Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Bollywood and Indian Cuisine-What More Do You Need? ;)

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Friday night was our "Bollywood Night" at Mimi's house.  We had so much fun! :)  Mimi and I dressed up in salwar kameezes (I think that's how you spell it!) that we'd found at Goodwill.  I also wore my bangle bracelets and my anklet.  We ended up watching two Bollywood movies.  It was a great night to pretend I was a teenager again with no obligations.  Just food, friends, and fun. ;)

The first movie we watched was "Dil Bole Hadippa", starring Shahid Kapoor and Rani Mukerji.  It had some great songs and some really funny parts, but it also had enough content in it that it's not one I would recommend.  Pity, too, because some of it is absolutely hilarious! 

Emma and Piper, the two Bollywood fans, joined us for the evening. ;)  In fact, you can read Emma's take on things HERE

Here's a look at our delicious feast.  Mimi went all out when she picked it up from her favorite restaurant!  She and I have both had Indian food before, but my friend from college, who joined us, has never had it.  I can't remember what everything was called (it's only my second time eating Indian food!), but I've labeled everything that I had. :)

The rice is just like our steamed white rice.  It goes great with the chicken tikka masala, which is basically tender chicken pieces in a creamy, spicy (but not too hot!) sauce.  Chicken tikka masala is still my very favorite Indian main dish, by the way. :)  The aloo gobi was really good too.  It has potato and cauliflower in it, both things I'm not a big fan of, but together in the amazing sauce they're delicious!   The garlic naan was awesome!  It's very similar to a tortilla, but it had garlic and other spices on it.  It was really thick and soft, too. :)  The tandoori chicken was something new I tried...not spicy at all and very tasty.  Mimi told me that she normally gets tandoori chicken for first timers because it tastes very similar to chicken the way we normally prepare it.  The mango lassi is another must!  I'm not usually a fan of mango, but these are amazing!  The mango taste is really mild, and they're basically sweet smoothies.  Then there's my favorite Indian dessert so far:  gulab janum.  Imagine a doughnut hole dipped in an incredible sweet sauce.  Yum!!  

I have to admit, I didn't exactly count Weight Watchers points this evening. ;)  It was worth it, though!!  

We finished the evening with "Rab Ne Bana di Jodi", which my friend had never seen.  I did a review for this movie in my Bollywood Reviews post, if you want to know more about it. :)

We had such a fun night!  I think we'll definitely have to schedule another one soon! ;)

I'm hoping to get one more post in before my trip, but I'll just have to see how things go with all of the packing and whatnot. ;)

I Was Awarded :)

I was just given the "Your blog is great" award by Lissy at I'll Never Grow Up.  Thanks, Lissy! :)

So, here are the instructions for receiving and passing on this award:

1. Link to the person who gave you the award.
2. Put the award on your post.
3. Choose 5 blogs to receive the award.
4. Let them know you awarded them.

I know this one has been going around for a while, and I haven't kept up with who's gotten it already.  So if I award you and you've already received it, sorry about that! :}

I choose:

2. The Bolton Girls from "Bolton Girls Travel Journal" 
3. Jenny at "A Doll's Life"
5. Bama at "Dolls of an Era"

Happy blogging, everyone! :)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

New Collage Option at! :)

Hey guys, just another really quick post.  Within the past few days, added a collage option to their site.  It's a little bit more involved than Picnik was.  Unless I'm missing something, there's no way to add text and effects directly to your collage, which means you have to make your collage, save it to your computer, and then upload the completed collage to Picmonkey again to add further effects.  Correct me if I'm wrong, please! :}  I'm also really hoping that eventually they'll add a direct link to Picasa like Picnik did.

Anyway, I've been goofing around with it for a while, so I decided to try a new header, featuring my BFC Ink dolls.  Hope you enjoy it! :)

And as always, here's a copy of my previous header:

Have a great day, everyone! :)

Brave MagiClip Doll Review and a Preview of Other Brave Products

I don't know about the rest of you, but I am getting SO impatient to see Disney Pixar's latest offering, "Brave". :D  Unfortunately, it won't be coming out until June 22nd, so I'm just going to have to wait. 

In the meantime, I thought I'd show you some of the "Brave" merchandise that's been released from Mattel this month, just to whet your appetite. ;)  

This first product is one of the Polly Pocket-sized princess dolls with the new MagiClip dresses (they're hard and clip on instead of being soft and squishy like the older versions).  I found this on thanks to a tip from an awesome Disney Doll Forum which I keep forgetting to mention on this blog.  Now's as good a time as any, I guess. ;)  For those of you who enjoy Disney Dolls, be sure to stop by Disney Doll Lovers and check things out.  It's a proboards site, so you have to register to view most things, but it's definitely worth it. :)

Anyway, this Merida was on for $6.82.  You can get your own HERE. :)  I was interested in purchasing her because, as you all know, my Charlie doll collects stuff from all of the Disney Pixar movies.  I knew that this Merida would be just the right size, and she was the least expensive one I could find. :)

Here she is in her package.

And here's the back of the package.

Free from the box! ;)

I took this picture to show you how the new dresses work.  You squeeze the bottom, and the dress opens up, allowing you to take the doll out.

I appreciate that she has painted on undergarments so she's never naked! :)  I also like the fact that her hips are wider than the typical princess hips.  Yay for a slightly more realistic figure, even if she is still super skinny. ;)

Here she is in her other outfit.  I really like her flowing cape in this one.

I thought it was a great idea of Mattel's to include instructions for putting the dress back together if it comes apart.  My 4 year old has pulled too hard on one of these dresses and popped it apart, so it is definitely a hazard of the new design. 

Charlie loves her new Merida!

She can't wait for the movie to come out, either. ;)

I would give this mini doll a 4 out of 5 stars.  She's very cute and a perfect size for the AG dolls.  My only complaints are that she doesn't really look much like herself, and her dresses are not movie accurate.  Granted, it's probably because long-sleeved dresses in hard plastic would have been difficult to get on the doll, but it still detracts from her overall appeal to least a little.  It's also difficult to turn her head in the dress with the cape, because her hair is so close to her body.  Also, for younger kiddos (4 and under, perhaps?), it might be better to go for a doll with softer clothing.  Either that, or you just need to bear in mind that you'll be helping them dress little Merida...a lot! ;)  And don't lose the instructions on how to put the dress back together.  Trust me on this one.

The other day, I was in Walmart and noticed that several of Mattel's mini doll play sets and larger dolls were in stock.  I snapped a few pics with my cell phone (sorry for the lousy quality) and recorded the prices so you could check them out. :)

First, we have the Brave "Story Gift Set", which includes a mini Merida like mine and a Queen Elinor.  It also comes with Elinor as a bear (you can apparently fit the doll inside the bear body), an extra dress and cape for Merida, and Merida's bow, arrow, and quiver.  As you can see from the packaging, this also features the hard MagiClip clothing.  Walmart was selling this set for $15.97.  

Here's a closer look at some of the details:

Next is the Brave "Castle and Forest Playset".  It comes with the castle, some plastic trees, a few pieces of furniture, and mini Merida and Angus.  Walmart was selling this set for $26.97.

My favorite thing about this set was that it came with Angus (Merida's horse)!!  I have a feeling he'll be one of my favorite characters. :)  I just didn't want to spend $27 so I could have the horse, too. ;)

Now we move on to the Barbie-sized dolls.  This one is the generic Merida doll by Mattel.  She comes with a comb, her dress and belt, a crown, and (I'm assuming) shoes.  Her price was $14.97.

For those interested in more detail, there is also "Gem Styling Merida".  She comes with removable gems to add to her dress, a comb, and her bow and arrow.  I'm assuming she has shoes, too.  Walmart was selling her for $20.97.

Here's a closer look.

And for all of you horse lovers out there, Mattel also released a "Merida and Angus" set, selling at Walmart for $26.97.  Personally, I'd rather spend the extra six bucks and get the horse rather than removable gems and a bow and arrow, but that's just me. ;)  My main complaint with this set is that Angus is a REALLY small Clydesdale.  Either that, or Merida had a huge growth spurt overnight. ;)  I know this doesn't bother everyone, but accurate scale is really important to me (it comes from having a model railroader as a father). 

Just look at this picture of Merida and Angus, and you'll see what I mean:
Now, if someone made a horse like this, I would so buy it! ;)  The plush Angus from the Disney Store is better than Mattel's version, but he's still not perfect.  Maybe I'm just too picky. :}

I have to say that I definitely prefer the Disney Store 11" Merida doll to Mattel's version.  I think that the Disney Store did a better job at capturing her look:

Sorry, I know the difference in quality gives the Disney Store version an unfair advantage, but that aside, the face and outfit are just flat out done better.  At least, in my own humble opinion. ;)  

Interestingly enough, my oldest daughter prefers the Mattel version because she has a "sweeter face".  I'm sure there will be others out there who agree.   

What are your thoughts?  Are you excited about all of the new Brave merchandise?  Are you looking forward to the movie?  Do you prefer the Mattel or Disney Store dolls? 

Talk to you guys later!  I'm hoping to get another post up before we leave for vacation, but I'm not sure how my time will go.  I'll at least do a quick update post. ;)


Monday, May 28, 2012

Happy Memorial Day!

In the midst of our celebrations and festivities today, may we remember what this day is for:  honoring those who lost their lives so that we could live in freedom.

Our church had a wonderful Memorial Day service last night.  It was filled with patriotic songs, stories of our country's Christian heritage, and a review of some of the different battles that have been fought.  It was wonderful to see so many of the teens in our church involved...what a testimony they have! :)  We also played a video that talked all about the different memorials in Washington, DC.  Then the trio I'm involved in sang a song called "Row Upon Row" while pictures were shown of Arlington National Cemetery and other monuments and memorials from past wars.  I think the lyrics of this song really capture what this holiday is about, so I thought I'd share them with you:

Have you ever been to Arlington
Where tombstones stand row upon row?
Great soldiers turned to granite ghosts
Harboring invincible souls.

Their sacrifice of flesh and blood
Lay buried deep in freedom's sod.
Brave hearts who will never know
The solemn honor we bestow
Row upon row upon row upon row.

Let freedom ring
Let the nation sing
Till the whole earth knows
How proud we are
Of each row upon row upon row upon row.

The earth lays still at Arlington
Where tombstones stand row upon row.
And the flag flies
Proudly in the skies.

Oh let this scene forever stand
Reminding us what we've been given.
We hold these lost in high esteem
The pave the road to all our dreams
Row upon row upon row upon row.

(Repeat Chorus)

Let freedom ring
Join hands and sing
Till the multitude grows
One by one, row upon row upon row upon row.
One by one, row upon row upon row upon row.

I'm pretty sure this song was written by Kara Williamson-Tualatai (I don't have my sheet music with me anymore, so I had to do some research online).  If you'd like an idea of how it sounds, I've included a link to the YouTube video HERE. (You'll have to mute my blog music to listen, because it will open in a new window...sorry about that!)

Our version didn't sound quite the same.  We sang it with just piano and toned down the contemporary style of the singing a bit (which was good because I cannot sing like that and make it sound pleasant!). :}  We wanted it to be appropriate for our very conservative church (and personally, I liked it a little better without the electric guitars and heavy drumbeat in the background...although I wish we'd had the marching drumbeat at the beginning and ending for ours too). ;)  Regardless, I hope you enjoy the song and that it helps you remember the fallen on this special day. :)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Couple Memorial Day Sales You Might Be Interested In

Hi guys!  I thought I'd post this really quickly before church. :)  I checked my email this morning and found a few special Memorial Day sales that might interest my readers.

Pottery Barn Kids has some major discounts going on, including discounts on their toys.  Some of their 18" doll dresses and accessories are included in the sale.  I've linked directly to their toy page  HERE.  I believe the sale is for today and tomorrow. :)

Disney Store has a special sale as well:  an extra 25% off their sale prices.  You just have to apply the code MEMORIAL25 during checkout.  I was super excited about this one at first, because the last time I'd checked, all of the classic prince and princess dolls were on sale for $8 each.  Unfortunately, though, they are now back to regular price, so this sale won't apply to them. :(  The 17" Singing Tiana doll was on sale, though.  There were also some Avengers and Toy Story items on sale, so it's definitely worth checking out.  You can click HERE to see all of the current sale items.  This sale may only be good for today, because they had a different promotion yesterday, so they might be doing something new each day of the weekend.

Happy shopping, everyone! :)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Why I'm a Stay-at-Home Mom...a post dedicated to Claire :)

Here's another post that's been a long time in coming.  Thanks so much for your patience, everyone (and especially you, Claire!). ;)

For as long as I can remember, I've always dreamed about being a wife and a mom.  We're talking as early as 6 years old.  I can clearly remember drawing pictures of my future hubby and kids at that age. :)  Of course, it was all very romantic and set to a Disney soundtrack.  I pictured my Prince Charming coming and sweeping me off of my feet.  We would enjoy a huge wedding, where I would wear the most beautiful dress in the world, and then we'd have a few adorable, perfect kids whom I would care for with my amazing mothering skills, which would come very naturally to me, of course.

Incidentally, I also dreamed of being a missionary for many years.  This was also a highly romanticized thought.  I think that somewhere I still have a drawing I did in 8th grade.  I'm standing at some unspecific location in Africa, surrounded by adorable African children.  I have an African baby in one arm and my Bible in the other. I'm wearing a peasant blouse and a long, flowy skirt, and the wind is blowing my skirt and my hair.

Yeah, that pretty much sums up the way I thought about everything growing up. ;)

Now I know that God had better plans than to send me to the mission field in order to have a complete mental breakdown.  :}  I know that God gives grace where it is needed, but the more I grow and come to grips with my personality flaws and strengths, the more I realize that the mission field would NOT have been anything like I'd dreamed about and I would have had a very rude awakening.

I think I did have an honest desire to serve the Lord, whether I was on the mission field or at home, but I also think a lot of it was about me, like I was the star in my own movie or something.  It didn't matter that no one was watching (although sometimes I think I really did believe that the world revolved around me!).  As a result, everything I dreamed about was highly romantic...and highly unrealistic.

Something that my parents always stressed as I was growing up was the importance of staying home with your kids so that you could be the one to raise them, not a day care worker. (They often shared observations and parenting tips with us as we were growing up, even when we were younger, and I really value those years of free advice.)  I was thrilled to discover (before marrying him) that Hubby (then Boyfriend) felt the same way.

Fast forward to 8 years ago, when we brought home our first beautiful little girl from the hospital.  Here it was, the moment I'd been waiting for and leading up to all of my life.  And things were going to be perfect, and wonderful, and I would get all of that baby weight off immediately, and be wrapped up in love for my adorable little daughter, and someday she would be a famous doctor or singer or something great...and she refused to sleep, and refused to stop crying...and I was TIRED!  That was the first moment I realized that maybe this parenting stuff wasn't quite as easy as I'd always imagined it would be.

Those first few months were a big adjustment, especially the first few weeks.  It turned out I wasn't producing enough milk to keep Oldest Gal satisfied, so she was basically starving.  Thankfully, this was caught fairly early on, so we were able to supplement her with formula.  Things got easier after that, but it wasn't exactly a walk in the park, either.

It must not have been too miserable, though, because we were crazy enough to want more kids! ;)  Adding one more was fairly doable, but by the time we got to three, I was feeling pretty overwhelmed, to say the least.  Still, I'd made a commitment to stay home with our kids, so I was determined to do it.  Hubby was even working two jobs so that I could be with the girls.

So, why am I a Stay-at-Home mom, especially if it's not easy?  Because I believe that it's the right thing to do, and that my children will benefit from the constant parental involvement in their lives (unless I'm being super crabby...they might not exactly benefit from that!). :}  I also desire nothing more than knowing that my children love the Lord and want to serve Him.  The very best way to gauge where they're at spiritually and to be a godly influence in their lives is to be there with them.  I want to be there to answer their questions, to show them from the Bible why we believe what we believe, and to encourage their excitement about God and what He has done.

There's another important reason I'm a Stay-at-Home Mom, although it's not a reason I knew about until I already was one. ;)  Staying home with 3 kiddos for hours upon hours constantly brings to my attention the areas of my life that need some work.  I always thought I was a naturally kind, patient person.  That theory is not one I have anymore.  I've discovered that I'm naturally a selfish, petty, spoiled girl with anger management issues.

I can hear all of you now:  "And...that's a good thing?"  Yes, actually, it is.  Because it's only when I stop doing everything on my own and showing God how much merit I have in my own strength that I am able to come to Him in brokenness, admitting my faults and failings.  And that's when He can start working on those areas in my life, pruning those stray branches and sanding off those rough edges, forming me into the woman I can be through His power.

Is it as easy as I thought it would be?  Not even close.  Is it always fun?  I've had more than my share of wiping messy bottoms, cleaning up vomit at 2 in the morning, tackling the never-ending pile of laundry that seems to grow on its own, and breaking up the endless arguments.  But do the benefits outweigh the hardships?  Definitely!

You see, I may have to do a lot of stuff that isn't very fun, but I also have been there for every coo and smile.  I've seen each of the girls take their first steps.  I've been the one to comfort them in the middle of the night, the one to receive their loving kisses and hugs.  I've been able to observe their unique personalities develop, to laugh at the funny things they do, and take pictures all along the way to help me remember them when they're all older and in homes of their own.

I'm not perfect.  I make parenting mistakes every day...some days it feels like every minute!  But I've learned so much, and I wouldn't trade it for the best corporate job you could offer me.  Well, okay, there are some days I might consider it. ;)  And sure, I get a thrill just thinking about a day of shopping with no kiddos, or a romantic weekend getaway with Hubby.  But there will be plenty of time for those things, and I know that someday I will look back on these days and long for them again...some very distant day. (Hee hee...sorry, just keepin' it real!) ;)  

I did want to mention before I go that I realize that it's not always possible to be a Stay-at-Home mom, especially with the economy the way it is now.  I really appreciate that my husband is willing to work 11-15 hours a day during the busy season so that I'm free to raise the girls.  If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be able to do what I'm doing.  I know there are some great moms out there who also work out of the home.  For our family, though, this is the choice we've made and one that we feel strongly about.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Random Updates

Hi all! :)  Hope you're having a wonderful Friday.  Just wanted to give you a few quick updates. :)

First off, I've officially lost over 10 pounds with Weight Watchers!! :D  For a while there, I was pretty discouraged with my lack of progress, but things seem to finally be clicking for me.  I still need to get in a little more exercise, but my eating habits are getting better.  Every little change helps.  Like our leader keeps reminding us, it's a process. :}

Like I've shared before, I have issues with wanting to be perfect in every area:  learning how to do something and then checking it off my mental list, never having to think about it again. ;)  Unfortunately, whether it's weight, exercise, my spiritual life, or even laundry and dishes, everything is a process.  By the Lord's grace, though, I'm learning to take things one day at a time...most of the time.  I'm still human, after all! ;)

I plan on posting my "Why I'm a Stay-at-Home Mom" post tomorrow.  I was thinking about doing it today, but I'm just flat running out of time.  That, and my children have been bouncing off the walls all morning.  If I tried to write it now, my answer would probably be:  "I have NO IDEA what prompted me to choose this INSANITY!!!"

Ahem.  Moving on. :}

For those of you who are fans of "Belle's Bulletins", you might be interested in knowing that the wedding post is up. :D  Tess and Maggie most likely won't have another post up until next week.

And speaking of next week, on either Thursday or Friday, my family and I will be taking our annual trip to the coast! :D  We're really excited to spend some time together and stick our toes in the sand.  We plan to stay there for just under a week.  As you can imagine, my blogging will most likely be non-existent during that time.  I will have access to a computer, but we'll be pretty busy with vacationing.  I promise to come back with lots of great doll beach pictures, though. :)

I guess that's about it for now.  Hope you all have a great Memorial Day weekend, remembering those who gave their lives for our freedom.  God bless America! :)

And now I'm off to get ready for a movie night/afternoon at Mimi's! :)  One of my friends from college is coming too.  We're going to watch a couple of Bollywood movies that my friend hasn't seen yet (heh heh...we've gotten her hooked!) and eat Indian cuisine from Mimi's favorite restaurant. :D  I'll be sure to tell you all about it later. :)

Until next time...  ;)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Goodwill Haul

Some of you may remember from earlier posts that a new Goodwill thrift store opened in my town at the end of March.  That has been both a good thing and a bad thing, if you know what I mean. ;)  It's great because I've found a lot of wonderful items at phenomenal prices.  Unfortunately, it's very easy to nickel and dime a bit too much.  My mom and I have both been guilty of going to Goodwill more than once per day! :} The thing is, they put new stuff out all throughout the day, so you do find things, even if you go again on the same day.  And pretty much every time we go in, we find something.  This makes it a bit difficult to stop going. ;)  

Thankfully for my recovering checkbook, it is rather stressful to take 3 girls in there and try to have a relaxing shopping experience, so I have a feeling my trips to Goodwill over the summer will be much fewer and farther between (I usually go after dropping the older two off at school).  The nice thing is, my Mom is collecting doll stuff too and is pretty aware of what I look for, so whenever she goes, she'll be on the lookout for special Beast'sbelle items. ;)  

Anyway, here are just a few of the special treasures I've discovered over the past 2 months:

A Jeff Gordon Nascar car for my Emma doll-99 cents.

An Alexander Girlz doll with nasty hair-$2.99.

Knowing that her hair was not that great in the quality department, I decided to skip the Downy Dunk and instead opted for a re-wigging procedure. ;) 

Here she is with her new hair.  Much better, don't you think? :)

By the way, the dress, hair bow, and shoes were not from Goodwill, just in case you're curious. :)

Lady Lovely Locks doll, complete with dress, shoes, and 3 pixie tails-$1.99

I'm pretty sure these are her original pixie tails! :D

2 Disney Store Belle dolls-99 cents each.  Once I get these cleaned up and do a little more research on them, I'll add them to my Disney Store Belle doll comparison post. :)

One frustrating thing about Goodwill is that they put the prices directly on their product in pen.  I'm guessing it's some sort of dry erase pen or something, because usually it's removable.  Unfortunately, it does not like to come off of the soft vinyl on fashion dolls.  And for some annoying reason, they often decide to write the prices on the dolls faces or heads.  These pics were taken after I'd "removed" the price markings.  So basically, I have two Belle dolls with tattoos...which I've actually thought could make for a funny plot line on Belle's Bulletins. ;)  "Belle meets the Goodwill Girls" sounds about right. :}

This one kills's so visible! :(

I can't complain, though, because I also found this beautiful, barely used Disney Store Tiana doll for $3.99! :D  And thankfully, they decided to write her price on her back, which is made of hard plastic, so it came right off.  

I'm not a huge fan of "The Princess and the Frog" because of its dark themes, but I did enjoy the beautiful animation, the great songs, and the main characters themselves.  Plus, I went and saw it in the theater with my best friend, so I have some fond memories associated with the movie.  So even though we don't do much of the movie in our house, I think I'll probably keep ahold of this adorable gal. :)  (In fact, I even ordered a Prince Naveen from the Disney Store to go with her.  She seemed lonely.) ;) 

My mom found this great Chococat mirror and jewelry holder that is just the right size for a vanity for Jenna. :)  (Remember?  She's a Chococat and My Melody fan!)

My mom also found this lovely, old-fashioned dresser jewelry box, also the perfect size for the dolls.

I think this will also belong to Jenna.  It really suits her. :)

And here's a picture of Jenna, just because she's such a cutie! ;)

This shows the size of the Chococat mirror.  It doesn't exactly match the dresser, but you get the idea, anyway. ;)

It's been fun finding vintage toys from my childhood there, like this Fashion Star Fillies Joelle horse.  I think she was 99 cents.  Anyone remember these? 

Joelle's face.  Her coloring really reminds me of Lady Lovely Locks' horse Silkymane, which is one of the reasons I got her.  I figure she can be a stand-in until I find the real thing.  :)

Gotta love those 80s colors! ;)

She still had her original "saddle", or whatever this thing is supposed to be.

I think this is also her original hair accessory.  It was braided into her tail.

Here's one of my most exciting finds:  A lovely Beauty and the Beast Trinket box from the Disney Store, still in its original box, for just $3.99! :D  This appears to have been released at the same time as the diamond edition Blu-ray and DVD.  

I love the detail on this!  It's absolutely perfect for my collection. :)

The bottom of the box has the Beast's head and a rose above him.

The four feet that hold the box up look like the Beast's claws. 

A shot of the back of the box.

The top simply lifts off to reveal the storage inside.

Underneath is an on/off switch.

When you turn it on, the box lights up.  I was so excited that it still worked! :D

One of my favorite sections to look through is the 49 cent table at the front of the store.  It's full of McDonald's toys and other similar-sized figures to dig through.  It's a lot to look through, but if you're patient and persistent, you can find a lot! :)  

I found this Genie bee...

...and a Rajah for Hayden's Jasmine collection.

I was really excited when a month later, I found a Jasmine to go with him! :D

I also found this adorable like-new Madame Alexander McDonald's doll.  Isn't she a cutie?  Right now, she's on Nahji's bed. :)

By far, my most exciting 49 cent finds were the vintage Strawberry Shortcake pets and figure I found just last week:  Souffle Skunk (Angel Cake's pet), Burrito (Cafe Ole's pet), and Blueberry Muffin! :)

I was so excited to find this vintage Lady Lovely Locks wrapping paper, still sealed in the plastic, for just 49 cents!

And this Hello Kitty cup, also 49 cents, makes a perfect trash can for Hailey. :)

I've also been able to find several American Girl doll books.  These ones were $1.49 each...

...and this one was 75 cents.  

I've found other things too, but if I were to put everything on here, it would be an incredibly long post. :}  I just wanted to remind everyone that with a little patience and creativity (and willingness to shop thrift and secondhand stores), you can find some great stuff that works with your budget.  You never know what sorts of special treasures may be waiting for you in your local area! ;)  What are some of your most exciting thrift store or garage sale finds?  I'd love to hear about them! :)