Junk Drawer Projects for American Girl Dolls

Right before Christmas last year, a coworker very generously gave me three American Girls dolls that had belonged to her when she was a child. I was awestruck by this gift; she was apologetic that they weren’t in “the best shape,” and I asked over and over if she was sure she wanted to part with them, interspersed with a whole bunch of “wow”. It was an awkward exchange, at best. North Dakotans are so weird.

The dolls were beautiful and in excellent condition, considering their age and the obvious love they had endured. All they needed was a good hair treatment just in time to make it under the tree for Christmas.

A cursory internet search informed me that this American Girl thing is an obsession, with websites dedicated solely to American Girl DIY projects, YouTube channels made by mother/daughter teams with thousands of followers, doll clothing that costs more than my grown-up clothing, plus books, movies, and accessories for days. It’s a sight to behold.

And I can’t afford any of it.

Or more accurately, I cannot afford to invest in it without first testing the obsession level on my kids.

So I did what all good Makers do – I improvised.

Scraps of paper, toothpicks, felt pieces, a compact from the dollar store,and a variety of other miscellaneous items, and, VOILA!, I had doll accessories!

Notebooks, Clipboard, and Pencils

Notebooks are made of small bits of scrapbook paper with lined paper inside, held together by a single staple in the middle. Clipboard is a thick piece of chipboard, a sticker, and a tiny binder clip. Pencils are toothpicks cut in half and colored with Sharpies.

Writing Instruments in a Box

This writing set is made of toothpicks cut in half and colored with Sharpies. Box is a simple origami box. It also has a lid to keep the tiny writing instruments contained.

The Lunch Box

My favorite junk creation is this lunch box from an Altoids tin. I covered the outside of the tin with cute tape, then filled the inside with tiny food. Food comes from a set of miniatures and dessert-shaped erasers, food buttons and a delicious-looking sandwich made of make-up foam and felt.

The Doll Computer

This is my kids’ favorite creation – the doll computer. It is a small make-up compact with the make-up removed. I did an image search for a computer screen and keyboard and played with them until I got the size right. The compact is painted black and the computer images are decoupaged; a few stickers complete the look.

I spent exactly $1.08 on the compact at the dollar store because I wasn’t ready to sacrifice my Mary Kay compacts, but the rest of the items were scavenged from around the house.

Here are a couple of other tips I’ve learned to make American Girl more affordable:

  1. Don’t be fussy about the American Girl brand. Joann’s sells 18 inch doll clothes, sometimes on sale for 40-50% off, but there are always coupons if the clothes are not on sale. (Coupons cannot be used on sale items.)
  2. A lonely sock can be fashioned into a no-sew dress for an American Girl doll. If you cut it just right, you can also get a pair of underwear and a matching headband.
  3. Have the kids ask for doll clothes or doll accessories for Christmas or birthdays and let someone else pick up the tab.

Help me think of some low-budget, no budget ideas in the comments below!

 

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Classy Winter Centerpiece

Everybody! I have put together a Pinterest-worthy centerpiece.

I didn’t bedazzle the whole table like a true Pinterest godness, but I’m OK with that. I mean, honestly, I’m sitting at the table eating Cinnamon Toast Crunch, not prime rib.

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And it was easy. And cheap. I bought a red glitter cake stand from the Target dollar section and a plastic silver charger for $2.50. The candles and trees were on clearance at Joann’s for less than $5, and I had the rest of the stuff on hand. The goblets are my grandmother’s from her Avon collection, the jingle bells were in the kids’ craft box, the wagon was hanging on the tree, and I found the antelope in my son’s large collection of tiny animals.

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I ditched the original top of the cake stand and drilled a hole in the charger instead. A little hot glue protects it from kids who can’t keep their hands off anything.

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I seriously impressed myself with this centerpiece. Mediocrity is my usual benchmark.

Merry Christmas from The Lunch Hour Gardener!

 

 

Something New! Advent Printable Cards!

I wanted to share a little something that is going on behind the scenes! I’ve started another blog, affectionately titled Bad Mister Kitty!! My new site is just that – new, and not a replacement for this one. I will continue to post here also.

Bad Mister Kitty will be featuring original artwork, art and craft ideas, mandalas, Zentangle, coloring pages, and other printables.

You can connect with Bad Mister Kitty on Facebook and Twitter, too.

My platform is (a little) larger on The Lunch Hour Gardener, so I wanted to share my newest creation here to jump start a following on Bad Mister Kitty. I have created a free pack of 25 Advent cards to print and use during December that unravels the marvel and the mystery of Jesus leading up to His birth.

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Go here to get the free printable cards and start your Advent journey with me on December 1st.

Print a set for everyone you know and share it, then join up with Bad Mister Kitty in whichever way suits you best.

There’s also a pretty cool Zentangle turkey over there to print and color.

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Send a comment and let me know how you plan to use the Advent Cards this Christmas season.

Christmas Blessings,

The Lunch Hour Gardener ~~ Also Known As Bad Mister Kitty

 

Fun With Altoid Tins

Do you ever save certain items, knowing they have a destiny but unsure of what it is? If so, welcome to my world of beads, buttons, fabric, anything tiny, empty pill bottles, vintage jars, and, yes, Altoid tins.

I found many a cool idea for Altoid tins on Pinterest, most above my skill set, so my tins sat in wait until inspiration hit me, which of course, it did, as Easter basket season approached.

I’ll spare you the long process of how these finally came together, but I daresay it involved many an hour on Etsy looking for the perfect miniatures to fill them, only to realize I already had everything at home in the dollhouse and Lego bins. I am a horrible minimalist sometimes.

The first tin has four tiny Lego cars, four tiny Lego people, a tiny train, and a road scene folded up inside. I painted the outside of the tin black with roads and parking spaces.

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The second tin is an idea I’ve been cooking up (see what I did there?) for quite awhile. It’s a miniature kitchen and table, filled with tiny dishes and cooking implements, utensils, two tiny chairs and Lego food pieces. One side of the tin is painted with a stove and counter top, the other is a red checked table cloth.

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Be it known I’m not a painter; my hands are unsteady and my eyesight is poor, not to mention I don’t have high quality paint or paint brushes, but I don’t think my kids will even notice.

These tins will be tucked into two of my kids’ Easter baskets along with some candy. I think they will be thrilled. If not, I secretly enjoyed playing with the tiny kitchen for quite awhile. 😉

Upcycled Egg Carton Floral Wreath

The kids and I collaborated on an Easter-y, spring-y art project: an egg carton floral wreath. In a nutshell, I cut and glued, they painted. Collaborators included my 11 and 9 year old niece and nephew, my 8 and 5 year old daughters, and my 3 year old son.

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As with most of my good ideas, I got it from Pinterest and modified it to our skill set. I could not be happier with how it turned out. It is gorgeous. I cannot stop staring at it. I just can’t believe a group of 6 non-artists could make something so beautiful out of trash and paint.

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We used 4 one-dozen paperboard egg cartons. I cut both the egg cup and the separator post in the middle to make flower centers. The leaves are cut from the tops of the egg carton. The whole business is glued onto a cardboard wreath base measuring about 15 inches in diameter, leaves first, then flowers, obviously. We also glued some buttons in the flower centers.

The wreath’s unexpected beauty was the kids’ doing. They mixed paints instead of using a single color on each flower and the results were just amazing.

And because no floral wreath is complete without a little fairy, we found a spot on ours to tuck her in.

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I had no idea trash could be so beautiful!