Monthly Archives: March 2015

Books for AG Fans – St Patrick’s Day Edition

Nory Ryan's SongMy daughter has converted me into a historical literature fan.  It all started long ago reading “Addy” and “Josefina” on the couch together.  Today I work in reading instruction at an elementary school and discover all sorts of fabulous fiction at work.

Nory RyanIf you enjoy American Girl historical fiction, I recommend the book Nory Ryan’s Song.  Nory is 12 years old and lives through the first year of the Irish Potato Blight of 1845.  Nory has many traits in common with our favorite historical AGs: tenacity, bravery, caretaking, intergenerational relationships, and healing.  I have to admit that I always wondered why the Irish didn’t fish in the sea when the potatoes failed.  This book explains how truly trapped the Irish were by the English landowners.

I recommend the book for 4th grade and up.  There is nothing inappropriate in the book, but younger readers may not understand the complicated tangle of problems the Irish faced.  The book was so compelling that my husband read it too!

Nory Ryan’s Song has two fantastic sequels that follow Nory through her life.  I recommend them all.

The author, Patricia Reilly Giff, based the book loosely on her on family’s history.  Ms. Giff came to writing as a second career after being a teacher for many years.

I would love to create my own doll based on Nory, and hope some day to locate a doll needing a new wig that might be transformed into Nory.  Until then, Saige will play along.

Saige as Nory Ryan.  The red ribbon and stone wall are elements in the book.

Saige as Nory Ryan. The red ribbon and stone wall are elements in the book.

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Jen and Brianna

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Saige’s Profile

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Saige can be Caddie Woodlawn, Annie Oakley, or any other pioneer with red hair.

Hello bloggers and American Girl lovers! Brianna here with a post about my “alpha doll” Saige. Here is Saige’s profile!

After joining the family, Saige joined us for Christmas tea at the Peninsula Hotel, Chicago.

After joining the family, Saige joined us for Christmas tea at the Peninsula Hotel, Chicago.

Name: Saige Copeland

Nickname: Vanilla

Age: 14

Birthday: February 15th, 2001

Description: Auburn hair, pale skin, blue eyes, and freckles

Personalitiy: Sassy, artist, creative, and determined

Interests: Painting, Nature, Horse Riding, Gymnastics, Soccer, and Singing

Favorite Foods: Fajitas, Chocolate Pie [from Fresh Market], Marzipan, and Cookie Bar

Least Favorite Foods: Tomatoes and any kind of fish

Dream Job: To be a professional singer or fashion designer

Favorite Color: Turquoise or Purple

Children's Tea at the Peninsula Hotel.

Children’s Tea at the Peninsula Hotel.

Favorite Animal: HORSES!!!!!

Thanks for reading!

Your New Mexican friend,

Brianna

We’ve Come Out of Hibernation… Let’s Shop!

This winter we were pounded with cold, then snow.  Repeat.

It was amazing this weekend to get out to a few shops just for fun.  We found many neat items for dolls, and doll-lovers!

Michaels SpoonsThese spoons, and forks below, were at Michaels in the party section with gift bags and paper plates.  Something for dolls who require elegant table settings!  They are 3-4″ in length.  Possibly a tad big, but our dolls can make that work!

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We saw these tiny canvases at Michaels as well.  They are 2×2 and would be perfect for a Camp Doll Diaries activity!

noexif_IMG_5506_privateI picked up these blank canvas shoulder bags so that our dolls can have a customized carrying bag this summer for Camp Doll Diaries.  The bags are about 5 inches wide.  We plan to use fabric paint or markers on them.  These were in the section with wedding favor supplies at Michaels.

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We happened to be in Lands’ End clothing store and Brianna saw a shirt right away that reminded her of the Julie Peace Petals shirt for girls, and next to it I saw a top that reminded me of the Addy Periwinkle Plaid top for girls:

noexif_IMG_5508_private noexif_IMG_5509_privateWhat do you think about the girls’ clothing items?  Do you see a resemblance as well?

 

Crafty with ‘A Girl for All Time’

Amelia, Victorian Period

We were excited to find a bookmark craft on the Living a Doll’s Life website courtesy of A Girl for All Time.  The dolls are English girls from the same family spanning four historical periods.  We were so excited to hear about them that we ordered the first book ‘Matilda’s Secret’ from the UK from a book reseller.  We hope it will arrive this week!

We printed the bookmarks out, and then fancied them up with scrapbook paper and ribbons.  We placed additional stickers and cut-out images on the back side of the bookmarks.

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Matilda, Tudor Period

 

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Clementine and Matilda

Then after a frenzy of bookmark-crafting, we packed them into envelopes and sent them off to some of the girls in our life, ages 4 to 93!

All the Girls

 

 

Waiting for ‘Mary Ellen’

Retro-Cooking-Mom-thm-GraphicsFairy-150x150Rumors are circulating that the new American Girl historical doll in 2015 might be ‘Mary Ellen’ — potentially a 1950s era girl.  For the back-story on this speculation, see Living a Doll’s Life.

My impatient, curious personality wants to know what elements her story might possibly contain, so I thought it might be fun to revisit 1950s history and culture.

Social Conflict

  • Nuclear bomb ends WWII at the end of the ’40s and oops, the Soviet Union has nuclear weapons too.
  • Senator McCarthy creates fear of Communists living among Americans.
  • United States enters Korean War
  • Fear of nuclear war has Americans building bomb shelters and school children practice “duck and cover” drills (note: in event of nuclear bomb, duck and cover irrelevant)
  • Cold War begins
  • Brown vs Board of Education says segregated schools are unconstitutional
  • Polio epidemic affects American children; vaccine introduced at end of 1950s.  (The book “Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio” is a wonderful read with your kids grade 3 and up).
  • Communism close to home – Fidel Castro in Cuba
  • Rosa Parks, Montgomery Bus Boycott, MLK Jr

Culture

  • Rock n roll, Elvis, American Bandstand
  • The hula hoop is invented
  • Car culture… big, fancy, colorful cars (look out Julie with the little VW!)  Drive in restaurants and movies
  • “I Like Ike” – Dwight Eisenhower, a popular president who didn’t ruffle a lot of feathers
  • Saddle shoes and poodle skirts
  • Television in homes more common “The Golden Age of Television” – I Love Lucy, Cowboy shows, Walt Disney programs
  • Passenger air travel more available, but only for the wealthy
  • Suburbs are created for all the baby boomers being born, housing boom

Jen speculates:  The Cold War and nuclear fallout shelters are too heavy duty for AG.  How about a girl who experiences integration in her school and we get two dolls, Mary Ellen and an African-American friend!  AG has a family building a new house in the suburbs and Dad is a WWII veteran and now working as a PanAm pilot (or did we already check that box with Saige…?)

Brianna thinks: I think that Mary Ellen might have two friends [like Chrissa.] One of them would be African – American and the other could be a victim of Polio. Like my mom, I think Mary Ellen’s dad could possibly be a WWll veteran, or if Mary Ellen had an older brother, her older brother could possibly get drafted.

What do you think?  What would be your ideal 1950s American Girl storyline?

Le Gateau pour la Grace!

Ooh la la, what better way to celebrate your 10th birthday than with a Paris-inspired cake in homage to American Girl of the Year Grace!

Cake Grace

I have had a fascination with cake decorating ever since I was a little kid.  One of my favorite things to check out of the library was Wilton cake decorating yearbooks.  I have never taken a proper class, so I wing it and try to make it work with the skills I do have.

Brianna requested a red velvet cake with chocolate frosting (unusual!) and a theme of Paris and GOTY Grace.

I used fondant (ordered from Amazon) rolled out with a rolling pin and cut with a biscuit cutter.  Fondant is similar to a big tub of edible Play Doh.  I drew Eiffel towers, French poodles, and other pictures using a food-safe pen (also from Amazon).  I learned how to draw some of these great shapes at the blog The Decorated Cookie. I added color to my designs with gel food color thinned with vodka and painted with a clean, new paintbrush.  I tried to evoke the colors in Grace’s Patisserie.  I also cut out a few Eiffel towers free-hand with a knife and finished them with edible white glitter.

These were great do-ahead decorations because I could work on them during the week and assemble the cake quickly the day before the party.  I originally was going to put some macarons on the top, but they ended up looking like wayward hamburger buns sitting there.

French cakeDetail of fondant circles.  These would be cute on cupcakes!

Last year’s birthday cake also involved American Girl, so I will share that with you in a future post.