Category: Life & Home

“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?

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.

Uncommon Gifts

uncommon giftsToday I’m sharing one of my favorite gifts ever, which came from my uncle. It’s a make-your-own tea sampler that lets you mix and match different flavors of green tea and herbs to come up with flavors you love. It’s from the online shop Uncommon Goods, which is a great source for birthday gifts for people who are hard to shop for. And you can make a registry there too for wedding or baby shower gifts.

The products are made my craftsmen and small business owners. I like this because it means the goods are high quality and each purchase supports the artists. In addition to handmade products, there are also organic and recycled choices. I feel good supporting this company for all these reasons, plus the fact that it uses environmentally friendly practices in everything from the catalogs to its workplace.

I chose some gifts ideas from Uncommon Goods to highlight. There are so many great uncommon gifts that it is almost impossible to choose favorites!

1. Box of Flowers Soaps Made from pure ingredients and dried flowers, this is a fun twist on high quality soap.

2. Himalayan Salt Plank Perfect for someone who loves to grill, this beautiful block of salt seasons the food it’s served on while looking amazing.

3. Reclaimed Wine Barrel Serving Tray Upcycled oak wine barrel staves are transformed into this unique tray, giving it a unique and vintage look.

4. Trophy Head Wouldn’t this look great at the cabin? Celebrate nature without harming any animals!

5. State Cheese Slate Adorable and functional! Slate cheese boards can be written on with chalk to specify the which cheese is which.

6. Hand Embroidered Country Pillows This brings back memories from my own trip to Italy seven years ago. I bet it would be a great gift for anyone who has a favorite place to travel.

7. Envelope Wall Vase Add this to the list of things you didn’t know you needed until you found out that it existed.

8. Letters to My Future Self Did you make time capsules growing up? This is a time capsule to yourself! I picked this one because anything airmail always seems to make its way into my gift guides.

9. Banyan Leaf Table Lamp This one makes the list because of my childhood favorite book Tales Told Under the Banyan Tree. Also because of its recycled materials and organic dyes. Plus it just looks plain awesome.

10. Personalized Travel Map Just think of the satisfaction of placing a pushpin when you finally make it to that dream destination. Personalized gifts like this are always a nice gesture.

11. Upcycled Sari Duffel Bag I love upcycled goods so it’s no surprise to find this one on my list. This colorful bag is handmade by a Fair Trade Cooperative in India. It reminds me of that time I wore a sari.

12. Literary Scarf Made by Storiarts, an Oregon company I am newly obsessed with, these scarfs have excerpts from your favorite books! Watch for a post about my own Storiarts scarf soon.

Thanks to Uncommon Goods for sponsoring today’s post! They have so many fun and unusual gifts that I could never fit them into one post. Which one is your favorite?