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!

 

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

 

A Post-Election Guide For Democrats

It’s 4 AM on Wednesday, November 9, 2016, and I’m so very wide awake, as many are after last night’s stunning election upset. We have a new, unlikely president-elect and his name is NOT Hillary Clinton as we might have expected.

The questions are many. How do we tell our children, especially our little girls, that Hillary didn’t win for them? How do we respect the office of a president that is so reviled and detested? How do we wrap our head around this new, unexpected reality? How do we hold our heads high and simultaneously work through our emotions, which according to anecdotal evidence across the web, range from anger and extreme sadness to rage and complacency?

I cannot stress this enough: It is what it is. No take-backsies.

First things first. There will be a segment of buffoons on social media who will gloat and gloat and gloat. I anticipate this to be a larger-than-average amount of people than one might expect. Let them have their day. They aren’t speaking directly to you or to me, but it will feel like it. Resist the urge to fan their flame. It will go out on its own, unattended.

Secondly, let the sunrise be your guide. It came up, after all. Today is also a day for Democrats to rise and shine. Half of America may claim victory, but the rest of us have a chance to show grace, decency, kindness, and respect. Our children are watching our reaction to defeat. This is of greater importance than any victory celebration.

Third, and finally, because I hope to get a tiny sliver of sleep yet tonight, do not waver on your beliefs even a millimeter. For the briefest of moments in the throes of shock in a sleep-deprived haze, I wondered if I was wrong. Do not allow yourself this thought. We have important work ahead of us, some of it known by nature of the election results, some of it not yet known, and we must be watchful for those opportunities.

As you wake up today, stay proud in your political affiliation. Keep showing kindness and love, generosity and fairness toward others, and be bold to call out anyone who won’t adhere to our high character standards.

It may not feel like it right now, but we do live in the greatest nation on Earth. The power is still in the people, and we can and will make forward progress in the face of this setback.

If you do nothing else today, put your feet on the bedside floor, rub the sleep from your eyes, and get up. You are courageous and bold. You have lost nothing.

All-Ages Craft: Leaf Garland

Garland, bunting, banner, pennant. I am smitten with anything I can hang on a string.

I am always on the lookout for crafts all the kids can do together. They are 12, 10, 8, 6, and four. Garlands fit this bill most of the time, plus the display is always wonderful.

Today’s craft is a leaf garland.

I purchased color diffusing leaf cutouts, but the same results can be achieved with coffee filters and a steady scissorhand.

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Begin by preparing the color medium you will be using. I diluted a variety of food coloring in water. The less water, the more vibrant the color. I used about one-quarter cup water and 10-15 drops of food coloring. We also used a watercolor paint palette with a variety of colors for a subdued color effect and Faber-Castell watercolor crayons for bright and bold leaves.

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Place a paper towel underneath each leaf or coffee filter. Use a paint brush to apply food coloring or watercolor to the leaf and watch the colors spread and blend. If using watercolor crayons, draw the design on the leaf or filter first, then apply water and spread the crayon.

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Lay aside each leaf, including the paper towel, and allow to dry completely. To hang on a garland, use a hole punch and run a string through each leaf then hang using thumb tacks.

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The leaves came together quite quickly, even for my youngest artist, and because the paper diffuses and blends the colors, it is very forgiving and difficult to differentiate artistic level.

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One of the kids would find a cool new technique and the rest would copy for a similar effect. The oldest in our group is 12 and she created some very intricate designs. My husband even got in on the action and created a leaf accentuating his favorite football team’s colors.

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Any art that brings together the entire family is the best kind of art.

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