Archive of ‘Life & Home’ category

“Thank you for voting.”

Today at the polls, the man who handed me my ballot said very sincerely “THANK YOU for voting.” I don’t know why it caught me off guard. They say it to everyone, every year. But it seemed like I should be the one saying “Thank you for volunteering as an election judge.” Thank you America for being a democracy. Thank you great-grandparents for becoming American citizens. Thank you women’s suffragists for giving me the right to vote. Thank you armed forces for protecting that right.

All the negative attack ads, the arguing and the dashed dreams of politics can’t erode that feeling of accomplishment when the automatic ballot feeder swallows up your vote with a whoosh. (Plus, you get an I Voted sticker.)

However long you had to wait in line to vote, wasn’t it worth it? Happy Election Day!

Doll Catalogs of the 90s

90s doll catalogsAfter delving into the world of Madame Alexander, I started remembering the 90s doll companies who marketed to my generation. Despite being very loyal to American Girl (shout out to Samantha), I received a wide variety of doll catalogs in my mailbox. Turns out that some of the dolls in these catalogs have now become collector’s items. Here’s a quick update on some 90s doll companies you might remember and what happened to them.

90s Doll Companies

Did you read any of these 90s doll catalogs?

Magic Attic Club

90s doll companiesThis blatant rip off of American Girl had a cute premise: four friends played dress up in a magical attic and were transported on adventures. Like American Girl, this 90s doll company’s products included dolls, accessories and accompanying paperback books. Some of the story themes are a little heavy on the cultural appropriation for today’s standards.

Current Status: Closed in 2007.

MyTwinn

90s doll companiesThis slightly creepy product line was actually founded with a heartwarming intent. An emergency room physician noticed that her young patients were attached to their dolls for comfort because they looked like them. Believing that dolls helped boost a child’s self-esteem, in 1993 he developed a doll-making technique to create replicas to resemble children’s features. The company gained immense popularity through 2001.

Current Status: After running into quality issues when manufacturing was sent to China, the company closed in 2016. MyTwinn dolls are highly collectible and have sold for over $1000. More details can be found on this history of MyTwinn.

American Girl

90s doll companiesCurrent Status: still crushing it, even though they retired some familiar characters from the original historical line.

Did you have any of these dolls? I’d love to hear your memories of them in the comments section!

Save Money on Dorm & Home Decor

Thanks to Groupon for sponsoring today’s post!

Whether you’re getting ready for going back to campus or getting your home ready for fall, saving money feels good! One of my secrets is getting great deals on Groupon.

save money on dorm decorHere are my favorite Groupon Goods categories for major deals on home design. You can save money on dorm decor essentials too if you or someone you know is heading back to college soon.

  • Canvas prints. Displaying favorite photographs from my travels like the one in the photo above is one of my go-to ways to decorate walls. Groupon has deals as good as $5 for a 16 x 20 print! Even with $10 shipping that’s a better deal than you can find almost anywhere else.
  • Mattress toppers. Basic beds can be transformed with a high quality mattress topper, and these deals can save serious cash.
  • Cute area rugs. The rug in the photo above I purchased in college to brighten up my room. They can make a small space seem more homey, or give a new look to a room in your home.
  • Throw pillows. This is another fast, inexpensive way to bring a new look into a space. Check out the emoji pillows available now on Groupon for the texting millennial in your life!

Another trick is to check Groupon Coupons for deals like percentages off at websites I regularly shop at. How are you saving money on decor this fall?

Pick Your Own Berries Season

What to wear berry pickingSummer isn’t complete until I’ve gone blueberry picking at least once. Maybe it’s because I grew up near a pick-your-own berry farm, or more likely because there’s no other food in the world I like quite as much as blueberries. There’s also just something so rewarding about being involved in procuring the berries you eat and seeing the land where it’s grown.

The season varies every year for blueberry picking, because the crops are sensitive to moisture and temperature changes. I’ve been picking in the Pacific Northwest as early as June and in Wisconsin as late as August. Some years there hasn’t been a crop at all, which is disappointing to say the least!

The general rule for the Midwest is early summer strawberries, mid summer blueberries and late summer raspberries. So not to worry if you’ve missed strawberries and blueberries where you live, there might still be raspberries on the horizon.

Here’s what I’ve learned from years of faithful berry picking.

what to wear berry pickingWhat to wear berry picking

When choosing what to wear berry picking, consider clothing that you don’t mind getting stained. Blue and black clothes for blueberry picking work out well. Pants or shorts are ideal because picking berries can require crouching and sitting on the ground.

A hat to keep the bugs and sun off your face. Need hat inspiration? Here are three of my  favorites, at different price points:

What to bring:

Bug spray.

A cooler with a tray and/or container to transport your berries home in.

Cash, as some berry farms don’t take credit cards.

A small child or two. Berry picking is a fun activity for little ones, so give the kids in your life a chance to learn about farming, food production and nature if you can!

What to leave at home:

Your pets! Most farms don’t allow dogs.

Picking baskets and buckets. The farm will supply these, though you can bring your own if you prefer.

What to know:

Call ahead! Most berry farms are small family operations that will close if they get picked out or if there’s inclement weather. Before you drive way out into the country, confirm that the farm will be open when you get there.

Not all farms are pesticide free, so do your research ahead of time if you prefer organic produce.

what to wear berry pickingWhere to pick:

Find farms near you at pickyourown.org.

What berries are in season near you?

Madame Alexander Doll Convention

To celebrate the theme of “Shall We Dance,” my Irish dance group was invited to perform at the 2016 Madame Alexander Doll Convention in Minneapolis. You didn’t know there was a convention? Me either! There are people who love the classic Madame Alexander dolls so much that they come from all over the U.S to attend a convention. These people love dolls. A lot.

The Madame Alexander Doll Convention

This was a really fun event to observe and be part of, even just for the short duration of our dance show. We performed during the dinner hour, and the entertainment was a surprise to the attendees.

Every table had a centerpiece with a doll in an Irish dance costume spinning around. Not too surprisingly there were a lot of dolls in the place, period. Everyone there was incredibly nice and it was fun to see people following their interests and getting to know others with the same hobby.

After, the other dancers said, “this is right up your alley.” “You’re going to write an article about this, aren’t you?” They know me well.

So I decided to do a little research on these dolls.

Who is Madame Alexander?

On a quest to learn more, I unearthed some interesting tidbits from the Madame Alexander website. Some highlights:

  • Madame Beatrice Alexander was a real person who founded the company in 1923.
  • She was the child of Russian immigrants and was raised over her father’s doll hospital in Brooklyn. She often played with the dolls in the hospital and was inspired to start her own doll company at age 28.
  • Today, the product line has expanded to include more than just collectible dolls. There are larger dolls for toddlers and soft dolls for infants.
  • Madame Alexander is a master of disguise, known for her many costumes such as Cat Woman, the Wizard of Oz and yes, even Frozen.
  • You can join the doll club for $45 per year and attend events like the annual convention that I danced at with Mactir Academy of Irish Dance.

Madame Alexander Doll ConventionMy mom has one from her childhood, so I asked her to take it out so I could add photos of it to this post. She’s pictured above. And of course I need to share the paper doll version of Mme. Alex:

Madame Alexander Doll Convention

Are these dolls part of your life? If you have more information on her to share, I’d love to hear from you.

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