Thursday, August 29, 2013

Elegant Blogger Award

I've been awarded the Elegant Blogger Award.  Thanks so much, Elliebob. :)

This particular award originated HERE.  Everyone nominated has to answer 12 questions:

1.  Why did you start blogging?
     I started blogging in case I ever became a published author and had to have my own blog (as I've mentioned several times before).  Little did I know what I was starting... ;)

2.  What is your fashion style?
    Heh...frumpy and bland, if the last few weeks are any indicator. :}  Think t-shirts, denim capris, and ankle socks with old tennis shoes.  I do dress up a bit more for my teaching day and for church.  Perhaps someday I'll be amazingly fashionable. ;)

3.  What is something your followers don't know about you?
     Hmm, I've told you so much in the past few years that I think I'm running out of surprises. ;)  Um, I once dreamed of playing Christine Daae on Broadway...although I knew it would never happen because I couldn't hit the note at the end of "The Phantom of the Opera" title song and I would not have been comfortable singing "Past the Point of No Return".  I had the whole soundtrack aside from that song memorized in high school, though.  And hands down, my most embarrassing moment ever was the day that my mom walked in on me while I was dressed in my bathrobe and pearl choker singing "Angel of Music" to my full-length mirror. :}

4.  What is one of your blogging goals?
     To be a little more organized with regular posting and scheduling posts ahead of time. :}  Another would be to continue to grow and learn.  Most importantly, though, I want to create a fun, safe atmosphere for girls and collectors to learn about their favorite dolls and toys. :)

5.  Where is your favorite place to shop?
    Goodwill, Target, Walmart, and ToysRUs. :)

6.  What would your ideal amount of followers be?
     To be honest, I never thought I'd get this far! :)  My goal was always to reach 100 followers, and now I'm up to 268! :D  So really, no matter where I go from here, I'm perfectly happy. :)  Hmm...500 would be pretty awesome, though. ;)

7.  What are your talents?
     I dabble in a lot of things, so I'm not really amazingly accomplished at anything.  I do enjoy drawing, singing, writing, and acting, though.

8.  Are you a leader or a follower?
     I can be a leader when I have to be, but if given the choice, I prefer being a long as the person leading is a good person to follow! ;)  I don't really enjoy the pressures of leadership.

9.  What is your favorite quote?
     "And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them.  And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after.  But for them it was only the beginning of the real story.  All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page:  now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read:  which goes on forever:  In which every chapter is better than the one before."
    ~ From "The Last Battle" by C.S. Lewis

10.  Do you have a favorite book or book series?
     I love "Emma" and "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen.  (Actually, I love all of her completed works!) ;)  I also love the Gresham Chronicles by Lawana Blackwell, The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, and The Heart of India series by Linda Chaikin.  I used to have a major crush on Jace Buckley. ;)

11.   Out of all the synonyms for elegant, which would you describe yourself with (smart, dressy, stylish, graceful, or fine)?
    Um, really?  Well, I used to get good grades in school, so I suppose I could be called smart.  Although my dad always said I'm one of those smart people with no common sense (I can be a real airhead at times), so maybe that's not the best description.  Dressy?  Hah!  I wish!  Stylish?  In my dreams.  Graceful?  Oh, sorry, I couldn't hear you over the sound of my entire family bursting out laughing.  Gracefulness is not something I was blessed with. :}  Fine?  What exactly does that mean?
     I guess the best answer in my case is "none of the above". ;)

12.   What is your favorite flower?
     I love roses and gardenias.

I now have to tag 12 people.  I choose:

Emily at The Toy Box Philosopher

Casey at Our Literary Joys

Casey Robin at Casey Robin's Dollyanna

Jen at Dolls and Nachos

BlackKitty at The Multicrafteral Lab

Barb the Evil Genius at My Little Doll Corner

Cindybin at Cindybin's Bin

OurAGAdventures at Our AG Adventures

Nina at American Girl and Other Awesomeness

Belle at Belle, Addy, and Emma (Your sisters can answer too if you like!) :)

OnceUponADollCollection at Once Upon a Doll Collection

Alexandra at Of Trims and Furls and Furbelows

Thanks again for the award, Elliebob. :)  Have fun, everyone! :)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Autumn Leaves Lottie Giveaway Results! :)

Okay, it's the moment you've all been waiting for! :)  There were 23 entries for the Lottie giveaway, and we have our winner!

Snow Queen Lottie informed me that she wanted to help me choose the winner. ;)

Here are all the names (sideways...silly Blogger). ;) 

Lottie reached in and pulled out our winning name.

And the winner is...

Paula S!!!  Congratulations, Paula! :)

I'll be sending Paula an email shortly.  She has one week to get back to me with her mailing address.  If I don't hear from her by next Saturday, a new winner will be chosen.  I'll update this post and confirm her win as soon as I hear from her.  UPDATE:  I've heard from Paula via email, so she is the official winner!  

Thank you to everyone who entered.  I wish I had a Lottie doll for each one of you. :(  There will be more giveaways in the future, though, so don't give up!  Also, if you haven't entered the Lottie giveaway on Facebook (sponsored by the makers of Lottie), be sure to do so!  The winner will be chosen August 31st.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!  

Friday, August 23, 2013

First Week of School

Okay, as promised, here is a post with a few details from my crazy week. ;)

So, of course, the biggest thing that happened this week was getting my girlies started on a new school year...all three of them! :}  Here they are, ready for Mommy to stop taking pictures and let them actually get to school. ;)  Hmm,  I guess I should have taken the time to sweep my floor before this picture, too. :}

Oldest Gal started 4th grade this year, Middle Gal started 2nd grade, and Little Gal started Kindergarten.    

By far, this was one of the most surreal moments from Monday: watching my youngest boldly walk to her Kindergarten classroom.  She informed me that I didn't need to go with her.  I did anyway. ;)

All the girls had a great first day, and I enjoyed spending time with a family friend while they were in class. :)

The elementary school is doing things differently this year.  Because of the small class sizes, they're following more of a charter school format, where the students move around to different classrooms for each of their subjects.  There are three main elementary teachers.  One teaches all of the math and history, one teaches reading, Bible, and Spanish, and one teaches spelling and English.  Then the students have an elective period each day.  That's where I come in. ;)  I teach art on Tuesdays, and the other elective teacher does clay on Mondays, computers on Wednesdays, crafts on Thursdays, and health and nutrition on Fridays.  There is also a music teacher who comes in every afternoon to teach the kids about music.  

The moving back and forth between classrooms has been an adjustment for everyone, but so far it seems to be working really well. 

I had hoped to get some pics of my classroom on Tuesday (I even brought my camera with me).  However, I just didn't have the time at all.  I'm there from 8:30 to 12:45 and have four different classes.  The 1st graders come in first, followed by the 4th and 5th graders (they're combined because 5th grade consists of two boys).  Next is the 2nd grade class, which was the hardest one due to the crazy boys in that grade.  (I felt like a limp washrag after that class was through!)  My last class of the day is the 3rd grade.

  I got there early to prepare for my first class, had five minutes to recover and re-prepare between each period, and then had five minutes to clean up and get out after my last class before the next teacher came in to the elective room for music.  Yikes!!  I barely had the time for a bathroom break during recess and was able to eat my lunch, but honestly, I don't know how the other teachers do it!  I was exhausted after my half day! :}

Even though it was tiring, I did enjoy myself.  I've been super nervous about teaching since it's been a while (and was also dealing with feelings of inadequacy).  That first day was super helpful, though.  I had the students just draw a picture of whatever they wanted.  This not only gave me an idea of where they were at ability-wise, but also gave me some insight as to their interests and hobbies.  I also got a good idea of which children needed to be apart from each other for the productivity of the classroom. :}

So, since I didn't get any pictures of the room, I thought I'd show you my Art Binder that I put together for my class:

When I was cleaning through the art cupboards, there was this nifty pink binder that was up for grabs, so I decided to use it to hold all of my papers and things.  It had a clear plastic sleeve on the front, so I whipped up a quick cover.  It was so much fun.  I haven't done much with my drawing for a was great to have an excuse to get back to it. :)

This is a cartoony self-portrait.  I developed these characters in high school and have slowly modified them through the years.  They're my "go-to" characters when I want to draw a person without getting stressed out about proportions and such. ;)

Another look at the whole thing.

And, of course, every binder needs an awesome Lisa Frank folder. ;)  This totally takes me back to my childhood. :)

I also have a Rainbow Dash spiral-bound notebook for all of my notes.

While I know that the year will present me with many challenges, after day one I'm feeling a lot more confident and excited about teaching the kiddos.  I hope that I can touch their lives in some small way, just as my third grade art teacher inspired me. (Thanks, Mr. B!) :)

After my classes were over, I had some free time before I had to pick up the girls, so I headed to my favorite place:  Goodwill. ;)  My mom and aunt ended up meeting me there, and we had a fun time browsing the selection.

I found this great Barbie-sized pink dresser (which will most likely show up in a future Belle's Bulletins post). ;)

My mom found these cute Calico Critter cats for the girls. 

I was super excited when I found some vintage G1 My Little Ponies on the 49 cent table.  This one is Glory...

...and this one is "Celebration", a Sea Pony.

Some time after I found the first two, I noticed that another lady had some vintage ponies in her cart...and I tried not to hyperventilate. ;)  I didn't follow her (lest you have visions of me in creepy stalker mode at the local Goodwill), :} but I kind of stayed aware of where she was in the store, just in case she decided to put the ponies back before leaving.  (Basically, I hung out by the toy table in the front once I saw her heading towards the registers.)  Normally, this plan isn't very successful, but in this case, it was!  At the last minute, her grown daughter deposited all three ponies onto the toy table.  I waited till she turned around and then swooped them up. :)

The first of the three was this Twinkle-eyed pony, Party Time (who coincidentally came in a set with the Sea Pony I'd already grabbed).

Next was Posey, a pony that many have compared to Fluttershy because of her color scheme.

And finally there was Sundance, Megan's pony!! :D  This is a pony I always wanted as a little girl but never had.  I'm super excited to have her now. ;)

All three ponies had condition issues.  They were all filthy and their heads had started to come unglued.  After some work with some Lysol wipes and a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, they looked a lot better.  (Sorry, no pics yet!) ;)

With this influx of vintage ponies, I decided it was time to rethink my vintage toy display.  I decided to remove all of my G1 ponies and put them on a shelf together.  Then I could rearrange my other 80s and 90s toys on their shelf. 

I thought it would be a good idea to take a couple of pictures first, though, so I would remember how I'd displayed them.: 

I haven't gotten pictures of the new arrangement yet (I wanted to make sure I really liked it first).  Once I'm settled on where things are going to stay, I'll share a few more pics. :)

But now we have to get back to the rest of Tuesday afternoon!  My mom, my aunt and I still had some time after we were done with Goodwill, so we headed over to the mall.  I decided that now would be a good time to pop into Hot Topic since the girls weren't with me.  I'm not a fan of the music or some of the other things in Hot Topic, as I've mentioned before, but they are the best local place for My Little Pony and Doctor Who stuff.  And apparently, they're pretty awesome with Disney stuff, too:

There was a ton of Beauty and the Beast stuff there this time around!!  Most of it was out of my price range (or a bit too much for the worth of the product), but this reusable shopping bag was $4.95.  It features Belle on one side...

...and the Beast on the other.

The sides of the bag have the title of the movie.  It's a smaller reusable shopping bag than the big Disney Store ones, but it will still be useful.   

One of the other things I completely freaked out about was this ADORABLE Beauty and the Beast metal lunchbox.  Seriously?  How cool is this?!!? ;)  It was $14.50, which was a little more than I felt I could pay, but when Mimi offered to get it for me as an early birthday gift, I couldn't resist. :)  It helped that they were having a special promotion, so we could get 30% off our entire purchase.

The side of the lunchbox.

As you can see, the picture on the lunchbox is a raised, 3-D design.

I probably won't use this as an actual lunchbox (although that would be totally cool!).  I don't want it to get damaged or scuffed up.  It looks pretty nifty on display in my room, though! :D 

And since we had the discount, I also snagged a couple of Doctor Who things.  The "I Heart Heart the Doctor" button is for Alice, but the "Allons-y" button is now on my purse. ;)  I was thinking of putting the Doctor Whooves sticker on my truck, but I'm afraid it won't last long once the rainy season hits.  Plus, since I'll be parking my truck at the school and teaching a class, I don't want to have anything on my vehicle that might offend a parent.  Doctor Whooves might be okay, but he might not.   So maybe he just needs to be somewhere safe in my room for now. :)

Wednesday was a lazy, stay-at-home day for me, which was really nice.  I did get a chance to visit with my mother-in-law right after dropping off the kiddos, so that was fun. :)

Then came Thursday.  My mom had heard that another Goodwill was opening in a town a couple of hours away.  We figured if we headed out right after the girls were dropped off at school, we could get back to pick them up in the afternoon.  So, I dropped off the girls and Mom and I headed off on a mini road trip.  We had a great time visiting all the way down and came back with a considerable amount of goodies: 

Heh heh.  You should have seen the looks we were getting from people in the store.  We had a shopping cart FULL of dolls and ponies.  It was pretty awesome. :}  I won't be able to show you everything.  Some of the things I'm still sorting through, some will be for resale to fund future doll purchases (but don't worry, I'll start at a low starting bid). :)  We also bought a lot of Barbies for their clothing.  At 99 cents per doll, it was a great way to get some nice dresses for Belle and friends at a decent price. :)

I did find a few fun pony purchases.

This one was my favorite by far.  Fluttershy is one of my two favorite ponies, and I've always loved this bigger styling pony.  She was 99 cents as well, and she's absolutely adorable! :D

She does have a few small pink marks on her that didn't come off...

...especially these little ones on her nose.  I may eventually try an acne cream treatment on her and see if it helps.  For now, though, I love her just the way she is. :)

My other most exciting find was this "Barbie in India" doll.  As most of you know, there are several Bollywood movies I really enjoy, so it was super fun to find this doll who would fit right into one of those films.  The best part?  I got her for just $2.99.  

I haven't been able to find out a whole lot about her, except that she was actually made in India through Mattel.  There were several other dolls made in India, including the "Expressions of India" dolls that are now apparently super hard to find because they were only produced for a short time.  I'm thrilled to have this doll in my collection now. :)

I also found this loose "Dolls of the World" Barbie from India. She's from the 90s.  Unfortunately, she was obviously stored in direct sunlight for too long, as her dress has some major fading.  

She's still pretty, though. :)

Another fun find was this Madame Alexander doll (the standard size, not an 18" one).  I've never actually held one of these in person, so it was really fun to see all of her joints and how she was put together.  She's obviously missing some clothing and a shoe, but I'm sure we can find something to dress her in.  She's a Disney Sleeping Beauty/Aurora doll. :)  You can see a picture of what she looked like originally HERE.

The last thing I'll share is this.  I suppose it might surprise some of you that I picked up a Frankie Stein doll since I've made it quite clear that I'm not a fan of Monster High.  I still feel the same way, but ever since I watched THIS YouTube tutorial, I've been wanting to try to customize a Monster High doll.  (If you don't want to watch the whole thing, just fast-forward to the end and prepare to be amazed.) ;)  I've always been interested in face-ups, but don't feel confident enough with a paintbrush.  Seeing a faceup done with colored pencils got me really excited.  Since Frankie was just 99 cents, I figured it was the perfect opportunity to give it a shot.

Of course, this will be a long, drawn-out process since I don't have any of the supplies I need yet (aside from the acetone-free fingernail polish remover).  Still, finding a doll at the right price made me decide to go for it.

So now we come to last night's activity: removing face paint, neck bolts, and hair. :)  I popped in "Wreck-it Ralph" and got started.  

I used this random tool (I have no idea what it's officially called) to pinch and clip Frankie's neck bolts off.

It wasn't a completely clean cut, but it's better than it was.

I worked on Frankie's face for two hours with the nail polish remover, q-tips, and cotton balls, and this was as close as I could get to total face paint removal.  Ugh.  I wonder how awful it is to just use regular acetone fingernail polish remover?  

Note to self:  next time you do this, wear protective gloves.  I got so much of the fingernail polish remover on my thumb and two of my fingers on my right hand that they completely dried out and cracked!!  They're really sore today. :(

I decided to remove as much of Frankie's hair as I could since I wasn't interested in using her original hair.  Eventually I'll remove her head and pull the extra hair plugs through.  At this point, though, I'd had enough for one night. :}

I still have to remove the rest of her face paint and the stitches on her skin, as well as finish removing her hair.  Then she'll be ready and waiting for when I pick up my watercolor pencils...and my soft pastels...and my sealant...and...well, you get the picture. ;)  I think she'll be waiting for a while. 

So that brings us to today, which was basically full of grocery shopping.  Thrilling, I know. ;)

All in all, it was a great week.  I'm looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow and then getting back to school next week.  Next week is also my "get back to regular exercising" and "start officially writing my novel" week, so I'm looking forward to that. :)

And of course, tomorrow we'll find out who wins Lottie! :)  

Thanks for your patience as I babbled on in my randomness.  Kudos to you if you made it through this entire post. ;)  

There will be more fun to come on this blog in the next few weeks.  Oh, and I've been assured that you'll be hearing from Tess, Maggie and Belle soon too. :)

Talk to you again tomorrow! :)