Monthly Archive: April 2015

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 had¬†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. ūüôā

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’s¬†Botania coloring book, and a set of pretty stationery. But¬†I was also delighted and intrigued by the¬†listing for a Little Mo Surprise Mystery Bag. Surprise art goodies in the mail? How could I resist? I added¬†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 far 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 is¬†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 near¬†the top of this page, and here’s a link to her adorable¬†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 mean¬†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 feature 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 sending¬†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 envelope¬†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. 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: We¬†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 mean¬†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.¬†I’m ready for some tea!

M: Until later, then, Happy Earth Day from¬†A Doll’s Picnic!

Little Mo and Friends brooch

 

Plum blossoms and Etsy goodness for Mei-mei

Maplelea KMF10 friend doll

Meet Mei-mei (Maplelea Friend KMF10)

Happy Monday from A Doll’s Picnic!¬†I’d like you to meet Mei-mei, my newest Maplelea doll! Mei-mei loves all things spring-time, from the earliest crocuses pushing their way through the snow, to long, late-spring afternoons and ducklings swimming in ponds. She especially loves cherry and plum blossoms, which is what she’s named after (to the best of my knowledge, Mei can mean both “beautiful” and “plum” in Chinese). I hope to officially review Mei-mei sometime later in the spring, because she’s a truly gorgeous and unique doll. But I have several other doll reviews to write first, so meantime I’d like to share one of the spring outfits I found on Etsy recently, purchased with Mei-mei in mind.

Mei-mei has a lovely light latte-colored skin tone which contrasts strongly with her dark eyes and nearly black hair. To me her coloring¬†really comes alive in cool spring tones and strong contrasts. Frustrated with the limitations of my doll family’s wardrobe (mostly modern and historical American Girl gear), and wanting to find something that would suit Mei-mei’s sweet, feminine, springtime spirit, I turned to Etsy. I was especially hoping to find outfits or dresses that featured a plum or cherry blossom print or motif. I was beyond excited when I discovered this adorable ensemble made by Jazzy Doll Duds! Not only does it feature a plum blossom print, it was an affordable price! Maybe it’s because I’ve been looking at American Girl catalogs too long, but Etsy prices are a breath of pure spring air. Yay!

Maplelea Friend KMF10 doll

Simple, feminine, chic.

This ensemble features a tunic-length short-sleeved blouse in crisp cotton, a matching headband, and ivory knit leggings/pants. I added the Maplelea sandals, and Jean, the lovely Jazzy Doll Duds shop owner, added the cute bracelet and necklace as an unexpected surprise (thank you Jean!).

Plum blossom print and gathered waist.

Plum blossom print and gathered low waist.

The print and colors on this blouse are fabulous. I love the pink buds and pale, nearly-white blossoms. The flowers are edged in glittering gold, which sparkles¬†in the sunlight. The rich maroon or damson background looks beautiful on Mei-mei’s winter/spring complexion.

Maplelea Friend KMF10 doll

The gold details match the fun doll jewelry!

I also love the style of the blouse. The gathered elastic low waist forms a soft, feminine silhouette, which is echoed by the gathered neckline and sleeves. The waist can be pulled down lower over the doll’s hips or pushed up a bit to create a¬†blouson look.

Maplelea Friend KMF10 doll

Stopping to smell the hyacinths.

The sleeves can also be adjusted into longer or shorter puffs, which is fun:

Short and scrunched up...

Short and scrunched up…

... or slightly straighter.

… or slightly straighter.

The headband is beautiful, and looks lovely holding back Mei-mei’s sleek bob.

Maplelea Friend KMF10 doll

I hear a goldfinch singing….

Maplelea Friend KMF10 doll

The leggings are not skin-tight like the ones American Girl is making these days, so they are a little more like casual pants. I think they look very elegant with the darker toned tunic (the ivory coordinates with the color of the blossoms).

Maplelea Friend KMF10 doll

Capri-length on a Maplelea doll.

This outfit fits both American Girl and Maplelea dolls (though so far Mei-mei has kept it all to herself). The leggings will look just a tad longer on an American Girl doll, but the stretchy waist of both the blouse and the leggings will work fine on either type of doll (American Girl dolls and Maplelea dolls have similar torso measurements).

Maplelea Friend KMF10 doll

A classy outfit for a beautiful girl.

Mei-mei is as thrilled as I am with this elegant and classy spring outfit, and says it is just the sort of thing for a spring outing in a park or garden. ūüôā

Maplelea Friend KMF10 doll

Stopping to smell the daffodils, too….

I love how the print is both striking and delicate, with an eastern aesthetic¬†that harmonizes with Mei-mei’s ethnic background.

Maplelea Friend KMF10 doll

I am so excited to have discovered the trove¬†of handmade doll outfits on Etsy! I’m looking forward to¬†sharing more Etsy treasures here on A Doll’s Picnic¬†in the future.

Maplelea Friend KMF10 doll

Mei-mei says to soak up some spring sun!

Have a happy and creative start to your week!

Dresses for Spring: Part 2

 

Spring is here, and so are the new American Girl spring dresses! My first thought when the latest American Girl Beforever fashions and Limited Edition sets debuted was they’re pretty, but they’re really expensive. However, I knew I would sometime¬†need to have that pink travel coat and hat for my Beforever Samantha doll, Maribel Pollyanna. It was just so¬†her. And though I wasn’t sure about Samantha’s¬†Special Day dress at first, when I saw a close-up review I was hooked (it’s the shoes, folks). And then my new-used eBay Marisol doll, Romola, has been whispering to me for the past three months that she’s really the¬†dressy type (and I have mostly jeans and tee-shirts). And then there were Kit’s overalls–overalls!!! Soooo… when I got wind of American Girl’s spring sale and free-ship deal last month, it was pretty clear to me that now was the time. And the great thing is that with the sale and free shipping the cost of each set was much closer to¬†what I consider “reasonable” for an American Girl doll outfit. I even got Kit’s Chicken Keeping Set, which was on backorder and hasn’t arrived yet. (I just got news this week that it’s on its way too. Yay!).

As soon as I saw that review of Samantha’s Special Day dress I knew I was getting it for my adorable eBay love, Umeko Patience. And I was not deceived. It looks incredible on her.

My pictures don't do it justice, however.

My pictures don’t do either it or her justice, however.

The soft, cool minty aqua green with the pink flower sprig print is just right for her winter/early-spring complexion.

American Girl Just Like You doll #4

Tell me that’s not a pretty doll.

The femininity of the delicate lace, bell sleeves, and pin-tucking is just right for her mixture of sweetness and piquancy.

American Girl Just Like You doll #4

It’s hard to get those pin-tucks to lay just right though, especially if you pull¬†the front up¬†into a slight¬†blouson look.

The pink ribbon sash and hair decoration are crisp and showy enough to satisfy the romantic in me.

American Girl Just Like You doll #4

Gorgeously pretty details.

There’s even a big pink bow that ties in back:

American Girl Just Like You doll #4

And both Patience and I¬†adore the shoes. They’re not just shiny faux-patent mary janes. They’re not even just red or pink faux-patent mary janes. They’re¬†dusty rose faux-patent mary janes with¬†bow details, and they will look amazing with many dresses, and we’re in love.

American Girl Just Like You doll #4

A+ American Girl!

I don’t know if you can tell, but I am in love with this outfit. In fact, this may be my favorite doll dress to date,¬†ever. Some dresses look just okay in stock photos but come to life in person, and this is one of them.

Showing off.

Showing off.

Romola Mariana is just as thrilled with her new spring dress, the Shimmer & Lace Party Dress. One great thing about having a variety of dolls is they don’t all have to be just like me. I don’t usually perk up about cute modern lacy party dresses, but Romola sure did, and now I’m glad!

American Girl Marisol doll

Model-in-training.

This is the kind of dress that will look pretty on almost every doll. First of all, peach is a sort of universally flattering color. Then it’s just so frothy and feminine.

American Girl Marisol doll

This dress features a stretchy mesh yoke around the neck and shoulder area, while the bodice is lined with peach colored knit. The skirt has an asymmetrical waistline, which I’m not usually crazy about but for some reason am finding very tasteful here.

American Girl Marisol doll

The skirt is two layers; the top is embroidered lacy mesh overlay, and the underneath is the stretchy peach knit fabric hemmed with a mesh ruffle.

American Girl Marisol doll

I actually love the pretty little flower decoration on the waistline. And I’ll admit it, I like the large sequins sewn into the lace overlay fabric, as well. When I saw the stock photos I wasn’t sure I’d like the lace wholeheartedly… it seemed like it might be a bit¬†busy. But I do like it; it’s very frilly, but for me, it stays just on this side of tasteful.

American Girl Marisol doll

Need I say more?

The sandals are another case of American Girl shoe perfection. These may well be my favorite pair of sandals ever, too.

American Girl Marisol doll

This outfit also includes a very small rhinestone barrette for Romola’s luxuriant hair. It’s too small to do much practical good, but it’s very pretty, if you like that sort of thing (Romola does).

Just because she can.

Just because she can.

All in all, Romola feels like a princess in this dress and looks like a bowl of whipped cream, which makes both of us happy. ūüôā

My girls are usually pretty happy to assert their independence from their American Girl character prototypes, but occasionally they stick a bit closer to the script. Maribel Pollyanna feels¬†a lot like Samantha to me, and so far she’s been happy to stay with Samantha’s Beforever wardrobe. I was very excited about the elegant pink travel coat, and¬†she was excited about Samantha’s Flower Picking Set. Turns out it’s another one of those dresses that improves upon acquaintance (and the fabric tulips in the basket are pretty cute, too).

American Girl Beforever Samantha doll

Some things are just meant to be.

First things first. This. Coat. Is. Adorable.

American Girl Beforever Samantha doll

I love all those seams!

I love the cut, the collar, the construction, the color… I only wish those buttons were fabric, rather than plastic (ugh).

American Girl Beforever Samantha doll

Look at that beautiful construction.

And the hat was a pleasant surprise. My dolls don’t usually stay in their hats long, but this one is going to be often worn.

American Girl Beforever Samantha doll

Did anyone say Easter Parade?

It’s just so… yes! Well done, American Girl. The hat is bendy, too, not brittle, so I don’t have to be afraid of crushing it (and you can also play around a bit with the shape of the brim).

American Girl Beforever Samantha doll

This girl is ready to go!

As pretty as Maribel looks in her coat and hat, I think she might look even sweeter in just the dress.

American Girl Beforever Samantha doll

Betsy Ray, watch out!

The high modest neckline and three-quarter sleeves suit her, the lace is gorgeous, and the print is simple and sweet.

American Girl Beforever Samantha doll

The V waistline is very attractive, and it’s cut from a berry-colored satin, which matches the pretty decorative bow.

American Girl Beforever Samantha doll

Which in turn matches the hairbow. Wish they’d let me tie it on her hair myself, instead of sticking it to a scrunchy, though….

American Girl Beforever Samantha doll

So pretty on her glossy waves.

The only thing I’m not thoroughly thrilled about, is the boots. They’re alright, I guess, but I wish they’d kept the real buttons from¬†Samantha’s¬†pre-retirement two-tone boots. I’m tired of Velcro on boots. I even prefer Rebecca’s and Marie-Grace’s/Cecile’s boots to this design.

American Girl Beforever Samantha doll

Fake buttons. Oh well.

My girls are so pleased with these dresses… and when Maribel, Patience and Romola decide to share, their sisters will be eager to try them on too! Well done, American Girl! Spring is off to a good start. ūüôā

American Girl dolls in spring fashions

Happy Spring! Happy Easter! Happy April!

Happy Spring (and Easter!) from¬†A Doll’s Picnic!