Monday, February 1, 2016

Did You Miss Me? ;)

Hello to all of my lovely readers! How was your January? I hope your year got off to a great start.

I wanted to thank all of you for being so understanding about my month-long hiatus. It was just what I needed to regroup and take care of some long-overdue projects. I really missed being here, though, and I'm happy to be back. :)

As usual, I had way too many things on my "to do" list for January, so I didn't quite accomplish everything I'd hoped, but it still was a pretty productive month.

So, just what did I do with all my spare time, you may ask?

1. I adopted a unicorn. This little cutie was in Barnes and Noble. I had a gift card, and I couldn't resist his cute little face. He's now named after my unicorn character in my book, which I can't share with you guys just yet. So here, he'll be referred to as "M." He came with a fun little guide on how to raise a unicorn. ;)

I'm thinking it would be fun to take him along on some of my trips. "M" the traveling unicorn. ;)

2. I installed lighting in my doll rooms. My mom found a set of six little LED lights at Costco that were on coupon for only $15 plus tax last month. She bought them for her doll rooms, and they looked great! So, of course, I decided to go to Costco and snag a set for myself. The lighting is so horrible in my room. Now I'll be able to take much better pictures and share more of the intricate details of my doll rooms.

I forgot to take a picture of the lights in their packaging before I opened them, but here's the empty package (just in case any of you want to try and find them).

Here's what the rooms looked like before the lights (and before I tidied up the rooms). ;)

And here they are with the new lights. 

They even have a remote so I don't have to push them on individually. I can also choose four different levels of lighting. I can't wait to do some photo shoots in there now! :)

Here's a closer look at the three rooms:

I love how natural the lighting is now. I've never been able to get this clear of a picture in my doll rooms before. :) 

The only downside to these lights is that the self-adhesive pads they came with didn't hold very well. The lights kept dropping no matter how hard I tried to keep them up. Yesterday, Hubby picked up some strong double-sided tape to help keep them in place. So far they haven't had a problem anymore.  Just FYI. :)

This is the stuff he got. It's Scotch "Indoor Mounting Tape."

3. I did a major overhaul of my collection. We're talking drawers, closets, and every single shelf. I'd been feeling the need to go through things for a while, partially because I was overwhelmed with everything I had, and partially because I was just flat running out of space. I'm also trying to save up for Mount Hermon again this year, so I needed to sell some things to save up for that. (About $400 more to go and I'm paid in full.) :)

A look at my living room during the crazy eBay/Craigslist/local children's clothing and toy store phase. ;) (And actually, this is less than half of the stuff I sold.) I still have a few more listings to do, but not nearly as many as I did before.

My room is still full of stuff, but it's much more manageable and organized. A YouTube room tour will be coming your way in the next month or so. In the meantime, here are a couple of pictures.

Sorry for the less-than-stellar quality, guys. When I do a more official room tour, I'll use a lamp for extra lighting. ;)

Oh, and if you want a laugh, check out my "Tone Deaf Belle" video I just uploaded to YouTube. I'm in the process of listing my large Disney Store singing dolls on eBay, and while taking pictures and checking out their singing features, I discovered that Belle had a little...problem...staying on key. ;) She also (rather creepily) decided to start singing on her own without waiting for me to press the button on her palm. :{

4. I heard back from all of my editing friends and am now self-editing my book based on their recommendations. Whew, this is a crazy process! It takes a lot of thought, prayer, and time. Your prayers would be appreciated as I evaluate each suggestion and decide what is best for my book. I will be submitting my manuscript to two potential agents sometime next week. Eep! I'm excited and terrified at the same time. ;) I'll keep you guys posted on my progress.

5. I started Skinny Jeans again. After taking a break from the gym in December, I returned for another Skinny Jeans program at the beginning of January. It was wonderful to get back to exercising. Even better, I didn't lose all that much progress after a crazy holiday month, so that was encouraging. :)

I won't be vlogging through my experience this time, at least not on a regular basis. Still, I'm looking forward to learning more, making exercise and eating right the norm, and continuing to grow stronger and healthier. :)

6. I cleaned my house. Hooray! I've been so disgusted by how trashed my house has been. It's amazing how much stress a messy house adds to my life. I try to ignore it, but it's always there in the back of my mind. But now, it's so wonderful to get up in the morning and come out to a spotless living room and kitchen. We had company over this past weekend, and my doll club is coming over this Wednesday for our monthly meeting, so cleaning was imperative.

I'm not sure how long this phenomenon will last, so I took some pictures to document it. You may never see it this clean again. ;)

My living room. The quality's pretty bad, but at least I didn't have to pixelate anything this way. ;)

My 80s and 90s toy curio. :)

My computer desk, where all the blogging/writing/artsy magic happens. ;)

Okay, I do still have this pile of tubs to go through. It's all paperwork that needs to either be filed, shredded, or stored. Sigh.

The dining room, with Little Gal and Middle Gal playing an after school game of Nertz. :)

My kitchen. This is the cleanest it's been in a while, because my washer overflowed last Wednesday night. :} I had to scrub the entire floor and throw out a bunch of stuff that got ruined. I guess that's one way to get motivated to clean for company. ;)

Our hallway.

Our Frozen bathroom.

You've already seen pics of my room, and the girls rooms are...ahem...not exactly on the clean side at the moment, so I think that will conclude the tour pics for now. ;)

Oldest Gal stayed home with a sore throat today, so she's a little out of sorts at the moment, anyway.

7. I purchased a Post Office Box. Yep, it's official! I now have a PO Box for anyone who is interested in sending me fan mail. I have a nice blank spot on my wall behind my computer where I will hang up any notes that are sent my way.

You can reach me at:

   Hannah Prewett
   PO Box 87
   Anderson, CA 96007

I have plans to do a "Fan Mail Friday" post at the end of each month. In that post, I will share all of the mail I received for the month. (So if you'd rather not have me share your name, please let me know in your letter!) I will not be able to respond to fan mail, but if you include any questions in your letters, I will answer them in my post.

Also, I'm planning on doing a small giveaway each month specifically for fan mail. Anyone who sends me something will have their name put in a drawing for a free little prize.

Talking about themed posts leads to my next accomplishment for the month.

8. I brainstormed and came up with some fun future post ideas.  Because of space issues, changes to my budget, and other factors, I'm going to have to change things up just a bit here on the blog. I'll still do doll and toy reviews, but I won't be able to review every new thing that comes out (as much as I'd love to). I also want to bring back some of the other things I used to do. Here are some of the ideas I came up with:

  -Fan Art Friday: I'll share my latest art projects.

  -Thrifty Thursday: I'll share tips and tricks for finding great treasures in thrift stores and other secondhand stores. Other times, I'll share my latest thrift store finds.

  -Photography-themed posts (sorry, no fancy name for these): I've been so focused on my review posts that I haven't spent as much time doing doll photo shoots. Not only do these improve my photography skills, but they help me appreciate what I already have.

  -Writer's Corner: I'm almost 100% sure that I'll be shutting down Ramblings of a Fairy Tale Fangirl. I'm finding it a bit of a challenge to keep up with both blogs, and I have eventual plans for a tie-in blog for my books. So I decided that instead I'll transfer what I've already written over there to this blog. Then, in the future, I'll share writing-themed posts here every once in a while.

  -Media Musings: I'd love to get back to doing occasional movie reviews, especially now that the girls are older and can share their perspectives on the ones we watch together.

  -Doll Guest Posts: When Tess, Maggie, and Belle wrapped up their blogs, it was mentioned that they'd share guest posts here on Never Grow Up every once in a while. As I'm sure you've noticed, that never happened...for a number of reasons. Most of them related to a lack of organization from yours truly. I might as well say it before Maggie does. ;) Anyway, I'd really like to be better at incorporating these in the future.

Of course, I will intersperse these with my regular doll and toy review posts, posts about trips I take, and alerts about sales and new releases. I'm purposely not committing to a specific schedule for most of these so I still have some flexibility. At this point, I'm committing to at least one post of some kind a week. If I'm able to do more, I will, but I don't want to promise more than I can feasibly do.

Things I'm Still Working On:

As I said, I didn't finish everything I set out to do. Here are a few things that are still in progress.

1. Email Overhaul. Blech. My email is such a mess. I think I deleted around 2,000 spam/social media/outdated emails yesterday, which will give you an idea of why I've been so overwhelmed. Again, I apologize to all of you poor souls who have emailed me this past year or so and have never heard from me. In the next few weeks I will slowly be going through and responding to overdue emails.

I also went through and changed the settings on most of my social media accounts so I no longer get a gazillion emails every time someone looks at something I post. ;) I was getting emails every time someone pinned one of my Pinterest pins, every time someone liked, commented, or posted on my Facebook, and so on. I'm trying to declutter my email as much as possible so I can focus on reader emails.

2. Website Creation. I'm currently working on an official website that will connect to all of my social media and my blog. This won't change anything here, but it will be a nice easy way to tell people how to find me online. It will basically be an online bookmark with links to everywhere you can find me on the Internet. It's a bit beyond my level of computer expertise, though, so I'm working with my brother and husband, doing some research, and taking it slow. I'll let you know when it's ready. :)

3. Blog Update. Some of you may have noticed that a few of the pages I used to have on the top of my blog are missing. I'm in the process of transferring some of my pages to posts. Eventually, I'll have a page up there with links to my former pages. In keeping with the decluttering that has been the theme of the past month, I'm just trying to clear a few pages that aren't as relevant to my current interests and direction. I also want to clear some room for new pages.

Don't worry, nothing will disappear completely. I'm also saving all of the comments from the pages I'm removing and adding them to the content of the posts, so all previous conversations will be saved as well. ;)

There might be a few other minor changes here and there, but nothing too earth-shattering. ;) I'll try to let you know what I'm doing before or as I'm doing it. If you're curious about something or can't find it, just let me know! :)

And don't worry, my Doll and Toy Reviews page and the other pages with lists of links aren't going anywhere. :)

I think that's about all the news for now. My posting may be a bit sporadic at the beginning of this month since my focus is on getting my book editing finished, but I'm looking forward to getting back into regular posting. :)

Have a wonderful week, everyone! I'll talk to you all again soon.


Audrey said...

Yay!! So glad you're back!

SwanburneGirl said...

Yay! I missed your blog! (I sympathize with Oldest Gal- I, too, have a sore throat. Blech.) I really need tips on finding things in thrift stores- the closest I've ever gotten was a generic baby doll in Nicki's meet outfit. Antique stores, on the other hand... ;)
(And Audrey, I love your profile picture! Wendy is the best. So sad GF is ending! :()

Meritre said...

Welcome back, we missed you very much.
Maybe a few words from Belle to help Singing Belle overcome losing her voice would be a god idea, if you are still thinking about a guest post? (just an idea)
Well, just keep up the good work! :)

MyLittleMegara said...

Welcome back! I've missed hearing from your corner of the internet. I can't wait to hear more in the future!

jSarie said...

Welcome back!

Those little lights really do a brilliant job of illuminating your doll rooms - that's a great tip!

Megan Rose said...

Congrats on all that hard work - there is a freezer an oven needing some work in my house, plus all the tasks you did. Glad you did so much, hope you also had time to relax.

MoxieFun said...

Oh, looks like it was really busy January for you! PS Lights remind me why I love America - you have everything :-) I relly regret that I'm not your neighbor - it will be great to see your amazing home but also buy some your "unnessesary" dolls on garage sale. My January was also good and busy - I have a new, better job so I can buy doll of my dreams - Gavin from Moxie Teenz. God bless you!

monstercrafts said...

Hello there!

Cool find those lights. I need to work on my studio lightning too, there's no way I can get good pictures.
Good luck with editing your book! I know a woman that wrote a book and edited it herself. She even designed the cover!


Aileen said...

Welcome back! Those have to be the best working lights I've ever seen in a doll house. The singing Belle is beautiful. I've been looking for a singing Ariel in the pink dress. I don't know why I didn't buy her when she was at the store. I'm working on thinning out my Barbie collection myself. I want to buy the new curvy ones and need to make some room. Can't wait to see all the new changes on the blog. The new topic ideas sound very interesting.

Nikki Fielder said...

It's good to hear from you again. I missed your posts! :)

Personally my January was a bit of a mess (I was sick for most of it), but I did start rehearsals for Fiddler On The Roof, and perform as a fairy in a pantomime of Sleeping Beauty, and some amazing things have begun to happen, Tha I have been praying for for months! :)

I hope Oldest Gal feels better soon. I get sore throats a lot, and they're horrible!

Canadian Doll Notebook said...

I completely understand! I have to check out at least once a year and regroup. Everything looks great!

Farrah Lily said...

Welcome back, Hannah!
The house looks cozy and organized. You have motivated me to do the same! I totally agree about how a clean house can just make you feel better.
I love the new lighting in your doll rooms...looks fantastic. What a difference. Thanks for sharing your tips. I love seeing all of your collections. I also noticed you have some plushy vintage Care Bear cousins! My sister used to have that little lamb and the elephant and I used to have Swift Heart Rabbit! I bought him again on Ebay, but my previous dog gave him a little too much love so now I need to get another one. :)
Sounds like things are moving in a much better flow for you lately and I'm looking forward to all of your upcoming posts. It's fine by me if you don't review the latest toys as I always love your other types of posts as they are so creative and different.

BlackKitty said...

Welcome back! Wow, amazing job with the cleaning! I get tired just thinking about it... Your collections look great with the addition of lighting and I have to say it doesn't look like anything important is missing even with all the toys you're getting rid of. So good luck with that too! The new ideas for the blog sound like fun :)

Hannah Prewett (beastsbelle) said...

Thank you so much, everyone! It was so wonderful to hear from all of you. :) It's good to be back! :D