Author Archive: Ali

About Ali

I'm a creative writer, artistic journaler, figure skater, vegan, and avid collector of play dolls. I live near the base of Mt. Shasta in Northern California with my husband, as well as Jessie the Pug, ten adopted cats, two rescued rabbits, goldfish, and lots of deer and squirrels.

A Halloween Story, Part 2: The Costume Party

The girls at A Doll’s Picnic have worked very hard on their costumes this week! It’s quite a project to find enough costumes to cover 20+ dolls, but they got creative and did their best. They’d like me to show them off to you, so here you go:

Category #1: Global Girls

Dolls dress up

From left to right, Augustine is dressed as a southern belle; Idina is dressed as a Chinese maiden; Rain is dressed as a Poynesian princess; and Jade and Tabitha are dressed as Scottish school girls.

Category #2: Storybook Characters

American Girl dolls dress up

Left to right, Fanny and Maribel are dressed up as Anne of Green Gables and her bosom friend Diana Barry; Melita is dressed as Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm; Megan is dressed as Mary Lennox of The Secret Garden; and Marie is dressed as Laura Ingalls from The Little House in the Big Woods.

Category #3: Vocations

American Girl dolls dress up 2

Left to right, Amy is dressed as an artist; Jane is dressed as Ginger Rogers, the professional dancer/singer in Follow the Fleet; Grania is dressed as a ballerina; and Bethy is dressed as a hobo.

Category #4: Fairytale and Fantasy

Dolls in costumes

Left to right, Amanda is dressed up as Little Red Riding Hood; Muirrean is dressed as a fairy; Sharon is dressed as a pirate; Matilda is dressed as a lady at a masquerade ball; and Phyllis is dressed as Jane Bennet of Pride and Prejudice.

Category #5: Miscellaneous

Dolls dress up 2

Left to right, Alejandra is showing off her pretty party dress; Natalie is sporting the American Girl “Spooky Fun” outfit with a homemade mask; Caoimhe says she is an acrobat with her performing kitty; and Tasha doesn’t have a costume but gets the prize for cutest pajamas. 🙂

And last, but not least, Category #6: Scary!

Schildkroet doll mummy costume 1

Gaby is a mummy! We’ve never seen one quite so cute…

Schildkroet doll mummy costume 2

…Or with such a lot of red hair!

As for the costume party, it was a success. After all their hard work, the girls were happy to relax and hang out together. Gaby went straight for the goodies. I guess it’s pretty demanding being a mummy.

Schildkroet doll with treats 1

Natalie went over to make sure Gaby didn’t take all the brownies. That’s Melita being gorgeous in the background, by the way.

Schildkroet doll Via E Alexis doll treats 2

Grania spotted the parrot.

My American Girl doll #45 parrot

She tried to get him to talk to her, but he was ignoring her.

A Girl For All Time Matilda ball gown 1

“Come on, Grania,” said Matilda. “Let’s go get some punch before it’s all gone.”

My American Girl doll #45 A Girl For All Time Matilda

Fanny, who longs to travel the world, asked Amanda all about Australia.

Australian Girl Amy American Girl Felicity 1

Bethy chatted with Marie about what life was like for girls in the old days.

“They didn’t even have heaters!” exclaimed Marie. “Can you imagine those long winters?”

“No,” said Bethy. “It would be bad enough hopping from freight to freight, never knowing when you’ll have your next meal.”

American Girl doll Kit dress up

Amy entertained her friends by imagining what she might do if the next American Girl of the Year is not a Person of Color.

American Girl dolls on bed

But what was that? It sounded like the doorbell. Who was there? The girls peeked outside and caught a glimpse of fluttering wings and sparkles.

Carpatina Erin fairy 1

Who could it be? They opened the door, and there stood a magnificent fairy!

Carpatina Erin fairy 3

“My name is Muirrean. May I join your party?”

The girls oohed and ahhed over Muirrean’s lovely costume.

Carpatina Erin fairy costume detail

The details were exquisite!

Carpatina Erin fairy costume detail 2

They adored the flower in her hair.

Carpatina Erin fairy costume detail 5

“Come on in!” They eagerly welcomed Muirrean into the party.

American Girl doll Felicity A Girl For All Time Matilda costumes

Fanny, considering herself to be the senior lady of A Doll’s Picnic, shook Muirrean’s hand and introduced her to everyone.

Carpatina Erin American Girl doll Felicity

Muirrean looked around. So many friendly faces!

dolls dress up

She knew she was going to feel right at home.

Dolls in costumes

Happy Halloween from A Doll’s Picnic!


Okay, group photos are not my forte! Please forgive the cluttered background and funky lighting. I hope you enjoyed my dolls and their costumes. No, this is not my entire doll collection. 🙂

 

A Halloween Story, Part 1: The Pumpkin Patch

It was a cool, partly cloudy October afternoon. With less than a week left before Halloween, the local pumpkin patch was full of girls looking for the last-minute pumpkin. There weren’t many left to choose among so late in the month!

Dolls in pumpkin patch 4

This makes the search easier, of course, but it still can seem overwhelming just at first. How to know which pumpkin is the right one?

Jade was wise. She knew that finding the right pumpkin is not so much a matter of finding the “perfect” one as letting a pumpkin call to her. She wandered around happily, enjoying the crinkly crunch of the dead vines underfoot, the sound of her friend’s voices carried on the breeze, and the cool whiffs of autumn in the air.

Dolls in pumpkin patch 2

Gaby walked slowly through the patch, her eyes catching every spot of orange among the green and brown leaves. She didn’t want to miss anything!

Dolls in pumpkin patch 3

But what was this?

Schildkroet red-head doll pumpkin patch

It looked like the perfect one! Gaby carefully picked up the pumpkin with both hands, not using the stem. She knew (as all good girls know) that a broken stem can leave a pumpkin homeless and unwanted.

Schildkroet red-head doll pumpkin

She examined it all over: no soft spots anywhere. It was nice and round and not too big. Perfect!

Schildkroet red-head doll pumpkin 3

Yep! This was it, she was sure!

Her other friends were still searching. Tabitha had caught sight of a pumpkin that just might be the right one: large and very round, just the way she liked. Perfect for carving!

Bonnie and Pearl doll pumpkin patch

But Jane took her time. She stood in one spot, raking the patch with her eyes. She took picking out a pumpkin pretty seriously. “It’s fate,” she had explained to her friends the night before. “Like falling in love. You can’t rush it. It’s important to feel sure.”

My American Girl doll #53 pumpkin patch

Finally, her eyes settled on a spot of orange in the corner. She called Gaby over.

My American Girl doll #53 Schildkroet doll

“It think this is my pumpkin. See, it was over here all by itself. Poor thing! It’s been waiting for me all this time!”

Meanwhile, Rain, Natalie and Jade had gathered together in the other corner of the patch.

My American Girl doll #11 Maplelea Jenna doll

“Look at this one!” said Rain. “It’s huge!”

“And what a beautiful color!” added Natalie.

“I love those bumpy ridges,” said Jade. “That’s my favorite kind of pumpkin.”

doll sized pumpkin

“It’s too big, though,” said Rain. “I don’t think we can pick it up.”

“Sure we can!” said Jade. “We just need more help!” Jade called Tabitha over.

Bonnie and Pearl doll in coat

“That is quite a pumpkin,” said Tabitha in her quiet Welsh accent.

“Will you help us carry it?” asked Natalie. “It would be perfect for our party!”

Maplelea Jenna doll and friends around pumpkin

Sure enough, the four girls were able to carry the pumpkin together. They brought it over to the scales at the edge of the patch.

“What’s this one?” asked Jade.

Via E Alexis doll Maplelea Jenna doll

“It’s my pumpkin,” said Natalie. “Isn’t it such a pretty color? Look, it has stripes!”

Tabitha and Jane compared their pumpkins. They had both chosen smooth round ones.

My American Girl doll #53 Bonnie Pearl doll

“It’s funny how pumpkins make us feel happy,” said Natalie, when everyone was gathered together. “Why do you think that is?”

American Girl dolls Via E Alexis doll

“Because they’re so nice and round,” said Tabitha promptly.

“Because they’re nice to hold,” said Gaby.

“Because they need us. Because we’re meant to be together.” said Jane.

“I think it’s because they’re orange! Orange is a happy color!” said Rain. She shivered. It was getting on toward dusk, and her favorite orange skirt wasn’t very warm.

My American Girl dolls #53 #11

“Let’s bring our pumpkins home and show Ali!” she said. “Then we can wash them and start setting up for our party!”

To be continued….


Photos were taken in our vegetable patch. Jade is a Maplelea Jenna doll; Gaby is a red-headed Schildkroet doll; Jane is a My American Girl #53 doll; Rain is an American Girl Just Like You #11 doll; Natalie is a Via E Alexis doll; Tabitha is a Bonnie and Pearl doll.

 

Tabitha, the friendly witch: A Bonnie and Pearl doll review

One of the brands of play dolls I was most excited to discover this year is Bonnie and Pearl, a recently emerged British company based in Wales. I wanted to be the first to introduce their lovely dolls to parents and collectors everywhere, and accordingly, I have been meaning to write a review since receiving my Bonnie and Pearl doll in May! But one way and another life got in my way, and lo, I look up to find it’s now fall and one of my favorite blogs has beat me to the task: Swish and Swirl has written a lovely introduction filled with eye-pleasing photographs. All I can do now is offer my own perspective in the hopes that between us we will do these beautiful dolls justice. So without further ado, meet Tabitha, my Welsh doll from Bonnie and Pearl:

Bonnie and Pearl doll portrait 1

Tabitha is one of seven 19 inch dolls currently in the Bonnie and Pearl line. There are three brunettes, two blonds, a red-head, and one black-haired doll. All of the dolls share the same face mold, and five of the dolls have light skin, but one of the brunettes and the black-haired doll have brown skin. Except for the black-haired doll, who has a wonderful (‘s marvelous!) curly wig, all the dolls have exactly the same hairstyle: long and straight with a side part. I had a hard time choosing which doll would join our family. They’re all lovely… and my choice was made especially difficult by the scarcity of owner photos available on the internet. I would have been happy with any of the dolls, but I finally settled on the brunette with blue eyes because 1) I always find this an attractive combination, 2) I was in need of blue-eyed dolls in my collection at the time, and 3) she looks so Welsh! As it turns out, I’m glad I did because this way I can warn you about the, um… rather special blue eyes, which I otherwise might not have discovered. But let me not get ahead of myself: first things first.

I purchased Tabitha directly from the Bonnie and Pearl website. She cost seventy nine pounds, which is roughly equivalent to $128. The tricky part was arranging shipping. At the time, the United States was not on their list for overseas destinations, which meant I had to send an email to customer service detailing my order, which was then finished by phone. I want to add that the dolls are now available from other UK retailers, among them the online doll shop Petalina, and they do ship internationally. Their price is also quite a bit lower: sixty-six pounds, which is about $106, a much better deal for overseas customers. Anyway, the customer service at Bonnie and Pearl was excellent and friendly, and I received the parcel in very good time. The packaging was just lovely. Everything was wrapped beautifully in tissue with great care, and there were even little Bonnie and Pearl stickers taping things together! And unlike Swish and Swirl, I adore the Bonnie and Pearl boxes! I love the color, the beautiful artwork, the details, the sturdy cardboard and smooth matte finish… everything.

Bonnie and Pearl boxes 2

Oh those tantalizing boxes!

Bonnie and Pearl box

Of course I focused on the big box first…

And when I removed the beautiful tissue, here’s what I saw!

Bonnie and Pearl doll in box 1

Ta-da!

(Actually, the doll’s face was partially covered with her hair net which had slipped down in transit and obstructed her eyes. So I reached in and pulled it up for the pictures, which is why her hair looks a tad messy here).

I was so delighted by the doll’s presentation that I spent a long time savoring the moment and admiring her box. I just love all the imaginative details. Every side of the box is beautiful:

Bonnie and Pearl box detail 1

Detail on the box front with the Bonnie and Pearl emblem of a girl holding a doll (note the British button!). I like that the girl and doll don’t have the same color hair.

Bonnie and Pearl box detail 3

Description on the back of the box. It sounds so fun!

Bonnie and Pearl box 2

The side of the box lists what to expect inside: a decorate-able cardboard bed and a white pillow.

One of the things I like best about Bonnie and Pearl is their emphasis on creativity and imaginative play. Every detail of their lovely packaging reflects this. I love the little birds, buttons, “stitching” details, and ribbons, butterflies and flowers adorning their boxes. Maybe it’s a little girly of me, but hey–it is a doll!

Bonnie and Pearl box detail 8

Bonnie and Pearl box detail 10

Bonnie and Pearl box detail 9

The boxes containing the outfits are equally attractive:

Bonnie and Pearl box 3

Bonnie and Pearl box 5

Bonnie and Pearl box 4

Bonnie and Pearl box detail 7

I love the emphasis on sewing (creativity).

I even received a complimentary wire brush:

Bonnie and Pearl package

Bonnie and Pearl brush

Well, back to my lovely doll! After gazing at her in the box for a while, I finally opened it up and found a free voucher for an appointment at the Bonnie and Pearl doll hair salon resting on the top of the bed that doubles as the doll’s box. I only wish I could use it!

Bonnie and Pearl box detail 6

Here is the end of the bed-box:

Bonnie and Pearl bed detail 1

It’s a tight fit and was a bit difficult to slide out…

Bonnie and Pearl doll in box 2

…but at last she emerged! The details of her outfit, the cute bed, her lovely face… she took my breath away.

Bonnie and Pearl doll in box 3

Bonnie and Pearl doll in box 4

I was so pleased to find she was tied in with ribbons! This is such a nice touch, which in my opinion should be adopted by every doll line. Not only did my doll look wonderful, but she smelled good too! She had a light, fresh cherry-ish scent. I couldn’t quite tell if it was emanating from her, her outfit, or her bed, but five months later I still catch at times a very light scent when handling her. I don’t think it’s strong enough to bother anyone with sensitivities, but I might not be the best judge.

All the Bonnie and Pearl dolls arrive in the same outfit, which I love: a flowered skirt with attached tulle petticoat, a white blouse with a Peter Pan collar, plain white undies, matching flowered slip-on shoes, a pink bow barrette, and a pink cloth purse. Honestly, this arrival outfit is one of the things that sold me on this doll line. Today it is still my very favorite outfit for Tabitha. It just looks so pretty, like something a little British girl would wear to a tea party.

I was particularly struck by the adorable shoes...

I was particularly struck by the adorable shoes…

I finally removed Tabitha from the box…

Bonnie and Pearl doll 1

Such a sweet girl!

…and removed her hair net:

Bonnie and Pearl doll 2

Wow.

Here on out I’m going to share pictures that I took of Tabitha outdoors at different times in better light. Here she is as she arrived:

Bonnie and Pearl doll 3

Very much at home in a garden.

She sits well on her own:

Bonnie and Pearl doll 6

She has one hand behind her to keep her from toppling over into the flower bed.

Bonnie and Pearl doll 5

She just loved this stone wall.

Now let’s get down to business and look a little more closely at this special girl. To me, the Bonnie and Pearl dolls have one of the most unusual and beautiful face molds on the market.

Bonnie and Pearl doll portrait 7

Her expression is neutral (unsmiling) without being somber, alert, innocent and thoughtful. Her face is very pretty: a lovely classic oval shape and not too made-up, with the exception of her rather dark lips. According to the Bonnie and Pearl website, the facial details are hand-painted. I would prefer her lips to be lighter, but over all I feel she is one of the loveliest play dolls I’ve seen. One of my very favorite things about this face is the distinctive profile, which is stunning:

Bonnie and Pearl doll portrait 8

Graceful ski-slope nose and slight pout.

This is a good place to address Tabitha’s most distinctive feature: her blue eyes. Take a good look:

Bonnie and Pearl doll portrait 9

Yes, she has slight stray-eye on the right side. But notice anything else unusual? Yep, the blue is reflective. Here’s a close-up, (which also shows the exquisite detailing around the eye):

Bonnie and Pearl doll eyes 2

Both the pupil and the iris are reflective, making Tabitha’s eyes glow in an uncanny manner in most lights. Initially I found this off-putting, but Tabitha was so beautiful in all other respects, that I decided to accept it as one of her special characteristics. It soon became quite clear to me that she is, in fact, a witch–but a good one. What her magical eyes do I haven’t decided (or she hasn’t told me) yet. At any rate, I’d very much like to see a review of a brown-eyed Bonnie and Pearl doll, because it looks from pictures as though they have non-reflective eyes and I would be interested to know if this is true. Besides the reflectivity, I think Tabitha’s eyes are gorgeous: large, almond-shaped, with long feathered lashes and delicate painting, which includes a line of black on the inside edge of her upper eyelid and soft brown painted lashes all around. Even the eyelid line is enhanced with shading. I’m not sure why, since I don’t put my dolls to bed anymore, but I’m a big fan of sleep eyes in a play doll. Tabitha’s eyelids are glossy, which you can’t tell from this picture.

Bonnie and Pearl doll portrait 18

And here is what her ears look like. They hide pretty thoroughly under her hair.

Tabitha has an exquisite skin-tone and she is made with one the nicest quality vinyls I’ve seen so far. I love that she looks truly fair–this is part of what makes her seem so British to me–and that her coloring has a healthful, slightly pinkish radiance. I am very curious to know if the two brown-skinned Bonnie and Pearl dolls have equally lovely coloring. The vinyl is hard and smooth, and has a matte finish that reminds me of porcelain. Actually, one of my first feelings upon opening her box was that she is too beautiful to be given to a child! The perfect, delicate porcelain appearance and silky-smooth tresses seemed so precious that I mentally cringed to imagine giving her to a careless child. Let’s take a look at her wig:

Bonnie and Pearl doll hair 2

Tabitha is a rich brunette with yellowish tints in full sunlight. Her hair provides a gorgeous contrast to her skin tone and light eyes. The hair material is extremely fine and smooth, almost delicate feeling. I am not usually nervous about doll hair, but at first I was afraid to play with hers. The only flaws I could find were: a tiny clump of glue sticking together a few of the fibers; a hidden bump on her wig cap which isn’t visible but can be felt; and a few long hairs reaching below the longest part of her hair. The wig does come to a slightly off-center point in back, which might be due to the orientation of the part. The wig strikes me as neither thin nor thick, and there are plenty of short hairs along her scalp which make it versatile for styling.

Bonnie and Pearl doll hair 1

As far as care, the Bonnie and Pearl website recommends misting and brushing only with a wire wig brush, as well as no use of hair products and absolutely no heat. I don’t usually find it necessary to mist my dolls’ hair during styling, but I have found Tabitha’s fine hair to be very prone to snagging even with the very slight, gentle brushing I have done so far. It also seems prone to fly-aways and static in our dry climate, so the misting is probably a good plan.The only thing I do not thoroughly like about Tabitha’s wig is that the hair color appears to not have any highlights or lowlights, and has a yellowy glow in sunlight. The one-toned appearance of Tabitha’s wig makes it seem a little less lifelike to me, but the amount of hair, the way it drapes, and the fine texture are all realistic.

Let’s take a look at Tabitha’s hands. Her right and left hands are slightly different, which is always a nice touch (no pun intended):

Right hand...

Right hand…

...left hand.

…left hand.

Tabitha’s arms are fairly straight, which gives her a less natural, more doll-like look, which I think is charming. She has dimples on her elbows!

It's a bit difficult to get my camera to see the dimples.

It’s a bit difficult to get my camera to see the dimples.

Her legs are also quite straight and just a little on the thin side. She also has dimples on her knees:

Cute knee.

Cute knee.

Her feet are simple and quite flat underneath:

Bonnie and Pearl doll feet 1

Bonnie and Pearl doll feet 2

Overall, I really like Tabitha’s proportions. Her arms and legs seem both childlike (a bit on the skinny side) and doll-like and nicely proportioned to her height. One of my favorite things about Tabitha is her body construction. I didn’t take any pictures of her nude, but both the Swish and Swirl review and the Bonnie and Pearl website show her 3/4 cloth and 1/4 vinyl body construction. In my opinion, this construction is the best of all possible worlds. The doll is soft and cuddly to hold, but has a lovely chest and neck area for modeling all different sorts of outfits, and best of all, she gains a tilting head. The tilting head is my single most favorite feature in play doll construction. It gives the doll so much expression and poseability, and makes photographing her a treat.

To demonstrate: Tabitha can look down…

Bonnie and Pearl doll portrait 14

…and up…

Her sleep eyes tend to close a bit in this position, though.

Her eyes tend to close a bit in this position, though.

…and to the side.

Bonnie and Pearl doll portrait 17

Her poseability gives her such a range of thoughtful expressions:

Bonnie and Pearl doll portrait 13

Musing…

Bonnie and Pearl doll portrait 10

Inquisitive…

Questioning...

Questioning…

Introspective...

Introspective…

The only disadvantage to Tabitha’s body construction that I have found is the limited movement of her shoulder-arm joint area. Her arms move freely in a circle from front to back, but the sideways movement (lifting up from a resting position at her sides) is surprisingly limited. This means she would not be able to hold more expansive poses that require more flexible arm movement, such as some gymnastics moves or ballet positions.

Now let me show you Tabitha’s arrival outfit in a bit more detail. The details are what really make this outfit sing. I love the little pink (doll-scale!) buttons under her collar:

Bonnie and Pearl doll outfit detail 1

The petticoat is such a pretty touch:

Bonnie and Pearl doll outfit detail 2

Notice how well she can hold her skirt!

And the purse has a tiny seed-bead button, a real snap closure and a satiny lining:

Bonnie and Pearl doll purse 1

Bonnie and Pearl doll purse 2

Tabitha can’t wait to put tiny treasures in there! Tabitha’s hair bow is on a simple barrette, which makes it easy to slip into her hair:

Bonnie and Pearl doll barrette

This is a cute look, even if a real bow would have been more versatile for hairstyling. Here are her adorable shoes:

Bonnie and Pearl doll shoes 3

They are very simple cloth slip-on ballet flats with an elastic strap. The only thing I do not thoroughly like about her arrival outfit is that the soles of the shoes are foam:

Bonnie and Pearl doll shoes 4

Foam is a cheap alternative to plastic that scratches and dents easily, is not damp-proof (not so good for outdoor posing!), and gets dirty easily. Contrasted with the other lovely details of her outfit, foam seems like a strange choice. If they were plastic soles, these would be one of my favorite pairs of doll shoes ever. Anyway, overall I am really happy with the quality of this outfit. I love Bonnie and Pearl’s use of snaps (on the skirt closure and purse). The shirt closes in the back with velcro, and the skirt also has a strip of velcro below the snap, to avoid unsightly gaps.

I indulged myself with the purchase of three Bonnie and Pearl outfits along with Tabitha (it was expensive, but I figured I wasn’t likely to make overseas orders very often due to the steep shipping charges. Hey, any excuse will do). Bonnie and Pearl currently has a nice little range of doll outfits that truly reflect their British heritage and very much appeal to my own sense of doll-aesthetics. I chose my two very favorite outfits and a pair of pajamas. I am every bit as pleased with the quality and appearance of these outfits as I am with the pink arrival outfit the dolls come in. Here is Tabitha in her smashing School Uniform:

Bonnie and Pearl doll school outfit 1

Gazing at the river through the forest.

This is a great ensemble! It comes complete with a snap-front jacket, a white blouse, a plaid pleated skirt, high knee socks, black mary jane shoes, a red bow on a barrette, a black school bag, and even an extra pair of undies for modesty. I was delighted with the quality, and again, the details. The jacket is finished with a satiny lining that makes it easy to slide on over her hands and arms:

Bonnie and Pearl doll outfit detail 4

Bonnie and Pearl doll outfit detail 5

Sorry about the color… my camera struggles with red.

It has real pockets on the front, doll-sized buttons positioned over each snap, a crisp fold-over collar, top-stitched ribbons at the cuffs, and a little Bonnie and Pearl embroidery on the left front:

Bonnie and Pearl doll outfit detail 6

Bonnie and Pearl doll outfit detail 3

The white blouse has a Peter Pan collar and tiny seed-bead buttons on the front. It closes in the back with velcro. The skirt closes with a combination of a snap and velcro. The shoe straps close with velcro.

Bonnie and Pearl doll shoe

The bag is pretty basic, but nice-looking and fun for imagination play. The flap closes with velcro and Tabitha could actually slip a couple of slim notebooks inside.

Bonnie and Pearl doll bag

Tabitha just loves wearing this outfit. The bright cherry red looks amazing on her, and we are both a big fan of plaid. Here’s another picture of the jacket, just to show off how beautiful she is:

Bonnie and Pearl doll school outfit 2

The other outfit I ordered is the Green Walking Outfit. I loved this outfit the minute I saw it on the Bonnie and Pearl website:

Bonnie and Pearl doll green walking outfit 2I really don’t have words for how cute this outfit is. I am a big fan of green, and it doesn’t come up often as a color for dolls. This outfit consists of a wool jacket and hat, a plain white tee shirt, jean shorts, thick brown knit tights, brown lace-up boots, and a scruffy pup on a leash. The ensemble is refreshingly unique, fun, practical, and nicely non-trendy (most of my dolls and me aren’t really into “trendy”). The jacket in particular is just beautifully constructed. Once again, it is fully lined and boasts an amazing amount of detail. It closes with three snaps in front. I love the four doll-scale buttons.

Bonnie and Pearl outfit detail 9

It has a lined, fold-over collar:

Bonnie and Pearl doll outfit detail 14

The cuffs snap closed around the doll’s wrists, and there are swingy pleats in the back:

Bonnie and Pearl doll outfit detail 12

The matching green wool hat is also fully lined, sports a brown ribbon bow on the side, and ties under the chin with brown ribbon.

Bonnie and Pearl doll outfit detail 13 The shorts have real pockets in front and back and real belt-loops.

Bonnie and Pearl doll outfit detail 11

There are tiny decorative buttons at the cuffs:

Bonnie and Pearl outfit detail 10

The tights are warm and snuggly. The only complaint I have about them is that the brown is a little yellowish, and the seams at the feet are designed in such a way that they have to be aligned down the bottom middle of the dolls foot in order for each leg of the tights to not be twisted (if that makes sense–I don’t have a picture), which makes fitting boots or shoes awkward. Anyway, the boots are awesome:

Bonnie and Pearl doll boots 2

I love the metal eyelets, the rich brown color, and the fact that the boots really lace up. The toes are quite pointy, and since Tabitha’s feet are pretty round, it is a bit of a scrunch to get them on. Once on, though, they look charming.

Bonnie and Pearl doll boots 1

The addition of a soft plush doll-sized puppy is a cute touch, though one probably more aimed at a little girl than myself. The dog is cutely scruffy (must be a terrier somewhere in there). I wish that he had real black safety eyes, instead of the embroidered eyes which look rather flat and un-lifelike. His leash is attached to his collar, and while the collar isn’t sewn to his body, it isn’t easily removable. A velcro or snap closure would have solved this problem and would increase playability.

Overall, this is an outfit for a doll to be proud of. Tabitha is excited to be all bundled up as our mountain fall comes on (we’re both hoping it cools down soon!), and I love that she looks ready to go for a brisk walk!

Bonnie and Pearl doll green walking outfit 3

Her puppy is ready too, but it looks like he wants to head in the opposite direction.

Last, but not least, Tabitha has one of the cutest pairs of pajamas (or pyjamas, according to the Bonnie and Pearl website) in all dolldom. If anything could make her look even more huggable, it’s this Stripey Pyjama set:

Bonnie and Pearl doll in pajamas

Seriously, I want a pair just like these. I love the color, the stripes, the little bows at the shoulders and hem.

Bonnie and Pearl doll outfit detail 7

Bonnie and Pearl doll outfit detail 8

The area above the empire waist on the bodice is lined with satin. The top closes in the back with velcro; the shorts have an elastic waist. Unfortunately, the adorable slippers feel a bit cheaply made to me. They’re cute to look at, but the leather-like material isn’t lined, and while the faux shearling is a cute touch the soles are made from foam, which gives them a light, flimsy feeling. The set also includes an adorable little teddy bear:

Bonnie and Pearl doll teddy

His arms and legs are thread jointed and can rotate, and he has a clear loop of stretchy elastic on the back of his neck that allows Tabitha to hold him quite convincingly.

The pale blue color of this set makes Tabitha’s complexion glow. I think she looks irresistible:

Bonnie and Pearl doll portrait 22

So that’s about it! This is a wonderful and unique brand of play dolls that is filling the 18-19 inch niche in the UK to admiration. I love my Tabitha, and there are very few things about these dolls that I would change. These things are: 1) replace the reflective blue eyes with more natural-looking blue eyes, 2) lighten the lip shade to a more appropriate tone for a young girl, and 3) improve the shoulder-arm joint flexibility so that little girls can pose these dolls in the active positions they love. I love the outfits, and only wish the rest of the Bonnie and Pearl selection was more readily available stateside. Steep overseas shipping aside, I hope to see Bonnie and Pearl dolls showing up in more families and collections in the U.S. Not only is this a play doll that deserves a lot of attention, but a genuinely caring company with good values, focused on the best in imagination play. I very much hope they are a huge success.

Just for fun, here are a few last pictures of Tabitha exploring. She really comes to life out of doors, and is a joy to photograph. She loved wandering through the Dunsmuir Botanical Garden:

Bonnie and Pearl doll portrait 19

Tabitha adores flowers.

Bonnie and Pearl doll portrait 21

She knew not to pick the flowers, but wanted to gently touch and smell them:

She had just as much fun exploring the forest near the Sacramento River.

Bonnie and Pearl doll portrait 2

She feels quite at home among the green vine maple leaves.

Sitting on this boulder she reminds me longingly of Scotland and "the old country."

Sitting on this boulder she reminds me longingly of Scotland and “the old country.”

Bonnie and Pearl doll portrait 5

Together we wish you Happy Autumn!


Garden and river-side pictures were taken at the Dunsmuir Botanical Garden in Northern California.

 

American Girl Beforever debut!

It's here!

It’s here!

Barely two weeks have passed since American Girl officially debuted its renovated historical line, and Beforever is firmly established as a phrase and a fact in the world of AG fandom. I have to admit that I didn’t much pay attention to the word or the coming alterations before August 27th. I love American Girl dolls, but I don’t feel deeply attached to Mattel or particular interest in their marketing moves. When I came home from a hard day of skating practice last Wednesday evening, however, and idly logged on to the American Girl Playthings website to pass the time until hubby got home, I couldn’t help getting caught up in the pre-release excitement as the clock ticked down to the big reveal on American Girl’s website (thank goodness it was 10 o’clock Pacific time!). I had some mixed feelings about what I saw when the moment finally came, but overall I was positively impressed with the changes and updates to the historical line. The bright colors and patterns, the new details (like the new character silhouettes above) and the overall presentation were very attractive and inviting. That weekend I had the opportunity to travel down to the Bay Area with my husband, and I found myself totally excited about getting to go see the debut in person at the American Girl Bay Area store! I was anxious to grab Rebecca’s new Meet outfit (if still available) and especially to see the Beforever Kits and Samanthas in person. Well, I went (3 visits: first to scope things out around noon on Sunday; second to go back that afternoon after picking up my sister in the City; and third a last visit with my husband before driving home Monday morning). One single Rebecca Meet outfit was waiting for me on the shelf (a minor miracle!); I had a blast looking through all the Samanthas with my sister and finally picking out the perfect one for me; and had another blast looking through all the Kits with my husband and picking her out too! Many other and better blogs have already shared pictures of all the Beforever newness and changes, so I just wanted to share a couple of the things I really like about how American Girl is presenting their renewed historical line: the new character silhouettes and mottos!

I always loved the original Pleasant Company character silhouettes (I guess I just like silhouettes, though it’s hard to spell), but I have to say, I ADORE the new ones! Each girl gets a unique tracing of her unique profile and hairdo decorated with swirls and stars and character-appropriate flowers. So artistic and pretty! I loved trying to choose which I liked best. But I also like how AG is giving each girl a “motto” too, a sort of sum-up of her driving motivation. These mottos are on each character’s page on the AG website, but in the store they’re even nicer. Please forgive the funky lighting; I was too excited to remember to set my camera on “flourescent.” So without further ado:

American Girl Josefina Beforever silhouette

Josefina!

Josefina is one of our favorite characters here at A Doll’s Picnic. Though I’ve never personally bonded with her as a doll, she is such an endearing character, and her stories are some of the finest written of all the characters. Josefina was actually my first doll when I got back into AG in 2006, and though Paulina Clementina (as I called her) was soon passed into my husband’s possession when I collected Addy and Felicity, she holds a special place in my heart. Hers is not my very favorite silhouette, but in my book her motto gets first prize:

American Girl Josefina Beforever motto

Yay! for kindness!

I love the book-shaped signs, and all the little flowery details. My only kick against the way things were presented in the Bay Area store is that some of the silhouettes were hidden in narrow gaps between displays, making them difficult to see much less photograph.

It took a long time for me to appreciate her (I wasn’t into the Victorian era when I was little, and though I admired the doll my grandma had, I was never interested in her collection until more recently), but Samantha is now one of my favorite AG characters. I particularly love her 1st and 3rd stories (now both included in the 1st volume of her chapter books). I now own my grandma’s Pleasant Company Samantha doll, named Megan Josephine, as well as a perfect new Beforever Samantha doll I’ve named Maribel. Of course I’m glad Samantha’s back (why did she ever leave in the first place?). As the current leading lady of Beforever, her silhouette is getting a lot of attention, but it deserves it because, as Hayley Mills would say, it’s gorgeous!

American Girl Samantha Beforever silhouette

Coming up roses!

I was also tickled because when I took the Beforever Quiz on the AG website last night, I was told twice that I was most like Samantha! (then Rebecca, then Kit, then Addy…). Her motto is my second favorite by only a smidge:

American Girl Samantha Beforever motto

Awwwww…… * sniff, sniff *

But I think my favorite silhouette must be Addy’s:

American Girl Addy Beforever silhouette

Tres elegant!

She looks so poised and elegant, proud and strong, and I love the bun!!! Addy was my second doll after getting back into AG, and though I eventually gave that doll to my younger sister, how I loved her! Then I got her again because I missed her, and loved her again, and then I gave that doll to my older sister! And now, at last I have the Addy I always wanted and remember avidly admiring in the catalogs when she was debuted by Pleasant Company: early this August I found a beautiful Pleasant Company Addy on Ebay and brought her home. I’ve named her Augustine. Though I like Addy’s new Beforever Meet dress, I have to say I am partial to her old striped pink dress. Her motto moves me less, but it is very nice:

American Girl Addy Beforever Motto

Though she isn’t one of my very favorite dolls (I’ve enjoyed her for a while and then passed her on), I do like her character and her books, and I love her fashions. I have to say that Rebecca’s silhouette is nearly a tie with Addy’s for me:

American Girl Rebecca Beforever silhouette

So pretty!

I just love her flowing hair and her strong nose and her thoughtful expression. Of all the silhouettes, hers looks the most like me. I’m not really into her motto, though. Not being even remotely the least bit of an actress, I have no desire whatever to put myself on a stage. However, if I translate it from acting to skating… then it makes more sense:

American Girl Rebecca Beforever motto

Okay, I’m really not into Julie’s collection, much (well, okay, I did have Julie for a while, and I did buy her floral jumpsuit, and I do now have Ivy), but I have to say, I love her silhouette too!

American Girl Julie Beforever silhouette

So pretty, pretty, pretty!

And her motto is very her:

American Girl Julie Beforever motto

Fighting for right, I can relate to that.

Then there’s good old Kit, such a great character, looking cuter than ever, and very boyish and frank:

American Girl Kit Beforever silhouette

Chic!

Although initially more drawn to Samantha (I can’t help it!) I was really pleased with Kit’s revised collection. Her bright patterns and colors aren’t ones I would necessarily wear myself, but they’re so adorable on her! I love my new Beforever Kit, possibly even more than Samantha (shhh… don’t tell!). I first purchased Kit in 2009 and though I have always admired her, I never bonded with that doll, so she moved into my hubby’s collection. My new Beforever Kit, Bethy, with her shorter, sleeker hair and sweeter expression, is much more the girl for me. I also love her new Photographer outfit, though I didn’t think much of it at first when I saw it on the website. Her Reporter outfit is growing on me too. And her new Meet is perfection! (though I always liked the old one). But poor Kit! I just realized in my excitement I never photographed her motto! Shame on me!

Here’s Kaya:

American Girl Kaya Beforever silhouette

Love the strong nose!

I’ve had Kaya (now moved to older sister’s collection), and though she isn’t a doll or a collection I particularly relate to right now, I’m glad she’s still in the lineup, and I liked her first story and her character. I hope AG gives her a little more love in the future. Her motto:

American Girl Kaya Beforever motto

“Iiiiiiiht… comes nat-churly!”

And at last, that brings us to Caroline. I had a Caroline doll for a while, traded her for a custom Caroline, and then sold her. Her staring blue eyes, blondness and long frizzable curls were a bit much for me. But I’m a big fan of Jane Austen and the Regency period, so I like her collection. I only hope that AG doesn’t do any more dresses like her new Party dress! American Girl, Caroline is not Elsa! Anyways, she got a very pretty silhouette:

American Girl Caroline Beforever silhouette

Very pretty, in fact, and I can pretend she isn’t blond!

And, I’m sorry to say it, but a very stupid motto:

American Girl Caroline Beforever motto

Uh.. can we rewrite this please?

Come on, AG. This sounds like Kiera Knightley sneering, “You like pain? Try wearing a corset.” No. Okay, maybe it’s just the phrase “pink dresses” that makes me itch.

Anyway, overall, I’m really pleased with where Beforever is going, and unless they do any more shiny blue (or shiny pink!) dresses, I’m looking forward to what AG offers historically speaking in the future. There were some changes/additions I wasn’t crazy about (bows on scrunchies, Kit’s canvas shoes, treats being stuck together) but it could have been worse. There are still several outfits I’d like to collect: Addy’s School dress, Samantha’s Holiday dress, Kit’s Reporter dress. There are new accessories I admire: Sam’s Nighttime Necessities, Sam’s bike, Caroline’s banquet, Sam’s ice cream parlor. And I’m especially pleased that Beforever now takes up more than half of the new AG catalogs! Change is inevitable, and I’m grateful to AG for making it less painful than expected.

So, let the fun begin, and Happy Beforever everyone!

Natalie’s Notebook: Washington Trip, Part 3… the AG Store, Seattle!

Hi Friends!

I’m back! I get to tell you all about where we went and what we did on our Washington trip when we got to Seattle! Well, I gave you a hint last week… and here’s where we went first!

American Girl Store Seattle

Yay! You know what’s inside, right???

Oh boy! Not only did my mom and dad go to the American Girl Store first thing after we arrived on the east side of the Puget Sound, but they took me along! I actually got to go inside! Oh boy! I was just about jumping out of the bag Ali carried me in! I’ve heard all about how exciting and fun the American Girl stores are from Ali and from some of my doll-friends who have been there (Zelie, Ashleigh, Amy and Marie). Well, everything they said was completely true! It’s the most fun place I can imagine! We spent a couple of hours looking at every single thing in the store. I loved it all. I can’t even decide which I liked better: the historical displays or the modern ones. The historical ones are really interesting, because you can learn about what girls dressed like and what kinds of things they had in their homes a long time ago. But the modern displays are so bright and fun, and they make me want to play! And guess what? We even got to choose new friends to bring home with us! Ali adopted Ivy, because she is being discontinued (how sad!) and Paulina was on a special lookout for a friend of her own: My AG #23.

American Girl doll Josefina looking at #23

It was hard to choose, because every doll is so special, but Paulina finally settled on just the right #23 for us! Yay! I love new friends, don’t you?

This was my favorite store display: the beach cabana!

Via E Alexis doll at American Girl Store Seattle 2

Oi! (That’s Portugese for “Hello!”)

It made me feel so happy and summery. All the doll-models in the store are really nice, and they’re not shy at all! It was so much fun looking around and choosing friends that we kind of forgot to take pictures to share with you! Well, eventually we had to go, so we could have a New Doll Opening Party in our motel room. But guess what? Ali made a reservation for us to have lunch in the American Girl Bistro the next day!

Back at the motel, we had a great time welcoming our new doll-friends.

New American Girl dolls in box

Paulina introduced Catherine Anne Sophia to our family and told her all about where we had been on our trip so far.

American Girl doll Josefina and #23 2

Catherine’s hair came out of the hair-net a bit wild, so we all decided she would enjoy a visit to the American Girl Doll Salon the next day while we had lunch.

American Girl doll Josefina and My AG #23

We all admired Idina Lee. She’s so pretty and cute and perky! She’s really funny too, and I could tell right away we were going to be good friends.

American Girl Ivy doll in box

Of course I couldn’t wait for our special lunch at the Bistro the next day! Paulina, Idina and I got to sit at the table with Ali and Dave in special doll-chairs, while Catherine had her hair fixed at the Salon. It was so much fun!

Via E Alexis doll at American Girl bistro with friends

The room was full of little girls with their dolls, having parties and talking and laughing. But there were some grown-ups too! I was glad I changed into my prettiest dress for the occasion. The waitress even gave us our own doll-sized tea cups!

Via E Alexis doll at American Girl Bistro 1

Ali and Dave had a nummy lunch, and then we picked up Catherine at the Salon and went out to do some local sightseeing. We drove to the Seattle Center, which is this really big park near downtown Seattle, where there are all sorts of interesting things to do and see. There are gardens, theatres, museums, art exhibits, sculptures, and even a giant water fountain where children were splashing around and playing.

Fountain, Seattle Center, WA

It’s kind of like a county fair! In fact, the World’s Fair was held here in 1962. That’s what the Space Needle was built for:

Seattle Space Needle

It’s a really tall tower (605 feet!) with an observation deck and even a restaurant near the top! I think it looks like a UFO. Don’t you think it would be fun to eat there someday? Ali and Dave couldn’t go up this time because they had Jessie the Pug with them. But they did take the historic Monorail to downtown Seattle and back!

Seattle Center Monorail sign

Even in downtown Seattle there are baskets of flowers hanging from the lamp posts:

Seattle flower baskets 1

These flowers were hanging right outside the monorail station:

Seattle flower baskets 2

Aren’t they amazing? One of my favorite things at the Seattle Center was the poem garden. Pieces of poems were actually engraved right on large granite stones:

Poem on stone

After exploring the Seattle Center for a while, we headed over to the world famous Pike Street market. Unfortunately, by the time we found parking, the market was closing up! But Ali and Dave did get to look around another neat yarn store. Then it was time to head back to our motel after another busy day!

The next day was Thursday, and we had to leave the Seattle area and drive south to see more of the Puget Sound area. Before we did, guess where we went one last time??? That’s right! Back to the AG Store! We just couldn’t leave without stopping there one last time. And we’re so glad we did, because guess what we discovered had been put out that very morning?

American Girl doll My AG #61 2

A new doll! Ali was so excited because My AG #61 actually has red hair! So she just had to bring her along with us!

American Girl doll My AG #61 1

That meant we got to have yet another Doll Opening Party that night when we got to our motel room in Tacoma! But first, we stopped along the way to see the beach.

Bracket's Landing, Edmonds, WA 2

The beach we visited is called Bracket’s Landing, and it’s the site of an underwater park–a protected underwater area where divers can explore interpreted paths and see kelp forests. Isn’t that cool? We even saw two divers walk right into the water and disappear. I wish I could go diving and see all the amazing creatures under the water. But it was beautiful above the waves too.

Bracket's Landing, Edmonds, WA 1

Ali and Dave had a picnic lunch and enjoyed the cool summer air and breeze, watching the ferry boats load cars at the dock.

Bracket's Landing, Edmonds, WA 3

There was a sign that told all about the dangers that are hurting the Puget Sound:

Puget Sound sign

I’m really interested in conservation! Did you know that rainwater runoff is one of the biggest pollutants to the Puget Sound? The rain water runs off the streets and parking lots and carries pollutants with it into the ocean. Did you know that planting a “rain garden” is one way you can help stop the pollution? I like the sound of a rain garden. Here at home we have deer-proof desert gardens!

When we finally got to Tacoma, we were excited to welcome our newest doll-friend. But first we had to carry the bags all the way up to the 7th floor of the motel. This was the view from our window:

View from 7th floor, La Quinta, Tacoma, WA

It kind of made my knees feel funny looking down so far! Zinnia was so happy to come out of her box and join us dolls:

American girl dolls on motel bed 1

Yay! There’s nothing I like better than just hanging out with my friends!

Doll collection on chair

Here we all are! From left to right, in the back row that’s Idina Lee, Sharon Lilyanne, me (Natalie Alexis), Jade Sabrina Dianne, and Zinnia! In the front are Paulina Clementina, Kisa Violetta, and Catherine Anne Sophia. Ali says the car was much more crowded on our way home from Seattle than on our way there!

We saw lots more interesting things when we explored the Kitsap Penninsula on Friday. I’ll have to tell you all about them next time! Until then, love and hugs, your friend

Natalie Alexis

“About the dolls” update: Photos added!

my doll collection on shelves

My (almost) current doll collection on the shelves.

Hello Friends!

Do you ever get so busy that you sort of forget about the things you love? You know, the things that express your creativity and make you sparkle? It’s been that way around here for the last month or so, as I’ve been working to balance my skating practice with all my other duties and interests. But Natalie Alexis kept nudging me to get back to work on A Doll’s Picnic, and finally with her inspiration I’ve jumped back in, and I’m so glad. This afternoon I’ve had so much fun photographing several of my dolls and adding portraits to the doll bios on the “About the Dolls” page. Please feel welcome to take a look and see all their adorable faces! Every doll in my current collection now has a photo up on A Doll’s Picnic. Eventually I plan to post pictures of my teddy bears and soft toys too, but that’s a project for another day. I’ll continue to add to their likes and interests in the weeks and months ahead. 🙂

It was so fun to spend time in the garden with my camera, remembering how special these precious and delightful imagination-friends are. I especially enjoyed photographing Tasha, my Maru and Friends Jamie doll, and Alejandra, my Karito Kids Pita doll. They were each so photogenic, and their taller height and elegant proportions harmonized so beautifully with the garden (wild and unkempt as it is).

Maru and Friends Jamie doll with rose 1Jamie enchanted me with her ability to lean forward and grasp a rose bud. Her hip joints make her very poseable, and even with her small feet, she balances pretty well on uneven surfaces.

Maru and Friends Jamie doll with rose 2Her dress is so adorable and gardeny, too. 🙂

But I was especially astonished by the beauty of Alejandra! She poses so naturally that it is like taking pictures of a real girl.

Karito Kids Pita doll with sweet peaShe found a volunteer sweet pea that came up from last year’s seeds among the strawberries and wild dill. I love how she can hold flower stems in her beautiful hands.

Karito Kids Pita doll next to sage flowers 1She was also excited about the sage that has flourished in an old wine-barrel, within the protection of the fenced vegetable garden. She said it reminds her of Mexico! She reminded me of a beautiful Aztec or Native American princess!

Karito Kids Pita doll next to sage flowers 2Wow.

Karito Kids Pita doll next to sage flowers 3I love how her tilting head joint and lovely neck and shoulder area help her pose so naturally.

Karito Kids Pita doll next to sage flowers 4What an incredible doll. I am so glad I found her on Ebay brand-new in box, at her original price! I wish these dolls had never been discontinued.

Every time I make time to slow down and play quietly with my dolls, I fall in love with them all over again. Thanks for your patience during my break from blogging, and I hope you enjoy the pictures!

Hope you had a wonderful weekend!

Natalie’s Notebook: Summer Adventures and Washington Trip, Part 2 (updated!)

Alexis in sunglasses

It’s summertime!

Hello Friends! It’s been a long time, hasn’t it? I’m so sorry! I’ve been so busy enjoying summertime, and Ali’s been so busy with her skating practice, that we haven’t had time to work on A Doll’s Picnic in a long time. But we plan to do a lot more writing in the weeks to come, I promise! First of all, I never finished telling you about our trip to Washington! But before I do, I have some news! Guess what?! I have a new name! Here it is: Natalie Alexis Christine. Do you like it? You can call me Nattie for short, as long as you promise not to call me “Tallie” (it sounds too much like Ali). I love my new name, and I love Ali for giving it to me. She says besides just being a pretty name, Natalie is also the name of a writer she admires: Natalie Goldberg. How cool is that? Anyway, here are some summer pictures of me at Lake Siskiyou at the beginning of July. Alexis at the lake 1 Alexis at the lake 2 Alexis at the lake 3 Alexis at the lake 4 I had a great time exploring an old weathered tree stump that was on the shore and looking out at the lake. I didn’t go swimming that day though… it was pretty late in the afternoon and Ali said the water was awfully cold! I did get to go swimming for the first time last weekend though! The lake water was still cold but very refreshing on a hot afternoon, and I enjoyed floating on my back and playing with my new beach ball. I have a new bathing suit, too! I don’t have any pictures yet, but next time we go I’ll be sure to take some, okay? It was really fun to get in the water with Ali and Dave. Ali made sure to dry me off very thoroughly afterwards, and the next morning she washed and conditioned my hair. I felt like I was in a salon! So, back to Washington! I still have so many pictures and adventures to share! Remember we drove north along the Puget Sound after leaving South Bend? Well, we arrived that afternoon in a beautiful little town called Port Townsend, which is on the very northeastern tip of the Olympic Penninsula. I thought it was such a lovely place! We got to stay for two nights in a gorgeous bed and breakfast called The Old Consulate Inn, which is a beautiful Victorian house built in 1890!

Old Consulate Inn Sign, Port Townsend, WA

What a great view!

Here’s what it looked like on the outside: Old Consulate Inn Bed & Breakfast, Port Townsend, WA It is on the top of a hill just across from the old county courthouse. Washington has the most amazing historical courthouses! They’re really grand. Anyway, we could hear the clock bell ringing every quarter hour. County Courthouse, Port Townsend, WA The Old Consulate Inn has three stories and a wrap-around porch! We had a room on the second floor called “The Rose Room.” We could just see the harbor from one of the windows:

View from window

This old Victorian house was next door. That spikey metal railing on top is called a “widow’s peak” (it kind of gives me chills).

There was also a claw-foot bathtub, beautiful old-fashioned furniture, and a cozy study nook: Rose Room in Old Consulate Inn Us dolls felt at home right away!

Via E Alexis doll with friends 2

Home sweet home.

I loved the wood staircase, and all the old Victorian decorations. I especially loved that there were books on the bedside table and a whole library downstairs! The proprietors must love to read, just like me!

We enjoyed exploring Port Townsend that evening and the next day. There are a lot of old houses and buildings there, like this one in the downtown: Victorian building, Port Townsend, WA It’s a really pretty and interesting downtown. There are tons of art galleries, restaurants, several bookstores, an art-supply store, a toy store, and even a yarn store! I saw this pretty sweater on a tree in front of the yarn store: yarn bomb tree Ali says this is called “yarn bombing.” Isn’t that funny?

We saw lots more flowers! I love how people plant them in baskets or window boxes right outside the shops and along the sidewalks. I think Washington has more flowers than anywhere else in the world!

pink fuchsias

These fuchsias are also called “dancing ladies”!

But I think what I loved best of all was the beautiful harbor and the view of the Puget Sound. Port Townsend, WA wharf

Port Townsend, WA

This is what downtown Port Townsend looks like from the dock.

sail boat anchored at Port Townsend, WA

Doesn’t this look like a painting?

There’s way more to explore in Port Townsend and the Olympic penninsula than we could see in only one and a half days, but we saw enough to know it’s a beautiful place we’d like to go back to sometime. It was a little sad to have to leave so soon, but on Tuesday morning we were eager to take the ferry across the Puget Sound to the Seattle side for more adventures. Us dolls were super excited about the ferry ride, because these boats aren’t just for people, they’re for cars too! They’re like big, floating parking lots: you drive your car right onto them, and they take you right across the water to wherever you need to go!

Ferry dock

At the ferry dock the road goes right into the water!

We watched eagerly as our ferry approached the dock. Ferry boat 3 It docked right in front of the road, and we watched the load of cars and trucks drive off.

Ferry boat 1

See the truck? That’s a big boat!

Then, finally, we got to drive on! We were so excited! It felt really weird to park on a boat!

Via E Alexis doll, Maplelea doll Jenna, Vestida De Azul doll Paulina

Jade and Kisa were as excited as I was!

The ferry ride was really smooth and comfortable. Except for the slight tippy feeling, you would hardly know you were in the middle of the water. We actually got to take two ferries: the first one took us across to Whidbey Island, which is located right in the middle of the Puget Sound, and is the largest island in Washington. Whidbey Island sign, WA I liked it a lot. There were lots of tall evergreen forests and open grasslands and meadows. We stopped to see a really cute little town called Coupeville, where Ali and Dave took a little walk along the shore and saw these flowers: White flowers Whidbey Island Then we drove south down the island to the next ferry terminal, which took us across to the mainland. We checked into our motel room in Everett, which is just 25 miles north of Seattle. After all the excitement and traveling, we were glad to have a little relaxing time in our room. And then… guess where we went that evening??? I’ll give you a hint:

American Girl Store, Seattle, WA sign

Oh boy, oh boy!

That’s all for now! I’ll tell you all about it next time! Love, your friend Natalie Alexis

Adventures with Alexis: Washington Trip, Part 1

Hi-ya friends!

I know I promised to tell you all about our trip through Washington as we went, and I really wanted to! But it turned out that we were so busy having adventures that I didn’t have time to stop and write. The good news is Ali took lots of pictures for me to share. She even bought me my own camera! It’s an old-fashioned disposable camera, the kind you just point and shoot, and when you’ve used up all the exposures, you send the whole camera in for the film to be developed. This is very old-fashioned now, but it’s a fun vacation-ish kind of thing to do, don’t you think? 🙂 I’ll share my pictures with you when we get them developed!

You remember our trip began with driving through the Willamette Valley where all the grasses were, and that we spent our first night in Woodburn, Oregon? Well, it was a really nice motel room, but us dolls were eager to leave the motel Saturday morning! We couldn’t wait to get to Washington! Paulina tried to see north from the motel window, but she couldn’t see much beyond the freeway:

American Girl Josefina doll looking out window

Finally we were packed up once more and on our way. We drove north through Portland, where we caught a glimpse of a volcano from the freeway. I think it was Mt. St. Helens, the one that erupted in 1980. Isn’t that kind of scary?

Mt. St. Helens from I-5, Portland

We didn’t stop in Portland but went right on over the magnificent Columbia river! It’s huge! Isn’t it amazing to think of all that water flowing hundreds and hundreds of miles to the ocean? And guess what? The state border between Oregon and Washington is halfway across! We were so excited when we saw this sign:

Entering Washinton sign

All us dolls let out a cheer! A little further up the highway we saw this:

Welcome to Washington sign

Hooray!

I think Washington is the greenest, most flowery state ever. It’s much greener than California, and even than Oregon. There were wildflowers everywhere! The daisies were growing like weeds, everywhere we went. Do you think it’s always like that, or it’s just still spring there?

I-5 Washinton

There were even daisies blooming along the center of the freeway!

Soon we headed west toward the coast. I’ve never seen so many trees in my life! It was such a perfect, blue day that it was hard to imagine all the rain that makes everything so green. It was just about the greenest place I can imagine, and there were daisies and foxglove and queen anne’s lace and other flowers growing in meadows and right along the roadside. The only thing I didn’t like was all the logging we saw. Timber is a really big industry in Washington, and they just mow down acres of the forest. It’s very strange to see the square clear cuts chopped right out of the hillsides. This made me feel sad, because I couldn’t help thinking about all the birds and animals who used to live there. It also makes the forest grown in funny patches, like a bad haircut. It sure makes me wish our world didn’t need to use so much wood. I hope all my friends use recycled paper products at home, like we do!

For a while we drove along the Columbia River, and I had a lovely time daydreaming about all the places the river had been before it reached the coast. Finally we turned up the coast, and this is what we saw: the ocean!

south Washington coastline 2

This part of the Pacific coast wasn’t anything like the beaches near San Clemente, California, where I come from, or like the Bodega Bay area, near where Ali grew up. It was really a huge bay, and with the tide out there were huge flats of mud. We kept on driving, and as we drove we saw signs that told us hundreds of acres of forest here had been destroyed by winds up to 120 miles per hour in 2007! That’s as strong as a hurricane! Can you imagine wind so strong that it knocks down whole forests of trees? I sure can’t. Don’t you think that must have been scary for the people that live here?

Soon we turned east away from the coast, and not long after that, we arrived at the little town where we were going to spend the night.

Willapa River, South Bend, WA

South Bend is a little town on the Willapa River. They call themselves “the oyster capital of the world,” but I’ll bet they got their name from the bend in the river. Everything was very green, and there were lots of lawns and gardens and hardly any fences. We got to stay at the cutest little motel, called The Seaquest.

Sea Quest Motel sign, South Bend, WA

It was really nice! We had a little room with our own porch, and a kitchen, and a study nook and a DVD player!

Sea Quest Motel, South Bend, WA

There were even baskets of geraniums hanging from every porch, and a pot of flowers on the back step:

flower pot

There are so many flowers in Washington! You even see them hanging in baskets from lamp posts! Ali and I both love to look at the flowers. Ali says it’s something to do with living in a desert with lots of deer.

geranium bud

Getting to each motel or inn where you’re going to spend the night is sort of like coming home. It’s a wonderful feeling to be at home-away-from-home, don’t you think?

Via E Alexis doll looking out window

It’s good to rest after a bustley day of driving and looking at everything. Paulina thought so too.

American Girl Josefina doll 1

We all enjoyed relaxing in our little study nook and talking about everything we had seen on the drive.

Via E Alexis doll, Maplelea Jenna and Taryn dolls

The next morning we had to leave South Bend and keep driving north toward the Puget Sound. But first, Ali and Dave took Jessie the Pug for a walk along the Willapa River.

Alders along Willapa River, WA

It was kind of a muggy morning and Jessie isn’t too fond of warm days, so she got pretty hot. But Ali says it was really nice. They saw more wildflowers, including this one:

wildflower by Willapa River, WA

We don’t know what it’s called, but they were growing in several places along the water. Isn’t it pretty?

After their walk, we drove north along the Hood Canal, which is on the west side of the Puget Sound. It was a very pretty drive, and we saw thousands more trees, and little towns along the water. When we got close to our destination, here’s what the highway looked like:

Washington Hwy 20

I’ll tell you all about where we went as soon as I can! For now, I’ve got to go get ready for a 4th of July picnic! Happy fireworks!

‘Till soon, your friend

Alexis


 

Alexis is an Alexis Christine O’Shay Dollfriend. Paulina is an American Girl Josefina doll. Sharon and Jade are Maplelea Taryn and Jenna dolls.

Adventures with Alexis: We’re Taking a Trip!

Hi Friends!

Guess what?! I’m on my first trip! You know I want to be a travel writer some day, right? Well, my mom-friend Ali and dad-friend Dave are taking a vacation to Washington, and I get to go along! I’m so excited to see new things and practice observing, and Ali said I can write here as often as I like! So I’m going to tell you all about my first trip ever and everything I see and do!

Maybe I’d better go back to the beginning: Ali and Dave are celebrating their anniversary this weekend, and they decided to take a trip to Washington to explore and relax and just have fun. Ali told me some of us dolls would get to go, and we were all so excited when we heard! We wanted to start packing right away:

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I love packing: I always know just what I should bring. But some people feel overwhelmed when they’re faced with choices. That’s how my friend Asleigh felt when she heard she might get to go along:

American Girl Isabelle packing for trip

Ali says it might have something to do with being an artist, and that she’s the same way. Isn’t that funny? If so, I’m glad I’m a writer. I did my best to help Asheigh calm down, and we looked through all her pretty clothing together:

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My friend Tabitha was excited when she heard that Ali and Dave were going to the Pacific Northwest, because she said the weather there is a lot like weather in England and Wales, which is where she’s from. She wanted to pick out a travel outfit just in case she got to go along:

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She has this super adorable green wool coat which is perfect for rainy or misty days:

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Isn’t it adorable? She also has a really cute teddy bear, which she says helps make her feel at home wherever she is.

My new friends Jade and Sharon were also really excited. They’re from Canada, and like me they love traveling!

Maplelea dolls packing for trip

Well, we spent most of the week getting ready and packing, and yesterday we finally were on our way! Yay! I was so excited I was just about bouncing up and down in my seat. I loved looking out the window and watching the scenery change. We drove north through Oregon for a long long way, but it didn’t seem like a long drive because there was so much to look at. Everything was very green, and there were so many trees of all different kinds. We saw flowers blooming: wild peas, Queen Anne’s lace, and thousands of white daisies nodding in the breeze! It was sooooo pretty!

Yesterday afternoon we passed through a town in Oregon that said it was “the grass seed capital of the world.” That’s when we realized the huge pastures we were passing were all different kinds of grasses. Some of the fences near the highway even had signs on them so you could find out what was growing! Here are the types of grasses we saw: Annual ryegrass, Perennial ryegrass, white clover, winter wheat, wheat, and fescue. The grasses were blooming and putting out seeds and they were so beautiful. I love how they stretched far away, all the same color and texture. I also love how the fields line up next to each other, like pieces of fabric on a quilt. My favorite grass was the winter wheat, because it was such a pretty golden-fawn color and all tufty with seeds. I also loved the white clover, because it was covered in little white flowers!

We spent last night in Woodburn, Oregon. We were so excited to be in our first motel!

Via E Alexis with friends

From left to right, my friends Paulina, (me, Alexis!), Sharon and Jade. We’re the lucky dolls that got to go along!

It’s a really nice room! We’re going to be on our way again soon, and today I’ll make sure that Ali takes lots of pictures so I can put them in my next post! We’re going to head north through Portland and cross over into Washington, and then head out to the coast! I get to see the ocean! Oh boy!

‘Till soon, have a great Saturday!

Love, your friend, Alexis


 

Alexis is a Via E Alexis Christine O’Shay Dollfriend. In this post she is wearing a Gotz dress with American Girl leggings. Jade and Sharon are Maplelea Jenna and Taryn dolls; Tabitha is a Bonnie and Pearl doll; Ashleigh is an American Girl Isabelle doll; Paulina is an American Girl Josefina doll.

Introducing Alexis: A Via E Alexis Dollfriend Review

Do you like to surprise yourself with new doll loves? I do! I love the challenge of expanding my appreciation to include new approaches to the classic 18 inch doll, even when that means learning to love new shapes, sizes, facial expressions, and appearances. One of my new dolls that I’ve been having the most fun with was a total surprise to me. I discovered the Via E Alexis doll through–who else?–My Doll Best Friend (a wonderful UK-based online doll shop that really is an excellent source of information and pictures of play dolls). Between the My Doll Best Friend webshop, blog, and Facebook page (which is open to viewing even if you are not a Facebook member) I’ve been introduced to many different play dolls, and found several new doll loves. Alexis was the most surprising of these, because she is the first doll in my collection to have a full, open-mouth smile! This is a big deal for me, after having been used to the more conservative, quiet American Girl smile for so long. I have to admit that when I first saw pictures of Alexis, I found her grin to be off-putting. Yet I soon found myself being attracted to her unique individuality. She looked so, well, personable. I also really liked everything about the way Alexis is presented: she is advertised as unique, realistic, poseable, durable, versatile, and representing positive values and educational play. I love taking dolls with me places, and it was a big selling point for me that Alexis is intended to endure rigorous play, even in or near water! When I envisioned happy summer day-trips playing with Alexis at the lake, how could I possibly resist? I’ve had Alexis for about a month now, and she has surpassed my initial expectations, allayed my prejudices and concerns about having a doll who smiles so broadly, and easily become one of my favorite dolls in my collection. Alexis immediately asserted herself as a kindred spirit and a writer, and you may have already read her own posts. Now I’d like to introduce Alexis to you by way of a review. This is a truly unique doll from a truly special company, and it’s my hope that this review will help introduce her to a wider audience.

My Via E experience started off on an excellent note with an exchange of emails with Ellen Callen, the founder of Via E and Alexis’ creator. I’ve heard Ellen described as one of the nicest people ever, and it’s true!  I was so impressed by Ellen’s customer service, and it is one of the major recommendations for buying from Via E. In addition to graciously clearing up a computer glitch that affected my order, she kindly offered me my choice between a first production or second production Alexis. Ellen explained that the second production dolls have a couple of minor improvements, including a slightly darker scalp and a small drainage hole placed inconspicuously under the hair to allow water to drain safely from the head. As a collector I preferred one of the limited edition first production Alexis dolls, and I was so grateful I was given the choice. The first production dolls arrive in boxes signed and numbered by Ellen, with hand-signed certificates of authenticity that describe the special characteristics of a first production Alexis Christine O’Shay Dollfriend. Each first production Alexis doll also has her number written on the back of her neck.

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Oh boy! (Pug approved).

What is better than a brand new doll arriving in the mail? I am fortunate to share a home state with Alexis: she hails from San Clemente, California, so she didn’t have to travel far. She was shipped via Priority Mail, so she arrived within days!

I love the label on the box (in fact, I carefully peeled it off to preserve it in my journal). These little personal touches go such a long way in making a customer feel happy with a purchase.

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Just for me!

The box was absolutely beautifully packed by hand with sparkly tissue paper (which will be recycled as an art journal supply), pink shredded packing, and a hand-written thank you note included with the packing slip and my Alexis doll’s certificate of authenticity. Here it is with the tissue paper and packing slip removed. You can see the glued-on label on the doll box, which is one of the features of the first production Alexis dolls. The box originally read “Alex,” which is Alexis’ nickname, but due to legal issues this had to be changed to Alexis. The new boxes have Alexis’ full name, Alexis Christine O’Shay, at the top.

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Alexis’ hair had lodged across her eye during transit, so I reached in and gently moved it aside before I took any more pictures.

This is the first time I’ve bought a limited edition doll like this, so this was very exciting:

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I love that, “Not Just Any Girl.” Alexis is not being sold as a “just like me” doll, which makes her stand apart from much of the 18-19 inch doll market. Alexis is herself, no more, no less. Just like each of us, that’s the most special thing she can be. In order to honor Alexis’ uniqueness, I won’t be comparing her to any other dolls in this review. I’d also like to state right away that Alexis is a play doll intended for little girls. None of the minor imperfections or areas where I feel there is room for improvement detract from her appeal for little girls and their moms. When possible, I do try to embrace the little “flaws” that make each of my dolls unique. I choose to see them as individualities that don’t take away from the doll’s loveability. Finally, I’d like to remind my readers that Via E is literally a brand-new start-up company working to get things just right, which is not a simple process! I imagine being the founder of a new doll company is something like being President: it is impossible to please everyone, and you get blamed for everything! Personally, I think Ellen is doing a wonderful job at introducing a unique product to the market, and I wish her every success.

Here’s what it says on the back of Alexis’ box. Love it!

Via-E Alexis doll review 7 And here is my charming new Alexis doll peeking a little shyly out of her window:

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Right away she felt like a real person to me, which is one of the things that attracted me to this doll in the first place.

In looking at Alexis in the box, I noticed that her right eye was a tiny bit stray. I mention this because some collectors are very picky about “wonky” eyes. I’m not as picky, though I probably notice little things like this more than a little girl of the target age range would. When possible (which is almost always) I embrace the little idiosyncrasies that make each of my dulls unique. Initially, I was a teeny bit disappointed that Alexis’ eyes were not perfectly straight, but I decided that I wouldn’t let it detract from her individuality. Via E’s customer service is so excellent that I have no doubt Ellen would have gladly exchanged dolls if there was anything about my Alexis that really bothered me.

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Such a cute nose!

I was struck by her pretty profile, lovely coloring, and of course, by her happy smile!

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Not feeling very patient, I soon removed the insert that contained Alexis from the box, so I could see her better. You can see some of the values Alexis represents printed on the inside of the insert:

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Alexis started to win my heart right away. She looks alert, intelligent, caring, cheerful, and very, very friendly. She’s pretty too–at least I think so. 🙂 Her wide smile is certainly different than I’m used to, but I quickly began to find that it made me feel happy to look at her!

Here she is removed from the insert (she was held in with metal twist-ties).

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You can see how happy she is to be out of her box in her new home!

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Her hair is just gorgeous! It was wrapped in tissue to protect it during travel, and the feathered layers in front were tied back with ribbon. Alexis has rooted hair made of nylon. It is the very nicest quality nylon hair I’ve seen so far: very shiny, soft, and extremely thick. It is also a lovely color: a rich caramel blond or light brown (one of my favorite colors for hair). It really shines in the sun, and has a nice feel in my hands. From what I’ve read, collectors usually seem to view nylon as a lower quality material, preferring acrylic wigs. Alexis, however, is designed to be a durable and water-friendly toy, so I think rooted nylon was a wise way to go. Here’s her hair with the tissue paper removed:

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Her hair is long, but it doesn’t seem to tangle much. She has chunky layers that add interest to her hairstyle, and make her hair sit very prettily even without styling. Alexis’ hair also brushes out very easily.

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You can see here how thick my Alexis doll’s hair is! In fact, my Alexis has as much hair as a real girl might have! The nature of rooted hair is that the “plugs” and scalp will inevitably show in certain styles. This is why the second production Alexis dolls have a slightly darker tinted scalp, to help reduce this appearance. However, I haven’t noticed any problems with my Alexis doll’s scalp or roots showing too much. I haven’t tried pig-tails yet (I will), but I haven’t had any problems so far with her hair smoothing down evenly over her head. Here is her hair from the front:

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Notice Alexis’ delicate brushed eyebrows and beautiful facial sculpting.

And from the side:

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She has a uniquely realistic profile, with a real nose! I love this.

Underneath her gorgeous hair, on the back of her neck, is her official identification number.

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Her hair plugs are small and finely spaced.

Here is Alexis all unwrapped as she arrived:

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You can see how happy she is to be home!

Alexis’ arrival outfit consists of knee-high fringed boots, short jean skirt, pink t-shirt, and undies. I would describe the overall quality of her outfit as basic, but nice. It isn’t a very interesting outfit for me, but the pieces are cute and hold mix and match potential. The t-shirt has a sweet kitten graphic, and closes in the back with velcro. The elastic-waisted skirt has real pockets, which is a big plus! I can’t say the boots are my style, but they are fun and different. Overall I think a girl of the target age range would be perfectly happy with this outfit. My only suggestion is for Alexis’ arrival outfit to include a pair of tights or cropped leggings for modesty, as her skirt tends to slide up on her smooth torso, revealing her undies when she sits down.

My only disappointment with the outfit is that the soles of the boots are foam instead of plastic. Also, the boots on my Alexis have experienced some separation at the back of the sole:

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Some glue and clamping might fix this.

This is the only thing that gives her arrival outfit a bit of a “cheap” feeling for me. For the record, I’ve seen foam soles on other high quality dolls’ shoes too, so Alexis is certainly not alone here. I prefer the more realistic plastic or rubber soles as being nicer and more durable for play.

Alexis also arrived with this cute little tote bag that can be worn as a back-pack:

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It has a draw-string closure under the flap so that Alexis can store her goodies and treasures inside.

Alexis has numerous features that make her realistic and very person-like. Let’s start with her face:

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Alexis has closing eyes that are a dark turquoise blue, with black lashes and molded eyelid creases above her eyes. I think her eyes are a very pretty shape and color and have a pleasant expression. I soon discovered that the reason her right eye is sometimes stray is that it is a little looser in the socket than her left, and tends to jiggle a little bit while Alexis is being posed. I can straighten it by gently tapping it (which is why some of the pictures show her eyes perfectly straight, and some don’t).

Alexis’ eyebrows are very nicely painted on, and I love how they taper to a point at the ends. The best part of her face for me, though, is her beautifully sculpted nose. Most dolls don’t have a real nose bridge, and Alexis does, which gives her such a beautiful profile. I also love the indentation between her nose and her mouth. Here’s her profile:

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Alexis has such a lovely face sculpt with realistic cheeks, mouth, and chin. The shape of her face really supports her happy smile. If you’ve ever tried to draw a smile, then you know how difficult it is to make it look right. I can only imagine how difficult it is to sculpt one three-dimensionally! Ellen has done a beautiful job with Alexis’ smile. You can’t see it very well in these pictures, but her chin even has a “smile line” underneath!

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Such a sweet, happy smile!

Alexis has a tilting head, which is one of my favorite features. This gives her so much expressiveness and enhances her poseability. My Alexis doll likes to tilt her head to the left a little more than to the right. Alexis also has very realistic ears:

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Her ears are actually sculpted out from her head, meaning she can tuck back her hair! My Alexis doll has such thick hair that not much of it will stay back, but I love this feature. It is one of the many things that make her feel like a real person.

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She’d need really big ears to tuck back all that hair!

One of the features advertised on Alexis’ box are that she has realistic hands and feet with a French manicure/pedicure. Let’s take a look:
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Left hand.

I was not disappointed. Look at those tiny nails!
Right hand.

Right hand.

You can see that her hands are also slightly different–her right forefinger is more separated and extends out a bit further. I love this touch, because it adds realism and versatility when posing Alexis. Ellen explains that Alexis’ hands were designed to be large enough to hold a girl’s finger, and were posed to allow her to wave, hold back her hair, and even hold hands with other doll-friends. The only defect I found  on Alexis’ hands is that her right thumb nail is missing a bit of paint, making it look like she’s been chewing her nail. It’s okay, Alexis, I do this too. 🙂

 

Her feet are even cuter:
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Alexis has a separation between her big toe and the rest of her foot, allowing her to wear thongs! Sooooo cute! She also has ankle bumps, little arches, and gently sculpted soles:
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I love that her feet have little creases underneath her toes. I also love how it says on the Via E website that Alexis can make footprints in the sand! I tried it at the river, but the sand was too coarse and dry.
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I’ll have to have Alexis try making footprints next time we visit the ocean.
Now I’d like to show you Alexis’ construction. She won’t mind me sharing these pictures between friends:
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Now that she’s seen the deer, Alexis understands the rose cages.

Alexis stands 19 inches tall, and is molded from hard, smooth vinyl that is a pleasant tan tone, with blushing added on the tops of her hands and feet. She is quite heavy, and the smoothness of her vinyl makes her a bit slippery, so it’s a good thing she’s durable! (Via E now offers a cream for smoothing away any “owies” that an Alexis doll might incur during her daily adventures, which I think is an excellent precaution. My Alexis has taken one hard fall already, so I might just have to try it out). Alexis’ body is delicately molded with realistic contours and the gentle beginnings of grown-up girl attributes. She even has a little belly button! One of my favorite features is her beautiful neck and shoulder area with a slight “collar bone” indentation. She looks so pretty in wide necklines and strappy tops!

 

Alexis has elbow and knee joints in addition to shoulder and hip articulation and a tilting head. These joints allow her limbs to make gentle bends. Ellen explains that in researching what little girls want in their dolls she discovered that the average girl is not interested in GI Joe-like articulation, so she tried to design a happy medium between joints and no joints. I think it works well. Alexis can be put into many poses during play, but her joints do not hold anything more than a very slight bend on their own.
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She seems fairly sturdy on her feet, but her joints do make her a little tippy on uneven surfaces. I’ve had her fall a couple times during photo shoots, but she always gets back up with a smile. 🙂

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The construction of her hip joints makes her legs spread a bit to the side when she sits down on a flat surface like this. On a chair or bench, she can pull them a little more closely together.

Altogether, I am very happy with the way Alexis is designed. She has a pretty build and an effective construction that is very playable. She is a bit on the heavy side and not as huggy as she might be with a soft body, but then her all-vinyl construction allows her to be played with in water, so I think it is a successful design. The only thing I am not crazy about in her overall appearance is that her arms seem just a little bit too short to me. My husband doesn’t agree with me here, so this is a matter of personal opinion, but if it were me, I’d lengthen them by another half of an inch or so.

Note: Ellen explains that the length of Alexis’ arms was purposefully designed a little bit short so that Alexis can put her hands into her pockets and reach her own face and hair–in other words, to make her as poseable as possible. I’ve completely adjusted to the length of Alexis’ arms and I no longer notice them seeming short when I look at her.

Here are a few more pictures of Alexis’ face and hair.

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Her layers fall over her right eye when her hair is loose.

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Her layers blend in a bit when her hair is brushed out.

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Notice the high shine her hair picks up in the sun. You can also see a slight separation of hair toward the back of her head (due to the way I’ve braided it) allowing her scalp to show through.

Now I’d like to talk a little about clothes, which is a huge part of the life of any doll. Alexis is advertised as being able to fit most fashions for 18 inch dolls, but Ellen acknowledges that she will need a belt for some of the pants and skirts/dresses because her waist is thinner than most cloth-bodied dolls (Via-E provides a special belt on their website). Based on my experience, this seems true. Alexis can wear American Girl brand t-shirts and tops, since they look fine even if they are a bit loose, as well as hats, but only pants and skirts with a tight elastic waist will stay up on her torso without assistance. For example, I’ve had success dressing her in American Girl pajamas and leggings, which are naturally made from material with quite a bit of stretch. Alexis also fits the pants designed for Gotz Hannah and Gotz Happy Kidz (they use elastic waists anyway, but Alexis has a similar waist size to Hannah and the Happy Kidz). Since I was eager to give Alexis a wider range of choices, I purchased three outfits from the Via E website. Again, I received stellar customer service, and the outfits arrived by Priority Mail, beautifully packaged. Alexis was very excited!

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We both love the Via E boxes, with their pretty flowers and pink and orange stripes, as well as the motto printed on top. I also love the little stickers taping each box shut (which are perfect for saving in my journal!) and appreciate how beautifully each item is wrapped and packed:

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Just for me, again!

The outfits I chose from the five that are currently available were the Alexis Goes to Brazil outfit, the Loving Sao Paulo outfit, and the Saturday Nap outfit. I love how Via E encourages creativity by designing outfits that invite mixing and matching. The first two outfits arrived with a story card telling a little bit about Alexis, and suggesting options for designing different outfits. These story cards can be slipped into the ring-bound Clothing Activity Book (sold separately), which was included free with my order of Alexis (thank you Ellen!). The website states that all of Alexis’ outfits will include a story card, but the Saturday Nap outfit did not arrive with one, so I’m not sure if this idea has been dropped. I hope not, because it’s a fun addition to Alexis’ playability.

Alexis first wanted to try on the Goes to Brazil outfit, which was my favorite from the pictures. It includes four-pocket jeans, a pink lacy camisole, a two-tone long-sleeved tee, and strappy sandals:

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The t-shirt graphic says “Oi!” which is Portugese for “Hello!” and closes in the back with velcro. The pants have real pockets and a front velcro closure and an elastic waist. The camisole has a pull-on construction and an empire waistline. This set even includes a special passport for Alexis!

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The passport is printed on cardstock for a child to cut out and fold.

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I love this fun, educational touch! The things I like best about this outfit, besides the passport, are the pretty color and sturdy material of the jeans, the wide neckline of the t-shirt that shows off Alexis’ shoulder-line and allows the camisole straps to peek through, the blue contrasting sleeves of the t-shirt, and the pretty pink camisole itself.

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I’m not crazy about the heavy jersey knit used for the body of the t-shirt (I love the material used for the sleeves, though). Also, a snap closure would make this shirt more versatile. One of the options on the story card shows the shirt worn back to front, with the upper edges turned under to form a v-neck (sort of like a cardigan). In actuality this option is not possible if Alexis is wearing the pink camisole underneath, because the velcro would turn in and snag the material beneath. Snaps would remove this problem. The jeans are a nice color and material, and they look fine and are very sturdy, and I like how the cuffs can be left down or rolled up. However some of the white stitching seems a bit sloppy, and to my eye it seems like the front closure is a bit off-center:

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The sandals were packaged separately in an adorable box which Alexis and I just love (she wants to use it to store her treasures):

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The sandals feature thongs that slip between Alexis’ toes, and close around her ankles with velcro. I like the shiny silver, and the way the thongs accentuate Alexis’ special toes.

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My only issues with the sandals are that they are a bit tight to slip on, which might prove difficult for a child, and that the construction does not seem quite top-notch. The soles are plastic, which I appreciate, but the way the side straps are compressed between the upper footbed and sole seems a bit awkward, and like her boots, there is some separation happening in the sole area. I also noticed some scratches on the shiny silver footbed.

Overall this outfit is really cute and has a nice look, and I think most little girls would love it. The things I’ve mentioned that might be improved are small issues that can be worked out with time and experience; they’re only important because little details add up to an overall impression. Again, I’d like to emphasize that there’s nothing about this outfit that would keep a child of the target age range from enjoying it.

Alexis and I were both really excited about the Saturday Nap outfit because it looks so cute in the pictures, and because as writers we love the name! It is a very sweet outfit, with lots of mix and match potential, and it looks adorable on Alexis:

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The outfit includes a lacy white camisole with contrast pink stitching, grey shorts, pink-striped leggings, white bunny slippers, and a blue stuffed animal that Alexis can cuddle as well as use as a pillow. I’m not sure what kind of animal it is supposed to be (maybe a dog?) but it’s cute and a fun idea, and Alexis loves it.

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Our favorite things about this outfit are the bunny slippers, the layered look, the coziness, and the subdued colors. The camisole is similar in design to the pink one that came with the Goes To Brazil outfit, but this one closes up the back with velcro.

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The fit is not quite as nice as the pink one, but it’s perfectly adequate. The grey knit shorts have an elastic waistline and a small embroidered emblem near the left hemline:

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They’re very sturdy and cute, and look nice and cozy on Alexis. The striped leggings are adorable, especially layered under the shorts. However, our pair had a defective waistband. When I went to put them on Alexis for the first time, the elastic sort of internally “fizzed” and lost all its stretch. Luckily, the knit material is stretchy anyway and they stay up even without elastic, especially with the shorts on top:

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Just a little bit loose.

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This elastic problem seems to me like a freak quality control issue. Since the leggings stay up anyway, it didn’t seem worth the hassle to bother returning them, especially since I can cut open a seam and insert new elastic if I really want to. Again, Via E has such excellent customer service and product support that I have no doubt the item would have been promptly exchanged if I had wished. Everything else about this outfit seems fine, and I’m sure little girls will love it. My only concerns with this outfit, besides the elastic issue, are that the lace straps of the camisole seem a bit delicate to withstand rough play, and that the velcro closure can get caught in the lace edging if care is not taken while dressing Alexis. The bunny slippers, which stay snugly on Alexis’ feet with elastic straps, and the cute stuffed animal are special touches that make this a fun set.

I’ve saved our favorite outfit for last: the Loving Sao Paulo outfit.

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Yep, the honeysuckle is caged too.

This is a gorgeous outfit that any little girl or collector would love! It includes a ruffly, no-sleeve cotton sundress, a reversible vest, and a red bandana-scarf, as well as a pair of “barefoot sandals” with included instructions (which we haven’t tried yet, but look really fun!):

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This outfit, like the Goes To Brazil outfit, also comes with a story card describing four different creative ways of wearing the pieces. I love this dress on Alexis! It accents her beauty so perfectly, setting off her golden-tan skin tone and showing off her pretty shoulders:

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I would wear this dress if it came in my size!

The bodice of the dress features a ruffle, pintucks and lace, and the skirt is a two-tier ruffle.

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The sash is cotton lace, attached in front. The back of the dress features smocking, which helps the dress hug Alexis’ smooth torso and forms an excellent fit.

Via-E Alexis doll review 89The straps actually close with snaps at the back shoulders, which makes the dress very easy to slip on and off.

The vest is simple but nice; it features black buttons up the front (though it closes with velcro) and a blue contrast lining on the inner back, so that you can reverse it and wear it back to front to get a whole different look:

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The only things I would change about this outfit would be to use snaps instead of velcro on the vest closure, and to line the entire inside of the vest with the blue fabric, instead of just the inner back. Since the vest is fully lined anyway, this wouldn’t increase production costs, and it would make the vest even more versatile, since it could be worn four ways: black side out closing in front, black side out closing in back, blue side out closing in front, and blue side out closing in back. All in all, this is a lovely outfit, and Alexis and I both love it!

Overall, my impression of Alexis’ collection of outfits is positive. I am happy with the outfits I have purchased so far, and I am looking forward to adding more to my collection. Alexis and I are particularly interested in the Fun in the Sun Waterplay outfit–we’d love to try it out at the lake! I can’t wait to see what new ensembles Via E dreams up (I’m crossing my fingers for a pair of really cute pajamas)! I love that the Via E Alexis fashions are focused on versatility and creativity, and are cute and interesting without being too trendy. I hope the story card idea continues because I think this is an original and clever touch that encourages both creativity and learning.

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Alexis enjoys the scent of honeysuckle blossoms as much as I do!

Alexis is a wonderful doll: original, beautiful, fun, versatile, and durable. She feels like a real person, and has quickly become one of my very best doll-friends. I adore her all her beautiful, special details, and I’ve come to love her friendly, caring smile. Perhaps one of the things that makes her the most special is that she makes me feel happy when I look at her. Even the little things that I wasn’t crazy about at first have become dear to me because they are part of Alexis’ unique individuality.

In short, if I enjoy Alexis this much, I can only imagine what a special friend she would make for a little girl. I know I would have loved her when I was a child! One of the biggest things that sets Alexis apart is that she is supported by a conscientious company providing amazing customer service and focused on positive values and education. As Ellen has said, Via E strives to be more than a company: they are a family. I hope with all my heart that Via E grows and prospers, and I wish them every success. I am so glad to have this special doll in my collection, and to be part of Alexis’ family.