Monday, September 30, 2013

Ladies Retreat and Birthday Fun

Hi everyone...I'm officially back! :)  I actually got back from Ladies Retreat on Saturday evening, but between church, music practices, music recordings, a birthday party, and rearranging our living room,  I haven't had a chance to sit down and type until now. :}  Thanks for being so patient.

Maggie and Tess wanted me to let you know that their post about their trip will be up later this week.  I'll put up a link on this blog when their post is up.  I understand that Belle will be blogging this week too, so stay tuned! ;)

I thought I'd actually start with a few pics from my family party (combined with my mom and my sister-in-law, who also have September birthdays).  We celebrated Sunday, September 22nd, at Mimi's house.

I brought Buttershy along to enjoy the festivities with us. ;)

We had our normal Sunday lunch from Panda Express, but took it to the house instead of eating at the restaurant, the way we normally do.  

Mimi made a cute cake for us.  The bottom layer was chocolate cake with "Yummy Chocolate Frosting" (a family recipe and a family favorite), and the top was yellow cake with the same frosting and a layer of marshmallow fondant.  Yum! :) 

Buttershy decided to try some of the chocolate cake. 

She thought it was pretty amazing. 

I tried to warn her not to eat too much, but she didn't listen. :} 

We all had a great time together.  I'm so thankful that most of our family lives close enough to get together regularly.  That's a rare gift, especially in this day and age.  

I was also given some spending money which I knew would come in handy for my upcoming trip. :)

And speaking of which, this past Thursday morning (the 26th), Mom and Mimi came and picked me up after the girls had been dropped off at school, and we headed off to our church's Ladies Retreat.  It was very exciting to go back to the place we had been before (two retreats ago).  I was looking forward to a weekend to relax and get away for a bit. :)

We stopped at one of the newer Goodwills that was about half an hour away from the retreat.  Would you believe I made it out of there without purchasing a thing? :}

Our next stop was ToysRUs.  I seriously cannot express how excited I was to visit this store.  ToysRUs still remains one of my favorite stores to this day, and our local one went out of business shortly after Middle Gal was born.  I was like a kid in a toy store. ;)
Now, I didn't make it out of this store without a purchase. ;)  I bought two "Lil' Zelfs", but only opened one at first.

I ended up with a pearlized Lil' D, which wasn't all that thrilling (he's not one I really like that much).  It was pretty funny when my other Lil' Zelf was a glittery Angelala, though.  I decided to use them as trip souvenirs for Tess and Maggie.  Can you guess which doll ended up with which Zelf? ;)

I had already decided that if ToysRUs had a medium Mermalade in stock, I'd be getting her as a friend for Buttershy.  Mermalade and Miss Clover are my two favorites, and since I'm not holding out much hope that I'll ever come across a Miss Clover, I figured Mermalade was a better Zelf to set my sights on.  

Mermalade was there, and just as adorable as I remembered.  

I'd also decided to get each of my daughters a medium Zelf as a surprise from my trip.  I wanted a Lunanne for Oldest Gal, an Elfa for Middle Gal, and a Pega Sue for Little Gal (their three favorites).  Interestingly enough, they had one Elfa, one Lunanne, one Pega Sue, and one Mermalade in stock.  As an added bonus, they were all on sale for $4.99 each!  I was so glad we got there right when we did! :)  I didn't get any pics of the other Zelfs yet, but I'll be sure to do that soon. :) 

After ToysRUs, we drove the rest of the way to our hotel.  Here's where Mimi and I stayed.

Here's the other side of our room.

We got a connecting room with my mom (who gets better rest when she rooms by herself).

Here are her sleeping quarters. ;)

Maggie and Tess (and my teddy bear, Hugs) immediately made themselves comfortable.

Buttershy and Mermalade instantly hit it off...

...and found their own little spot to hang out. :)

One of the fun extra activities we did while we were at retreat was to go through some secondhand mini Lalaloopsies my mom had discovered at a local secondhand shop in town.  The Tuesday before Retreat, I had a message on my cell phone when I got out of art class.  It was my mom, saying, "Call me!"  When I did, she explained that there were a TON of Lalaloopsies at the shop and I should come meet her.  I"m more familiar with the names and the sets than she is at this point, so she knew I might recognize something she didn't.  Wow.  It was incredible.  There were a lot of older sets that are getting super hard to find.   

So here's everything we ended up with.  We actually bought more than we would have because many of the sets were split up in different bags.  

And here's a closer look: 

Since we knew Ladies Retreat was later in the week, we thought it would be fun to wait to go through everything together.  So for about four hours one night and another two or three the following night, we went through every single piece and identified and sorted everything to the best of our ability.  We still have a few unknowns, but we figured out what most of them were. :)

I was the most excited by most of Berry's Kitchen, Prince Handsome and all of his accessories (we're just missing Cinderslippers), and Sprouts Sunshine, the Target Easter Exclusive from 2012.  I've been searching for all of them for a while.  Mom and Mimi found some sets they really liked, too.  

We'll probably be reselling some of the ones we don't need in the coming weeks to help reimburse ourselves.  I'll let everyone know when they're up. :)

There were other fun things to do while we were there, too.  We ate out at this great Mexican restaurant.

Buttershy and Mermalade seemed to enjoy themselves, too. ;)

They also enjoyed helping me eat my food. 

We also ate at a lovely local cafe that served us an excellent buffet.

While we were there, Mimi took us to a beautiful park.  We enjoyed walking around and seeing the lovely scenery.

There were also some great Zelfie photo ops:  

I really love taking the Zelfs along for photos because they're so small and easy to carry.  I didn't take dolls with me on this day because I knew we were making a lot of stops.  The Zelfs fit easily in a small purse.  Unfortunately, there was something on the inside of the purse that left little black rub marks on their faces that will NOT come off. :(  Still working on a solution.

I didn't get any pics, but we did stop at several fun little antique and collectible stores on the same day we went to the park. 

And just in case you think my dolls were neglected, they had some photo shoots as well (this picture here is my very favorite from the whole trip). :)  

Best buds.

You'll see more of Tess and Maggie later this week on their blog as they share about the Retreat from their perspective. :)

We had a really wonderful weekend.  It was a great time of rest and relaxation, and we were encouraged by the ladies from the church who shared with us.  Our theme was "Weighed by the Word", and how we need to use the Bible as our standard for beauty and acceptance rather than what the world tells us.  It was the perfect message for me with the struggles I've been going through lately.

One of the unexpected highlights of the trip came from my former 1st grade teacher (who is teaching Little Gal in Kindergarten this year).  She had heard that it was going to be my actual birthday while I was at Retreat, so she brought her little lamb puppet that used to sing with us in her classes to sing Happy Birthday to me in front of all of the ladies.  

A little history here:  Lambkin (that's his name) and I go way back.  Not only was he the little puppet who sang to me and my class way back in 1st grade, but he also helped my teacher when she spoke at my wedding shower.  So we have a special bond... ;)

Anyway, I thought it was so sweet of Mrs. M to take the time to make me feel special on my special day.  And you can guess which part of Ladies Retreat Little Gal loved hearing about when I got home. ;)

Retreat ended on Saturday, which was my actual birthday.  Since I knew it would be a special occasion, I saved my "dessert day" (which is normally on Fridays) so that I could go to Krispy Kreme for my birthday. :)  It was sooo worth it! :)  We had the regular glazed doughnuts, and then we shared a maple glaze, a chocolate glaze, and a seasonal pumpkin spice old fashioned glazed doughnut.  Yummm. :)  

On the way home, we stopped at ToysRUs one more time.

This time, everyone got into Zelf mode.  I bought a Mermalade "Super Zelf", the biggest size, (not pictured) and then Mom, Mimi and I all got two Lil' Zelf surprise pots.  Here's what we ended up with...a mini Zelf invasion! ;)

Mimi got a pearlized Pega Sue and a regular Flamy.  Mom got a regular Lil' D...

...and the pearlized Mermalade you see next to my medium Mermalade.  I ended up with Buttershy...

...and a glittery Flamy to add to my glittery Angelala and pearlized Lil' D.

Warning:  these things are totally addicting, especially since they're only $2.99 each and you can't tell what you're getting when you buy them.  I was seriously tempted to turn right around and go back in to buy a few more...but I  managed to show some restraint. ;)

We also stopped by Goodwill one more time, and Mom found a BFC Ink Gianna doll for me for just $1.99.  Much more exciting than our first stop there. :)

On the way home, we came across this beautiful fountain.  I thought Mermalade should have just a couple more pictures. ;)

She's sooo cute! :)

So here's my birthday/trip haul.  Some of these things will have future blog reviews, but probably not everything pictured.  I'm behind enough as it is. ;)  I also realized as I was typing this that I forgot to add my BFC Ink Gianna doll and a cute little shelf I found at an antique store, so this is most of my birthday/trip haul. ;)  

I found this mini Jane Austen book at Barnes and Noble for $5.95.  It has portions and summaries of all of her complete novels.  My mom has a copy of this, and I've always thought it would be perfect for Tess. :)

This is a doll from the Bradley Dolls company.  She was a Salvation Army find on the way to Retreat.  I don't know much about these dolls, but I've always thought they had sweet faces.  And for $1.25, I thought she was worth picking up. :) 

And here are my Zelfs from my trip. :)  I'm in the process of working on a review post for my large Mermalade. :)

Here are the mini Lalaloopsies I ended up with for now.  Berry's stove, sink, frying pan, and pet cow; Forest Evergreen with his stump and pet beaver; Sprouts Sunshine, and Prince Handsome, his sword, his pillow with the glass slipper, his pet mouse, Cinderslippers' pet mouse, and Cinderslippers' little pumpkin coach.  I'm especially excited about the Prince Handsome stuff, and I'm hoping to find Cinderslippers soon.  I've always loved this set, and now that I've gotten hooked on the Broadway cast album from the new production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella, this set is even more significant. :)  Poor Prince Handsome...hopefully he'll find the maiden whose foot fits the slipper soon. ;)

The two Lonely Doll books and the My Little Pony book were my birthday present from my Hubby (since my pencil sharpener ended up being free, he let me get a couple extra things). :)  I'm thrilled that the Lonely Doll books are coming back in print.  However, I have to say I'm a little disappointed in the quality of the books.  The picture print quality isn't the greatest, and the books themselves feel really flimsy.  On the other hand, I'm thrilled that I can have these stories for a little under $8 a piece instead of the amazingly expensive amounts they've been selling for before this.  Eventually, I'd love to find better copies of these, but for now, I'm thrilled to have "The Doll and the Kitten" and "Edith and Midnight" in my collection. :)

"The Elements of Harmony" is a must-have book for any My Little Pony fan.  It's just $12.95 on, and it's pretty spiffy.  It includes an interview with Lauren Faust (the creator of the show), introductions to the characters, a synopsis of every single episode from Seasons 1 through 3, lyrics to every single song in the first three seasons, and more.  The title sounds a little mystical (which is kind of the origin story they've given to the G4 My Little Pony show), but it's an excellent book.  I'm so glad I have it! :)

I also finally got my "Cake Family Babysitting Fun" blind bag set.  Again, there's a post in the works for this, but I'm super thrilled with it. :)

One of the things I found in one of the antique stores was a bag of LIV and Barbie accessories.  Among the things in the bag were the items you see here.  I'm sure Belle and Robby can use them for something. ;)  I'm thinking Belle might learn to play the guitar and use that when she sings to Robby. :)

I also ended up with a complete set of the current McDonald's Happy Meal toys, which are celebrating the 75th anniversary of "The Wizard of Oz".  What started out as a casual thing ended up becoming a fun scavenger hunt. :)  Every McDonald's we went to had a different set of toys.  Dorothy was the first one I got.  She, Glinda, and the Scarecrow were all purchased before the trip.  I was able to find Elphaba, the Cowardly Lion, and the Tin Man during our travels. :)

I have to say, it's funny how differently you look at these iconic characters after listening to the musical soundtrack from "Wicked". :}

At one of the little thrift stores we went to, I found these vintage 80s dolls:  Rose Petal from "Rose Petal Place" and one of Cherry Merry Muffin's friends (Choco Lottie?) from "Cherry Merry Muffin".  I don't know if I'll ever find the right clothing for them, but they were only 75 cents each, so I figured it was worth picking them up. :)

I also found this fun My Little Pony cup at a Ross store.  I was able to get it for a discounted price (under $4.00) because the straw was broken.  I plan on replacing the straw, but I'm not sure if I'll actually use this or just display it in my collection. :)

And that, my friends, is all for now.  It's been quite a month, and it ended on quite a high note. :)  Mom, Mimi and I had a great time together, and I came back ready and refreshed to spend time with my daughters and my sweet Hubby who watched them for me while I was gone.

My week is going to be pretty full until Thursday, so you may not hear much from me until then.  I'm starting to plan out my posts for the month and I'm looking forward to sharing some fun things with you! :)

Until next time...