Creative fun

The Night Picnic

Dolls around campfire 2

Who are those figures gathered around a campfire?

One mild September evening, moonlight shines on the quiet waters of a hidden lake. Out of the darkness cloaking hundreds of miles of woods and craggy hills, a speck of light gleams unevenly. As we move a little nearer, we see it is a campfire, built on the rocky shore of the moonlit lake. The flames flicker and leap, throwing eerie shadows across the trees and water. It almost looks as though figures are stirring in the half-light around the fire. Let’s slip a little closer and see….

The water laps gently in the moonlight and the flames crackle...

The water laps gently in the moonlight and the flames crackle…

Yes, now that we’re nearer, we realize we recognize these figures. Why, they’re some of our friends from A Doll’s Picnic! But what are they doing here on a balmy mountain night, instead of snuggling up in bed at home? It looks… yes, it looks as if they’re roasting marshmallows! A perfectly natural thing to do around a campfire, after all. Hmmm… we don’t see a tent; they can’t be camping. Ohhh, of course. It’s a picnic. A night picnic. Picnics don’t always have to be in the day time! Maybe if we settle down here behind this big rock we can watch them without being seen and hear what they’re saying….

“I just heard a fish jump,” announces Jade, glancing toward the water. She’s deftly roasting a marshmallow with one hand and cradling a cup of cocoa with the other.

Maplelea Jenna doll by campfire

“I heard it too,” agrees Sophie, turning her hot dog. “Do you think the fish can see our camp fire through the water?”

American Girl of Today doll #6 Schildkroet doll blonde

“If they do, maybe they think it’s a star that’s fallen and landed on the shore,” suggests Betsy, her hazel eyes twinkling with fun in the firelight.

American Girl doll #55 with marshmallow

“But maybe they can hear us talking,” says Emma. “Stars don’t talk.”

American Girl doll #27 #55 with marshmallows

“Maybe the fish think they do, though,” says Betsy. “What do fish know about stars, anyway?”

Schildkroet doll blonde

“If stars did talk, I wonder what they’d talk about,” muses Amy, sipping her cocoa and carefully turning her marshmallow. “Do they talk about each other? Like, ‘Hi friend! How are things going in your solar system?’ ‘Not so good, pal, I’m getting sucked into a black hole.'” Everyone laughs.

“Paulina, you hang out with astronomers. What constellations are up right now?” asks Merida from the hammock, where she’s hugging a teddy bear and gazing at the sky.

Dolls in firelight

“Well, it’s a bit hard to see the fainter ones when our eyes are dazzled by firelight, but that’s the Big Dipper,” says, Paulina, pointing.

American Girl Josefina doll

“And if you follow the trajectory of the handle over to there, that’s Arcturus. And there’s the North Star.”

Maru and Friends Savannah doll

“The skies are so clear and so dark at night here,” says Merida. “Even with the moon up you can see the Milky Way. I’m grateful to live someplace with such clear skies.”

The other dolls agree, and take a break from staring into the flames to gaze up into the sky at the brilliant first quarter moon and the glittering stars appearing more thickly as the darkness deepens. After a pause, the fire snaps and hisses and everyone jumps and checks their marshmallows to make sure they’re not scorching.

“Your marshmallow is almost ready, Paulina,” says Emma. She’s been roasting two marshmallows, one for herself and one for a friend.

American Girl doll #27 with marshmallows

Paulina thanks her, and then Emma turns to Sharon and Poinsettia, who are talking about famous Canadian astronomers and scientists. “Are you sure you guys don’t want one? I can make another.”

Maplelea dolls Taryn Alexi in moonlight

“No thanks,” smiles Sharon. “We’re fine with the ginger cakes and brownies and sandwiches and apples and oranges.” Everyone laughs again.

American Girl doll #4 with marshmallow

“Why do you think food tastes so good at night?” asks Patience, getting ready to slide her marshmallow off the stick. “I think I like picnics even better after dark than in the afternoon.”

American Girl doll #4 Maryellen in firelight

“Maybe it’s all the energy it takes to build a fire and fend off the night-time monsters,” laughs Millie, sipping her soda.

American Girl Today doll #6 in firelight

“Or all the energy it takes to stay warm,” agrees Sophie. “Though it’s not cold tonight–it’s perfect. It’s practically warm enough for a swim.” Her dark eyes sparkle with daring.

Schildkroet doll blonde with marshmallow

“Oooh, not me,” shivers Paulina. “I’d be certain a lake monster was going to come up and swallow me.”

Schildkroet doll blone with mug

“Me too,”adds Amy, giving her marshmallow one last turn. “I’m glad Ali won’t let us get wet.”

Dolls in firelight

“Speaking of monsters,” suggests Jade mischievously, “does anyone know a good story?”

“One dark night, by a little lake, far from civilization, a group of friends sat roasting marshmallows around a campfire…” begins Betsy, in a mysterious whisper.

The dolls giggle and huddle closer to the fire, listening to the lake water slapping against the rocks in the dark.

Doll camp fire

Happy Autumnal Equinox, from A Doll’s Picnic!

Happy Earth Day! A Surprise Mystery package from Australia!

A Little Mo Surprise Mystery package from Little Mo and Friends!

A Little Mo Surprise Mystery package from Little Mo and Friends in Western Australia!

Did I mention that Etsy is wonderful?

It is! I turned to Etsy recently to find a new notebook. I’m a bit picky about notebooks: I like blank pages, recycled paper, room to write and stretch out in, a small enough size to fit in a bag, and preferably a soft cover or binding (versus a rigid hardcover-type binding). I’ve used various notebooks over the years, my standby of late being the recycled leather Paperthinks notebooks, but for various reasons it was time for a change. My search brought me to a wonderful Etsy shop that hadĀ A Doll’s Picnic written all over it: Little Mo and Friends! Illustration, whimsy, playfullness, imagination, nature, kindness, earth-friendliness… it was all there! Helena Tay, the shop owner and artist, obviously loves drawing as much as I do, but what is even more amazing is that she doesn’t let anything get in the way of her creative spirit. She has even published her own hand-drawn coloring book (she says it took a whole year to ink!)! I truly felt I’d discovered a kindred creative spirit. I love that her stationery line features recycled materials and “clean green printing processes.” This makes it seem especially appropriate to share this sunny burst of creative inspiration for Earth Day. šŸ™‚

There were so many fun goodies to ponder that it was tough to decide, but in the end, I ordered a notebook, a copy of Helena’sĀ Botania coloring book, and a set of pretty stationery. ButĀ I was also delighted and intrigued by theĀ listing for a Little Mo Surprise Mystery Bag. Surprise art goodies in the mail? How could I resist? I addedĀ one to my order as a special inspiration present for myself, and waited eagerly for it to arrive. At long last Saturday’s mail brought me a package all the way from Western Australia! Yay! Here’s a peek at what I found inside:

Look at all those wonderful art goodies!

Look at all those wonderful earth-friendly art goodies!

I was so touched and pleased by how beautifully everything was arranged, how carefully it was gift-wrapped and packaged, and how lovingly the surprises were personalized for me (Helena had even asked if there were any favorite colors, animals or other symbols to help make the surprise package special). The value of the contents of the surprise mystery bag were farĀ over the retail cost of the package, and the whole order just showed so much spirit and heart. Thank you so much, Helena!!

My surprise goodies!

My surprise goodies!

Since this isĀ A Doll’s Picnic, though, and since there are two eager artsy girls here begging to take over this post, I’m going to go brew a cup of tea and hand over the keyboard to Umeko Patience and Mei-mei (all right, all right, quit pushing you two, I’m finishing, here you go!)…

American Girl Just Like You doll #4 Maplelea Friend KMF10

Drumroll… introducing Patience (left) and Mei-mei (right)!

P: Hi! I’m Patience!

M: And I’m Mei-mei!

P: We’re here today to share some wonderful art goodies that Ali bought for us from an Etsy shop called Little Mo and Friends!

M: (There’s a link to the shop nearĀ the top of this page, and here’s a link to her adorableĀ website as well).

P: Anyway, Ali bought us these great art and stationery goodies so that we can share playful inspiration and the spirit of creativity with all our friends and the whole world!

American Girl Just Like You doll #4 Maplelea Friend KMF10

M: Patience, are you sure Ali bought these for us? Didn’t I hear her say when the package got here, “My surprise is here!” ?

P: Details, Mei-mei, technicalities. Everyone knows that whatever makes its way into the house belongs to us dolls. We have the majority, you know, 30-something to 2.

M: Well, if you say so. What should we share first?

P: Let’s show them the stationery. That’s how Little Mo and Friend’s Etsy shop began, after all, says so on her “About” page.

American Girl Just Like You #4 doll Maplelea Friend KMF10

M: You see here the stationery set that was included in Ali’s–

P: You meanĀ our–

M: *ahem*–Surprise Mystery Bag. There are four sheets of violet-blue stationery and four sheets of lilac stationery, and two each of the matching envelopes.

P: All of these adorable pieces featureĀ a hand-drawn illustration created by Helena Tay which is printed on recycled paper using earth-friendly processes!

M: So you can not only be happy about sendingĀ a smile to a friend’s mailbox but feel good about helping the Earth too!

P: Let’s show them the cute envelopes, Mei-mei.

Little Mo and Friends stationary

M: The front of the envelopeĀ features the same illustration as the stationery…

P: …And the back includes a special spot for writing the addresses!

American Girl Just Like You #4 doll Maplelea Friend KMF10

M: Patience, do you think the Post Office will be confused by the different format?

P: I think as long as we write clearly, they will be able to figure it out.Ā The stationery set comes with four adorable stickers, too!

Little Mo and Friends stationary

P: You can use these stickers on the envelopes, in your journal, or use them as temporary tattoos!

M: I don’t know if we should recommend them as tattoos, Patience. We haven’t tried them out that way.

P: There’s always a first time!

M: Nooo… I think we should at least wait until we can ask Ali what she thinks. Should we show them the brooch now, Patience?

Little Mo and Friends brooch

M: This stunningly adorable brooch is created by inserting an illustration of Twig, the Little Mo and Friends bluebird, under a glass cabochon and setting it in antique-bronze-finished metal pin.

P: And it looks stunningly adorable on my spring dress!

American Girl Just Like You #4 doll

M: Just make sure you put it back in its little box before Ali sees you, Patience. You know she hasn’t even tried it on herself yet!

P: Yes, well, she bought it for us dolls, remember?

M: Um…. Anyway, I think the glass cabochon makes the illustration really pop! What a great idea for a piece of original artwork! Worn on a blouse, sweater or bag, this is sure to make someone smile.

P: Well, they’re smiling now, right?

M: Maybe we should move on to the coloring book, Patience, before Ali sees you.

American Girl Just Like You #4 doll Maplelea Friend KMF10

The incredible hand-drawn Botania coloring book!

M: Ali loves coloring…

P: WeĀ all do… dolls have to do something while their people are away, you know.

M: Yes, well, anyway, she’s never before had a coloring book like this! Can you believe how much time this must have taken to draw Patience? Even you couldn’t possibly have that much patience!

P: That’s what makes it so inspiring! It shows how much Helena loves to draw!

American Girl Just Like You #4 doll Maplelea Friend KMF10

M: Which one is your favorite page?

P: This one! I love the little girl lying on a lily pad, watching the swan! That’s me, I think.

M: But, Patience, Helena doesn’t even know you.

P: Well, it certainly could be me. I look a lot like Little Mo, you know.

M: So do I.

P: You’re missing the point.

M: Um… Is that everything?

P: We haven’t showed them the special post card or conversation cards, remember?

Maplelea KMF10 Friend doll

M: These two adorable “conversation cards” were included in Ali’s–

P: You meanĀ our–

M: —Ali’s surprise package. They feature a hand-drawn illustration printed on a single sheet of cardstock, and include a little envelope, so you can write a cheerful message and send them to your friends!

P: Or you can hang them on your door, glue them in your journal, slip them on your dashboard, give one to the mail lady…

M: I think they get the idea, Patience. Why don’t you show them the postcard.

American Girl Just Like You #4 doll

P: This wonderful postcard shares an illustration of Little Mo climbing up to her fanciful tree house!

M: You can also find this same illustration on one of the Little Mo and Friends notebooks sold in the Etsy shop. Is there anything else we should share?

P: I think that’s enough for now. We don’t have a picture of Ali’s new notebook (yes, I know that was meant for Ali, Mei-mei), and it’s getting late.Ā I’m ready for some tea!

M: Until later, then, Happy Earth Day fromĀ A Doll’s Picnic!

Little Mo and Friends brooch