Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Seven Years

It's hard to believe that seven years ago I started a little blog that grew into something amazing. Today is my seventh "blogoversary," and as I look back over the past seven years, I am so humbled and thankful for all I've learned and for the wonderful friends I've made. Thank you to all of you who have been a part of this adventure and have made it so special. :)

I had hoped to have my traditional giveaway ready by now, but between swimming lessons for the girls and getting ready for the writers conference this weekend, I didn't quite get it together. I do have a few reviews in the works, though, so I thought I'd give you a preview of what to look forward to. ;)

Disney Store Rapunzel "Before Ever After" Doll

Slim, Original, and Broad Ken Fashionista Dolls 

Disney Store Live Action Belle and Gaston Dolls
(I have a new photography assistant.) ;)

This weekend, I'll be sharing photos of my trip on my Instagram account. I'm hoping to get to a Disney Store to get my Belle and Rapunzel (and possibly Hans) dolls, and there will definitely be at least one Toys R Us stop involved. I'm on the hunt for Season 3 Shopkins Happy Places sets. :D Since it's a special trip, I'll have a bit of spending money. :)

I might also possibly vlog about my adventures, if it works out with our schedule, but I'll keep you posted on that.

Keep an eye out for a giveaway post next week! And thank you again for seven wonderful years. You guys are the best. :)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Upcoming Shopkins Happy Places Sets!

Just a quick post today. My girls and I are huge fans of the Shopkins Happy Places line, and we've been looking forward to seeing some of the new releases that should be showing up soon.

I noticed that some of the new toys are starting to show up on Amazon.com. It looks like most of them will have a release in early August:

Happyville High School Playset (You can see My Froggy Stuff's YouTube review of this set HERE.)

Bearry Fun Convertible


Kiki Creme




Season 3 Blind Bag Surprise Delivery Packs (These are also featured in the My Froggy Stuff video.)

They also have a few of the Shoppies that were supposed to be part of Season 2 of Happy Places, but never showed up in our area:

Fria FroYo

Pia Puzzle

Macy Macaroon

I love the creativity and detail that goes into this line. I'm especially excited for Macy Macaroon, Kiki Creme, and the new blind bags, since according to the info from My Froggy Stuff's video, they will feature art classroom supplies. :D

Which ones are you most excited about?

This post contains no affiliate links. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Disney Store 2017 Classic Dolls are Here!

And sadly, there aren't too many changes to report, especially for the dolls I collect, but there are a few things they switched up that are fun. The face molds appear unchanged, and most of the dresses are almost identical to last year's. Also like last year, each of the princess dolls comes with a sidekick. Let's take a look!

As usual, I'll start with the dolls from my three favorite movies (only highlighting the princes from my faves), and then the rest of the dolls will be listed alphabetically.

To change things up a little bit, I thought it would be fun to include pics of the dolls both boxed and unboxed. I like seeing how the boxes change from year to year, but you can usually see more of the differences in the unboxed pictures.

If you'd like to take a look at last year's post to compare the changes, you can see it HERE.

(original images HERE)
So first, we have beautiful Belle. The only changes I see right away are the lack of glitter on her bodice this year and the shorter skirt length. Any other differences are so subtle, they won't show up until I see her in person. I have to say, I do hope she has at least a slight variation in her face paint, or I'm going to feel like I'm purchasing the exact same doll. :{

Just a note on the new box design. Boxes don't matter as much to me with this line since I always debox these dolls, but overall, I find this year's design quite plain compared to last year's. However, I do like the fact that each box has the title of the movie in its original script. That's kind of cool and nostalgic. ;)

(original images HERE)
The Beast appears to be exactly the same as he has been for the past two years, and since I wasn't a huge fan of him before, I'll be skipping this guy this year, too. :)

(original images HERE)

The only difference I see in Rapunzel right off is that they kept her sleeves short. I really like it when they add her longer sleeves, since the dress is more movie accurate that way. No other differences stand out to me at this point. Again, it will be interesting to see her in person and see the slight variations.

Eugene (because I still refuse to call him "Flynn") ;)
(original images found HERE)
I'm pretty sure all the prince dolls are the same (except for one...but more on that later), so Eugene, like the Beast, is virtually unchanged. I think I'll pass on him this time, too, even though this mold is one of my very favorite renditions of him. :)

(original images found HERE)
Classic Anna. I'm so glad she was released right away this year instead of weeks later as an almost afterthought, like last year. I know everyone loves Elsa, but Anna has always been my favorite of the two sisters. That being said, I don't think I'm going to bring her home. Honestly, it's crazy enough collecting the Belle and Rapunzel Classic dolls. I really don't need to start with Annas, too. ;) Especially since I know her outfit will be so simplified compared to the original.

(original images found HERE)
Since I just purchased this version of Kristoff last year, I won't be getting him this time around. Did I ever review this guy for you guys? I can't remember...

(original images found HERE)
Elsa's new doll seems almost the same as well. Definitely not getting her since I already try to limit my Elsa purchases. I'm just flat running out of room!

(original images found HERE)
Hans was the only prince/villain doll to receive a major change. He's wearing his outfit from the ball, and it actually looks pretty detailed, especially for the Classic line! I'm going to have to get this guy eventually. He'd look great on my shelf with my original Hans. I might tone down his freckles a bit, though. They're pretty big and dark compared to how they looked in the movie. 

I won't go into as many details with these others since I don't actively collect them, although I will make a few comments on some of the more obvious changes.

(original images found HERE)
 Wedding Ariel
(original images found HERE)
Every once in a while the Disney Store releases wedding versions of some of their princess dolls. I haven't paid enough attention to have an educated breakdown of which ones they've released and how often, but I know I've seen Ariel, Cinderella, and Rapunzel in wedding dresses at different times. Wouldn't it be cool if they did a whole wedding line sometime, with wedding prince dolls, too? That would be awesome! :D

(original images found HERE

(original images found HERE

(original images found HERE

(original images found HERE

(original images found HERE
I'm so happy that they FINALLY decided to change things up for poor Mulan, who's had essentially the exact same dress since 2010. I love that they did a version of her green and white outfit this time. Little Gal is super excited for the updated look, since Mulan is her favorite princess. I'm sure this will be one of her purchases on next year's birthday trip!

(original images found HERE)

Snow White
(original images found HERE

(original images found HERE)
Tiana has gone back to her green dress this year. In some ways, I wish I'd snagged one of the blue-dressed Tianas either last year or the year before. Her blue dress has always been my favorite, and I loved her face mold and face paint. But again, I just can't justify collecting other Disney dolls. I have so many dolls in general, and my Beauty and the Beast, Tangled, and Frozen ones already take up so much room. I really don't need to add more. She sure is a cutie, though, especially in her lovely blue gown.

So, that's all for now! My tentative plan is to pick up a Belle, a Rapunzel, and a Hans, but I will probably wait for a while, at least until they go back on the "buy two or more, get them for $10 each" promotion they usually have going (it usually comes back about a week or so after the newest Classics are released). And I might wait for a free shipping code.

To see all of the new Classic dolls together, you can go to the Disney Store website HERE.

What do you guys think? Will any of you be tempted to add any dolls to your collection this year? Would you like to see more variety from the Disney Store with this line? Which dolls are your favorites? If you could oversee the production of the Classic doll line, what changes would you make?

P.S. I apologize to those of you who left comments I didn't respond to. I just noticed I was a bit behind! Sorry about that! I'll try to get to those a bit later.

P.P.S. Was it killing anyone else to miss D23 this year? Someday, I really want to go! Did you hear that all of the current Disney Princesses will be making a cameo appearance in Wreck-it Ralph 2? I can't wait! :D

This post contains no affiliate links and was not sponsored by Disney. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

Friday, July 7, 2017

A Long Overdue Update

Hello, everyone! Yes, I'm still alive. I didn't fall off a cliff or get eaten by wild animals. I did, however, step into the whirlwind of summer at the end of May and have scarcely had a chance to take a breath since!

Sorry to keep you hanging for so long. When I said I'd be slowing down on this blog a bit, I didn't exactly have THIS slow in mind. ;) Thanks for bearing with me.

A lot has been going on since I last posted, so here are a few things you might be curious about. (Or not...maybe you haven't thought about it at all...which is totally okay.) ;)

Family News:

One of the biggest things to report is that we got our roof replaced! A contractor friend from church was able to squeeze us in between projects last month, so the rotting parts of the roof are all repaired. He gave us a wonderful deal, but we'll still be making payments for quite a while...and then paying off some pretty major credit card debt. Sigh. Being a homeowner can stink sometimes. ;)

Our next project will be replacing the mildewy drywall in our room and the two younger girls' room, hopefully within the next month. Once that's finished, we'll repaint those walls, seal and repaint the outside of the house, and eventually repaint the inside with the goal of reselling. I'll admit, I had hoped we'd be able to fix things up quickly and immediately turn around and resell the house to recoup some of our expenses, but it looks like God has other plans. The type of permit Hubby had to get for the roof requires us to wait at least a year to resell, so we'll be here at least until next June.

I was pretty disappointed by this at first. I had hoped we could avoid being in debt for that long, and I'd started getting excited about finding a place that would fit our needs a little better. Now, though, I realize it's probably for the best to take things a little slower and fix things as we can.

I'll keep you guys posted on our progress.

Our other big news is that we added a kitten to our furry family. :} It began as a project. Several new kittens were born to the feral cats living in our neighbor's backyard, and we got sucked into the cuteness in spite of having a dog. (At least they weren't born in our backyard this time.) A lot of them had goopy eyes, bad fleas, and respiratory problems, so we took one of our favorites to the vet to see what was going on. My main reasons for doing this were to make sure it was okay for the girls to be handling them, and also to prepare the girls for a sad outcome if the prognosis wasn't all that great.

Poor kitty on his way to the vet's.

To make a long story short, we ended up keeping said kitten in our house and treating him with medicine from the vet's until we became hopelessly attached to him.

So now, we have an inside kitten. He is the most adorable thing ever, and the girls love him. He and Teddy are slowly getting used to one another. Teddy thinks Pumpkin is the best thing in the world, but so far, the feeling is not mutual. ;)

"Please come out and play, Pumpkin!" ;)

We also had the opportunity to take a couple little vacations, one to the coast with our church's family camp, and one to Trinity Alps Resort for a day trip with family. We will also be going to the coast again in August with my side of the family. (I feel so spoiled!) :D

Here are a few of my favorite pictures from our trips:

Our lovely campsite in Trinidad. (Middle Gal, Little Gal, and Hubby are pictured.)

Little M on Moonstone Beach.

The caves on Moonstone. :)

#storylocation :D

An incredible sky. :)

The beautiful wilderness of the Trinity Alps Resort.

Little Gal giving Teddy a hug. He wasn't a big fan of the water! ;)

Our favorite swimming hole at Trinity: Cherry Flat.

Oldest Gal

The water was higher and had a stronger current than it has in a long time. (Don't worry, this isn't where we swam.) ;) 

Little Gal and her cousin eating ice cream and enjoying the view right before we headed back home.

Writing News:

So, what's been happening with my writing? Well, I have a few exciting things to report. I finally got my book sent off to the agent I met at Mount Hermon in 2016. I doubt I will hear back from her anytime soon, but I've already signed up for a meeting with her at Realm Makers, the speculative fiction writing conference I'll be attending at the end of this month. So even if I don't hear from her, I have a very unique opportunity for a face-to-face follow-up, which is always a good thing.

In other news, the small publishing company I submitted my first three chapters to in November contacted me at the beginning of June and asked to see my full manuscript. I should hear back from them by the end of the summer. Another great thing about Realm Makers is that many of the publishing company's editors will be there, so I'll get a chance to meet some of them in person as well.

Oh, and also writing related, I had my first official published story released in May! :) Spark Magazine, also known as Splickety Love, selected my short "flash fiction" piece for their May issue. It's called "The Tower," and is a tragic romance set at the Tower of Babel. It was a little overly sentimental, but lots of fun to write. :) You can see a copy of the issue on Amazon HERE, and I think you can even read my story in the sample pages. ;)

My writing blog is slowly but steadily moving along. I miss the community here, that's for sure. It can be pretty dead over there. But I keep reminding myself that Never Grow Up started out small, too. I just need to keep posting and networking, and eventually, it will grow. I hope. :}

Oh, and also in preparation for Realm Makers, I got some professional headshots done and new business cards made at Vistaprint.com. I love how they turned out! :)

I feel so official! ;)

I did a whole big post about my headshots and my photo insecurities on my writing blog. You can read it HERE, if you like. ;)

Toy News:

I don't have a whole lot to report on the toy front. Sadly, almost all of my toys are still packed away until we get the mildew repaired. My room is so depressing right now! I am still planning on downsizing, but I'm looking forward to brightening my room with dolls and toys again once repairs have been made. :)

I have managed to snag a few smaller items here and there, in spite of limiting my spending.

I'm not a huge Tsum Tsum fan, but I couldn't resist trying for the adorable Beauty and the Beast-themed ones.

My first try, I ended up with two Beasts, but about a week later, I found my Belle to go with him. :) Just haven't had the chance to take a picture of her yet. ;) 

Walmart had these cool little Marvel and DC Comics die cast metal figures for just 97 cents! They're only about an inch tall, but are painted really well. I picked up Spiderman...

...and Cap for my 18 inch Marvel fans. ;)

If you've been in the toy aisles at all recently, you've probably seen the little minion blind bags from Moose Toys. These are really fun.

He's so cute! I probably won't do too many of these ones myself, just because you can end up with some really random ones. They're great for Despicable Me fans, though. :)

I don't usually do "Fashems" either, just because I don't like how sticky they are and how dust, hair, and everything else sticks to them. But I really love Sanrio characters, especially My Melody and Chococat, so I decided to root through all of them and try my luck. Thankfully, you can look through the tiny holes at the top and bottom and pretty much figure out who's inside. I ended up with both of my favorites.

Chococat (too bad about his nose rub)...

...and sweet My Melody. :)

There have been some great sales on toys recently, too. I think stores are clearing out the extras in preparation for the new fall releases. Check places like Walmart and Target for some great deals!

We got this Shoppies set at Walmart for only $4.50. Little Gal did a video review of it on her own to surprise me. It was so cute, I plan on adding it to my YouTube channel. I'll let you know when it's up. :)

And speaking of sales, those of you interested in the live action Beauty and the Beast dolls from the Disney Store might want to snag them now. The Beast doll is sold out, but the Belle doll is on sale for $24.95, and the Belle and Gaston set is on sale for $48.99. This is a great time to try out those custom ideas! ;) I'd love to eventually snag a Belle and Gaston set, but I think I'm going to take my chances and see if they go down any further in price.
Most of the big toy releases will happen in another month or so, but there have been some new items released already. Season 2 of the LOL dolls have been spotted at our local Target. I'm not a huge fan of these myself, but the girls love them.

Any of you who are Barbie fans have probably heard about the newest line of Fashionistas. Not only are there more great hair, eye, and body combinations for the girls, but Ken is now getting a more extreme makeover, too! He'll come in three different body types: Original, Broad, and Slim. No Tall yet. Hopefully that will change.

Most of them are on the official Mattel website, but I did a Pinterest board with all of the new faces, which you can see HERE (if you don't want to scroll through the old ones as well). Some of them are already available for purchase, some of them will be available in the fall, and some of them won't be released until spring of 2018.

The girls and I are super excited about some of the new releases. I've been really good financially lately, but I did snag the two new Fashionista girls I really wanted when I found them at my local Walmart.

Powder Pink Lace, #65, and Blue Beauty, #69, both stood out to me when I first saw the new releases. I'm so glad I was able to find them.

The names of the dolls are now found on the backs of their packaging...

...and now only their number is on the front of the packaging. It no longer states whether they are Curvy, Tall, or Petite.

"Blue Beauty" is aptly named; she's absolutely stunning. She's a Tall. I'm still deciding on her name. I thought "Skye" might be cool, because of the blue hair. What do you guys think?

I love her side glance and brown eyes.

Her hair, unfortunately, is rooted a little thin, and her scalp is painted black, which makes it look like her original dark roots are growing out. ;) Time to dye again!

I also noticed that she has a bit of a thin patch in the front where her sunglasses were, but I was able to work the hair around it to make it less noticeable.

Check out those shades. ;)

This girl is a Curvy. I'm so very excited about her, because she looks almost exactly like one of my book characters! :D

She has such a sweet expression. 

I really wasn't a fan of the front double buns, though, so I decided to take them out.

Crazy hair!

Thankfully, I was able to use one of the brown rubber bands that held her buns in place to wrap around her head and tame the crazy curls in front. :) 

Skye? with Teagan. I'm thinking they could be cousins or something. :)

Tovah (my custom Made to Move Fashionista) with "A." (Sorry, guys, her name is top secret.) ;)

I snapped a few pictures of some of the other dolls that were at Walmart. Sorry some of them aren't the best. I always feel slightly conspicuous taking pictures when they're on an end display. ;)

"Lovin' Leopard" (Curvy)

Tropi-Cutie (Original)

"Candy Stripes" (Original)

"Cactus Cutie" (Tall)

"Beautiful Butterflies" (Curvy)

"Patchwork Denim" (Original)

"Emoji Fun" (Curvy) This one appears to be a re-release of the former fashion pack version.

"Platinum Pop" (Curvy)

"Sweet for Silver" (Petite)

"Hyped on Stripes" (Slim) This poor guy was the only Ken there so far. While I would like to get a Slim Ken eventually, I decided I'd wait on this guy. So many of the Slim Kens have heads that look way too big for their bodies, and I really wanted the two Barbies more. Eventually, though, I'd like to get one Slim Ken and at least one Broad Ken (probably this one) to get the body comparisons. 

I'd also love to get this Ken, even though he's an Original, because he also could make a good doll representation of a book character. I just need to figure out how to give him box braids. ;)

And I LOVE this cute gal! When she's released in August, I'd like to add her to my collection. I love her unique coloring and freckles. :)

Now, Mattel just needs to come out with Made to Move Kens and Made to Move Curvy Barbies, and I will be completely happy! :D
Another fairly new announcement is from American Girl. Starting in late July, customers will have the option to create custom American Girl dolls! You get to choose hair color and style, eye color, freckles, and also choose from six different outfits and six different accessory sets. They don't say anything about skin color or face mold yet, but I'm assuming that will be part of the deal as well. These dolls will cost $200 because they come with several extras. That's a lot to spend, but man, am I tempted! After I pay off the roof. ;) You can see AG's announcement about it HERE.

I've been keeping my eye on the Disney Store website for their annual Classic Doll release. So far, nothing has shown up. Last year, they released on June 20th, so I'm kind of surprised we haven't seen anything yet. It shouldn't be long, though. If you look up Classic Dolls on the Disney Store website right now, only Pocahontas, Merida, Mulan, Elena, and Moana show up...along with an Elsa and Anna coronation set that I'm just now discovering (how did I miss that?!?). Since the selection is so small, I'm assuming that means the new dolls will be up any day now. I'll let you guys know as soon as that happens. :)

And yes, even with my budget limitations, I'm still planning on getting this year's Belle and Rapunzel dolls. ;) I'd love to get one of the new Rapunzel dolls from "Tangled Before Ever After," too, but that purchase may have to wait for a bit.
In just a couple of weeks, I'll be celebrating my 7th blogoversary here on Never Grow Up. Crazy. I can't believe it's been that long since I first started! Be on the lookout for a celebration post and giveaway. :)

Fan Mail:

Sigh. My whole "Fan Mail Friday" thing really went kaput. I want to apologize to both Treesa and T.K. that I never featured the lovely packages you sent me. I had hoped to do that now, but unfortunately, the things you sent me are packed away with all of my other collection stuff in big boxes in my mom and dad's garage. But again, thank you, and please know that even if I don't feature the items here, you really brightened my day by sending them.

I just got another sweet package from Treesa, and was all set to showcase her special goodies in this post. However, when I transferred some of my pictures over from my phone, I accidentally deleted some of them, and apparently Treesa's were among that group. Treesa my dear, I'll try to feature those in the next post. Thank you for your sweet gifts and thoughtful words. You always make me smile. :)

And I think that's all of my news for now. I hope you all have a lovely summer, and I'll be back soon with more to share. :)

P.S. Even though I'm not as active here, I try to keep up with my social media, especially my Facebook and Instagram. So if you miss hearing from me, you can check on me there. If you miss my mundane wordiness, you can check out my writing blog. ;)