Thursday, April 28, 2016

Thrifty Thursday: Hannah's Top Thrifting Tips :)

Hello, everyone! Welcome to the first of my "Thrifty Thursday" posts. Today, I thought I'd share my top tips for shopping at thrift stores. :)

As you guys most likely know by now, my favorite local thrift store is Goodwill, so some of these tips will apply specifically to what I've found there. That being said, these tips should work at any thrift store. :)

Tip #1: Be Persistent
     Persistence is key for successful thrifting. Going back to the store multiple times a week, and even multiple times a day (if you're up for it) will bring you the best results. I tend to go on Tuesdays and Thursdays before my gym classes. My mom usually goes on Sundays after church and our traditional Panda Express lunch. :) Find a time that works for you, but change it up every once in a while. Most stores have different times of day that they put out new products. Sometimes, first thing in the morning is the best time to find things, but sometimes an afternoon or evening is more successful. You never know what will happen, so keep going back, even if you've had a series of disappointing visits. :) 

Tip #2: Be Thorough
     I'd probably find a lot more things at Goodwill if I followed this rule. Of course, a lot depends on how much time and effort you want to devote to thrifting. Since I do it mainly for fun at this point, and since I'm running out of room, I'm not quite as concerned about being thorough these days. 

There are three main places I search for toys and dolls at my local Goodwill.

1. The Toy Aisle:

2. The Toy Table:
Which can look like this...

...or like this, depending on the day. ;)

3. The Product Carts:
I don't know if this is their official title, but at Goodwill, newly priced donated items are brought out in these big carts before they're added to the shelves. Customers are allowed to paw through the carts before things are shelved. Honestly, I still feel a little weird doing this, but my mom has found some GREAT stuff this way. More on that later. ;)

Overwhelmed yet? ;) I usually start glazing over by about halfway through the toy aisle, so don't feel bad. If you take things slow and are willing to dig, though, you'll have more success as a thrifter than someone who just skims the surface.

The Toy Table can hold countless treasures, but you'll find more if you sift through everything. I've been known to dig through the whole table from one side, and then go to the other side and start all over again. It's amazing how much you can miss just because of your angle.

I spy a McDonald's Shopkin! :)

Here are a few things I discovered at the Toy Table today. 

Since I am trying to cut back on stuff, I put almost all of back on the table. In fact, the only thing I ended up coming home with was the Merida figure on the right. It was fun to unearth all of these ponies and fast food toys, though. :)

Here she is, all cleaned up. She's plastic and appears to be a cake topper of some sort.  

Some of you may remember that I wasn't a big fan of Brave when it came out. It's still not my favorite movie. But Oldest Gal got to see it for the first time this past year and really enjoyed it, so I thought I'd surprise her with this little 49 cent figure. :)

Don't be afraid to dig through things to find those treasures. But I'd strongly advise keeping a supply of antibacterial wipes or hand sanitizer in your car for afterwards. I can always feel the grime on my hands after I've touched that many old toys. :}

Tip #3: Be Patient
    This kind of goes along with #1. There are times when I'll visit Goodwill for weeks and never find anything significant. Which is probably good, because my house would be way too full if I found something spectacular every time. ;) It would be easy to give up and decide that it wasn't worth going anymore. But you never know when you'll find something. The stock changes every day and throughout the day. Don't give up just because you've struck out multiple times. Without fail, I'll always have a success after a string of failures. It may not always be a huge, earth-shattering find, but there's usually something to celebrate. :)

Tip #4: Have Fun!
     On the flip side, try to keep thrifting fun. Going into a thrift store is like going on a scavenger hunt. You never know what you'll discover. However, if you have a slightly obsessive personality like mine, it's easy to live at the thrift store (especially if you have time on your hands). You can drive yourself crazy thinking about the possible finds you're missing. I know that sounds a little over the top, but I've actually found myself thinking that way before. Some of the local regulars do spend entire days at Goodwill, waiting for the new product to come out. (My mom and I have been known to go multiple times during the day, if we're being perfectly honest.) ;) I'm not condemning people who want to thrift that way, because everyone is different. For someone buying and reselling as a business, that may be the way they have to shop in order to make enough of a profit. But personally, I don't want to thrift like that. If I did, I think I would feel enslaved to the store and this hobby, instead of enjoying it as a fun and casual pastime. 

     Whatever way you decide to thrift, keep it fun. When it starts becoming overwhelming or stressful, it's time to back off for a bit. :)

I've already shared some of my more amazing finds in earlier posts, which you can see on my Thrift Store Finds page HERE, but I thought I'd share a few more recent finds on today's post. It wasn't as exciting of a week for me, but I still found a few fun things.

I've been keeping my eye out for a copy of Iron Man on DVD for a while. I didn't want to spend a lot, but I wanted to watch it again, especially since Oldest Gal and I had our recent Marvel marathon last month. ;) This is one I didn't have. I can still remember watching this in theaters, back before we knew how huge the whole Marvel thing would become. This was the one that started it all. And while Iron Man isn't my favorite Avenger (and his films usually have a little more inappropriate content than the others in the series), I still enjoyed the story. This was $3.99.

I'm always on the lookout for these books. For Women Only and For Men Only by Jeff and Shaunti Feldhahn are excellent books for any married couple. Hubby and I read them several years ago and both wished we'd had them when we were first married. We love giving them as gifts or letting other couples borrow them. So whenever I find a copy, I snag it. (Note to my single readers: these do go into the physical aspects of marriage as well, so I'd recommend this for engaged or married couples. Shaunti has also written a book called For Young Women Only, but I haven't had the chance to read it yet. Sorry, guys, there doesn't appear to be a "For Young Men Only.") :)

I found this cute Cherished Teddies figurine in the breakables section for $5.19. Oldest Gal collects these, so I'm putting it away for a Christmas gift. :)

For 99 cents, I got this doll-sized edition of Aesop's Fables. :)

The illustration on the back.

So, last week, when I first decided I wanted to do this post, my mom had a very convenient and AMAZING thrift store find. I thought it would be the perfect way to wrap up this post. :) 

She found a white body Pleasant Company Kirsten doll numbered and signed by Pleasant Rowland herself, dated 1986. :D She was sitting in one of those product carts we talked about earlier, waiting to be shelved.  Her price? $5.99.

For those of you who are not aware, Pleasant Rowland was the founder of the American Girl company back in 1986. The earliest AG dolls had white bodies instead of flesh-colored ones, and apparently the first 100 of them were personally signed by Pleasant.

She does have a couple of flaws, like this bit of ink in an unfortunate location...

...and some frazzled bangs that will be difficult to repair. 

However, her limbs are amazingly tight and she has no silver eye or any other issues. Most of her rub marks are minor and should clean up quite nicely.

She came in Samantha's School Dress...

...which is marked West Germany on the tag (meaning it was one of the original dresses, which were manufactured in Germany instead of China as they are nowadays).

And this is one of those examples of patience and persistence paying off. Our local Goodwill first opened in 2012. In that time, we have only found two American Girl dolls (my mom has actually been the one to find both of them). This is not counting the Molly I found, since she was in a Nevada Goodwill. ;) We assume that most of them are set aside for Goodwill's online auction site. However, mom thinks that because the white-bodied dolls are not tagged, this one slipped through the radar. 

I almost hesitate to post this. If anyone from Goodwill reads this, we may not ever find a white-bodied doll again. ;) But I just wanted to show you how this sort of "right place at the right time" thing can happen at a thrift store, and you never know when. I think that's the most exciting thing about it. :)

I hope this post has encouraged you and inspired you to try some thrifting of your own. Have any of you found something amazing at a thrift store? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below. :)

Have a wonderful day, everyone, and Happy Thrifting! :)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Great Doll Blog Award

I was nominated by Am I cute or what? and by MyLittleMegara for the "Great Doll Blog Award."

The rules for this award are to thank the blogger(s) who nominated you, answer their five questions, come up with five questions of your own, and then nominate five other bloggers.

Here are Am I cute or what's questions:

1. What was your very first doll? AG or other.
     Oh, man, I honestly don't remember. I've had dolls all my life. ;) The first doll I specifically remember getting was "My First Barbie" for my 3rd birthday. I loved her because she reminded me of my first grade teacher. ;) I know that I had other dolls, but that's the first one I clearly remember.

Found on Pinterest HERE.

     My first AG doll was my Pre-Mattel Felicity I bought as a grown-up. :)

2. If you had to name one of your dolls after a character from a movie or book, who would it be and why?
     My AG #25, Alice, was named after the main character from the TV miniseries Alice. I enjoyed the unique spin on the traditional story, and I loved Hatter and Charlie. :) (Not a full recommendation from me on this series, especially for younger viewers, but I did enjoy the characters and the basic story.) :)

3. Who is your favorite Girl of the Year doll?
     Mia St. Claire, known around here as "Charlie." :)

4. What is your favorite Historical AG outfit?
     I think it would be a tie between Samantha's Christmas Dress, Cecile's Special Dress, and Addy's Christmas Dress.

5. What is your favorite thing about having a doll blog?
     My favorite thing about having a doll blog is getting to share my love for dolls and toys with other people who share the same interest. :) It's been great getting to meet all of you through this amazing blogging adventure. ;)

Here are MyLittleMegara's questions:

1. How long have you been blogging?
    This July will mark six years since I began blogging. Crazy!

2. What is your favorite post that you've written/photographed?
     Boy, that's a tough one. I think my favorite informative post was the American Girl Face Molds post. It took a while to finish, but it was a lot of fun putting it all together and having a sort of "definitive" identification guide. ;)
     I also enjoy my traveling doll/zelf posts, where I take photos of my dolls or toys on our family trips and vacations. It's a great way to remember the trip and share it with all of you. :)

3. What is your favorite historical American Girl (if you have one)?
     Even after all these years, it's still Felicity. ;)

4. If you could take pictures of your dolls anywhere, where would you go?
     I would say Disneyland, but that's just because I want to go there. ;) Honestly, I think I'd take a Zelf or something small instead, because I'll have my hands full following around three excited girls. Lord willing, we'll get to go in a couple of years. That's the goal, anyway. :)

5. What do you see in your blog's future?
     I'm so thankful for how far Never Grow Up has come. I never dreamed I would get to this point when I did that first post so long ago. I'll probably have to stay at this slower pace for a while, since I have so many other writing projects, but my plan is to keep blogging for the forseeable future.
     I've been meaning to share this for a while. Maybe this is as good of a time as any. It's come to my attention that WordPress would be a better platform professionally, so I am looking into switching things over to WordPress in the future. I want to look into all of my options and get some help so I do it right. I'll keep you guys posted, though. :)

And here are my five questions:

1. Which is your favorite doll in your entire collection?

2. Which type of doll do you prefer, AG/18" dolls or fashion dolls?

3. How many dolls are in your collection? Or are there too many to count? ;)

4. What has been the most memorable thing about blogging for you?

5. What is your biggest dream for your doll blog?

Once again, I'm going to cheat and not specifically nominate anyone. (Sorry, guys. I'm in a bit of a time crunch and feeling a bit under the weather.) As always, however, if you'd like to answer the questions, consider yourself nominated. Be sure to include a link in the comments below so we can see your answers. :)

Thanks for the nominations, girls! :)

Friday, April 22, 2016

Adventures in Head Swapping

It's been a while since I've attempted any major doll projects. Between my writing, my schedule, and my finances, I've spent more time focusing on slowly adding to my collection or enjoying the dolls I already have. However, things are not quite as tight financially since Hubby's change in job positions, and I was feeling adventurous this week. ;) 

Some of you may remember my mention of the beautiful Barbie Candy Princess doll (I think that's her name...she's not labeled on her box, and the title varies depending on the website). I saw her on the girls' birthday trip, and decided I'd love to get her sometime and swap her to a "Made to Move" Barbie body. 

Well, that idea stuck with me, but even though I'd found several of the Candy Princess dolls around, I was never 100% pleased with their faces. They were either too severe-looking, or the eyes were get the idea. I wanted my doll to be just right, especially if I was going to purchase her new.

(Before I proceed, I feel I should mention that there will be photos of naked Barbies in this post. It's hard enough doing a head swap without worrying about keeping them clothed. You've been warned.) ;)

Then, this past week at Target, I finally found a princess doll with a face that met my approval. I decided to bite the bullet and buy both dolls so I could perform a swap. :)

Here's a look at "Candy Princess" in her box.

Such a sweet face! :D

The back of her box. This fairytale line has three sets of three dolls, each set containing a mermaid, a princess, and a fairy. The three themes are candy, jewels, and rainbows. It fits right in with my 80s childhood. ;)

Here is Made to Move Lea. As I took the photos for this post, it reminded me that I have a ton of photos for a detailed Made to Move review in my draft posts somewhere. In fact, I've got several "in progress" reviews that will hopefully make an appearance this summer when the girls and I have more free time together. ;)

Lea's pretty face. 

The back of the box. (I didn't go into as much detail here because I'll share more info in my later review.)

Here is the Candy Princess out of her box. (Sorry this one's a bit blurry. I didn't realize it until I'd already decapitated her.) :}

I love the coloring on this doll. :)

Candy Princess has minimal articulation (just at the head, shoulders, and hips) and a plastic, molded-on bodice.

Her cloth, glitter-encrusted skirt is removable.

A closer look at her bodice. While I don't care for molded-on clothing as a collector, I do think the candy motifs on this one are kind of cute. And these dolls are definitely a great solution for moms who are opposed to naked Barbies. They're always dressed. ;)

Lea out of the box.

A closer look at her sweet face.

I already have a Made to Move Lea, and actually considered swapping her head instead, especially since I accidentally cut a small tuft of hair at the back of her head when I was trying to remove those irritating plastic ties Mattel loves.  

However, when I compared their faces, I decided I preferred the face of my older doll (pictured on the right). It's slightly rounder and has a softer look.
So, Candy Princess and New Lea agreed to swap. 

It's been a while since I've done a head swap, and usually I work with used three-dollar dolls from Goodwill for such projects. As you can imagine, I was a little nervous. Head swapping can have disastrous results. And I was having trouble getting Lea's head off. 

Because of this, I took a little break and did some research. I found THIS online article to be incredibly helpful. 

Sometime, I'd love to try the heating pad method they suggested, but this time, all I had was a hair dryer.

Convinced that I was on the right track, I continued my hair dryer method.

This did not do great things for Lea's hair, but it got rid of the lines from her ponytail. ;)

After about ten minutes of using the dryer, working with the head, and using the dryer again, I was finally able to remove it. 

The biggest challenge of this sort of project is removing the head without damaging the knob that holds it or cracking the neck. The neck glue started to turn shiny as I used the hair dryer, which made me nervous, but thankfully the neck didn't break. It's hard to see from this photo, but I did definitely strain the head knob inside the neck. It's really hard to get the head off without twisting the knob inside too far, which can lead to breakage. The fact that I was working with a brand new doll made it a lot more stressful.

Another thing I noticed this time was that the hair dryer must have melted some of the glue inside the head (used to hold the hair in place). The knob inside the head was sticky when I finally got the head removed.

And here it is:

Now it was time to move on to the Candy Princess head. 

I tried wrapping her head in a hand towel to give it better protection from the heat of the dryer (as suggested in the above article).

I made better time getting this head off, but I twisted the knob a little too much.

You can especially see it here. It didn't break, but I definitely weakened it.

And here's Candy Princess' head: 

The hard part was over now. It was much easier to get the heads ON to their new bodies than it had been to get them OFF.

And here they are, all swapped! :)

Poor Lea's hair was still pretty crazy from the blow dryer... I decided to put it back in a low side ponytail. Much better! :) 

Here she is in her pink tiara.

And here is my beautiful new custom Made to Move Barbie! :D For some reason, the name Teagan seemed to fit her. I think I'll stick with that name. :)

If you look closely at some of the photos, you'll notice that her head and her body are not quite a match in skin tone. It's a little more noticeable in real life than in photos. Still, I think it's close enough that it's not going to bug me. Oldest Gal suggested that Teagan just put on some pale face makeup. ;)

I had a lot of fun posing her for an impromptu photo shoot:

This face mold is quickly becoming my new favorite. :) I've decided that these three are going to be sisters. It's my pleasure to introduce the Peony sisters: (Left to right) Tori (Curvy Fashionista "Sweetheart Stripes"), Teal (Tall Fashionista "Terrific Teal"), and Teagan (Made to Move Lea with Candy Princess Barbie's head).

Sisters :)

I especially love these two together.

And I also wanted to get a picture of Teagan with my Made to Move Barbie with the same face mold. I'm thinking they might be cousins. :)

I already linked these, but I figured I'd do it a little more obviously down here. You can get your own Barbie Candy Princess/Barbie Princess Candy Fashion doll/whatever they want to call her HERE, and you can purchase your own Made to Move Barbie like mine HERE.

So, final thoughts on head swaps? I don't think I want to make a habit of them. (Of course, if I did them more often, I'd probably get better at them.) ;) I definitely wouldn't want to do them for someone else. The possibility of breakage is just too high for me to risk it. I also confirmed that I prefer swapping head of dolls I've found at Goodwill. It's a lot less stressful! And I think the next time I do this, I'd like to try the heating pad method to see if it's any more effective, as I mentioned earlier.

Still, I don't regret this swap. I love Teagan's sweet face and unique coloring and am glad to have her on a fun, posable body instead of that stiff, glittery one. :) I'm thinking Teagan may have a thing for travel. Maybe she can come along on my next vacation. ;)

I hope you all enjoyed this post. Have any of you tried a head swap? Do you have any favorite tips or tricks? I'd love to see some of your swap or other customization successes. Feel free to leave a link in the comments to your own dolly projects. :)

More posts to come next week! :)