Saturday, March 2, 2024

The Doll Book of the Month Club: Barbie and Skipper Go Camping

   I'm back again. I can't claim to have been busy working on the house, because I haven't gotten nearly as much done with the house as I should have. I have sanded part of the bathroom to get rid of the soot, because it wasn't scrubbing off. But then Ken stole my step ladder. I took down some of the sooty wallpaper. I have been going through stuff in the bedroom and cleaning soot off it. I have cleaned some books and DVDs off that were in there. We've been slowly washing sheets and pillow cases out of the linen cupboard. 

   I have been doing some stuff with family pictures that has taken some of my time. I don't know if you have ever even heard of Shutterfly, but it's a site that prints pictures, etc. I am always fighting with the website because it always has problems. I always swear I'm never going to use it again, but I always do. I was in a battle with Shutterfly the night before last that kept me up until 7AM yesterday morning. I was trying to simply finish up a photo book I had been working on. What should have been a  short job of adding a few last minute pictures turned into Night of the Living Shutterfly. It was a battle to finish before my discount code expired, and I lost. I knew the deadline had passed, but I kept going, hoping it might take the code because I had started before it expired. I tried to get hold of the supposedly 24/7 customer help before the deadline to let them know it was their fault I was about to lose my discount and have them stop it expiring. Of course, they were down for maintenance. 

  I had tried to add pictures to the project, but  it went against my click and added them randomly to the book itself, erasing my previous pictures, not only from the pages, but from the whole project. They all had to be reloaded.! My carefully arranged, chronologically ordered pictures. It happened at least three times. It took forever to even put the book back the way it was, let alone put the new pictures in. 

  I was up so late that I got up super late yesterday. Then I had to get a hold of Shutterfly customer assistance, and tell them my tale of woe, and have them give me that discount. By the time I got done dealing with them, (and to their credit, they did give me the discount I was supposed to have used),  and talking to my sister, I hadn't eaten all day. So I went to make something to eat. Those teeny tiny potatoes should only take two or three minutes in a microwave, right? I cooked them for three to make sure. While that was going, I fed the cats a soft packet of cat food I got at the bin store. The potatoes came to a stop. Then I put cheese on, and cooked them for another minute. The cheese didn't melt, but I had another type too. So I put the second layer of cheese on and put it back in for another minute...then another. The cheese was molten. The plate was so hot I could hardly hold it. The potatoes had to be cooked, right? I trudged back upstairs to the computer because I was supposed to call my sister back on messenger and talk while I ate. But I tried to eat a potato, and they were still as hard as rocks, or, in this case, uncooked potatoes. So I trudged back downstairs to heat them some more. After another 3 minutes I said, 'screw it, I'm eating them if they're done or not', and trudged back upstairs. 

  What greeted me was....well, let's just say the new cat food didn't sit well with somebody. I suspect it was Joey, who throws up every time he eats anyway. Not only that, but he had done his deed in the middle of my bed. It went all the way through the comforter to the blanket below. Only the bottom sheet was still dry. So I took the comforter the the bathroom and shook it off into the toilet. Then I had to rinse the rest off in the sink. Once I moved the comforter to the sink I saw that part of the cat food clump had gone onto the seat instead of in. So once I rinsed the comforter, I had to sanitize the toilet seat, and then the sink. Then I sat down to eat and the boiling margarine on the plate splashed me in the chest when I tried to slice a potato. After I ate I now also had to go into the bedroom and find a blanket or something that wasn't smoke smelling and covered with soot. Not an easy task, but otherwise I would have had no covers last night. Even the sheets and pillow cases in the linen cupboard on the landing are sooty. I found a minimally sooty and smoke smelling blanket and comforter and pulled out some more things to wash today. By that time I was so tired that I just wanted to go to bed. And that's why you didn't get your book yesterday!

  So here is the book for February. It's "Barbie and Skipper Go Camping".

 It's a Whitman Tell-A-Tale book from the 70's. The copyright says '1977 1973', so I am assuming it was first printed in 1973, and reprinted in 1977. The Whitman Tell-A-Tale books were smaller than Golden Books, and aren't remembered nearly as well as them either. I had several of them when I was a kid, and they often had cute stories and nice illustrations. This one has neither really.  

Barbie is a redhead on the cover, but a blonde in the actual story.

It's a fairly predictable story and the illustrations are, well, not my type of art.

Notice the Superstar Barbie logo, and hey! The book actually has an author. It's Eileen Daly.

  There is one thing about this book that kind of interesting though. Look! Barbie really does have parents!

It's a sighting of the rare and elusive Mr. and Mrs. Roberts!

 Now days the story would come off a bit racist. There are some stereotypes going on here. 

  So the kid is a Native. That means he's never heard of a camper? And I bet he was really enthralled by that sleeping bag. They probably don't have those in their TeePees, right Barbie? Geez.

  Skipper comes off as a spoiled brat. So the guy won't loan her a pony and she wanted to have a pony of her own to ride that weekend. Well hey, not his problem. She knew she didn't have a pony when she got there, so stop pouting about it.

  As I said, it's also predictable. Barbie gets to save the day and prove that all 'Outsiders' aren't so bad. Except for Skipper, who has been a total spoiled butt this whole time.

  But of course she gets her pony for the day anyway.

Why does Petie have 5 o'clock shadow?

  I suppose kids might enjoy this book, but should they? I would have been uncomfortable reading it to my kids.  There would have been a lot of explaining and saying how not all Natives use the word Pow Wow, etc. And also how Skipper is a spoiled brat...

  That's the book for February. Most of my doll books are packed away somewhere, but I have a few set aside. Hopefully the March book will be on time.




Saturday, February 17, 2024

Mystery in the Briarberry Woods

   I am still alive. I've been cleaning away soot and trying to get our things unpacked from moving back from Emma's. You accumulate a lot of things in a year, and especially if you are bringing things from before the year started. I had brought a lot of things to Emma's to clean up, or save from the unheated house, and also art supplies for the various things I made while I was there. 

  I feel I am never going to get done with this, and I am feeling daunted by it. I don't know where to start. I got this fortune in my cookie the other week.

I should be, but can I?! I kept it to inspire me, but I think I need more fortunes...

  We also took a couple of days off this week to celebrate Ken's birthday. One of the things he wanted to do for his birthday was go to a bin store, because he hadn't been to one for a long time. We had a few things we needed, including some of that plastic stuff to put on the bathroom window, since the window that came from Lowe's was supposed to be frosted, and wasn't. This might not be such a big problem, if the window wasn't IN the bathtub. Anyway, so that was on our list, along with dog poo bags for my sister, and squeezable treats for her cats. Also, I wanted wallpaper, because we'll have need for a lot of that. So those were all on my list, AND WE FOUND ALL OF THEM! What are the odds of that?!  Okay. The universe let me down a little bit, because the wallpaper was ugly, but it was there! 

Today we are  still getting snow, after a pretty full day of snow yesterday. But it's warm in here now, and we know our boys are not freezing. All three spend a lot of time with us. At night they fight and drive me crazy though.

  Anyway, as I was packing up Ivy's kid books I came across a lot of doll booklets or catalogs. She has some really old American Girl catalogs, a My Twinn catalog, and some booklets that came with dolls. If anybody is interested in seeing the My Twinn and American Girl catalogs, let me know. I can photograph the pages and do a post on those. Today I am showing you a Briarberry booklet. I could have done it as a Doll Book of the Month Club post, but it goes with all the other doll booklets I found in Ivy's room, so here we are.

  Does anybody remember Briarberry? Briarberry was a line from Fisher Price in the 1990's. The line included plush, jointed bears and other animals, old fashioned looking furniture, carded fashions,  and a tea party set, etc. I always thought the bears were cute, and the furniture was really nice. The clothes were nice quality. Some of the dresses and things were made of a heavy velvety velour, as were the cushions to the kitchen chairs. The bears were soft plush, with jointed heads, arms, and legs, and plastic faces with flocking. Through the years I've had, (mostly through second hand finds), the armoire, the canopy bed, the couch/bed, the table and chairs, the tea set, the stove and accessories, and a boatload of the bears of various sizes. I'm pretty sure I sold most of the stuff, but I know I still have a canopy bed in the box, and maybe an armoire, and I came cross some bears in our stuff just the other day. There are probably more somewhere. I don't think I've ever found any of the non bear animals in the wild. They came out later, and maybe they didn't make as many of them. There was a lamb and a bunny, and a dog and a cat.

  Ivy had a Briarberry storybook magazine in her stuff. I don't remember where it came from. I don't know if it was a promotional thing handed out somewhere, but Ivy didn't have any of the Briarberry stuff except a couple of the outfits I got on clearance that she used on baby dolls. So I don't know where she would have gotten it. Maybe it was an insert ion a magazine. Possibly it was an insert in Good Housekeeping or something, because Ken's stepmom used to get that. Anybody else have one of these?

  I'm going to start by showing you the back cover, because there's some information on it. For one thing, the baby bears and the Briarberry Friends, which were the non bear dolls, were introduced in December of 1999.

  There was a website.

  Now for the story. Here's the front cover.

The story is fully illustrated with photo scenes with the toys. 

There's that stove.

  The last page is a big two age spread, so the wording is shown smaller and harder to read. So I have shown it in full, and in individual pictures of the pages.

  The story manages to showcase all the dolls and some of the accessories. Of course, it also shows a bunch of things that weren't available.

  I hope everybody enjoyed this. I have a few more booklets to show you, of other dolls available about the same time as the Briarberries. We'll see those soon. Also, there's a doll show next weekend! I need the fun, but definitely not more dolls. I'll go anyway, and try to show you some dolls, but I promise I'll ask before I photograph them!

Saturday, February 10, 2024

The Doll Book of the Month Club: The Bad Times of Irma Baumlein/Irma's Big Lie

   It's time I caught up a little bit here, and delivered last month's Doll Book of the Month Club entry. It's "The Bad Times of Irma Baumlein", also produced in a Scholastic version as "Irma's Big Lie". 

That's the version I have from when I was a kid. That's the version I read to my kids when they were little. For my refresh to my memory, since I was at Emma's, I used a second hand hardback copy I rescued from the books from the fire. Luckily it didn't suffer any damage, and is in really nice shape.

  Whichever title you want to use, I always liked this book. It's by Carol Ryrie Brink, who  I didn't even realize wrote the famous "Caddie Woodlawn", and another kid's book I read a couple of years ago, just because it looked like the kind of book I liked as a kid, "The Pink Motel". She published her first book in 1934. 'Irma' is one of the last books she wrote, published in 1972. 

The illustrations are by Trina Schart Hyman. Her work was used in a lot of kid's books when I was growing up, so her illustrations always give me a warm, familiar feeling. She illustrated about 150  children's books, and her art included black and white illustrations like the ones in 'Irma', as well as beautiful colour illustrations in editions of  "Snow White", "The Secret Garden", and  "A Christmas Carol".  

  "Irma's Big Lie" concerns a girl named Irma Baumlein. Irma has moved with her father, from her 'cozy' apartment in New York, to the huge Baumlein mansion in another town. 

Irma and her father, (Her mother is finishing painting a mural and is supposed to join them when she's finished.), now live with Irma's grouchy great uncle and deaf great aunt, as well as their two servants.

 Irma's father has come to help his uncle modernize the family department store, founded by Irma's grandfather. The Baumleins are big names in town, but Irma doesn't feel big. She feels lonely as the new kid in school, and in the big house, where her father doesn't have time to talk to her very much, as business and his uncle have been taking all his time.

  Irma makes a habit of trying to look disinterested. But one day, weeks after their move, one of the girls from school strikes up a conversation with Irma, and invites her to her house on the way home from school. She's  a very friendly girl, who explain she has a big family, with a baby, a dog, and a bunch of hamsters. After reeling off all that news she asks Irma, "What do you have?" She wasn't trying to brag, just explain her family. She very likely meant, did Irma have any siblings, or, a dog or cat. But Irma feels pressured to top her, and blurts out, "I have the biggest doll in the world.". Irma doesn't even like dolls, preferring chemistry sets. She has no idea why she said it, but she goes on with the pretense, explaining that the doll can wear her clothes, has hair the colour of ripe oranges, and eyes that are cerulean blue.

  After her lie, Irma feels terrible, and doesn't know why she said it. She wishes she could take it all back, but the lie spreads to all the kids at school. 

  Irma is asked to bring her doll for a fundraising exhibit at school. She can't let her class down, as the class who raises the most money wins a prize. Irma searches desperately for a doll that can pass for the biggest doll in the world. Her great aunt offers Irma her old doll, which is, she says, very large. Irma gets excited, but the dolls turns out to be old and somewhat big, but can no way pass for the biggest doll in the world, and definitely does not have hair the colour of ripe oranges or eyes that are cerulean blue. Irma takes her anyway, and bonds with her great aunt, who obviously loved her doll very much.

  Irma's father mentions that the new shipment of dolls is in at the store. Irma puts together all her money, including birthday money she's been saving, and would rather spend on a chemistry set, and goes off to her great uncle's store. Her search of the doll department is fruitless, but on her way out, Irma sees a mannequin that has been removed from the window, a mannequin the size of Irma, with hair the colour of ripe oranges and eyes that are cerulean blue...and she's standing right by the exit door. You can guess where this is going.

  Irma's experiences with the doll are funny and tense. Does she get it home undetected? Does she manage to get it to school undetected? What happens at the school exhibit? Does Irma's lie get exposed? I won't say. It's an enjoyable book though, with a satisfying, if unlikely ending.

  That's the book for January! I'll be back very soon with February's book, and maybe a doll or two.


Wednesday, February 7, 2024

I'm Back!

   Hi everybody! I'm back! Back to the blog, back to our house, back in spasm... Yes, my back is in spasm. That's why I didn't write this last night when we got our internet back. 

  You see, when we were still at Emma's, we lost internet when she was moving to their new house, (They have bought a house.), and she took the router to the new house. Ken hooked ours up, and he was able to get internet on his computer, but not mine, but only for about half an hour. Then it disappeared and he wasn't able to get it back again. I had my phone, but I couldn't get into my blog on it. So, for weeks now all I've had to communicate on, get emails, or watch anything, has been my phone. That tiny little screen. I don't type well on that tiny keyboard either. So even if I could have gotten into the blog, it likely would have been an unreadable mess, like the email I sent Raging Moon the other day. When we got back in the house a few days ago, Ken couldn't get the internet to work here either. But the Frontier person came yesterday and got it going. Halleluiah! 

    I got over my Covid a while back. Emma thought mine lingered on longer than normal. It was at least two weeks before I could do things without feeling sick and getting unusually tired. But I'm over it now.

  As far as getting into our house, that's been a story and a half too. We had the electricians here. They did some rewiring and set us old people up with a plug in for a washer and dryer in the kitchen, because we are too old for the basement stairs these days. They moved our electrical box, because it was in a bad spot and the previous guy had backed it in a damp basement with a piece of wood! They checked all our circuits, and told us which ones  were okay,  (which was, fortunately, most of them.), and which ones not to use until we get more rewiring done. We got the windows replaced that got knocked and burned out in the fire. Of course, the guys who put the windows in didn't rebuild the frames first, and installed windows into CHARCOAL. That's not going to last in the long run, is it?! Now I have to yell at Lowe's. We got the gas back on, since they had removed the meter while we weren't using any gas, (Why?!) So we got our het on...and the pipes that were apparently frozen and burst, thawed, and all...water broke loose. We were 'lucky' enough to have a water company valve right at our house, so even though we turned our water off, they didn't. So we had to get the plumber out to fix a bunch of leaks, and another plumber who cut holes in our wall and did nothing, and yet another plumber who cut a hole in our ceiling and fixed a couple of leaks. We have been keeping the repair people in business lately. And remember, our mortgage company hadn't paid our insurance, so this is all out of pocket. Yay.

  On the good side, we finally got our cat Arky out of the basement! He had been down there the past year. He wouldn't come up while we were here, wouldn't let anybody touch him. That meant leaving the basement door open, so when we got the heat back on, we were also heating the basement. I got him up to the top step for treats last week, and he took them from my fingers, but he wouldn't let me touch him. Then a few nights ago, he came all the way upstairs, (Not even the ground floor, but upstairs!), and he actually came to me and let me pet him. He started rubbing on me and purring. I got him in the bathroom and shut the door Then I managed to slip out and hobble downstairs and lock the basement door so he couldn't go back down. Then I let him out of the bathroom as quickly as possible so he didn't feel like I was being mean to him when he had finally consented to be petted. But he didn't hold a grudge, and has been cuddling with us ever since the second night or so. He got back in the groove pretty quickly. The three cats have been hanging with us most of the time.

  We have been carrying a lot of stuff, and moving from Emma's, with all those stairs. So, it's been a bit much, physically on both of us. My back finally called it quits yesterday, after a bunch of sweeping and bending over to dustpan it. It started with a bit of a catch, painful, but manageable. Then my back went crazy, so I took a shower before I got to the point where I couldn't. It's a good thing I did, because it only got worse. Our neighbours must have thought somebody was being murdered in here, because I screamed every time I moved. Any time I wanted to turn over in bed, I went to the bathroom too, because I figured if I was going through all that pain, I wasn't going to do it again when I had to go to the bathroom. (You thought I meant I peed myself, didn't you?) I also did a lot of sleeping, and I'm not sure why. And no, I don't have Covid again. I hope.

  So I'm back now. There's loads of work to do here. I scrubbed the bathtub walls and the tub, and cleaned the floor the other day so we could bathe. I still need to clear out the cupboard so we can keep our stuff in there again, and do the ceiling and walls, which are sooty. Up to now most of what I got done was clearing four years of college life and other stuff out of Ivy's room so we can live in here until I redo our room. Our room is blackened, and so is everything in it. At least it's starting to not smell as smokey. I still owe you a book for last month. I had one ready and everything, but no internet! Give me another day or two and I'll get it up. I'll be back soon.

Saturday, January 13, 2024

What an Update

   Guess who has electricity and gas at their house! The same person who also has Covid! And that's me! One thing goes right, and another goes wrong. Add to that the crazy cold spell we are coming into. It's currently 26 degrees Fahrenheit, and due to get much colder. 

  I was the last to get Covid here. I was coughing occasionally, but I never know whether to attribute that to eating things I shouldn't with my LPR. I was getting cold and my back was hurting from the cold quicker than normal on Wednesday. Then Wednesday evening, I wasn't feeling very good, had a backache and headache, and started getting chills. I had a fever I'm sure, even though I didn't check. I just took a hot shower and went to bed, trying to get warm. I chilled all night. The next day I think I got up before daylight and went to the bathroom, then slept on and off until I finally got up to go to the bathroom again at 4PM! Then I napped a bit on and off, and slept all night. Yesterday I had to move some things so Emma could get to her things in the room we've been staying in, to pack them up and take them to the new house. In between I laid down. Today I'm still very congested and tire easily, although I did manage to move a few more things, empty the trash, do the litter box, and sweep the bathroom. That pretty much wore me out. It's very cold, so Cowboy the cat and I are going to nap. Well, I am. Cowboy has started without me.

Saturday, January 6, 2024

Happy Winter!

   Here's a little winter cheer for you all. Meet Suzy Snowflake, and wonder what doll they used. 

Friday, January 5, 2024

Those Doll Related Christmas Gifts I Mentioned

   Hello! I haven't disappeared. We've been getting electrical work done at the house, so we've been there. I'm still clearing up things that were thrown around after the fire. I'm also finding more damage than I thought. We had wonderful pocket doors between the foyer and the living room, and I discovered the other day that they won't pull out any more. Another area of the wall in the foyer has gone from looking fine, to looking a bit bulgey, to the plaster being ready to drop out. At least the lathe is still there, so I think I can plaster that, unlike Fuzz's room, where the lathe has been chopped out. That will have to be drywalled, which I really hate. My sister tells me that I am not capable of plastering, "even if we do have it in our blood". (Our grandpa was a professional plasterer.) All I can say is, I'm going to try to channel Grampa and do it myself, because we can't afford  to have it done.

  As it has been so dark, with no electricity and the windows boarded up, there are other things I come across. With no windows in Fuzz's room for a few days, and the boards that are on them not really sealing the windows up, 'things' get in. We've had at least two birds in the house while we've been out. Ken got one out of the house, but he found a dead one in the basement. (We've had to keep the basement door open, because our cat Arky won't come upstairs, or let himself be caught. He's been down there for a year now! I got him upstairs twice, and since then, he won't come up.) So, what do birds do? Besides singing, I mean. I keep finding more places the birds pooped all over the house. And mice. It's going to be a lot of work when we get back in!

  But enough of that. I said I'd show you my doll related Christmas gifts. Here's the first one. Ken bought me this cute pig ornament when we went shopping at Jungle Jim's, a huge store where they have everything, including foods from around the world.


    Ken also got me this Calico Critters Tea and Treats set.

I want real yard furniture like this.

  Since it's for Calico Critters it's more dollhouse sized than fashion doll sized. It fits Tammy World's brother, Gareth, quite well.

  Not too long ago I showed you some Smiskis. Ken got me three.

One of them was an adult and a baby Smiski.

They glow in the dark, and they do it much better than the Boo Berry he also got me.

Emma got me this Alice in Wonderland Tea Party set by Re-Ment.

  It's not the whole tea party. You buy it in pieces. I got the set with the rabbit.

She also got me a World's Smallest Scrabble. I already have two, but I didn't want to tell her that. Maybe I can trade one for a different game at some point.

And Emma also got me an actual working mini Rubik's Cube type puzzle.

And this mini mini golf set.

And in non doll related news, she also got me tickets to see an Alice in Wonderland ballet in February.

  Ivy was making something for me, but it isn't finished yet. But she brought me my other gifts: three Miniverse Make It Mini Food sets.

There were two pumpkin pie ones. Ivy didn't know they said what they were on the label. That's okay though. You can have two pumpkin pies.

There was also a coffee set. I'll pretend it's chocolate milk. I hate coffee.

The packages were decorated with Halloween things.

Oh, Emma also got me this mini box set, with mini labels and packing tape.

  The set of boxes comes from Temu, because I liked it when I saw it on there. I wouldn't buy it though, because it was one of those things I reacted to with, "I  could make something like that."

  My sister got me this cute tiny turtle, because, how cute is this guy?

  And of course you already saw the amazing hand made Pee Wee Herman doll my sister made for me, and the cool 11" Pee Wee doll that she bought for me, and the Muppet Christmas Carol Gonzo, and the Made to Move Barbie Ken got for me. I am hoping to get back into our house sometime this month, but it's a race. Our windows are supposed to be installed on the 23rd. Yay!