Annabel

This summer I finally bit the bullet. I have stared longingly at ever BeForever Samantha since she was released. I have a Samantha, my very first doll in fact, but she’s an infuriating blend of “old” and “not actually my childhood doll.” As a teenager, I sent my PC 1994 Samantha to the doll hospital because her hair was a total rat’s nest. She came back with an early Mattel head which has faded over time. So I lack the total attachment to her I ought to have with my childhood doll, but there’s enough attachment there that I haven’t found myself able to just get rid of her! The thought seems beastly. It just seems so unfair to pass her along or stick her in the closet when she’s the doll who started it all, the doll who’s stuck with me all these years, even if its not her true head…

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Yes, I’ve thought about hunting down a 1994 Samantha on eBay. But that would still leave me with the question of what to do with this Samantha. I’ve debated this back and forth for like two years by this point, and this summer saw someone getting rid of their BeForever Samantha at a steal. So I brought her home and figured I’d decide what to do with her once I had her in hand. Maybe the old doll would get rewigged as a different girl and this girl would become Samantha. Maybe having the new girl would awaken an appreciation in me for the old. Maybe I’d love the new one so much I could retire the old one to the closet until I decided what to do.

Well, perhaps unsurprisingly, the nostalgic collector in me won out. After a couple months of continuing to debate, and trading their clothes, and trying to force myself to make a call… everyone stays. Old Samantha maintains her reign as old Samantha. BeForever Samantha just looks too shiny and modern next to my old Nellie doll. She and Nellie were… a bit stiff with each other, to be honest.

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But BeForever Samantha can’t go either! She’s one of the dolls I most like to just stare at. She’s so pretty. She actually instills a strong childhood nostalgia in me, perhaps because as a little girl I switched my Samantha back and forth in time with ease. So I decided to make her a sort of representative of my childhood after all. I briefly thought about actually making her a 90s doll and dressing her in only the clothing I remember seeing in the American Girl catalog as a kid… but let’s be honest, the 90s were not a prime time for fashion. While I would kind of love a quirky, spunky 90s doll, this doll felt to dainty and pretty to be forced into that roll.

So instead… she’s just a sort of stand-in for young me. She likes the things I liked as a child –writing, gymnastics, reading Animorphs, etc. I dress her in whatever the hell I want. Personality-wise, she’s creative and bossy and out-going like I was.And she makes me happy to look at, like some little innocent, uncomplicated part of my childhood got preserved through this doll who didn’t actually live it, unlike my beat up old Samantha who shows her stains and scars, haha.

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And she’s named Annabel, not only because I would have found a haunted doll fascinating as a kid, but because my mom always called me Jessica Annabel when I was being goofy, even though my middle name is only Anne and I go by Jessa now.

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Happy (Belated) Birthday, Samantha!

Ok, yes, I missed Samantha’s birthday. I’m so buy lately it’s hard to keep up with the blog –I’m actually behind on posting even sewing pictures! But this is supposed to be a no-stress space so I’m not too worried about it.

Still, I couldn’t let an excuse to post some pictures of Sam pass me by. I received Sam for my 7th birthday, my very first American Girl doll! She was a faithful companion in my younger years, but then as a teenager I made a terrible mistake and got her head switched because her hair had become a rat’s nest! Well, I didn’t know any better. Now I’ve been really tempted to get a BeForever Samantha since my Sam’s head isn’t her original head anyway, and just replace the body (because her body is so stained and squishy and that feels like my childhood!) Or, who knows, have TWO Sam’s? Is that crazy?? Well, it’s not currently in the budget, so moot at this point, haha.

Anyway, I’ve blogged about Sam so much so here are just some pictures. Happy birthday, old girl.

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Happy Birthday, Kit!

Oh Kit, cutest of the cute, Happy birthday!

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My mom and I have been trying to figure out definitively when I got my Kit. We’re pretty sure I got her for Christmas in 2003 (when I was 15), although my mom thinks she had only been out about a year, which would have put it at Christmas 2001 (when I was 13). I know I’ve seen a picture of that Christmas morning with her somewhere at my moms house, but I’ll have to dig next time I’m home, and that would confirm.

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Here are some more clues: I have film photos I took of her with my other dolls. I got my first digital camera for Christmas when I was 15, but I have no digital pictures of dolls. So probably that makes it more likely it was 2001.

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I can still name everyone in this photo except that fairy doll to the left! And Sam, that outfit is scandalous!

And that would actually make sense too because I learned about this tagging inside the shoulder that the earliest Kit dolls had. Mine has one of those tags that reveals she was made August 2000. That would have been a long time for a doll to see unpurchased! So maybe we can safely say I was 13 when I got Kit, and she was my last doll for about 12 years. Yes, looking now at the picture I have of Kit from way back when, this does not look like the work of a 15 year old (to be fair, I was babysitting a young cousin this day, but Kit’s outfit looks like the work of a young me.)

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I know exactly what drew me to Kit. Her hair cut was adorable, she was the same era as my Grandma, but better than all of those, she was a writer! A journalist! A tomboy! Kit’s character is great in the books. She manages to endure some pretty rough things as a kid in a pretty realistically upset but adaptable way. She gets into shenanigans (uh, let’s not forget she spent a night in JAIL) but never really veers into selfish or bratty territory. She means well and is sorry when she goofs. She certainly pushes against what I’d allow a kid of mine to do… definitely not letting her run off to any camps unsupervised…

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Kit’s collection is massive and to be honest, I’m not crazy about a lot of her newer stuff. Lots of pastels and pink when Kit was very much not a fan of pink. Not to mention that But she’s got some of the cutest furniture and accessories, and some of her outfits are adorable! The tanking quality of AG isn’t her fault, of course.

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I’m sorry that Kit caught me on the way into my doll dryspell but it does mean she managed to stay in perfect condition except for some loose limbs I had to tighten. Those blond eyebrows get lost in photos so someday I may darken them. But she’s got her rosy blush and everything. I know little girls may not always be a fan of her short hair but it’s so cute and stylish and unique among the dolls. To this day, I still love her and am not surprised I chose Kit as my third doll.

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Happy birthday, Kit! Thanks for being a writing buddy for many years now.

Final Doll Group Photos

I don’t mean final ever but good god I am not doing this again until I have a house with a doll room and can make some proper risers and set up my lighting kit and do the whole thing in stages. Also because, to be honest, looking at my collection as a whole makes me both happy and guilty. I have SO MANY dolls, and it feels selfish when we’re saving for a house and have a kid and all that. Doll collecting is such a luxury and I’m grateful for the time and money I’ve been able to put into mine. I try not to let myself feel too guilty.

Ok, more than guilty, I feel tired and lazy. Taking aaaall the dolls out of the dollhouse and getting them aaaaall set up at varying heights and checking aaaaall their hair and skirts and then making sure they’re aaaaaall facing the camera and then putting them aaaaaaall away… it takes forever!  have so little time for this.

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So anyway, here they are:

IMG_1478Now, I know what you’re thinking. This is the most POORLY laid out photo of a doll collection that has ever existed. They are at all sorts of different, weird heights. The photo can’t be cropped so you can see my kid’s toys and dog toys to the side. There’s a shadow cast by me and a shadow cast by the window shade so the girls in the back are 7 miles away and blocked out by the light?

You know what? Too bad. 🙂 This is all I had time for and I’m not redoing it. Do you know what a time-consuming thing it was to even construct this awful photo? My photo teachers from college are turning over in their beds (not their graves! I’m not that old!)

So I was unhappy with the photo but not about to set them all up again to redo it. Instead, I decided a more manageable way to photograph my collection for now was in clusters. Ok, also I’m just a big nerd and I like categorizing things a LOT and I’ve made enough lists just writing out my dolls’ names in the past few weeks to look crazy, so this was an excuse to do something dorky.

Now, don’t be prepared to be amazed just because I decided to do smaller group photos. These photos are still TERRIBLE. But you try photographing a collection of like 34 dolls with a toddler who’s cutting his molars. It is not easy!

First, the fantasy girls: Kestrel, Evelyn, Delaney, Tinuviel, and Eirlys.

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Then the 18th century girls: Kaya, Felicity, Vivienne, and Rosie.IMG_1480

Now the photos get even worse than standing on a blue towel. The 19th century girls: Josefina, Jemima, Caroline, Kirsten, Addy, and Gracie. (First, did you know I was almost named Jemima? I’m disappointed. It’s cute. Second of all: YES, I am trying YET ANOTHER doll for former-Ellen-then-Deirdre-now-Grace.)IMG_1505

What’s that? You miss shadowy pictures? Ok here you go! 20th century girls: Samantha, Nellie, Rebecca, Odette, Kit (whose eyebrows get totally lost), Bea, Emily, Molly (who needs her bangs cut), Maryellen, Nina, Meldy, and Ivy (who refuses to look at the camera). Also my dog Watson’s face because he refused to move away.IMG_1527

And finally, the modern girls. I don’t think i was even trying at this point. It looks like someone sneaking a cell phone picture on a closed movie set. Uh well. Here’s ???, Parisa, Margo, Flora, Leyla, Lenore, Sorah, and Kanani. Top left girl needs a name. Kanani has dark hair since this picture was taken mere days ago. And Margo and Flora have both been contemplating some time travel lately, so we’ll see what happens with them. IMG_1531

Ok, whew. We can all agree those are terrible pictures but there’s the fam and let’s not do this ever again*.

*Ever being until we get our house like I’m dreaming of and I have a dedicated doll room because I’m an overgrown child who refuses to buy a house that doesn’t have enough space for a dedicated doll room. 

Pajama Party

I forgot to post this in January, but that’s the month each year I put my dolls in their PJs. For me, it’s because January is the worst month –the holidays are over, it’s cold and dark and snowy, and I’m always in a slump. This year wasn’t so bad, since my kid kept me hopping, but it still made me warm and snuggly to see everyone looking cozy in their jammies.

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Merry Christmas from the family

In chronological, meandering order with some modern girl bookends:

Tinuviel, Evelyn, Delaney, Kaya, Rosie, Felicity, Vivienne, Caroline, Josefina, Ellen, Kirsten, Addy, Samantha, Nellie, Rebecca, Kit, Molly, Emily, Nina, Maryellen, Melody, Ivy, Kanani, Flora, Lenore on the right, and Margo on the left!

I wasn’t going to do a full family photo, especially because I’m about to get a new girl (yikes) and because I’ve hit the point where full family photos feel… I don’t know, sort of braggy? Or they at least leave me feeling a little bit overwhelmed with how big my collection has gotten I think 20 dolls was the point to me where I went holy cow, I’ve got a lot of dolls. As you’ll see, I’ve made some changes, tucked some dolls away (sorry, Peter!) There will always be dolls I love and want, but I think after I get the new goty, new dolls are going to have to wait for a good long while. I am very, very fortunate to have added so many girls to my family and yes, I’ve been collecting for a long time (I got Samantha 21 years ago!) I think I’m at a good point to sit back and enjoy all the beautiful girls I have!

Photographing this year was pretty difficult as it’s been raining all week so what little light I usually have was even worse than usual, and my phone camera was doing a poor job.

And of course one of my trusty sidekicks helped oversee the photoshoot, made sure everyone was looking where they were supposed to, stitched up any wardrobe malfunctions…

Preparation… yowsa.

Instagram

I started a dolly instagram to post one-off pictures of things I’m working on or what doll I’m hanging out with. It’s silly, but it’s fun. Except I didn’t realize there’s no way to totally divorce it from my normal instagram, so a friend from high school followed it and who knows how many other family and friends saw it. I don’t keep my doll habit secret, but I wouldn’t be broadcasting to family and friends quite the depth of it…

Anyway, I had to make my account private, which is disappointing but at least I can still post and follow other doll accounts. Feel free to follow me! My username is pepperminttwisted and I’d love more dolly followers!

Also, to not go a post without a picture, here’s Samantha watching the dreadful election with me. I redid her make up to talk myself out of getting a BeForever Samantha (I just can’t warrant the money; I’m on a STRICT dolly budget, so Mary Ellen will be my reward for my Christmas bonus and that’s it for me for the rest of the year.) I’m liking it!

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