Last weekend was so wonderful! I've been looking forward to spending some time with my mom and my aunt and getting away from the routine for a long time. :) The weekend met and exceeded my expectations completely. :)
I'd like to apologize in advance for those of you who have already read Emma's posts about our trip. I'll be using some of the same pictures and describing some of the same events, so things might seem a little repetitive. :}
One of our first official stops was the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield, CA. I'd never been there before, and it's one of those places that we've always talked about visiting. Mom and Mimi thought I'd enjoy it, and we all thought it would be a fun place to get some great doll photos, too. :)
We were able to take a tour of the factory to see how Jelly Bellies are made. The tours run Monday through Saturday...I'm not sure about Sunday. During the week, you actually get to see the factory at work, and then there are some videos that they play for you along the tour to give you a few more details. If you take a weekend tour, you still get to see the factory and the videos, but there is no one working in the factory.
Since we went on a Friday, we got to see the factory workers in the process of making Jelly Belly treats. If I ever take my children, though, I'd probably go on a weekend. They're really sensitive to noises, and during part of the tour, the sounds are pretty loud.
One of the craziest parts was walking into the section where the Jelly Bellies are actually made and instantly being hit with the overwhelming, sickly-sweet smell of sugar. I honestly think I'd be sick to my stomach if I had to work there. :} Not everyone had the same reaction, though. Some of them thought it was great! ;)
Before we started the actual tour, we were led to a section that had several portraits of famous people made entirely of Jelly Bellies. Above you can see the one of John Wayne.
Here's a closer look at the Jelly Bellies. Each portrait is painted first, and then Jelly Bellies are covered with a special glue and attached to the portrait one at a time!
We weren't allowed to take any pictures during the tour. I kind of wish I would have known that, because carrying 3 dolls through an entire factory tour when I couldn't take pictures was a bit inconvenient. :} We still enjoyed ourselves, though.
After the tour, we browsed through the huge Jelly Belly gift shop. They had some great things for sale, especially if you're a fan of Jelly Bellies. :)
Our very next stop was the Disney Store in the Solano Mall in Fairfield. I haven't been to a Disney Store since July, and before that, it's been years. Since I had a bit of spending money from my eBay and AGPT sales, I was super excited to see so much Disney merchandise in one spot. ;)
Here's Emma outside of the store.
The Disney Store employees, or "cast members", ;) were very nice and let me take some pics of Emma around the store. Emma had loads of fun posing everywhere. ;)
One of the first places I checked was the ornament section. I'd been excited about the Tangled Ever After ornament ever since its release and planned on purchasing one to add to my tree.
Unfortunately, the paint job was not the greatest, and the way they molded Rapunzel's face made her look like she was missing her top teeth. :} I checked through every single one, and none of them were painted well. I thought about just getting one anyway, because from a distance on my tree they would look fine...but I wasn't sure I wanted to pay $10 for something that wasn't painted well. In the end, I chose to leave them behind.
It was fun seeing such a nice display of the classic 12" dolls. They had only one of the 12" brunette wedding Rapunzel dolls, so I got that. And since there was a 2 for $20 special, I picked up one of Rapunzel's clothing sets, too. I've been wanting that for my Rapunzel doll.
There was also quite a selection of Disney Animator's Collection dolls. This is where I got my Belle. :)
I seriously considered getting Rapunzel too, since I collect both Belle and Rapunzel dolls, but I just wasn't sure I was completely sold on her face (she looks so serious and forlorn!). I also didn't want to spend most of my money at my first store on the first day of our weekend.
There was a huge Cinderella display since the movie had just been released on Blu-ray.
Belle and Prince dolls! :D
They also had a small selection of the 17" singing dolls. I'd never seen these NIB in person before, and I have to say, they are stunning!
They didn't have Belle or Rapunzel, but I loved Jasmine...
...and Ariel, too!
Emma decided to get acquainted with a few of the plush Beasts. I really adore this guy. Sometime he may have to come home with me. ;)
After we hit the Disney Store, we decided to find a hotel and check in. We wanted to make sure we had a place to sleep. ;) We checked into the Marriott Fairfield Inn in Vacaville.
This picture is actually one I took on the last day when I realized I hadn't gotten a shot of the outside of the hotel. :}
We were all super impressed with the hotel. The bed was soft and comfortable (although Mom's couch bed was not quite as comfy!), they had a full continental breakfast, and there was also an indoor heated pool and spa. I would definitely go back again! ;)
The dolls demonstrate the comfort of the king-sized bed. ;)
We had a very nice view from our hotel room window, too. Can you see the little white dog on the lawn? His owner gave me a really funny look when he saw me posing Emma on the windowsill and taking pics. :}
After we got settled at the hotel, Mom, Mimi and I headed back to the mall in Fairfield to check out a few more stores. We came home in time to take a dip in the spa before bed.
The only downside to this trip was that I started getting a cold on the first day. My husband and kiddos were all getting sniffly and coughing before I left, and they were sweet enough to share their germs with me. ;) Thankfully, I was never sick enough to have to stay in bed or anything like that. Between doubling up on my vitamins, taking Airborne, soaking in the spa before bed, and using Tylenol and Vics Vapo-Rub before I went to sleep, I did okay. And one plus to being sick is that I didn't ever splurge on my eating. I mean, what's the point of using extra points and extra money if you can't even taste stuff? ;) So I actually lost weight even after a weekend trip...whoo hoo! :D
On Saturday, we spent the entire day hitting all of the thrift stores we could find. I decided to keep the dolls at the hotel that day, and didn't take any pics at all. It was nice to have a day to just relax and go in and out of stores without worrying about how tired or hungry the kiddos were going to be. ;) This was the day I found an American Girl sleigh at one of the Goodwills for just $9.99!! :D But more on that later.
We finished the day by stopping at a few of the Vacaville Outlets, including the Sanrio outlet. I don't even know how much time we spent there, but I kinda go a little bit crazy when it comes to Hello Kitty and Chococat! :}
By the time we were done shopping, we were starving! We went to one of my mom and aunt's favorite restaurants for dinner: Panera. It's part of the Nut Tree Plaza in Vacaville, and has wonderful soups, sandwiches, and more. Their bread is baked daily and is AMAZING, and they also have some great sweet treats, too.
By this meal, I pretty much couldn't taste anything. Which is why I had chipotle and enjoyed it for the first time in my life. ;) I'm normally not a fan of spicy foods, but it really cleared my sinuses. I even added some of the chipotle mayonnaise to my chicken noodle soup. The only thing I could taste was the red onion on my sandwich. :}
I meant to get some shots of Nut Tree itself, but never managed to. Here's a pic of the sign that I took as we drove on to Walmart for a few necessities.
Sunday was our last day there. We had a bit of a late start that morning. Four different Little League teams had checked in the night before, so the hotel was overrun by little 10 year old boys. And at least a couple of them were in the room above us and must have had an early game, because at 5 in the morning, it sounded like a family of elephants was tap dancing in the room above us. The noise only lasted for about 45 minutes, but for some reason, none of us felt like springing out of bed at 7:30 like we had the morning before. ;) We hit a few more thrifty spots in town before heading to the Sacramento area.
We'd heard that Thrift Town was a good thrift store. This one was in the Roseville area...I think. It wasn't the one in Sacramento that had been recommended to us, but we tried it anyway. It was really nice, but I didn't find much here for myself.
We planned on visiting a Hobby Lobby because I'd never been to one and Mom and Mimi love it. On our way, though, we spotted another big Goodwill that had recently been remodeled. I forgot to take a picture of that one, but it was a GREAT stop. We all found a ton of fun stuff. :)
And here is a photo of our ill-fated trip to Hobby Lobby (not that I really believe in fate...just trying to be clever). ;) Right after I took this picture, Mimi walked over and saw that Hobby Lobby is closed on Sunday. Which is actually pretty cool, especially since they state on their sign that they want their employees to be able to spend time with their families and worship on Sundays. It was just a bummer that we missed it. I guess we'll just have to go back! ;)
Mom had spotted yet another Goodwill in the parking lot next to Hobby Lobby, so she had Mimi drop her off. She figured she could check things out there while Mimi and I started at Hobby Lobby. Instead, we drove over and met her at Goodwill...and ended up finding more awesome stuff. This trip pretty much confirmed our decision that Goodwill is one of the best thrift stores around for cleanliness and selection. :)
I had hoped to hit one last Disney Store before heading home. Originally, we were going to go to the one in the Arden Fair Mall in Sacramento, but Mimi noticed on her GPS that there was supposed to be one just a little ways away in Roseville (where we were). I'm so glad we discovered that!! This had to be, without a doubt, the most amazing Disney Store I've ever been to!
As you came in, there were these beautiful white tree decorations that had moving pictures of animated characters on them. They would change every few moments. The trees were basically giant screens for unseen movie projectors.
This store had pretty sparkly blue floors (similar to the sparkly red floor in LA) that made a pathway throughout this store. Hmm, "follow the sparkly, blue road" instead of "follow the yellow brick road"? ;)
One of the other great things about this store was their displays. This huge walk-in castle both displayed merchandise and gave kiddos a chance to see their reflections and pictures of different princesses.
And this stuffed animal display included a tunnel underneath that kids could crawl through.
Another great thing about this store was the sheer volume of selection they had. There were maybe 10 Singing Princess dolls at the other store we went to, and they didn't have all of the princesses available. This store, on the other hand, had plenty to choose from!
They were all so pretty...
...I'm so impressed with this line!
They had a huge display of DAC dolls, too.
Here are some of the smaller plush toys.
Here's their ornament display (and yes, I checked the Rapunzel and Eugene ornament here, too...same problems). :(
I didn't get a picture of it, but they also had a big screen TV with seats in front of it at one side of the store where kids and their parents could sit and watch short cartoons and other clips. When we left the store, I noticed that they had several TV screens at the side of the store, next to some tables and chairs for the food court. They were playing Bambi there for the mall guests to enjoy while they ate.
I also noticed that on certain sections of the wall, there were moving animated characters (you can see Dumbo in the pic above). You'll notice that the wall also features beautifully painted sillouettes of well-known Disney characters and settings.
I spoke the manager to ask about taking pictures (before I took all of these, of course!), and during the course of our conversation, she told me that Apple helped them design the technology for the animated projections. She also said that there are only about 15 Disney Stores that are like this one, so it was a real treat to have one in this area.
All I know is that I've officially found my new favorite "local" Disney Store (as local as it gets for where I live!). I'm actually thinking about taking my daughters there for a birthday trip this spring! :D Shortly after I got back from my trip, Middle Gal informed me that the only thing she wanted for her birthday was to go to Disneyland. Sadly, that's just not in the works financially for us yet. So I thought this might be the next best thing. The store definitely has a Disneyland feel to it. It's more of an experience than a shopping center. ;)
The only sad part was that we literally had about 25 minutes to see the store (not to mention the rest of the mall!) and I had that much time to decide if I was going to get anything else. I wanted to be home by the girls' bedtime, and it was still going to take us a while to get there. In the end, Singing Belle and Singing Rapunzel won out over DAC Rapunzel. I will most likely add her to my collection at some point down the road, but for now I'm really enjoying my new singing dolls. :)
There was an IN-N-Out close to the mall, so we stopped there for dinner.
And we were thrilled to find a Krispy Kreme in the same parking lot! We were even more thrilled to see that the hot light was on (see the red light in the window?), which meant that a fresh batch of doughnuts was ready. Emma said something to the same effect in her post, but you have never truly had a doughnut unless you've had a Krispy Kreme glazed doughnut hot off the conveyor belt. It's the most amazing taste EVER. :)
That was our last stop (aside from a quick potty and drink stop at Starbucks on our way home). The weekend was just great, and the best part was that I was refreshed and super excited to see my family by the time I got home. :)
I thought you'd enjoy seeing a few pics of some of my trip goodies, too. Some of these will have more detailed pics in review posts to come. :)
Here's my Disney Animator's Collection Belle doll. I'm super glad I got her. She's such a cutie! She'll be getting a review post soon. :)
Here's my 12" Classic brunette Rapunzel doll. I was a bit concerned about her after hearing from Jen at Dolls and Nachos that her daughter's brunette Rapunzel's face skin tone didn't match her body's skin tone. Mine looked okay, though. There was perhaps a very slight difference, but not enough to bother me. :} This gal will also have a review post of her own.
Here's the Rapunzel dress and accessory set I purchased the same night. I was disappointed by the quality of these dresses, but more on that in a later review! ;)
Here are my goodies from the Sanrio Outlet.
I loved this little Hello Kitty container. It reminded me of those "Caboodles" things that were so popular when I was in Junior High. I think Hailey will enjoy using this to store some of her special treasures. :)
Here it is out of the package.
To open it, you slide Hello Kitty's head to the right.
It included 3 gum erasers.
I got this My Melody mini pin for Jenna...
...and a Keroppi one, probably for Jess.
I've been wanting to do a more personal necklace for Jenna, and this little Chococat charm is the perfect start!
These little mini sticker books were the perfect size for the dolls.
They include sticker sheets on each page. I got Keroppi...
...and Badtz-Maru. Both of these are characters I remember from my Japanese exchange students that stayed with me when I was younger.
Here are a couple of the Badtz-Maru sticker sheets.
I picked up this Chococat sticker to trim and use as a poster for Jenna.
And this little Hello Kitty emery board was super cute and only 63 cents, so I snagged it too. :)
Here's a set of cute My Melody mini Post-It Notes. :)
One of the other stores at the Fairfield Mall was the Build-A-Bear Workshop (another favorite of mine!). We didn't build any bears, but I did find this super cute Hello Kitty purse for Hailey.
And one of my super exciting Goodwill finds was this set of Beauty and the Beast trading cards from the 90s. As far as I can tell, it appears to be the entire set, and I got it for just $1.99!! :D
There were cards that had pictures from the movie on one side and an explanation of what was happening on the other side.
There were also several "Color-In" cards with different pictures on each side.
And there were also Magic Mirror cards. They all had the same pic of Belle and the Beast on the balcony on one side. On the other side, they had the Magic Mirror with a scratch-off image.
These were the last two things I purchased on my trip, the newest Singing Belle and Singing Rapunzel.
Both dolls are just gorgeous and highly photogenic. :)
I like how Singing Belle's expression is a bit softer than the newest 12" Belle's expression. And don't worry, there will be lots more pictures to enjoy when I do my review posts on these gals. :)
And lastly, the ultimate Squee!! :D This is the sleigh I found at one of the Goodwills. I saw it from across the room when we were looking at something else, and thought it looked doll-sized. Even when I was right next to it, I didn't suspect that it was actually American Girl. It was Mimi who said, "We should check the tag on that...the size is too perfect." And sure enough, her suspicions were correct. It was an actual American Girl sleigh. I've since discovered that it is Samantha's Central Park sleigh from 2005.
There are a few condition issues. This part of the wood is chipped...
...one of the holders for the reigns is broken off...
...there are some small chips on the front of the sleigh...
...and the holly garland is missing some berries and is being held together by a paper clip.
Still, for an actual American Girl brand item...
...and the fact that it was just $9.99...
...it's a great find!! :D
I'm really looking forward to using this for some Christmas pictures in the next couple of months. :)
Emma tries out the sleigh to show the perfect fit. :)
I think she approves! :)
So, I guess that's about it! :) I have a ton of review posts from the past that I'm trying to finish up, plus these new ones, so please be patient with me as I get myself organized and try to get these posts up for you. :}
I had a wonderful time, but it's great to be back, too. :) Thanks for sitting through my relentlessly long post. ;)