Using your “doll eyes”

With 3 American Girl Doll obsessed little darlings under one roof, we’ve accumulated quite a bit of doll sized treasures over the years. People are always asking me where I have found such and such doll accessory and the answer is easy (or difficult depending on how you look at it!). I use my doll eyes everywhere I go. What exactly does that mean? Well, it means when I’m out and about at any old store I try and see things from a dolls eye view. If you look around you, I guarantee you can find an ordinary every day item that can be something extraordinary for your little darling’s doll collection. American Girl has some great products don’t get me wrong but they don’t have everything a doll could possibly need right? It’s pretty pricey too if we’re being honest. I’m going to show you a few inexpensive goodies that weren’t intended for dolls originally but work out pretty stinkin’ well anyway!

20140408-002639.jpg
We don’t have a problem or anything though, don’t worry. Really, we can quit any time we want! Hahaha

>

20140408-002858.jpg
Like baseball games? We sure do! Last summer at our hometown baseball stadium the girls asked for ice cream in the signature baseball helmet bowls. You know, every stadium has them, they’re a baseball staple snack! I saw it immediately, once the ice cream was gobbled up and the bowl was washed, it was a perfect dolly souvenir!

>

20140408-003159.jpg

Oh chuck-e-cheese, how every parent loathes thee. A necessary evil of parenthood! Several weeks ago, daddy decided to treat the girls to a special daddy daughter outting to indulge in nasty pizza and germ infested arcade games! The girls used some of their ticket winnings to score this perfectly functional doll sized whoopie cushion. They get a kick out of having their dolls play tricks on one another. I’m told party city sells these by the package and I’m sure other party supply stores do as well so no trip to see the giant rat is required!

>

20140408-003534.jpg

I’m sure you’ve figured out that jewelry boxes make terrific doll sized dressers and nightstands already but did you notice votive holders make great doll trashcans? Perfect size! Pretty sure I got this in the dollar spot at target last year!

>

20140408-003705.jpg

The fun finds section of michaels is ALWAYS a great place to look for doll goodies. They currently have these tiny tin my little pony lunch boxes. I don’t know what they are really for
but I know what were using them for! Lol

>

20140408-003837.jpg

While perusing Garden Ridge recently, I stumbled upon these little sugar/sweet n low caddies in the kitchen goods area and saw instant doll potential. They were around $3 each and my girls were so excited when I brought them home!

>

20140408-004101.jpg

Moseyed on over to dollar tree today to stock up on candy for our media room concession stand and the girls wanted to check out junky toys on out way out. We found these cute little mini tea sets that couldn’t be any more perfect for dolls! We grabbed a couple because for $1 each you can afford to buy spares!

>

20140408-004317.jpg

While at dollar tree, we also stumbled upon these doll sized glow in the dark lamps. No batteries or plugs required! Just let them absorb some light and they glow! I tried to capture a glowy picture but I’m not sure you can see it well enough…

The moral of the story kids is that there are doll sized goods at every turn, you’ve just gotta use your “doll eyes” to find them!>

My baby is 9. Yep, NINE!

Last week my baby turned 9.  She may be my oldest but she’ll always be my baby!  Try as I might, I couldn’t keep her from growing up.  I cannot wrap my head around the fact that a whole 9 years have passed since I brought this little miracle home from the hospital!  I’m so proud of the little person she is becoming.  She’s smart, beautiful, helpful, kind, and loves Jesus.  I couldn’t ask for more in a daughter.  I had her tag along on a session last week in the outfit she picked for her party because A.  She’s amazing with babies and I knew the sweet 1 year old I was working with that night would love her B.  It was a lovely wooded looking area that I though would compliment her outfit well.  She took one of her favorite American Girl Doll’s along too!

_POC0972

Several weeks ago we had 12 of her favorite little ladies spend the night for a back to school bash.  Everyone had a blast but I told her right then and there that we wouldn’t be having a huge party for her birthday this year since she got to do that.  Her birthday weekend also fell sandwiched in between 2 trips to Dallas for the American Girl Fashion Show & rehearsal, and a Bitty Baby tea party we won through House Party.  All this traveling and partying combined with school and soccer didn’t leave me much energy for another big bash.  Besides, when you have 5 girl nieces and 3 daughters, you have a built in party at every family gathering!  lol  I told P she could invite 4 friends to join her and her cousins for a camping themed party. Poor child had such a tough time narrowing down her list.  We’re so fortunate to have so many sweet girls in our lives!  When all was settled, she selected 3 school friends and 1 soccer pal and we got to work on hand delivering invitations.  We dipped oversized marshmallows in chocolate and sprinkles on skewers and drove around to present the invitations, pre-party snack, and a tiny little compass to all our cousins and 4 friends.

IMG_5332

When our guests arrived, they were asked to “Register” at the camp welcome center.  Here they would grab their “welcome packs” (goody bags), sign a frame for P to keep as a memory, and pay their “camp dues”.  P has so much of what she wants and much more than she could ever need so instead of gifts, she asked her guests to bring their spare change to donate to one of our favorite charities.  We printed out little name labels for each of our guests and used ribbon to tie them to canvas tote bags we got 2/$1 at Dollar tree.  They also had a “camp journal”, mini deco tape, a cool wooden pencil, flashlight keychain, scratch off ticket, a little thank you note, and camping sticker scene activity.  We got the mini flashlight keychains and sticker sheets from oriental trading.  The flashlight and tape are “doll sized” which is perfect for my little AG lovers.

IMG_5328

The girls snacked on mini pretzel dogs and cheeto puffs and drank their “bug juice”.  It was lemonade that I added strawberry flavoring and green food coloring too.  Then we froze plastic bugs in muffin tins to use as ice.

IMG_5330

IMG_5322

I had cute little chevron printed paper treat bags set up near a pink tackle box full of candy “bait”  and cups full of different flavored teddy grahams and gummy bears for the girls to make their own sweet trail mixes.

IMG_5324

Then we moved on to our table to do a few crafts and the scratch off tickets.  We passed out lucky pennies and the girls got a kick out of them.  The winner got a bigger backpack style “camping pack” filled with a nifty journal, flashlight, sports bottle, stickers, etc.  I got all of this stuff at Michael’s in the fun finds section.  Nothing I bought including the bag were over $1!  After the winner got her goodies, we moved on to arts and crafts.  I got these cute little peace, love, and s’mores kits at oriental trading  ($6/12pk) and they were the perfect addition to a girly camping party.  We also made s’more necklaces out of polymer clay.  We LOVE polymer clay!

IMG_5327

The kids also enjoyed the “fishing hole” and visited it on and off throughout the party.  We got a few packages of ping pong balls at dollar tree and hot glued foam tails and magnets on them.  We used dowel rods with fishing wire and a large washer on the end for fishing poles and a plastic kiddie pool I borrowed from my bestie for the pond.  The girls paired up and raced to see who could catch the most fish in 1 minute.  The winners got to pick a prize from the prize box (sticker sheets and more Michael’s fun finds).

IMG_5329

After fishing, the girls all climbed into the tent we had set up with their dolls and played with the doll sized s’mores and campfire we had made before the party.  We made the s’mores using polymer clay and toothpicks for doll sized skewers.  The fire we made using a scrap piece of cardboard for the base.  We traced LED tea lights we got at the dollar tree and cut a space out on the cardboard for them.  I sent my kiddos on a scavenger hunt for small rocks and twigs and used hot glue to secure them.  It was a hit!  We set up the doll tent inside the real tent with some adorable doll sized sleeping bags my mother made.  P had one of her dolls giving horseback riding lessons to the other dolls too!  hahahaha  She might be my kid!

IMG_9321_POC1178

While the girls played in the tent, Dave and I hid plastic bugs I got at dollar tree around the yard.  I used a sharpie to write “winner” on 4 or 5 of the bugs before we hid them.  When we were done, the girls had to find 3 bugs each.  Those who found winning bugs got a prize from the prize box.

After all the fun, Dave lit the fire pit while we finished our remaining crafts and the girls got to enjoy their s’mores.  We had 2 different kinds of chocolate, 2 different kinds of graham crackers, and 4 different kinds of marshmallows to choose from!  It was fun watching the girls make different s’more creations.  They grabbed their skewers and had a great time laughing and roasting marshmallows together.  We had cupcakes earlier in the evening so I limited the girls to 2 s’mores each so they wouldn’t be bouncing off the walls for their mothers later!  lol

IMG_5325

IMG_5331

When the s’mores were done and the moon was out we handed out glow sticks and let the girls run free in the yard with their flashlights and lanterns before it was time to go home. I have to say it was nothing super fancy, but it was by far one of my favorite parties we’ve hosted!  I kinda wanna do it all over again!  Hope all the girls had fun too!  On top of all that, our generous friends and family raised about $100 for charity and brought P some goodies too!  She got some great books, a guitar, the rainbow loom thingy she’s been dying for, and her first bow and arrow set from her grandparents.  She’s dying to get to the ranch and get some lessons from Grandpa!  Love my sweet girl and hope she had a great birthday!  Have lots of camping themed printables I will probably upload later in case anyone is interested :)

In the perfect ending to a great weekend, we participated in the baby dedication at church the next morning and even better, P got baptized!  What an incredible moment it was watching my Daddy baptize my daughter!

_POC1271_POC1272

American Girl Bitty Baby House Party

If you know me, you know that I love throwing a good party and I tend to go overboard.  If you don’t know me, you probably could have figured that out all on your own!  I’m not someone who does things the easy way either.  Nope, store bought decorations, invitations, and favors have never been my thing.  Not that there’s anything wrong with store bought party stuff, just saying, it’s not my thing.  I know I have mentioned before that my children (and myself who am I kidding) love American Girl Dolls.  We share our house with several of them but one of our favorites is Lizzy, T’s Bitty Baby.  She loves to push her in her stroller, sit her in her highchair, and carry that diaper bag everywhere we go.  When baby sister got old enough to take an interest in baby dolls, she pretty much kidnapped Lizzy for good.  I had officially decided that A would be getting her very own Bitty for her 2nd birthday in December.  Now P says she wants one too of course!  Got to have 3 of everything in a house full of girls you know!  Anyhow, a couple of months ago we got wind that AG was planning to release their revamped line of Bitty Baby at the end of August.  T was ridiculous amounts of excited so we had to do a little internet research to see what changes were being made exactly.  We discovered that there would now be 11 bittys to choose from, a whole new line of story books geared towards the younger AG lovers, and lots of exciting new accessories.  We also stumbled upon the House Party website.  How on earth had I never heard of House Party before?!?!?!  My love for over the top parties and my love for free products combined into one fabulous website!??!?!  If you don’t know about House Party, you NEED to check them out at http://www.houseparty.com and sign yourself up to host your very own!  American Girl teamed up with House Party to select 1,000 or so lucky ladies to host a Bitty Baby tea party to introduce new Bitty to the world!  Naturally we signed ourselves up to be hosts and patiently waited for what seemed like forever to find out if we had been chosen or not.  I have to tell you I had pretty much psyched myself up for disappointment because I never win anything.  Seriously.  NEVER!  Imagine my joyful surprise when I checked my email on host picking day to discover that I had been selected!!!  So in about a month we will gather around with some of P & T’s favorite lil’ ladies and have a tea party to welcome our new Bitty home.

This is the new Bitty Baby.  Her face mold has been changed as well as her hairline.  She now comes with her own full color story book called “Bitty Baby and Me” and a cute little wishing star.  Her little sleeper outfit has changed too and is super cute with little ruffles.  Can’t wait to see her in person.  T is ridiculously excited!

F6254_main_2American Girl and House Party are sending us and our guests lots of goodies and naturally I had to start whipping up my own special touches immediately!  I don’t normally share my party plans pre-party because I like for my guests to be pleasantly surprised by my personal touches but I figure there are so many other host mamas who could probably benefit from my hours of computer design work too.  My husband always says nothing in this world is free but why I ask, WHY!?!?!  We mamas have braces, shoes, school, and dolls to pay for by golly.   Shouldn’t something be free from time to time?   So here you go fellow Bitty Baby House Party Hostesses some FREE downloadable printables for your own party!  I know I’ve already emailed several of you the water bottle labels and cupcake toppers but I’ve added a few other goodies for your printing pleasure here!   Just click on any of the links at the very end of this post to download whichever party goodies you would like.  When printing make sure you select “scale to fit (print entire page)” so that none of the design is chopped off.  Some printers may have you select to print at 90% instead of 100%.  Hope that make sense.

image-5To create the place cards, simply cut each one out around the solid black lines and fold at the dotted line.  I used the computer and a snazzy font for our names but you could easily handwrite them if your handwriting isn’t chicken scratch like mine.

photo-11The water bottle labels are pretty self explanatory.  Just cut them out and use tape to secure them.  If you plan to keep them in an ice bucket you may want to laminate the labels or cover them in clear tape to make them waterproof.

image-4You can cut the cupcake toppers out by hand or use a circle shape maker if you have one.  I used to have one purchased at Hobby Lobby but it was M.I.A. so I had to do them the old fashioned way.  Once they’re cut out just tape or glue a toothpick to the back.  If you’re feeling extra ambitious you can make them 2 sided by sandwiching the toothpick in between 2 circles!  I personally think the fact that I created them, cut them, and taped them at all was ambitious enough for me!

image-6To make the Bitty Baby scratch off lotto tickets you’ll need to print 1 copy of the page with the winning ticket and then a couple without.  You also need a small paintbrush, some clear packing tape or wide shipping labels, dishwashing liquid, and silver paint.  Cut your clear tape or clear shipping label to fit the scratch off area and place it over the print.  In a cup or bowl that’s okay to get paint in mix 1/2 dishwashing liquid and 1/2 silver paint (or any color of metallic paint you choose).  Paint over the labels or tape until you can’t see what’s underneath anymore.  Mix a little bit of black in your silver for a darker better coverage if you don’t want to have to do so many coats.  I did and still had to paint on 3 coats!  If you’re using the shipping labels it’ll probably be much easier to paint them before you cut them and stick them on.  It was tough to stay in the lines with the tape.

picstitch-2Once the paint has completely dried (overnight would probably be best but I was dying to try it so waited an hour), cut out the lotto cards and they’ll be ready for your guests!  You can pick anything you want big or small to be your door prize.  I will probably do one of the new Bitty books.  What a fun project!  I will definitely be doing these again!

I also created a party welcome banner to match and invitations too!  You’ll obviously have to add your own party information.  The invitations are formatted to a 5×7 size.

bittybabyinvite1

bittycupcaketoppers

bittyplacecard

bittywaterlabels

bittywelcomebanner

bittylotto

Check out the new Bitty Baby line for yourself at

http://www.americangirl.com

and don’t forget to check out

http://www.houseparty.com

Baking with the Bigs

When 8:00 rolls around and I finally lay the baby down for the night, the big girls get hungry for some attention. I often get hungry for baked goods so baking together seems like a win for everyone! In all sincerity though, I can’t express to you enough how important it is for you to spend quality time with your children and build some memories. As a busy mom, it’s easy to be in a rush all the time and say “I don’t have time to play a game right now I’m doing the dishes!” or “No, you can’t help me make dinner, I’m in a hurry and you’ll just make a huge mess!”. I guarantee those kids won’t remember the dishes in your sink but they will certainly remember all the fun they had getting flour and food coloring all over the kitchen! When I was a little girl, I remember feeling like I never had my mother’s full attention. She always seemed preoccupied with housework. Not that there is anything wrong with that, different moms interact with their children differently and not all children are the same so this may not have had an affect on someone else but it made me personally feel insignificant. I didn’t want to chance my children ever feeling that way so you’ll often find us all in the kitchen together wearing matching aprons cooking or baking together. More often than not, you’ll also find an American Girl Doll or two in an apron “helping” as  well! Your chores will always be around,but your kids won’t be kids for long. Your kids should know the whole world doesn’t revolve around doing things with Mom. They should definitely know how to play independently and with each other while you get your chores done but we have to master a healthy balance of “hey kids, wanna help me bake?” and “I can’t fit another dirty dish in the sink, the floor is sticky, and everyone is out of clean undies. Could you play amongst yourselves while I tidy up?” Middle ground people. Middle ground! Lol. I hope someday when my girls have children of their own they will remember the giggles and smiles we shared doing ridiculous things like making tiny doll sized sugar cookies!

20130906-153546.jpg
I don’t want any angry emails over the dangers of artificial coloring in my food because you won’t ever persuade me to toss the food coloring! I divided the cookie dough into 3 equal-ish blobs and each one of us picked out a color.

20130906-153724.jpg
I then divided each color into 3′s and we each rolled out our own dough design on a cutting board before using cookie cutters to make shapes.

20130906-154053.jpg
Almost ready!!!

20130906-154227.jpg
The girls served their dolls first like good little mommies 😃

20130906-154324.jpg
Everyone (including Daddy & I) enjoyed our late night snack!

20130906-154432.jpg

Michael’s, a dolls favorite store?

As I previously mentioned, I have 3 daughters. Ages (almost) 9, 4, & 20 months. All three of them love their American Girl dolls. We have quite a few in our home and as their collection began to overwhelm their bedrooms, I talked Dave into building them a 6 foot tall American Girl Doll house! Naturally, the girls and I took to decorating it immediately! Several people who stop by and see our stash want to know where on earth we find such cute doll sized decor. We often buy things on etsy or eBay and much of their accessories are genuine AG products but we also keep our eyes out everywhere we go for ordinary items that can become extraordinary doll items! I wanted to share with you some of our favorite recent finds at our local Michael’s craft store. I hope your doll lover will enjoy them as much as as my girls do!

20130831-172318.jpg
We found this pack of 4 colorful ceramic bowls down the bargain aisle and perfectly sized!

20130831-172552.jpg
We found this tiny alarm clock with some school supplies. The clock really works as does the alarm! Looks perfect on a dolls nightstand.

20130831-172739.jpg
This tiny 2014 calendar was also in the bargain section. It’s actually a keychain but i plan to remove the hook. Going to be a cute little stocking stuffer for my oldest to go in her doll’s room!

20130831-172932.jpg
This tiny frame is the perfect doll sized decoration. They have a variety of colors and they are only $1.50/each!

20130831-173039.jpg
This plastic “jar” had cute colorful binder clips in it. I kept the clips and have the container to the girls. Looks great in their doll kitchen! The lemons inside we made from clay-tutorial on that soon! 😉

20130831-173222.jpg

All of these finds cost me less than $5 and have added lotsa fun to the girls doll house!