow I will share my birthday party at the American Girl Doll Store. Yes, we did it for Hazel, but since my birthday is coming up my mother-in-law went all out for the celebration. 

For more doll ideas check out:

Monday, July 28, 2014

Fairy Tales in Different Cultures: Mulan and the Many Versions



In the beginning of the month, I shared with you a wonderful version of Mulan by Li Jian and Yijin Wert is the translator, which Tuttle Publishing sent me to review. I compared it with the Disney version or at least the movie version. I also found a few other versions of Mulan and thought I would share all of them with you. 


The first version is by Robert D. San Souci and is called Fa Mulan. As all of San Souci's books seem to be it is child friendly and tries to give an overview of the culture the story comes from. In this version she has a younger brother and elder sister, and her family knew she was going to go to war in her father's place. They bid her farewell. She rises in ranks with her victories and becomes a general. At the end of the twelve year war her family is happy to greet her and five of her companions who came home with her. She changes from her armor into her normal female clothes and her companions are shocked to learn that their general is a female. One companion hints at the possibility of a shared furture. 

The next two are the ones I compared at the beginning of the month--Disney's version and Li Jian's version. The next book, Mulan: Five Versions of a Classic Chinese Legend with Related Texts edited and translated by Shiamin Kwa and Wilt L. Idema, has five versions of the story in it. Two are poems and the other three are plays. 

Wild Orchid: A Retelling of "Ballad of Mulan" by Cameron Dokey is a young adult version. I enjoyed this version even though the story was changed from all other forms. In this version, her mother died when she was born and her father stayed away at war for most of her life. He did not return until she was fourteen and girls were usually married at age fifteen in China. She had a male best friend who lived next door (but across a creek). They spent all of their free time together. When it came time for her to learn the female arts and the friend to learn the male things, he taught her how to read, write, ride horses, shoot bows and arrows--all the male things. Her father came home to find her with more male habits than female habits. Her father was injured in the war and had upset the emperor. He is accompanied by his good friend another general. Her father falls in love a few weeks after he returns with a widow who has a hurt driver. He marries her and she becomes pregnant. The draft is announced and Mulan sneaks off during the night so her father does not have to leave his new wife and soon-to-be baby (like he had to with her mother). He is not called back to be a general but is called in the general draft which is a blow to him as well. Mulan sneaks off and when questioned at the camp about her bow and arrow (her father's friend gave it to her), she tells them this and they call his assistant who is her best friend. In this version there are three princes--the emperor's sons--and each commands a part of the army. I am going to leave it there as to not ruin the story by giving all the ending away.

The next two books contain a version of Mulan in them. They seem to be translations of the "Ballad of Mulan". The final book, Mulan's Legend and Legacy in China and the United States by Lan Dong, is not a version of Mulan, but actually looks at the things people have pulled from the story and some of the misconceptions Americans have of Ancient China. This is really a research type of book meant for teenagers or older. For example there are other women in China's history who fought in war. Some names to check out are Xun Guan, Zhu Xiu's Mother, Princess Pinyang, and Lady Liang. This book also goes through how Mulan changes through the different versions and what the image of Mulan has become. 

So that is what I found at my local library on Mulan. It is a mixture of books for children, adults and everything in between. It is interesting to see how one story changes so much when you consider the original written version is only 300 words long.

Be sure to check out our Fairy Tales in Different Cultures page for more fairy tale fun.