Classic Knit Sweater and a New ‘Do!

Classic Knit Sweater | American Girl

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season!

Mine has been pretty fun so far! My husband and I hosted Christmas Eve and somehow managed to squeeze seven people and a multitude of presents into our tiny condo!

My family got me lots of fun American Girl clothes and accessories to add to my collection. One of the new pieces of clothing I received was this Classic Knit Sweater, part of one of the most recent mix ‘n’ match sets.

You might recognize the pattern from Grace’s City Outfit (2015). This version has a little more color and the addition of rhinestones to the shirt collar.  The sweater portion is a little thinner than Grace’s sweater, but has a nice, silky feel to it. The sweater pairs nicely with a pair of jeans and the Teal Moccasins.

And it looks especially nice on someone with a familiar face…

New classic sweater

Hi there!

I’ve been struggling with Sienna, one of my earliest custom dolls, for awhile now. The original red wig I used on her became pretty dry and tangled easily. I’m not sure if it was the quality of the wig or just one of the many side-effects of time spent in our old, poorly insulated apartment. Originally, I envisioned her as the photography-loving cousin of Saige Copeland, but after Lea came out (and subsequently made her way to my collection), it was harder to keep the two more unique.

After a couple other wigs – one that had two distinct tones of red that were more pronounced than I liked, and one that went from dark brown to blonde (and I think may have marked her forehead slightly) – I was beginning to lose hope of finding a wig that would really work well with Sienna. I decided to give it one more shot. Re-wig attempt #3 happened earlier this month and I think this Tenney wig is a keeper!

Emma wearing classic sweater

Who wants sugar cookies?!

Sienna’s new look is so distinct, I decided she needed a new name and a new persona to go with it. I haven’t had much time to figure out what her new backstory will be, but her new name is Emma Petersen. She looks a lot like my Danish grandma, so I chose a last name from a few branches back on my family tree.

The only issue I’ve run into with this wig is that it doesn’t quite fit around Emma’s head like it did on Tenney’s. In fact, I feel like it might be even smaller than the wigs I took off of both TrulyMe #64s earlier this year. I glued the edges of the wig as much as I could and it seems to be holding. I just won’t be putting her hair into any high ponytails anytime soon haha.

Emma's new look

Now where to find some hot chocolate…?

I’ll be sharing a couple other new things I got for Christmas soon! In the meantime, check out my Instagram for a sneak peek!
JenniferSig

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Mini Christmas Tree and Mini Baubles Multi Pack

FAVORITE FINDS: OBJECTS

Mini Christmas Tree, Mini Baubles Multi Pack |  found at Typo

Mia as Megan Ryder

Let’s decorate!

You never know when you’re going to stumble upon a doll-sized find!

I was wandering around a local mall just before meeting up with my coworkers for a holiday lunch party, when one of my coworkers waved me down from inside a store called “Typo.” I was quickly drawn to a display near the front with tiny trees and ornaments in a variety of different colors.

The size was enough to win me over, but when I saw that the trees and ornament sets were $5 each, I was sold! After the party was over, I made a beeline for Typo and got one of their last natural green trees. They also had iridescent white and gold versions, but I like the traditional look best.

Megan decorates the tree.

There! Ready for next week!

I really like the size of this tree – it’s small, but not enough that it looks like it’s out of scale. It kind of reminds me of a tree someone might have in their bedroom. The tree is well made and fluffs out nicely. The ornament set is fantastic! The balls are such pretty colors and the ones that have glitter don’t shed everywhere like some of the human-sized shatterproof ornaments I have. The garland is probably my favorite part. It’s wired, so you can bend and shape it to look like it actually has some weight to it. It really helps make the scene look more realistic.

Now I just need some tiny presents to go under the tree!

I hope everyone is having a great holiday season so far! ❤ I think I just have one more thing to wrap and I’m done! Woo! XDJenniferSig

Meet Megan Ryder

Megan Ryder, Mia St.Claire, Girl of the Year 2008| American Girl

In my last post, I explained that I had bought a second Create Your Own doll and had quickly returned her after discovering she had eye issues. What I didn’t explain is who I intended that doll to be.

Megan Ryder from Princess Megan

Megan Ryder as she appeared on the cover of Princess Megan

Although I was aware of American Girl first, the very first 18 inch doll I ever had was Megan Ryder from the Magic Attic Club book and doll line. This line was introduced in the early nineties and (in my opinion) had characters and stories that were just as engaging as American Girl’s. The slim 18 inch Magic Attic Club dolls could use American Girl accessories easily, but most of the clothes were pretty baggy. I had two of Kirsten’s dresses growing up, but they didn’t look too bad on Megan once I’d done some creative folding at the waist.

My Magic Attic Club Megan doll isn’t currently in the greatest shape. She’s pretty loose, her eyes are slightly yellowed, and her hair is pretty dry – all mostly thanks to the stupid apartment I used to live in and its lack of insulation. The temperatures got so high in there, a lot of our stuff was damaged by the heat.

Since then, I’ve thought it would be neat to create an American Girl version of Megan – one that could actually share clothes with other dolls. So, she became my second CYO project. And you know how that turned out… Which is a shame – she could’ve been a really cute doll!

I contemplated trying to build my own custom Megan, but I’ve never been able to find a wig I thought really matched doll!Megan’s hair. It’s more muted in color than most of the red wigs I find. In the books, she’s said to have strawberry blonde hair, and the illustrations show her as having everything from practically auburn to light strawberry blonde like the illustration above.

I thought about getting a Maryellen, but on a whim, I decided to check out eBay for another retired doll I’ve had on my wishlist, Girl of the Year 2008, Mia St.Claire. And as luck would have it, she had come down in price since I last looked and there were a couple new dolls that were listed for a great price!

Mia as Megan

Meet Megan!

So Mia became my Megan. And at some point, she might get some clip-on bangs, too.

She’s actually a pretty good fit, coloring-wise! Her hair is the same color as some of my favorite illustrations of Megan, and her lighter hazel eyes are a better match than Maryellen’s would’ve been.

She’s SUCH a gorgeous doll in person. I absolutely love her freckles! I really wonder why American Girl never reused this pattern – it looks much more realistic than some of the others they’ve tried. And I’m typically not a big fan of the classic mold, but I think it gives her such a lively, almost impish look.

It’s strange to open a doll from almost ten years ago – you really see how the quality of the dolls has changed. Mia St.Claire’s meet outfit has so many different textures and details (right down to the metallic printed design on her underwear!). I forgot how much I missed the illustrated books, too.

After Christmas, I’ll work on getting Megan a true meet outfit, but for now, she looks pretty good in blue-green! Even if she’s not an exact match, it’s nice to have a Megan again. 🙂

JenniferSig

Create Your Own… and Cross Your Fingers

[Returned] Create Your Own American Girl Doll | American Girl

*sigh*

Well, if you follow me on Instagram, you know that I recently ordered a second Create Your Own doll and she didn’t turn out quite as nicely as the first.

My first doll, Mia, only had one minor issue – uneven eyebrows. These were fairly easy to fix with a little bit of acetone-free nail polish remover and acrylic paint.

When I opened my second Create Your Own doll, I was happy to see she had even eyebrows… but her eyes were terrible.

She had two different sized eye sockets (much more so than in my first Create Your Own doll or any of my Josefina mold dolls) and her eyes were pointing in opposite directions – one of them with an additional slight downward cast:

Create Your Own doll eye socket difference Opposing Directions

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m not sure if you can tell from these pictures, but in person it was pretty evident – especially when comparing her to my first Create Your Own doll. I tried to move her eyes into normal position, but they just reverted back to their original spots.

It was time to contact American Girl. I tried calling first, but I got a customer service rep who really didn’t seem to understand the issue. And I get it, when you deal with hundreds of irate customers, it’s probably hard to care what anyone has to say. I’ve read the American Girl Facebook page comments – I can only imagine what they have to put up with.

That said, I try to be the exact opposite any time I talk to a customer service rep. I’m super patient, I’m friendly, I explain the situation simply – and I did this time as well. “My doll arrived with eyes that are pointing in opposite directions and one of her eye sockets is much smaller than the other.” I even told her that this was the second “B” mold CYO doll I’d ordered and it was easy to see the difference when comparing the two.

I got the following:

“You can return it and reorder it.” (To which I replied, “Is there a way I can include a note so I don’t get one with the same face issues?”) “I haven’t seen the Create Your Own website, so I’m not sure how it works.”

“Let me check with my supervisor… So, that’s actually how the mold is designed – it makes the doll look more realistic.” (Me: “Is this a new change then? My first Create Your Own has more similarly sized eyes.”)

“That’s the way that mold is. Just choose a different mold.”

“We have someone who personally inspects all of the dolls before they’re shipped out.” (Uh huh…)

“Well, you could try sending it to the Doll Hospital and they can fix the eyes.” (Me: “They’ll change the head?”) “No, I think they’ll just fix the eyes.” (Which wouldn’t fix the eye socket issue.)

“You should just let your daughter open it for Christmas and then return it later.” (Never mentioned a daughter or Christmas, but oh well. I’m used to AG refusing to believe there are adult or even non-female collectors.)

So, after feeling like I wasted half an hour for nothing, I decided to try sarahangeline (of AGPT)’s suggestion of writing directly to the Doll Hospital. She had had success admitting her CYO doll to the hospital and was even getting updates on her doll’s status.

Unfortunately, I got the same response – even with photos showing the issues. So, I decided it was time to throw in the towel. I packed the doll up and sent her back requesting a refund – along with a note explaining that I had no interest in reordering the doll until production could be made more consistent.

I discovered something interesting as I was packing up my doll. Someone on AGPT mentioned that the CYO dolls have an embossed copyright mark at the base of the head. This doll had an etched copyright mark, which makes me wonder if they’re using regular Josefina heads to try to quickly fill orders.

I think my doll is still en route, so I’m not sure if American Girl will give me the refund I requested or will try to push for store credit.

After I posted images of my doll’s wonky eyes, agallthetime suggested it might be due to foam behind the eyes – as she discovered after removing her doll’s eyes. At first, I thought maybe that meant some kind of shaped foam to help the eyes stay in place.

Nope! Actual 3M SQUARES OF FOAM. For a $200 doll. *sigh*

At this point, unless you want a mold that American Girl doesn’t offer any other way (e.g. dark Josefina mold), I don’t really know how much of a better deal the CYO dolls are compared to building the custom yourself or even having someone else do it for you. When they’re done well, they’re fantastic! When they’re not, the only recourse you have is to return the doll and try again (and hope it’ll turn out well this time). Judging by the photos I’ve seen on Instagram, there are a lot of dolls that have somehow passed inspection when they really shouldn’t have. And there are a lot of collectors who opt to try to fix the issues themselves instead of sending the doll back. It’s ridiculous to think you have a better chance of getting a good $115 doll than you do one that costs $85 more. Twice as expensive and twice as much chance of arriving wonky.

Sorry for such a downer post. I wanted to get this out of the way before introducing my newest doll – an older doll that I bought off of eBay, and one that seems so much nicer quality-wise than the CYO I just returned. She’s so pretty, I’m really excited to have her!!

Anyway, I’m off to take photos of said new doll, so I can make a much happier post soon! (Check out my Instagram if you want to see a sneak peek!) 🙂JenniferSig

Photo Story: A Halloween Scheme

PHOTO STORY

A Halloween Scheme

Anne: *races into the den* MIA! Mia-Mia-Mia! You know how I just started my very own blog – Anne-otations? Well! I decided that I wanted my first holiday post to be something BIG! Something with a lot of pizzazz! Something… spooktacular!

Anne and Mia Halloween

Mia: Uh-oh. I recognize that look, and I’m a little afraid to ask, but… what exactly do you have in mind…?

Anne: Eee! I was hoping you’d say that! OK! Picture this – we go to the spy supplies store and we get a hidden speaker and a mic. Then, we go to the park and we hide the speaker near a bench and whenever someone sits there, we play pranks on them! We could make it seem like nearby birds are talking! “Please, ma’am, can I have a bite of your sandwich?” Then I’ll write about the experience!

Anne tells Mia her plan

Mia: That would be pretty funny! …There’s just one problem.

Anne: We’d need to add a voice changer to sound more like birds?

Mia: *laughs* No, Ms. Wild Imagination! Have you checked to see how much that stuff costs?  The drawing tablet I saved all summer for was $80 bucks – I can only imagine how much real spy stuff would cost…

Anne: Oh… You may have a point there… *sigh* I guess it’s back to the ol’ drawing board.

Mia: Ooh! I have an idea! You could debunk some well-known Halloween superstitions! You know, explain how they may have originated and why people shouldn’t believe them! You could start with black cats being bad luck! It’s because of that stupid superstition that a lot of black cats get left behind in shelters. When we got Darcy, he’d already been there for two months!

Anne and Mia talking

Anne: Two MONTHS?! Seriously?! I always thought you’d gotten lucky and grabbed him right as he came in! He’s such a sweet, intelligent cat! Who wouldn’t want him!

Mia: I know, it’s hard to believe, right? This little guy has brought us nothing but GOOD luck! I can’t imagine our lives without him!

Anne: Ooh! I’ve got it! How about The Lucky Owners of Black Cats and Why You Should Ignore that Silly Superstition! I think I know at least 4 or 5 people with black cats – I can interview all of you and take some photos for my blog! Here, I’ll take a photo of you and Darcy next to the fireplace. Perfect!

Mia near the fireplace with Darcy

It’s been a busy few weeks since I wrote last! We’re into the busiest season of the year at work and it’s gotten just a little more hectic because our department is switching divisions and it sounds like my coworkers and I will be having all of our job descriptions tweaked – potentially to upper roles. In theory, it sounds great, but I’m kind of worried that my job will be veering away from managing the creative side of things (or doing some of the creative work myself), which is why I took the job in the first place. Ugh. Anyway, at least I finally got the house decorated for Halloween this year! So even though work feels a little crazy, home feels fun and festive.

Speaking of festivities – tomorrow is Darcy’s first “Gotcha Day” – we adopted him from a local animal rescue center one year ago! It feels like we’ve had him for much longer than that; he’s such an ingrained part of our lives!

Happy Halloween!

Hope you’re all having a SPOOKTACULAR October! ♥
JenniferSig

Meet Anne!

Anne Mizukawa | Custom American Girl Doll (TrulyMe #64 doll with Beautifully Custom wig)

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I have two custom TrulyMe #64 dolls – Yuna, and a second one that I customized slightly by giving her a Chocolate Cake Beautifully Custom wig. I haven’t made her introductory post until now, because I’ve been tweaking her backstory.

Anne Mizukawa

Meet Anne Mizukawa!

So, without further ado, say hello to Anne Mizukawa!

It was Anne’s mom who came up with her name. She fell in love with the Anne of Green Gables books as a kid, and decided if she ever had a girl, she would incorporate the name in some way. For Anne’s 10th birthday, her parents surprised her with a trip to Prince Edward Island to see the real Green Gables. Mr. Mizukawa wasn’t sure who was more excited, Anne or his wife.

Anne Mizukawa

“OMG! I’m in Anne Shirley’s room! THIS IS SO COOL!”

Anne and her literary namesake would definitely be “kindred spirits.” Both have active imaginations that take them on wild rides at times. Once, at a sleepover, Anne crafted such a terrifying and somehow believable ghost story of a haunted apple, she and her friends couldn’t bring themselves to eat any for three months!

She loves entering short story contests at school, and even had one of her stories performed on stage by a traveling troupe of actors! It was the talk of her class for the entire year!

Anne would love to be an author when she grows up. She knows it’s a hard industry to break into, but her parents encourage her to keep writing, keep reading, and keep improving her style. She loves to daydream about what it’ll be like when she’s a famous author. She’s already asked Mia to design all of her book covers, too.

Mia and Anne

“Designer and author powers activate!”

She’s also proving to be really good at keeping important secrets. Anne is also the only one who know’s Yuna‘s true heritage. To everyone else, Yuna is half-Japanese and half-Russian, but Yuna and her family are actually from a world called “Spira” – where she’d be half-Yevonite and half-Al Bhed. Anne teaches Yuna about American and Japanese culture and Yuna tells Anne all about her life on Spira. Anne would love to write a book about Yuna’s world someday. Or who knows, maybe a video game… 😉

Yuna and Anne

“Wait ’til I introduce you to yakitori. Bet there’s nothing like it on Spira!”

Okaeri, Anne! (Welcome home, Anne!)
JenniferSig

Meet Mia!

Mia Heatherly | Create Your Own American Girl Doll

I DID THE THING AND I HAVE ZERO REGRETS!

Jennifer's Mini Me

My first Create Your Own doll!

When word first leaked about American Girl’s proposed custom doll line, I was crazy excited, but also cautiously optimistic. During that time, AG’s cost-cutting measures and decrease in quality seemed to be the new norm, so it was hard to imagine what the “premium” custom doll experience would actually be like. Reversing their decision on permapanties gave me some hope, and I decided that if their options were robust enough to let me create a much closer mini me than Arista, I’d give it a shot.

Don’t get me wrong, I love how Arista turned out – especially for being my very first attempt at customizing dolls – but there have always been things about her that I wished I could tweak and make her look more like a true mini me. When Tenney’s light brown eyes appeared, I seriously considered trying to swap Arista’s eyes, and I’ve often thought about giving her boil perm curls. In the end, I was too afraid I’d mess her up.

When the Create Your Own doll generator was released, I was floored by just how close I was able to get to my own features – same light brown eyes, same hair color, even my exact same hairstyle!

My Mini Me's

My Mini Me’s

The preview image of my Create Your Own (CYO) mini me was different enough from Arista that I decided to go ahead and order her. If she had been pretty similar, I probably would’ve focused on making my second choice – an AG version of Megan Ryder from Magic Attic Club.

My Create Your Own doll

“I’m here and I brought coffee- er, hot chocolate!”

I ordered my CYO on release day – August 8th, 2017 – towards the end of the day. Thankfully, nothing I wanted had been backordered yet (I think at the time it was just the Jess mold and hazel eyes).

CREATE YOUR OWN MAKEUP:

Face Shape: B / Josefina in Light Vinyl

Eye Color: Light Brown

Hair Color: Brown

Haircut: Medium Curly with Bangs

I went with the “Let’s Create” outfit (mostly for the adorable cat shoes) and the “Let’s Smile” accessories (because I LIVE on coffee during the work week and the purse and necklace are pretty cute). I also got her ears pierced and selected tortoise shell sunglasses. I didn’t have a name for her at the time, but now that she’s arrived, I don’t actually see anything that notes the name, hobby, location, or pet that I chose during the creation process. Overall, the only part of the process that I found really confusing was the Create Your Own shirt section. I thought you designed the shirt and ordered it along with your doll, but you actually get the code for the free shirt (with free standard shipping) after your doll arrives.

I checked my account religiously over the following weeks to see if any estimated ship date had been added, but my order remained listed as “In Progress” up until it shipped. I did get an email notice that she had been shipped, and she arrived a few days later – a couple of days ahead of schedule!

The Create Your Own Box

“‘Sup, MTV? Welcome to my box!”

My CYO doll came in a larger-than-normal shipping box and had a cardboard sleeve on top to keep her from jostling around. The red and hot pink keepsake box was under that, in a large plastic bag. Inside the keepsake box, the doll was well-protected, with plastic covering her limbs and even a circle of foam to protect her forehead.

Her limbs are nice and tight and she has the same thick fabric torso as the older style dolls (the color does look a little brighter, though, so I’m not sure if it’s the exact same fabric). Her lip paint is a tiny bit lighter than Arista’s, but I’m pretty sure she has the same face shape or very close to it. Her wig also seems to be pretty good quality – silky and easy to brush. My doll’s eyebrows are ever-so-slightly shifted left, but not quite as bad as my Cécile’s had been.

Cat Shoes

Cat Shoes!!! :3

I’m so happy I got the “Let’s Create” outfit! Just look at these shoes! I also like the fact that the top, skirt, and leggings are all separate pieces that I can incorporate into other mix ‘n’ match outfits. I absolutely love the donut print, too – just too cute!

Accessories

Accessories

Here’s a close-up of her accessories. I really love the purse – it holds its shape well and it’s roomy enough to fit the pen and notebook (though the notebook is a little wider than the purse). The hot cocoa is my favorite part. I forgot to take a picture of it, but you can actually open the lid and see a heart swirled into the drink inside.

Mini Me and Darcy

Mini Me and Mini Darcy

I thought about calling my new mini me “Marina” or “Cypriana,” which are two of my middle names, but neither were quite right. I definitely didn’t want to take Arista’s name, either. And then it hit me – “Mia”! It’s a name I’ve been wanting to use for a custom for awhile now (being the Princess Diaries fangirl that I am) and it sounds similar to “me” haha. I thought about making her Arista’s older sister and having both have the last name “Micallef,” but I decided to give her a last name similar to my maiden name and make the two cousins – both being half Maltese.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with the Create Your Own doll line. It was fun to design a custom doll and not have to worry about swapping her eyes or removing and gluing a new wig! They’re pricey enough that I definitely wouldn’t do this all the time, but for customs requiring harder-to-find parts, I think it’s well worth it. I’m excited to see photos of more CYO dolls appear!
JenniferSig