Birthday Party at American Girl Doll Store

So earlier this month Hazel was invited to a friend's birthday party at the American Girl Doll Store Boston. Since the store is at least half an hour away, parents went as well. The party included lunch in the Bistro and having each girl's doll's hair done at the Hair Salon. Hazel of course loved it!! We also thought Nonni (my mother-in-law) would love it, so we made plans for the three of us to go and we figured with my birthday coming up, it would be a fun birthday party. Nonni wanted to splurge for the birthday party option in the Bistro. 

Lunch at the Bistro includes your choice of a starter and the main meal as well as a beverage. The non-birthday party price is $7.50 for a child and $16.00 for an adult. The child gets to bring a doll (or two and they do not have to be American Girl brand) and they have high chairs for the dolls. If a child does not have a doll, they have some to borrow. The dolls get a mug and saucer which the girls get to bring home. For the birthday party, the birthday person gets a special crown and all the dolls get a crown. Plus they bring out a cake and sing to the birthday person. Then they serve the cake with vanilla ice cream. The birthday person gets the leftover cake.  Each child gets a goody bag which differ for different ages, but the young girls includes a celebration tee shirt for the doll, a balloon for the doll and a book and stickers, plus a doll size American Girl shopping bag. The prices for the birthday party are $30 for a child and $20 for an adult. We drove one of the other friends (it was all girls from Hazel's class plus the birthday girl's older sister). The friend we drove did not have an 18-inch doll yet, so we had her borrow one of Hazel's. She picked Mimi. Hazel brought her Hazel doll. 

Now the hair prices range from $10 to $25, but most of the styles are $20 or $25. Having seen what they did and heard advice a few of the stylists gave about the dolls hair, I decided this was something I could do on Hazel's dolls. Her oldest 18-inch doll, Barbie, had a mess of hair. I considered having the hair salon deal with it, but after seeing several posts about how to fix doll hair, I decided to give it a go. I used the tips from All Things with a Purpose: Fix American Girl Doll's Hair Without a Trip to the Doll Hospital. However we had bought the American Girl doll hair brush after the birthday party and I found it did not work well. It broke very easily. However I had a cat brush that was made with metal and love that one. The cats hated it so I don't use it on them. I found soaking the dolls hair when it is really messy and then brushing it out works. I had to resoak Barbie's a couple of times to get right, but it worked. Then I was able to copy the styles they would do to Hazel's dolls. I convinced Hazel that we did not need to spend $25 on a doll's hair and we could instead buy baby clothes to make doll clothes.
I took a selfie for the first time!
Well when you book a birthday party, they send you invitations and thank you notes for the number you say. (They ask you for the largest number of people who will be attending when you book it.) Needless to say, we did not use these. When we were seated they gave both Hazel and me a sticker saying "It's my special day!" and gave me the crown, which Hazel of course wanted to wear. The napkin rings are hair elastics with a pink bow. I put Hazel's and Nonni's on Hazel's pigtails and put my hair up since I forgot to bring an elastic for my hair. Hazel also insisted on bringing all four of her 18-inch dolls. (None of them are American Girl dolls and I have explained to her that all four together cost less than one American Girl doll, so she has decided she would rather have more dolls than a brand one.) 

Hazel brought Hazel and Barbie and she dressed Hazel in the Dolly & Me dress that matched her own. They actually were perfect because the matched the crowns as well. Nonni got to bring Emily a BFC, Ink doll and I got Mimi. Now Hazel and Mimi are Madam Alexander dolls (one from KMart and one from Kohl's post Christmas sale), and I actually like their faces better than the American Girl dolls' plus I love that their chest and shoulders are plastic and not cloth like the American Girl dolls (and Barbie). Hazel of course wanted pictures of her with each pair of dolls. She also was excited that she got four mugs and saucers for the dolls.
We had a lovely lunch. Then it was time for cake. While waiting for the cake, Nonni took our picture, and look I get to wear my crown! I should note that Nonni hates having her picture taken, so she will not be pictured in this post. She does not let me take one usually.

The waitress came with a friend and the cake and sang to me.

Hazel and I blew out the candles and took a picture of the top of the cake. The cake is two layers--one white and one chocolate. They then took the cake and brought us each a slice and a dish of ice cream. The dishes look like small flower pots and each one has a fake daisy in it as well.

I also asked them to give pieces of the cake to the mother and daughter eating next to us since they were not celebrating a birthday and the tables were really close together. We still came home with half the cake. Since it was good cake, we didn't mind and Steve was happy to help eat it. I didn't take a picture of the sliced cake, but here is the fruit kabob starter that Hazel got (and most of the girls at the friend's birthday party). The yogurt was served in the same flowerpot dish with daisy as the ice cream.

We stuck the daisy in Hazel's pigtails and my pony tail. Hazel did not get the yogurt due to her dairy intolerance and instead got an extra fruit kabob. They also gave her raspberry sorbet instead of vanilla ice cream.

After lunch we took a picture of Hazel with her Hazel doll and then she wanted one of me and Mimi. She took this one.

Then we went to show Nonni the Hair Salon and all the dolls and accessories. Nonni of course had to buy Hazel something. After the struggle of getting her to chose one or two things, Nonni saw the price of the two things and decided it would be better to buy just one of the expensive things Hazel loved. She bought her Isabelle's Studio. I explained to both of them that this would be Hazel's Christmas and birthday gifts from Nonni. Hopefully Nonni will stick with it though she never does.
Hazel is loving it and has her Hazel doll sewing all the time now. In fact her (the doll's) sleeping bag is next to the studio so she doesn't have to go far. The only thing Hazel thought it was missing was a pencil to go with the sketch book. This brings us to our craft for today. I made Hazel a doll pencil from a bamboo skewer. I painted the tip black and left some wood color and then painted above it yellow for the pencil. Then I cut it off. After the paint dried I glued on a dot of pink foam and tried to make it look somewhat like an eraser.

Hazel took it for her Hazel doll as soon as she saw it. Before we left the American Doll Store however we got some pictures of the two Hazels with Isabelle.

We had to do it with and without the crowns.

Tomorrow I will share some more doll crafts and some Dollar Tree doll finds. 

For more doll ideas check out:

Pinned it and Did it! Doll Clothes

We have been very into dolls lately and I have been looking at patterns on-line. Now for 18-inch dolls,  Hazel has two What a Doll dolls from Kmart, a BFC doll and a You & Me Doll from Toys 'R Us. The BFC doll is super skinny and an older girl with breasts and jointed everywhere. She came in a bathing suit. The problem being that her straps would get caught in her shoulder joints and then her chest would be completely exposed. I had to make her a dress. I found a simple pattern on Wren-Feathers: Summer Sew-Along Week 7.  She has many great doll patterns on her blog!! Check it out!

I also saw lots of ideas on using baby clothes to make doll clothes.  Since we donated most of Hazel's baby clothes except a few favorite things, we had to purchase some new onsies and a newborn outfit. The first thing we tried was adjusting old baby dresses like the ones I saw at Doll It Up and A Doll for All Seasons. However I started by adjusting one of our favorites of Hazel's baby dresses.  This dress was a 6-9 month size. It had been a gift for Hazel's baptism. I just adjusted the side seams to make it fit the dolls. It is a bit long on them because it was so big, but I didn't want to adjust the length.

Here is Hazel in it as well. I also adjusted the headband so the dolls could wear it.
While shopping we found the cutest newborn outfit/dress. We thought it looked the right size for two of Hazel's baby dolls. 

It fits pretty well except the onsie part underneath is a bit too long, but since you cannot see it with dress, I didn't bother adjusting it or cutting it off.

The final idea we had was to use newborn onsies to make tee shirts like I saw at Nest Full of Eggs. I have not finished the edges yet, but Hazel wanted to use them right away. To make these you simply cut the bottom part of the onesie off. Then finish the edge. 

We also found a pair of 3 month onsies with flamingos on them. I cut the simpler one of them and made a doll night gown. The other one has tulle ruffles it, so I think I am going to try to make it into a dress.

Tomorrow I will share my birthday party at the American Girl Doll Store. Yes, we did it for Hazel, but since my birthday is coming up my mother-in-law went all out for the celebration. 

For more doll ideas check out:

Fairy Tales in Different Cultures: Mulan and the Many Versions

In the beginning of the month, I shared with you a wonderful version of Mulan by Li Jian and Yijin Wert is the translator, which Tuttle Publishing sent me to review. I compared it with the Disney version or at least the movie version. I also found a few other versions of Mulan and thought I would share all of them with you. 

The first version is by Robert D. San Souci and is called Fa Mulan. As all of San Souci's books seem to be it is child friendly and tries to give an overview of the culture the story comes from. In this version she has a younger brother and elder sister, and her family knew she was going to go to war in her father's place. They bid her farewell. She rises in ranks with her victories and becomes a general. At the end of the twelve year war her family is happy to greet her and five of her companions who came home with her. She changes from her armor into her normal female clothes and her companions are shocked to learn that their general is a female. One companion hints at the possibility of a shared furture. 

The next two are the ones I compared at the beginning of the month--Disney's version and Li Jian's version. The next book, Mulan: Five Versions of a Classic Chinese Legend with Related Texts edited and translated by Shiamin Kwa and Wilt L. Idema, has five versions of the story in it. Two are poems and the other three are plays. 

Wild Orchid: A Retelling of "Ballad of Mulan" by Cameron Dokey is a young adult version. I enjoyed this version even though the story was changed from all other forms. In this version, her mother died when she was born and her father stayed away at war for most of her life. He did not return until she was fourteen and girls were usually married at age fifteen in China. She had a male best friend who lived next door (but across a creek). They spent all of their free time together. When it came time for her to learn the female arts and the friend to learn the male things, he taught her how to read, write, ride horses, shoot bows and arrows--all the male things. Her father came home to find her with more male habits than female habits. Her father was injured in the war and had upset the emperor. He is accompanied by his good friend another general. Her father falls in love a few weeks after he returns with a widow who has a hurt driver. He marries her and she becomes pregnant. The draft is announced and Mulan sneaks off during the night so her father does not have to leave his new wife and soon-to-be baby (like he had to with her mother). He is not called back to be a general but is called in the general draft which is a blow to him as well. Mulan sneaks off and when questioned at the camp about her bow and arrow (her father's friend gave it to her), she tells them this and they call his assistant who is her best friend. In this version there are three princes--the emperor's sons--and each commands a part of the army. I am going to leave it there as to not ruin the story by giving all the ending away.

The next two books contain a version of Mulan in them. They seem to be translations of the "Ballad of Mulan". The final book, Mulan's Legend and Legacy in China and the United States by Lan Dong, is not a version of Mulan, but actually looks at the things people have pulled from the story and some of the misconceptions Americans have of Ancient China. This is really a research type of book meant for teenagers or older. For example there are other women in China's history who fought in war. Some names to check out are Xun Guan, Zhu Xiu's Mother, Princess Pinyang, and Lady Liang. This book also goes through how Mulan changes through the different versions and what the image of Mulan has become. 

So that is what I found at my local library on Mulan. It is a mixture of books for children, adults and everything in between. It is interesting to see how one story changes so much when you consider the original written version is only 300 words long.

Be sure to check out our Fairy Tales in Different Cultures page for more fairy tale fun.

Around the World in 12 Dishes: Exploring Ukraine through Food and Craft

With Ukraine in the news so much, it is a perfect time to explore the country through food, books and crafts. It is also a perfect time for lessons with older children about current events and such. Since we do not let Hazel know about current events or watch the news, we looked at tradition, food and crafts. 

Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe and is the largest country that is entirely in Europe. For more information, read the introduction post at Around the World in 12 Dishes. I shared the books we have read and not read about Ukraine. Have you read Jan Brett's The Mitten? I know it is really popular around here and it is the retelling of a Ukrainian folktale.

 We decided to try two different Ukrainian recipes. The first we found in the Ukraine book of the Festivals of the World series.  It is written by Volodymyer Bassis (or Vladimir Bassis--all the sites seem to list both spellings). The recipe is for Strawberry Kysil. Kysil can be made with different berries, but Bassis claims strawberries make the best one.

Strawberry Kysil 
(from Ukraine by Volodymyer Bassis)
2 quarts of fresh strawberries (I am sure you could use frozen)
2 cups cold water
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon potato starch (we used tapioca starch since we could not find potato starch)

1) Wash and hull the strawberries. Put in pan with water and bring water to a boil. Boil on high for a minute then turn down to low and let simmer for 10-15 minutes. I let Hazel use the potato masher while the strawberries cooked to help get the juice out. This makes the next step a bit easier.

2) Push the strawberries through a fine mesh strainer with a wooden spoon. Put juice back in pan.

3) Stir in sugar and bring back to a boil. Boil over high heat for 2 minutes.

4) Reduce heat to medium and stir in starch and dissolve it (Hazel did not do a good job of dissolving our starch so we have chunks in it). Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes stirring until it thickens. 

5) Cool to lukewarm and then put in refrigerator to get cold for a few hours. Enjoy!

Strawberry Kysil is a bit like strawberry soup or eating a liquid form of strawberry jelly. It is delicious but you will not want to much at one time.

Our second recipe came from Ukrainian Classic Kitchen and International Cuisine and it is Ukrainian Yabluchnyy Korzh. Hazel likes to call it what it tastes like--apple pie. It is a type of cookie crust with apples inside. It is delicious!

Ukrainian Yabluchnyy Korzh
Adapted from Ukrainian Classic Kitchen and International Cuisine
5 cups of flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
6 large egg yolks (if I made again I would use whole eggs)
1 cup sour cream

7-8 large apples (we used Granny Smith)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Start by making the dough:
1) Stir together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. then add the butter and mix with your hands (Hazel loved this part) to make a coarse flaky mixture. 

2) In a small bowl mix egg yolks and sour cream together. Then add it to the dry ingredients. Work it with your hands into a firm, smooth, not sticky dough. (Ours never really formed a good firm smooth dough.)

3) Divide dough into 2 pieces, making one slightly larger than the other. 

4) Turn oven on to 375 and grease with butter (we used the wrappers) a 13 x 9 x 2 baking pan. Do not use baking spray to grease.

5) With the larger dough, cover bottom and sides of pan. The instructions say to roll it out, but I found ours was just too crumbly to do this. I pressed it into the pan.

6) Time to start filling. Peel and thinly slice the apples (we used our food processor). Mix with sugar and cinnamon.

7) Add apple mixture to bottom crust.

8) Roll out top crust or pat it on top. Try to seal apples in.

9) Bake for 45 to 55 minutes. It should be brown in color and the apples should be tender to a knife. Set on wire rack to cool for 20 minutes.

10) Now you can attempt to remove the pan (I did not attempt due to the crumbly nature). To remove: Run a sharp knife along the sides and then put a wire rack on top and flip it over. Remove pan and put other wire rack on bottom and flip back the correct way.

11) Serve at room temperature. You can dust it with powdered sugar (we didn't bother). Refrigerate leftovers but bring to room temperature before eating.

Since it tastes similar to apple pie (Steve's favorite dessert), we all love it!

We also have been reading Urkainian stories. We found a Cinderella tale, The Golden Slipper, which we shared last week. We also found many versions of a Christmas tale involving spiders. All the crafts I could find had to do with spiders as Christmas ornaments or pysanky (Ukrainian Easter eggs).
Ukrainskie pisanki
Pysanky Source: By Carl Fleischhauer (Library of Congress employee[1]) 
( [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Since we already posted about pysanky, we made a silver spider web and spider Christmas ornament. We found the instructions in Christmas Crafts from Around the World by Judy Ann Sadler. 

In the Christmas legend, the spider on a Christmas tree spins webs of silver for a poor family who has no money for Christmas. Thus why the ornament is done in silver!
Ukraine's Flag
Now it is time for the Around the World in 12 Dishes Blog Hop! Please visit the other posts and feel free to share any Ukrainian crafts, food, etc. posts that you have done.

Sharing Saturday 14-30

Sharing Saturday Button

Thank you to everyone who shared with us last week and to all who took the time to visit one each other's amazing posts and comment on them! I know I find all the posts so inspiring!! We did not have a most clicked, so I have several categories for the features this week: Planes, Ice and Water Activities and Some of My Favorites. I found it really interesting that there were three frozen paint/chalk methods this week!! I had to feature them!


1) From Life with Moore Babies: Planes Birthday Party

2) From Mama to 5 Blessings: Clothespin Planes

3) From Life with Moore Babies: DIY Foam Aircraft Carrier

Ice and Water Activities

1) From Frogs, Snails and Puppy Dog Tails: Frozen Inspired Ice Chalk

2) From There's Just One Mommy: Colored Ice Painting

3) From There's Just One Mommy: DIY Water Wall

4) From Mini Monets and Mommies: Frozen Art Activity: Science and Colors for Kids

Some of My Favorites

1) From Some of the Best Things in Life Are Mistakes: Blueberry Picking Activities

2) From Every Star Is Different: An All American Summer Unit: The United States of America

3) From Sunshine and Hurricanes: No Sew Patchwork Teepee DIY

4) From The Train Driver's Wife: Cardboard Post Box Play (so much fun for the little ones)

5) From True Aim Education: Reading Around the World: Japan

  Thank you to everyone who shared last week!! I hope you will join us and share again!! If you are featured here, please feel free to grab a featured button to display proudly on your blog. 


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From Your Hostess:
This week I was recovering from our family visit and had a little day trip to Maine to visit friends on vacation. We did manage a few posts however including: a Ukrainian Cinderella, DIY Doll Sandals that can be adjusted to most sizes, Easy Paper Dolls and Clothes and Exploring Watermelon.

Now for This Week's Party  
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2)  Link any kid-friendly, child-centered post. Please no etsy shops or giveaways, etc.  Remember to link to your actual post. 

3) Post the Sharing Saturday button on your sidebar or somewhere on your blog to help spread the word.

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5) If you do not have a blog, but want to share an idea you can leave it in the comments or e-mail it to me with a picture (if possible).

 Disclaimer: By sharing here, you are giving Crafty Moms Share permission to use your photos for features and to pin your craft at Pinterest.

Fruit Exploration: Watermelon with a Quilt

Watermelon always makes me think of summer time. It is so fun to eat a slice in the hot weather. Hazel loves watermelon just like her namesake! My grandmother use to eat watermelon every day and Hazel would love to as well. Needless to say she was excited to explore one. She pulled out her magnifying glass and checked out the rind.
Then we flipped it over so she could explore the inside. She touched both and recorded it all in her fruit journal.

Then of course we enjoyed some sweet watermelon!!
Citrullus lanatus5SHSU.jpg
"Citrullus lanatus5SHSU" by Shu Suehiro - Own work.

Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Did you know that watermelon originally came from the southern part of Africa? Or that it is a berry? It is a berry with an extra thick rind according to Wikipedia. It is loosely considered a melon. It has a smooth exterior usually green and a juicy interior that is usually pink but can be yellow, orange, or white. It contains 91% water and 6% sugar by weight and is high in vitamin C. The rinds are also edible, but most people do not eat them. Although pickled rinds are popular in several places.  (Source) Next to tomatoes watermelon has a high level of lycopene which is important for cardiovascular and bone health. It also contains citrulline which scientists are discovering  new things about how it helps your health. They have also discovered that all parts of the watermelon, not just the pink flesh, are packed with these nutrients. (Source)

We have been enjoying books about watermelons or at least that mention watermelons. Both Watermelon Wishes by Lisa Moser and Icy Watermelon by Sandra Fria have wonderful Latino appeal. Icy Watermelon is in both English and Spanish on each page. Fruits of India by Jill Hartley adds more multicultural appeal. It is a very simple board book. The Pinkalicious book and Ned's New Home only briefly mention watermelons.

For a craft we decided to make a watermelon doll quilt. I found this pattern in one of the children's quilt books I had out from the library, but forgot to write down which one it was before I returned it. Sorry!! I still need to add the seeds to the slices and layer, quilt and bind it, but for now Hazel is enjoying it as a summer cover for her dolls. I am going to use black buttons as seeds. The instructions said black buttons or draw them on with a permanent marker. I loved this square since it was simple and showed an easy method to do half square triangles. The book gave the measurements to cut in three different sizes for the square. We did the small one since she wanted to do multiple squares. Of course when it came time to sew she wanted to play and not sew, so I pieced it on my machine.

We could not decide which fabric to use for the inside flesh, so we used two. The black and white plaid with cats represents a tablecloth. It is truly a perfect summer quilt. I added the watermelon fabric (which I think Hazel may have picked out at some point) to sash and border the squares. 

For more ideas on watermelons check out: