I got the first three volumes of The Guardian Herd in the mail today! I bought them for peanuts (used library books) and painstakingly removed stickers and sticker residue. They aren’t without blemish, but good enough for me! I’m just missing the last volume now. Can’t wait to read these!
As I mentioned in the 2023 Alaska cruise summary, I’ve been doing a lot of reading recently. I’ve done a lot of reading this year, but this is especially true of the month of August.
And so we come to Bravelands. I’d had Broken Pride sitting unread on my shelf for about two years. This was partly fueled by a concern that I would hate it. A lion character called “Fearless Gallantpride” was just a bit too corny, even for me. Still, after enjoying Bamboo Kingdom and while waiting for its next installment, I figured it was time to pick up Bravelands. The main series, set in the African savannah and told from three different animals’ points of view, is comprised of the following six books:
The characters of Bravelands are Fearless Gallantpride (a lion cub), Thorn (a baboon, and my favorite character from the very first book until the end) and Sky Strider, a young elephant. Many other compelling characters comprise the rich cast, including my favorite villian in any Erin Hunter book I’ve read to date.
📚 My book posts aren’t reviews as much as they are a gathering of my thoughts and feelings on the experience of having read them. Therefore, there will be spoilers under the cut. 👇
If you intend to read Bravelands (and I highly recommend that you do), I recommend that you skip the rest of this post and come back to it after you’ve enjoyed books 1 through 6 of this wonderful series. More than other Erin Hunter series, Bravelands has some pretty great twists that would be ruined by spoilers.
So, my blog has been a bit abandoned… 👉👈💧 I’m so sorry about that. I also seem to be becoming more and more of a hermit. I am sorry about that, too.
There’s been a bunch of reasons. I’ve been reading a lot (and I do mean a LOT), been kind of busy deep inside my own head, perhaps having not exactly a mid-life crisis as much as a mid-life reassessment, plus preparing for upcoming trips, and then going on them.
Let’s start with the Alaska cruise: it was amazing. When it comes to the trip’s details, this time, unlike last time, I’m making an effort to blog more about it.
To make it easier, I opted not to decorate my photos with purikura this time around, because I think that wanting to do that and not having time to do it was the main reason I didn’t properly blog about the Alaska trip last year. So, I apologize if things are a little less colorful on this post.
With that said, this will be a very long and extremely image-intensive post. So I’m posting it under a cut.
I don’t have a big preamble this time around. The rainy and stormy season goes on and on… and on. All of this week I worked on commissions. I also visited my mom, and later in the week, we went to see my mom-in-law! It was a VERY busy one, but I also found time to game and spend time with my toys. Let’s get on with the summary!
Thank you in advance to anyone who comments on this post! Though it may take me a little while to reply, your comments mean so much to me! 💘✨💕
🌈 Monday 🌈
You might recall that last weekend, Kotoko wasn’t doing so well, though she got better later on Sunday. By Monday morning, she was all better, with a strong appetite and bright eyes!
Here’s a little snack I had in the afternoon. I didn’t eat the whole bunny, just a piece.
I saw Bluey yogurt at Publix! I didn’t want it but I took a picture:
In the late afternoon, I made time for WoW and some wine! 🍷🎮
I took a few snaps of Stromboli because I love him so much.
Slimy man. Best man.
At some point, I noticed that one of the soots decided to perch upon Ribbon’s head. It was so cute.
After Monday night dinner, Kotoko lounged on our partner’s leg. That was unusual; she usually picks Christopher. But it was adorable.
🌈 Tuesday 🌈
My pair of Raikes beavers that Christopher so sweetly bought for me arrived on Tuesday! Christopher can usually tell when I am legitimately losing my mind over a certain toy, even if I just came across it. This was one of those cases, and when they arrived, I loved them even more than I thought I would! I’ve named the girl Russet and the boy Yukon because they are just two huge potatoes (and these are actual names; Russet is unisex, while Yukon is a boy’s name):
Their outfits are a little stained from storage and old age, but that’s okay. While I love the look of their outfits, I have to re-dress them anyway as that is a big part of my putting my own touch as I create their personalities.
Here’s Rosie already getting cozy with them:
Speaking of Rosie, here is a perfectly cut scream.
By Tuesday afternoon I’d finished two more commissions:
With this, there was just ONE left! Then I left to visit with mom.
🌈 Wednesday 🌈
As always, mom had surprises for me. The nicest one was this Mafalda mate gourd! I love it so much. I placed it with my other Mafalda collectibles. I really do want to use it, but I’m so afraid of breaking it.
She also gave me this cute little Ivysaur which I placed in the game room:
🌈 Thursday 🌈
On Thursday I got around to brushing and dressing Romaine. He looks a lot happier!
I felt pretty exhausted all day since my period was about to hit (and would, the next day). So I napped in the afternoon. Rosie came to lay with me. She was purring and looking into my eyes and seemed so happy.
After I got up, I did more chores and made dinner, and after that, tried to play LEGO with the guys, but couldn’t get very far with my set… I was just so tired. I got ready for bed and after anime, played WoW for a little while, mindlessly hunting for more dragon glyphs.
At one point, as I flew through some dark areas, I turned around and was surprised by a very beautiful spot, glowing and snowing, with a massive dragon flying about. Many of my favorite WoW memories are moments of sudden beauty such as these, at night, with no one else around in-game.
My server is a highly populated one, but few people can be found in some areas at such an hour. So I experience eerie, special moments like this one.
A good while into playing, the message I’d seen a couple of weeks ago popped up again!
It was a very random hour, like 1:15 am? I am not sure why it pops up. I must have turned on some setting at some point on my account, perhaps many years ago, but I can’t find anything about this. In particular, the all-caps and exclamation mark makes me think that it’s something that I myself wrote. Well, in any case, both times it popped up I went “Hmm, it IS late” and decided to stop for the night.
I found a cozy spot to land my dragon and fell asleep with Stromboli, Pippi and Snailio Iglesias keeping watch. Pippi is off camera though.
Right before bed, I took some photos of the freshly-cleaned snail tank. I hung some clover/shamrock lights on top, and it looked very pretty in the dark:
My little guys were just having a nice time, eating, drinking, and going for evening strolls:
🌈 Friday 🌈
Friday evening we left for Sebastian. I was so excited! I’d seen my mom-in-law when she visited us, but I hadn’t been able to visit her place for a good three months. I brought Raisin for company:
The sun began to set just as we arrived. It was very pretty.
Once we got there, we had chicken nachos while watching my mom-in-law and her friends play cards. I also cuddled and said hi to the cats, whom I hadn’t seen in ages:
We enjoyed each other’s company for the evening and played Blokus.
As usual, Pan got some cuddles from our partner.
We had many plans for Saturday, so we didn’t stay up too late.
🌈 Saturday 🌈
On Saturday we went to a bunch of really fun antique shops. Actually, the first one was really just a thrift store. I found a few cool books. One, in particular, was a super bizarre addition to my “material to indoctrinate children” collection:
I’ll just give you a few sample pages. It’s… interesting, to say the least. On the surface, it seems pretty harmless, and certainly is compared to other material I have on my shelves, but it’s pretty out there regardless.
With that said: I mean no disrespect if this sort of thing forms part of your spiritual comfort. I’ve generally made it known, however, that having been a Christian most of my life (now somewhere between Agnostic and Atheist) and indoctrinated into Catholicism from a very early age, I have strong feelings regarding indoctrinating children into any sort of religious belief. I think it’s confusing at best, and with some subsets of religion, actual child abuse at worst (Sky Daddy loves you very much, but if you don’t love him more than your own mom and dad, he’ll burn you in a fire forever! Wait, WHAT?)
This isn’t one of those cases, it’s just a little weird, but then again I haven’t read the whole book yet. Some things seem harmless on the surface (the placebo effect of believing you can heal yourself isn’t necessarily bad and can even help) but its wording appears to be setting the ground for believing in actual spiritual healers, which regularly scam people and sometimes keep them from seeking actual medical help. So… .🤷♀️
Anyway! I also got these two:
I’m super excited to read this one!
The second store had lots of interesting things, but it was the sort of place where the owner was very attached to his collection. So, his prices were somewhat unreasonable, in some cases he didn’t know the value of the items offhand, or I, being fairly knowledgeable about some toys, knew that they were massively overpriced. But it was still delightful to browse!
I happened to run into a porcelain doll I liked for the first time ever. Porcelain usually really turns me off as a material. Had she been more reasonably priced, I would have probably bought her. She looked so sweet and it would have been nice to make her pretty again.
The next store was mostly furniture, but the building used to be a bank! You could look inside the old vaults, which was really interesting. I also saw a couple of interesting animal figures. The little mouse perched upon a piece of Roquefort was my favorite.
The final stop was actually a bunch of vendors under one massive roof. It was the Wildwood Antique Mall. After we all went in, our partner was nowhere to be seen. It was because he’d found this massive moth outside and stayed back to take a picture:
Moths are so pretty. I really love them.
It was really interesting to come across a little pride booth. This isn’t really an area where I would feel safe setting up such a booth. This person, I felt, was brave.
Anyway, this place had so many cute things, I had to restrain myself all the while. I knew I could probably get one treat so I had to choose carefully. I took photos of many lovely or interesting things:
It was so cool to see a Maple Town lunch box! The dinosaur was a Universal Parks item, and very well made. I am eager to see what I may find when we go in September. The Thomas pillow was the one thing I truly hated to leave behind… but as I said, I felt it was best to choose just one item.
Eventually, I would find it in the form of the most scratched-up, dirtiest Raikes bear I ever came across. His clothes were filthy, and his face was in bad shape. Who knows how long he’d been there! So of course, my “need to rescue” gland immediately went into overdrive.
He was in a booth with the most haunted-looking dolls ever. You know I love dolls, even creepy dolls, but boy, these were something else!
As we were heading to pay my new Raikes bear’s “adoption fee”, we came across this cute doggy:
I named my new bear Mothball. He’ll need lots of TLC, but I am looking forward to freshening him up! 😊
We went to Heavenly Wings for lunch.
I’ve now made peace with the fact that I don’t like so-called “good” boneless wings. I like Buffalo Wild Wings, as terrible as everyone says they are. I guess I’ve also made peace with the fact that no one ever wants to eat there with me, ever. Sigh. 😞
Then we went to paint ceramics. I’d looked forward to this so much! I picked a penguin this time.
Our partner painted a zombie squirrel for me. Once he was finished, he was bored, so he also colored me a frog. I asked him to sign it and he pretended to, but in the end, he just wrote “frog”. 😒
In the photos above and below, my penguin is finished. He looks pale, but I used the closest colors I could find to the pan flag colors. We will see how bright he turns out after firing! Below you can see the back:
Here are all the figures together: zombie squirrel (our partner) toucan (mom-in-law) mouse with mushroom (Christopher) and my penguin:
In this photo, the figures are less visible but Christopher looks so cute:
Christopher has turned out to be really good at this, particularly at simple but expressive, well-painted eyes. It’s really easy to screw up the eyes.
Here’s a final photo of us holding our figures:
After this, we went home, had burgers, and watched the new Mario movie, which I very much feel was extremely stupid. It’s a bummer. I am exactly the audience for it, being a huge Mario franchise fan. But it was so bad. Oh well. At least it was visually beautiful, and I have the RPG to look forward to!
🌈 Sunday 🌈
On the long drive back after Sunday lunch, I took off all of Mothball’s dirty old clothes. He enjoyed the hot sun on his fur as he watched the cars go by:
We got home in the early afternoon. I unpacked and did all the chores before relaxing with some WoW.
Before bed, I undressed Russet and Yukon, cut off their tags and loose strings, brushed them, cleaned their faces, and dressed them in their brand-new outfits. I am immensely pleased with how they look!
Name necklaces are next, and possibly a tail ribbon for Russet. 🥰
And that was it for this week. Next week, my last commission should be finished, and I will try to do a “reset” of my goals. I hope you all have a lovely week, and I’ll see you next time! 🙋♀️
Happy Sunday, everyone. Well… it is not as happy for me. I’ve been pretty depressed on and off, my period is underway, and this week I experienced a serious dental emergency. I am tired and in pain, and as a result, this post may be less coherent than normal, or some captions may be very brief. There are still cute things below –toy photos, doggies, World Of Warcraft stuff. So it’s not all whining. Let’s get to it.
Thank you in advance to anyone who comments on this post! Though it may take me a little while to reply, your comments mean so much to me! 💘✨💕
🌈 Monday 🌈
To begin with, as I said in the last weekly summary, my mood would improve. With that said, on Monday I went in to work in a terrible state of mind, just as negative as Sunday had been.
My boss was there when I went in: he hadn’t been there when I was unwell over the weekend. He was friendly and immediately asked what happened to me, showing concern for me, not the missed hours. I explained what happened, and, having an opportunity to talk privately, I mentioned the unpleasant experience with the other manager, and that I felt this was unfair, as I’ve generally been a solid, reliable employee.
He reminded me that only he is my boss, no one else. He even told me that he would help me recover some of the lost hours, and later updated the schedule to reflect this.
Also, my original instinct of texting him when these things happened would have been correct. I didn’t do it because it was his day off, I was afraid to bother him and indeed was told not to. But he texted the manager chat the moment I left early on Sunday, wondering whatever happened to me. He said next time, I shouldn’t be afraid to text him even if he is off.
All of these things were very reassuring. Knowing that, depending on where he ends up, I might have a job where he goes next (since he’s generally a district and/or store manager at other chains) feels good too.
I don’t know if he spoke to the manager that scolded me when I left, but that manager was SUPER nice to me the rest of that day. So that improved my mood. The other thing that improved it was a bit sad, but it helped anyway.
Another manager, a very nice lady who tends to be a bit spicy (just, you know, strong moods) and has a really good heart, was looking very down on this day and not like herself at all. It was honestly worrisome, so when I saw her alone, I asked what was wrong, and suddenly I was seeing myself in her. She kept saying stuff like “I don’t want to be here, I hate this, I want to leave, I don’t even want to greet the customers anymore.”
This is a manager that worked hard to make this store a wonderful and welcoming place. Like other managers that have been here since the start, she is rightly indignant and heartbroken by the situation. We’ve all been affected by the way the customers are taking to treating our beloved store like absolute trash, their entitlement, and the constant undoing of anything that we worked to make pretty. It’s so discouraging.
This, and the longer hours, are surely why I have been so unhappy. But hearing it from someone else helped me to realize how much the process of the store shutting down is affecting me. I hated to see my manager sad, especially because she often cheers others up with her joking and singing, and high-energy ways. But in a weird way, it helped me so much to understand my recent depression. The rest of that day I did all I could to help her out and keep her cheerful. Others were doing that, too.
The day was very, very busy. Other than the last couple of hours, it really flew by. Two cute dogs visited:
The owner of the wookie-like dog (who was a really funny character) ended up not buying the chair cushion that his dog lay and sat on. Sigh…
When I got back home, Christopher was making manicotti. It was a delicious dinner, he worked very hard. After dinner, I went upstairs and was surprised to find ALL of our elves sitting on my desk!
I guess they were worried about me. I’ll try to be better at holding it together.
Have some random photos of Elliot being deeply uncomfortable:
I was excited to finally open my Amazon package with the Humongous Entertainment Classic Collection for the Switch. Looking forward to playing it.
When I went to bed I forgot my glasses. Christopher later sent me a picture of Ribbon wearing them:
🌈 Tuesday 🌈
Because I’m still depressed, I decided to go a route that proved helpful before. I went back to Azeroth. I decided to try Horde again. This time it feels better. Maybe it’s because I feel so out of place everywhere now, like an outcast, and because so many things I used to believe in, along with my childhood definitions of “good and evil” and “right and wrong” have changed so much, Horde actually feels like a better emotional fit for me at this point in my life.
I made a goblin hunter with the name Sepia, a name I used to have in this server, then lost, and now managed to snag again.
Much like communities and places I used to love when I was a young adult, I will always miss my Alliance haunts and the feeling that life, and morals, are simple, black-and-white deals, easily judged and categorized. But as I move forward from simplistic thinking (and judgmental, holier-than-thou spaces) in real life, I’m looking forward to exploring the side of the so-called “monstrous races” in-game.
And hey, Dragonflight has SNAILS. I might be able to coax our partner or my husband into getting me the expansion.
🌈 Wednesday 🌈
Because I’ve been feeling so down, I am making an extra effort to make my lunches cute and happy experiences, even if the food is plain.
In the evening, we went to a restaurant, Unit B Eatery + Spirits in Pembroke Gardens. I hadn’t taken a selfie in a while:
This was Paisley’s first outing!
Unit B had a really nice atmosphere/decor, but being a weekday, it was very empty:
I had bao buns and empanadas. Both were great!
Before bed, I completed another commission:
Just six to go!
🌈 Thursday 🌈
Work was pleasant enough. I decided to buy a little Ty dragon since it was 30% off.
Then I began to get ideas. Firstly, I named him Bargain, since our company’s motto is “everybody loves a bargain”. I asked my manager to make me a little nameplate for him:
More on that later. Here’s today’s pup:
🌈 Friday 🌈
Before leaving for work, I used one of our reusable patterned bags to make Bargain a little apron that matches ours. Then I gave him the nameplate that my manager printed out for him. He looked pretty spiffy:
Then we had a quick breakfast together and it was off to work.
I wasn’t sure if I ever took a photo of the store from above, so while I was clocking in, I got one:
Time for our existential crisis, Bargain! My coworkers were pretty tickled by him.
Bargain held the marker in between sales. The marker was for highlighting the “all sales final” in the receipts.
Bargain surrounded by everyone’s favorite, go-backs. We have a lot of those these days.
Then it was lunchtime. I was in a really good mood.
I was still in a great mood when I got home. I hugged my guys, had dinner, and afterward poured some wine and got right to playing Diablo II with our partner. It was a very, very enjoyable evening. We even beat Diablo! The boss, not the game, of course. We still have a way to go to beat the game.
But when I went to bed, a dull ache in my upper right teeth began to bother me. It quickly became intense, and as a result, I slept very poorly.
🌈 Saturday 🌈
After such a bad night, Saturday morning I woke up exhausted and in pain, but feeling like I could still make it to work, so I went. In the morning, before work, I completed another commission:
Just five to go!
It was not a good workday. My pain grew gradually more intense throughout the day. When I got there, I found that three people had called out, so I was glad I went. The first truck came to get all of the merchandise that is being sent to other stores. One of my managers cried when the truck left.
I saw a dog that captured my mood for this day very well:
In the evening, I was absolutely falling apart. Christopher went to the drugstore to get me things that might help, but nothing really did. I didn’t sleep very much this night. In spite of being well-familiarized with astronomical levels of dental torture, this was on a different scale. I repeatedly used Gus Fring’s death as a suitable comparison for how the entire right side of my head felt:
I did not have a fever, but the pain was all over my jaw, my eye, my ear. It was all-encompassing and totally absorbing.
🌈 Sunday 🌈
When I woke up on Sunday morning, it was immediately evident that work was not going to happen that day. I immediately called out for the next two days, and left a voicemail with my dentist, begging them to move my Tuesday appointment to Monday. I had to call twice because, during my first voicemail, the pain was bad enough that I literally forgot my own phone number, and couldn’t finish my message.
After the food poisoning incident, I really felt awful about calling out… but there was nothing I could do.
Christopher went to the store again, and got me fresh Orajel and cooling patches for my face:
I spent the entire day distracting myself with Warcraft. Playing Warcraft alone ( I am not a big fan of questing with others) saved my sanity, as it did in other bad periods of my life. I don’t know how I would have gotten through the day otherwise. Sometimes I had to just stop and stare at nothing because the pain didn’t even let me play, but most of the time it helped a lot.
I fiddled a bit more with my goblin hunter:
And was absolutely tickled by this Logo reference:
I also thoroughly enjoyed the dinosaurs in this area, which, being an Alliance player for most of my life, is new to me. Major Dinotopia vibes.
I had a Starbucks treat (and dinner) while gaming, courtesy of Christopher. It cheered me up a lot.
As the evening progressed, something odd happened. My pain began to subside. While I was still sore, the throbbing went from “worst of my life” to “nonexistent” in the space of about an hour. From what I could gather, this meant a worsening of the emergency, as the infection has now likely killed my nerve. I likely need treatment ASAP to prevent further damage to my jaw and other teeth.
I will be posting updates regarding this dental misadventure on my Telegram channel throughout the week. You’re welcome to drop by! There’s an attached chat as well. Beyond that, the next update will be next Sunday as usual. See you then!
This week I went back to my job at Christmas Tree Shops, which, as I’ve mentioned, is closing down (my location is, anyway) meaning that in a few weeks, we will all be out of a job. But I came back here because the job at the market/bakery was awful.
CTS was/is the first true corporate job that I actually stayed at. I don’t count Citel since they didn’t need me after all, and it was an office job that lasted barely a week or two. In addition to that, CTS is my first experience working at a big box store that is being liquidated and closing. As the title of this post mentions, this experience can at times wear you down and demoralize you. Other times, it’s really funny. And it is very bittersweet.
I am glad that I am in such a privileged position to get to do it without panicking about what my next job will be. I can just take it all in, and have fun with it, which gives me a lot of material to blog about. 😏
This post also has more doll stuff and more art. Let’s get to it!
Thank you in advance to anyone who comments on this post! Though it may take me a little while to reply, your comments mean so much to me! 💘✨💕
🌈 Monday 🌈
On this day I went back to CTS. The vibe was certainly… weird. At times, people joke and laugh. At times, it feels very sad. Overall, everyone is stressed out of their minds. The sales are bad right now (for customers): mostly 10% off, with our 20% off coupons gone. This means that the prices are technically more expensive than before we were closing. But perception is everything, and people come in droves, spending hundreds at a time, and in one case, over a thousand dollars. It’s very tiring right now.
Seeing all the signs from my spot at the register really gave me a sinking feeling.
Literally every transaction involves the customer saying a form of these things:
“I’m so upset that you’re closing! I’m so disappointed! How long have you known? How long will the sale last? Why can’t I use coupons? When will the discounts get better? Which day are you closing? You guys didn’t do enough advertising/your name is confusing/I didn’t know you were here. How many stores are closing? Why are they closing? If you’re closing, why am I still getting coupons/emails?”
So with every customer, I repeat the same song and dance:
“I am disappointed too. I also love the store. I am sad about losing my job and my coworker companions. We found out the same day as everyone else, including customers. You can’t use coupons or return items because everything in here no longer belongs to CTS but to the liquidator. We don’t know exactly how many more weeks we will be open, just an approximate. You’re right, corporate didn’t advertise enough. We, the employees, did everything we could. Yes, the name is confusing. It’s not like we could change it. The fact that you didn’t know you were here is part of the reason why we are closing. Only ten stores are closing. We are the only Florida store that is closing. We are the only Florida employees not close enough to get reassigned elsewhere. They are closing stores because they filed for bankruptcy protection and we are a low-performing store.”
Repeat ad nauseaum.
If all the above, in a paragraph with no breaks, reads as tiresome, exhausting, drone-like… imagine saying this to every customer for hours and hours. There isn’t a SINGLE transaction or phone call to the store that doesn’t involve some form of the above. No one stops to think that we have heard it all a million times that day.
One lady who called to inquire about the closing decided to have a 15-minute chat with me, an aimless conversation about all of the above. I couldn’t get rid of her. I heard about five iterations of “When God closes a door, He opens a window” on Monday, and by the last, I wanted to tear my hair out. Two people decided to let me know that they were not, as they put it, “happy campers”.
It is not cute. It is not helpful.
Still, one thought was in my mind all day long: “This is so much better than that other job.” One’s team is everything, and our team is fantastic. My coworkers are already talking of following our manager elsewhere if possible… while that probably won’t happen, it’s a testament to how good of a vibe we had.
I often heard some of the assistant managers complain about this or that decision taken by our store manager. People would often gripe; sometimes I heard about little tiffs with raised voices between the assistant managers and him, but I think he is well-loved by most. In spite of saying these things, many of the assistant managers would happily follow him to the next store and so would I. He’s a great boss, and the assistant managers are SO good, positive, the kind of people that just make you want to do your best. So I’m going to do my best until the bitter end.
Christopher let me grab a $20 rug from the store to cover my very stained carpet that simply cannot be cleaned properly anymore. It looks pretty good!
🌈 Tuesday 🌈
Tuesday was a very exhausting day. My coworkers and managers had warned me: it is going to get SO much worse. On Monday, I was unsure of what they meant. By late Tuesday I had a better idea.
As the same questions and comments from customers repeat in a never-ending cycle, our partner had some ideas of how I should respond to the “You’re closing the store? Why??” questions:
“We’re closing because Christmas is canceled.”
“We’re closing because an atheist family bought the company and they hate Christmas.”
“What do you mean we’re closing?! No one told me this! Oh my God, am I losing my job?”
“How did you find out that we’re closing? *looks around in a conspiratory manner* It’s supposed to be a secret. Who told you?”
Unfortunately, I don’t have the balls to give any of these responses. 😅
I saw a cute doggy on this day:
I wasn’t sure I would ever get the chance to see Christmas trees for sale at Christmas Tree Shops, but lo and behold!
🌈 Wednesday 🌈
Since Tuesday, our partner has been very, very sick. It’s just a head cold (he has no fever and did two COVID tests) but, it’s quite bad. So I’m trying my best to take care of him, even though there really isn’t much I can do.
On this day I completed a gift for Seven, in gratitude for a great kindness recently shown to me by her when I closed commissions. Of course, it also includes Snow and Ember. I finished it in an old-fashioned style:
For dinner, I made salmon and rice:
🌈 Thursday 🌈
Another day of the same. On Thursday, I had a customer turn around as she was leaving and ask me, “Do you have another job lined up?” When I responded that I didn’t, she laughed in my face and left. I didn’t even know how to react! Wow. 🙃
Then later in the day, we found these bowls filled to the brim with water. These were in a “cage”, also called a “dump bin” in retail. It’s a massive container that can fit four or five of me, and a LOT of merchandise. Anyway, apparently there was a leak in the roof and these filled with rainwater, which a customer noticed. It was pretty funny.
🌈 Friday 🌈
Day off! I took care of the snails and the house, worked on art, relaxed, made the guys a nice dinner, and played with my dolls a bit. Yesterday I listed a bunch of old items hoping to make money to buy the other My Twinn doll that I’d missed out on. But then I realized that eBay holds the money for a while now, after a sale. There was no way I would have it in time. So Christopher let me borrow some funds to get her. She is very beautiful. I’m going to call her Emily.
Much like with my upcoming Zanini Zambelli Italian doll, this is a case in which I have no desire to change the doll’s outfit. It is truly gorgeous as-is.
On this day I finally took Samantha out of her box and dressed her up. She looks so beautiful in her new clothes!
In the afternoon I noticed that Buddy moved again, this time to a high shelf. I wonder how long his unseasonal visit will last?
In the evening, we played LEGO. I had wine and a little snack and felt very happy.
I also finished building this Creator 3-In-1 Medieval Castle. It was a pretty neat build!
For dinner, I made fajitas over rice with cilantro and avocado. It was delicious!
🌈 Saturday 🌈
Saturday morning was dark and stormy. Elliot didn’t want to be outside because of the thunder, so he stayed near me.
Our partner indulged me in getting another toy, a bizarre and adorable Monchhichi clone –a bear. I think I’ll call him Calisson. These are the Etsy photos, he’ll take a while to arrive yet:
I’ve been getting a lot of toys this year, which, if you’ve known me for any length of time, you’ll know to coincide with me being Not Okay ™. And I have NOT been okay. The job stuff is stressful, sure. But it’s the community stuff that has me on a downward spiral and has for months.
Just as I did in my childhood, when I feel isolated and lonely, I seek refuge in toys –their cuddliness, their cute faces. They’re friends that will never go away, or suddenly have terrible hidden pasts, or decide to replace me or not like me anymore. Toys are safe and always have been. They never mock me, I can’t accidentally hurt their feelings and lose their friendship.
So, as self-indulgent and unwise as I know my purchases appear (and they are, make no mistake) I can tell you they’re my current coping mechanism because I don’t really know what else to do with my feelings. Please try not to judge me too harshly. 😅
I’m not sure if I mentioned this, but my snails got mites again. 😞 You might remember how expensive, difficult, and upsetting an experience that was the first time around. I’ve been very aggressive in treating it, so hopefully they’ll be okay. Here’s a photo of some snails kissing.
🌈 Sunday 🌈
Though this was a workday, in the morning I found some time to de-stuff Fiorella and throw her body and clothes in the wash.
I also washed her hair twice and conditioned it…
Then set it all out to dry. Her thigh has a little tear, but it’s easily fixed.
I will stuff her with brand-new stuffing, fix the tear, and comb her hair. I made her a necklace, and I got her a brand new big ribbon to match the one on her clothes. She’ll look so cute when I’m done with her!
While Fiorella dried in the warm sun, I moved some stuff around in my studio. I missed seeing my Monchhichis, so I put them where I can see them better. These three are Melon-Pan, Minoru, and Ponzu:
This was my first time getting a really nice photo of Ponzu:
Before work, I had leftover roasted cauliflower and black olive pizza for lunch, topped with cilantro:
Work went fast. It was busy. People continue to be a bit obnoxious about the store closing. But, I saw another pupper!
What a happy guy. Speaking of happy guys, here are some littler ones I saw in the parking lot while waiting for Christopher to pick me up after work:
Mama wasn’t happy about me getting too close and herded them all away. Sorry, Mama Duck.
The evening was wonderful! We met our friends for dinner at Shooters Waterfront. I got some nice photos…
I had a couple of coffee drinks that unexpectedly knocked me on my ass, and a wonderful plate of risotto, shrimp, and scallops. We shared a couple of cheese plates. It was SO good.
Here’s a photo of two of our best friends. They are getting married really soon! 🥰
After dinner, my drunk, stumbling ass bullied everyone into a short walk at the beach at 11:00 pm. So off we went, and I asked to go back and be carried after taking like, ten steps. No one carried me.
Anyway, I got some beautiful photos!
We also came across this. Just stuck there in the sand, facing the sea. There was some dribbling around it as if a dog peed on it. Maybe someone had dribbled something over it on purpose as part of a ritual. This was in pitch-black darkness, I wonder what it meant?
On the drive back, I saw the Hard Rock guitar showing off an unusually pretty light display, so I got some video:
Anyway, that’s it for this week! Next week I’ll be visiting my mom, and getting more doll clothes in the mail. It’ll be quite busy at work… Hopefully, I’ll continue to find time to blog and keep you all posted. Have a great week, everyone!
First week at the new job! 😀 Also, last week at the new job. 🙃 We celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary, and Mother’s Day. Our family came to visit and we ate out a LOT. Our partner’s computer suddenly died which meant not much Diablo this week.
I finally opened my anniversary doll, but it turned out to: a) be FUGLY and b) have a manufacturing defect, so we contacted the seller and after some back and forth got a full refund and got to keep the doll regardless. But, I’ll sell her, I don’t see myself enjoying her ever. I got a different doll as a replacement already on the way.
I also did lots of art this week. I’ll tell you about that, and about other things too. Let’s go!
🌈 Monday 🌈
Monday was the first day at my new job. I was up at 7:00 am to take care of the day’s housework. Then I worked until 3:30 pm.
Now that I’m not there anymore (as you will learn more about later into this summary) I feel more comfortable sharing more about this place. It was (well, is) a local Italian Bakery and Market.
They have some interesting products, and, generally, is what I would consider a higher-end store as far as prices, which you wouldn’t know judging by the unbelievable crassness of some of the clientele. It was the sort of rudeness I encountered in my gas station days.
Granted, most people were okay, but some definitely consider you (the cashier) of a lower class because you are there to serve them. I encountered some of the worst of this on my first day. But the day went by quickly enough, even though, unlike my experiences at CTS, I found myself unhappy very fast.
On the way home, our partner treated me to lunch. Then I took a short nap, showered, and made dinner, which would cook for a few hours in the slow cooker. I was pretty proud of how the meal turned out.
I spent the rest of the evening alternating between chores and drawing. I got another commission and a Patreon reward nearly done.
Dinner was enjoyable, and after that, I did a few more chores and played Diablo with our partner. We beat Mephisto!
Before bed, I ran Kalamata’s brand-new dress through the wash and put it on her. It looks perfect! A brand new hair bow would arrive for her on Wednesday, and at some point in the next week, some “shoes” I got her on AliExpress should show up too. They’re technically mittens, but she has stuffed feet, so I think they will work best. I’ll post a photo once everything is here.
🌈 Tuesday 🌈
Another workday. I was up early again and finished all the chores before heading to work.
I would begin to grow frustrated at work very quickly. By this day, I knew that if you were even cents short on the register, it would come out of your own pocket. This is illegal here without prior written arrangement and notice. In addition, counting the cash drawer had to be done off the clock, on your own time.
At CTS, my register was always okay (except for one day when I think I was a dollar or so over?) I didn’t have to count off the clock, and I didn’t have such stress over my head about being slightly short or over, which meant I wasn’t anywhere near as likely to make mistakes because I was relaxed.
Moreover, the unhappiness of all the other employees was becoming more and more evident to me. Everyone looked tired and upset, the cashiers were always complaining about their lives and their job to each other. There was zero positivity. This, coupled with the managers’ conflicting rules and their “when I’m here we do things my way, when he’s here you do things his way” ethos, made for an anxiety-ridden workplace.
By this day, I told myself “I’ll stay here just until the cruise”, though ultimately I wouldn’t even be able to last the week.
In spite of being so tired, I completed a commission and a Patreon reward on this day:
🌈 Wednesday 🌈
Wednesday I got to stay home. My period hit pretty hard so it was a relief that I was given the day off because it had been made repeatedly clear to me that being sick is NOT okay at my new job. Even upon hiring I was asked, “You don’t have no medical issues, do ya?” I said no, of course… 🙄
But I do have endometriosis, and while my uterus has been kinder to me in my 30s than in my terrible, terrible 20s, it’s still scary to live with a condition that can completely incapacitate me more or less at random, while working at a place that will have zero tolerance for this.
I wasn’t able to get much done on this day, but I worked all day long on Christopher’s anniversary present and did the most pressing chores. Then we went to Mezes Greek Taverna for dinner:
🌈 Thursday 🌈
Thursday was our seventh wedding anniversary! I left Christopher’s gift and card on his desk for him to find in the morning when he sat down to breakfast. As usual, I drew our little Subrosians, this time being visited by friendly little alien soots:
Unfortunately, I was in a bit of a foul mood most of the day, between the remnants of my period and the fact that I absolutely HATED being at work and dreaded going back the next day. Even though today I was allowed to open my anniversary doll, I didn’t. I felt that low.
Also, our partner’s computer died on Thursday (or rather, Wednesday night) so no more Diablo this week.
One highlight of today is that my mom sent us a $75 gift card to a really fancy local restaurant that I’m dying to try!
🌈 Friday 🌈
On Friday I quit my job. My husband and our partner both told me that the job sounded crappy and toxic and I should leave. Then my mom also said that. Up until then, I’d still been trying to work it out. I really enjoyed working at a grocery store in the past, and I enjoy working at a register and exchanging pleasantries with customers.
There was no major event on this day that “did it”. I knew it was my chance to leave while being able to get full-time hours at CTS for 6-8 more weeks until they close (they really need people right now). If I waited any longer, I’d be removed from CTS’s system. But if anything did throw me over the edge at the new job, it was the combination of these things:
1. Having my scheduled hours changed 3 times for this day alone. On Monday I was told I’d work until 3:30 pm on Friday, so I made plans with my family. On Thursday I was told it might be 4:00 pm, or 5:30 pm. On Friday I was told it could be 5:30 pm, or 6:30 pm, or maybe until closing? Who the heck knows, it’s not like I have a life, right?
2. I got there early to count my register. It was slightly off (about $0.23 over). So I counted it again. When I told the manager that it was off, and by how much, the manager stood over me watching me count for the second time, which almost made me want to scream. I actually turned around to ask if I could help him. Bitch, if you want to double-check, count it yourself. Don’t breathe down my neck. Anyway I counted correctly, it was still off.
3. The realization by a comment from the manager that he wanted me to be totally alone at the register within two weeks –with no other cashiers in the store. 😳 At a place where I have to memorize a ton of breads and produce by sight, that is NOT happening! I am also expected to answer the phone, redirect calls, and now, I found out, make cappuccinos and shit. And don’t forget, my register better not be off by a penny while I try to handle all of this at once! Going to the bathroom is also supposed to happen only during my 15-minute break so I better make sure my body adjusts.
4. Oh but it’s okay: “You can page me any time, and I’ll come help,” said the manager. This is the nice manager everyone (sort of) likes, by the way. Well, there were a lot of fires to be put out on this day, things that needed a manager. The other cashier and I both paged him multiple times –he wouldn’t come out or reply, and would lock himself in his office, which resulted in very frustrated customers. Meanwhile, the manager everyone considers to be a hard-ass, actually comes out when needed, but I digress.
These were just the highlights, really. When I went out on my break, I spoke to my old boss at CTS. He still needed me until the store’s closing. So, after asking Christopher for advice, I came back from the break early so I wouldn’t be discussing this with the manager on the clock, and told him it wasn’t working out for me, but that I would be glad to work the rest of that day until 5:00 pm.
The manager asked me what could be done to keep me, what made me unhappy, etc. I didn’t get much into it. In the end, he said I could just go, and come back on Thursday for my check. I’ll have to see the hard-ass manager for that, so I hope Christopher or our partner come with me. It was the atmosphere of the place that was the worst for me, so I am very stressed about returning for my check.
Still, I walked home practically floating on air from sheer relief. 😌 After a few texts back and forth with my CTS boss, I saw a lot of hours pop up on my schedule for next week. Hooray! 🥳 I got busy with housework until our family got there, and also finished this Patreon reward:
At some point in the late afternoon, I opened my anniversary doll and had a real “thanksIhateit.jpg” moment. I chose this doll after seeing it in many non-stock photos and videos. She has a very peculiar face mold, and I knew there was a chance I wouldn’t like her IRL, but was crossing my fingers for her. Either way, it would be a “love it or hate it” sort of thing. Unfortunately, it was the latter. I was very relieved to find she had a defect: a poorly-glued eyelash. So, I contacted the manufacturer and would hear back the next day. More on that later…
By the time my mom-in-law and Christopher’s grandma got there, I had a little surprise ready for them on the table:
Gifts for each of them and cards too! Speaking of cards, here are the anniversary cards that I (we) got –from mom-in-law to us, from Christopher to me, and from Grandma to us:
Grandma also got this custom Christmas ornament for us:
And socks for me!
For dinner, we went to Blue Ginger as the Mother’s Day meal. It was Grandma’s first time, I’m really glad she enjoyed it. This is what I had, it was very filling:
After we got home, we all got comfy, some of us in our jammies, and we played Uno and had good wine! Kotoko joined us. Christopher often sets out a chair for her because she likes to observe:
She’s helping with his next play:
Even Rosie came to hang out!
So did Tomoyo, photogenic as, er, per usual…
🌈 Saturday 🌈
While I still hadn’t heard back from the doll manufacturer, Christopher graciously allowed me to choose a replacement for my anniversary gift. I decided to peruse eBay this time, looking for a doll from a specific line that I wanted to add to my collection: a “My Twinn”.
My Twinn dolls are… well… they’re something. You’re either going to love or hate this concept. Basically, back when they were a thing, this Denver, CO company could make a 23″ tall doll to look just like your child, or perhaps the child’s parent or grandparent as a child. I think it’s both creepy and adorable, uncanny yet charming. In addition to the photos below, you can find more information at Logan’s Ladies, an excellent My Twinn resource.
I have found a lot of the My Twinn dolls to give me “haunted doll” vibes, in that “Good Guy” doll sort of way. To add to their creepy feel, some of the dolls’ eyes do this after years in storage:
They turn red!! Haha… And if you frequent haunted doll YouTube and TikTok, you’ll find My Twinn dolls just tend to give people that feeling. So, I thought I never wanted one. But the more I looked at some, the more they grew on me. Eventually, I came across a My Twinn doll that, to me, looked just like AG’s Samantha Parkington should:
You see, I love Samantha as a character, both in her books and movies. I always felt that the American Girl doll, pretty as it is, doesn’t do Samantha justice. To me, this doll looks more like I imagine a Samantha doll to look, so I’m going to call her that!
She comes with the box and everything! And since she was cheaper than my original anniversary doll, I also got an outfit on the way for her:
My heart was really set on this My Twinn, but the seller declined my offer. It was a pity, she is so beautiful and I completely fell in love. But the lowest the seller would go was $109 and I couldn’t afford her. 💔💔💔😢 I’m still a bit salty about that. I really adore her, even if I love my second choice. Wish it was closer to my birthday! 😭 Oh well. I am glad to have held on strongly to not trading more art for toys, though. I am proud of that.
Something else that is on the way is dresses and shoes for Penny and Molly (of course Molly has to have a patriotic dress):
Finally (this is definitely my “doll phase” year… geez… what happened to my resolution?! 😩) a dear friend gifted me this little girl from eBay. I’m learning a lot more about doll brands, materials, and eras this year. This is a Zanini Zambelli Italian doll, a brand I was unfamiliar with. She looks to be in pretty good shape, though her hair needs some TLC:
Her face is very sweet and thoughtful…
All I bought for this little lady is this ribbon (I love her outfit so much, that I don’t plan to change it):
On Saturday morning we went to the Swap Shop. I did most of my walking with Christopher, while our partner walked with Grandma and my mom-in-law. It was nice to spend time alone with my hubby. It’s a wonderful thing to spend most of our time the three of us together, but I also always treasure one-on-one time with either of them. It’s special. 🥰
I found a few wonderful vintage books at the Swap Shop, and also some Franklin ones! All hardcover, even an annual of British girl’s magazine, Judy!
My favorite find is the 3 Minute Bedtime Stories book, because in addition to being beautifully illustrated, I don’t actually know any of the stories.
After the Swap Shop, we went to have dim sum for lunch at a very popular, local Chinese restaurant. The place is huge, and was absolutely packed due to Mother’s Day. Grandma took this photo while the three of them waited outside (Christopher and I waited inside for our number to be called):
Photos at the table…
It was my first time having dim sum. I liked it; it was alright. But the atmosphere of the restaurant was too busy and overwhelming for me.
Back at the house, naps were had and we all relaxed for a while before dinner time.
In the evening, we had our anniversary dinner courtesy of my mom-in-law. We went to The Pub. Christopher and I both really like this place, and we got a very nice table. Here’s a photo that the very kind waiter took of our group:
Christopher and I! We were happy. 🥰
I had my favorite, bangers and mash, and an alcoholic coffee drink. We also ordered a great spinach dip:
I had bread pudding for dessert but it wasn’t what I hoped. Nothing beats the one I had in Tampa!
🌈 Sunday 🌈
On Sunday I worked all day long, both on housework and art. I finished two Patreon rewards and a little gift for Bogie. Now there are just eight pieces left to go –and the Patreon rewards are all completed!
I have a busy week ahead, with many hours at CTS. I wonder what I will find when I go in tomorrow. Will it be a mess? Busy? Quiet? I guess I’ll find out.
I’m estimating finishing four more pieces this week, so please look forward to that. I hope everyone has a lovely week!
Hello, everyone, and Happy 2023! As of writing this post, the first week of the year has come to an end. I hope your first week was great! Mine was very satisfying as far as accomplishments go, but also tinged with sadness.
💔 CW: pet loss discussion ahead. 💔
You might remember Shampoo. Most recently “my mom’s cat”, Shampoo was in fact our shared cat for many years, along with Sweeney. We got her when we’d only been in the US a couple of years, and she was around 10 when I got married and moved in with Christopher. Here’s an old GIF I’d made of Shampoo and I many years ago:
As you can see, while in recent posts outside of this blog I put the focus on my mom’s grief, I loved Shampoo very, very much. I’d picked her out of the litter myself, and until I bonded with Rosie years later after I moved out, I had never had a cat I felt as close to as I did with Shampoo. She was on a different level, and so cheeky and playful.
This changed a lot in her last five or so years. She’d started to have painful blockages because of her long fur, which necessitated shaving it monthly. This seemed, to me, as though it changed her personality too. But perhaps it was that around this time she was already quite old.
Shampoo had MANY (very expensive) close calls in the last few years, and made it to an impressive almost 19 years old. But on Monday, it was all too much. She was severely anemic and in serious kidney failure. She was made comfortable for the next 24 hours, which allowed her to rest, eat normally, and just feel alright, until the next afternoon, when it was time to say goodbye.
Shampoo’s passing at home was as ideal as possible. Her body had not yet resumed failing and giving her pain. She’d eaten multiple times, napped peacefully, and enjoyed many pets from my mom. When the vet came (it was done at home) she did not even move from my mom’s lap, on the favorite chair they shared. She fell asleep there, happy and peaceful. We could not have asked for a better send-off.
I process grief a little different from most people. I think, I grieve my pets when they are alive. I remember when Shampoo was around nine years old. I was holding her and thinking how much I loved her, how unique a cat she was, and how I’d never have another cat like her. Shampoo was not sick: she was at her prime, and just being extra cute that day. I remember I started crying, then sobbing, as I held her. She was not amused.
It would not be the only time this happened, nor the only pet it happened with. Certainly I’ve cried with every pet that passed. But, I think I am recovering a little faster, in spite of my sadness, because of this –and because I wasn’t living with Shampoo for the last few years so she wasn’t as much of a constant in my life.
For my mom, it is very different. She tells me she is okay, but she’s also in deep, racking grief, wondering if she did enough (something I think no one would dispute). She told me how how she feels a constant anxiety right at her throat, and how she keeps looking for Shampoo in her usual sleeping-spots. I can’t really help my mom other than to listen, and knowing that she is in pain and will be for a long time is hard for me to accept.
That’s all I have to say about that, but as it was a major element in the week, I wanted to give it its own space. Now I’ll move on to the rest.
I’ve decided to go back to weekly summaries for posts (other than my daily resolution summary) because, now that I’m giving more priority to other things in my life, my blogging time has been reduced. And that is fine! I am very happy. I just want to make sure I can maintain a consistent posting schedule, and I believe this will be the best way to accomplish that.
✨🌈🧉 New Year’s Eve 🧉🌈✨
I’m allowing the New Year weekend to slip into this post, though in reality the post is about the first week of the year. On New Year’s Eve morning, I had mate and did some reading. My mom came in the early evening.
We had a pretty quiet New Year’s Eve. Our partner went to a party for a while, and we played board games –both by ourselves and with Christopher. Partner was back in time to ring in the New Year with us, and we did the customary eating of grapes at the stroke of midnight. You have to make a wish on each grape. I have one thing I want most of all in this life, so I made the same wish on every grape, with all my heart. It was my wish the last two New Year’s, too. Then we went to bed.
✨🌈🧸 Sunday 🧸🌈✨
On Sunday, I finalized prepping everything to start the first week with a bang. Part of this involved sorting all paperwork and for the first time in our lives, clearing out the filing cabinet of too-old, unnecessary stuff, a lot of which was kept while my immigration paperwork was in process (we waited until my citizenship was done, and even then, another full year.) This took a few hours.
One of the things included in this process was sorting through the prior day’s mail, which included a couple of late holiday cards. One was from an old friend of my teddy bear Franklin, a kindly gentleman named Stephen.
Franklin has been receiving letters from Mr. Stephen for all of his life. Many people used to write to Franklin back when he was a small celebearty, but most eventually stopped. Not Mr. Stephen. Even though Franklin never replied, he’s been writing consistently over the last 10+ years, on all of Franklin’s birthdays and at Christmas.
The last card was very long and had an odd feeling to it. It made Franklin feel that Mr. Stephen may not write anymore. Franklin had wanted to reply in recent years, but the envelopes with the return address kept getting discarded. So we are trying to see if it’s possible to get in touch with Mr. Stephen via Facebook, so Franklin can show him how many friends he has now, and how he’s enjoyed all the cards over the years and in fact, kept them all.
I also went around the house, just doing accumulated chores, to make sure nothing went over to the next day. I was tired by the time the day was over, but it was a really successful day.
✨🌈🧉 Monday 🧉🌈✨
I drank mate for breakfast every day this week and enjoyed many of the leftover holiday snacks. I went back to written to-do lists, as well, and continued to enjoy reading multiple times a day. My coffee intake is decreasing thanks to the mate, and because I’m putting priority in things that matter to me, I am becoming happier and happier.
✨🌈🖍️ Tuesday 🖍️🌈✨
Tuesday was Project Night! It’s an idea I had recently, a companion to our Date Nights. Every Tuesday evening, for at least two hours, we all work on personal projects. This past Tuesday, Christopher and our partner worked on turning a V-Tech Talking Whiz-Kid Notebook into a “real” computer by using a Raspberry Pi. Now it has a mouse, a battery pack, it’s really cool:
You can even view my blog! Although, it’s too big for the screen… 😅
I did something less cool, but it was important to me. Since one of my 2023 goals is to finish more coloring pages, I spent time with my coloring pages and crayons. I had a little snack, listened to music and had one of my dolls, Kalamata, for company (I’ll tell you a little more about her later).
I’m still working on a Christmas coloring page. I haven’t finished it yet, but I had a lot of fun. I’ll finish it on the next Project Night. I’ll use these nights for my coloring page goals, puzzles, scrapbooking pages, and more –such as pyrography.
Kalamata is a Zapf Creation doll, made in Germany. I was very excited when I bought her. But when she came to me, she smelled like cigarettes and her skin was sticky (some vinyl degradation). One of her sleepy eyes was (still is) slightly sunken. Worst of all, her legs were fabric! Even her feet are fabric. I wanted a doll with vinyl arms and legs. I was so upset that I immediately decided to donate her. She even made it into the donation box. But something about her expression just kept tugging at me. It is impish and very unique. Her skin color is also quite unusual.
I decided to give her some TLC. Since she had the old fashioned, tied-on style of head, I removed it, and washed her body. I bought some extra filling, and made her floppy arms a bit firmer. I washed, conditioned and combed her hair (her wig is beautiful; it feels almost like human hair, and after some research on these dolls, I think it may be the case, which is kinda nuts!) The wash and dry removed her vinyl stickiness, which thankfully has yet to return. The bad smells were also gone. She looks happy and mischievous!
I’m looking into a solution for her wonky eye, but even if I can’t fix it, I’ve grown very fond of her. I think she’s a very special doll full of personality, so, I will be keeping her.
✨🌈👧 Wednesday 👧🌈✨
Speaking of dolls –on Wednesday I finally opened some dolls that had arrived. One is the JC Toys/Berenguer Boutique “Chloe”, whom I’ve named Polenta. Her box was really beautiful:
She looks just like in the photos. Her vinyl is very soft. I generally prefer hard vinyl, but she’s a gorgeous little doll. She can turn at the waist, which is unusual. I’m sure I’ll enjoy taking her places.
Then there is Paola Reina’s Lidia, whom I’ve named Camila. She is the most luxurious doll I’ve ever owned, with a myriad points of articulation. Her ankles, wrists, elbows and knees are all articulated, as is her head.
She can be put into lovely poses, such as kneeling! And she is very big.
She also smells strongly of vanilla pudding –in particular, a vanilla pudding I had as a little girl. I am filled with nostalgia when I walk into the studio now, and smell it!
Our partner and I have been walking every day. On the way back during our walk on this day, we passed by the burned house. I’d been there when it was still burning, months ago. Back then, the damage didn’t seem so bad. We thought it was just the garage. But I guess the house was damaged very badly. The family appear to have left, and the house sits quiet and eerie.
The burned area reminds me of how, in The Neverending Story, things and even creatures would have chunks taken out by “The Nothing” (or, “La Nada” in Spanish). This house used to always have really nice vintage cars outside. I hope the family is doing okay.
Also on this day, I managed to ship a bunch of packages. A Little People train my friend Snow had me purchase for him, some books I’d been holding onto, a badge, and an exchange for one of my mom’s Christmas presents. Normally I really procrastinate on this sort of thing. It requires printing, packing, measuring, taping, filling out forms (for international packages) dropping things off… mailing packages is always a hassle but mailing international ones even more so for my ADD-addled brain. So I was really, really proud that I pushed through and did it all! 😊
✨🌈🧃🥟 Thursday 🥟🧃🌈✨
Tomoyo has been struggling a lot with her asthma during these colder, drier days. We’ve bought her a humidifier, and I plan to invest in an air purifier soon. Anyway, here’s a photo of her relaxing:
I need to weigh her again soon, to see if her very expensive weight-loss diet is doing anything (which would also help her asthma).
On Thursday I continued to read Kaya’s Story Collection, and also enjoyed a little lunch.
Afterwards, I worked some more on commissions and watched dinosaur documentaries downstairs. It was a welcome respite from sitting at my computer alone, and from YouTube.
Then Christopher got home, and it was time for Date Night to begin!
We went to the food trucks, only to be absolutely sticker-shocked by a dramatic increase in prices. Some food trucks had prices higher than many of our usual restaurants. But we had ice cream, anyway. I made a mess of myself eating it, but it was such a treat!
We got chicken sandwiches for dinner and watched a bit more Chucky while eating. Then we started playing with LEGO! Here’s some photos of that:
Kotoko stayed near us. Our partner put her in a box and she stayed in it.
Afterwards, Christopher joined us on a walk. It’s the third time he does this week and I am so proud and happy. It is very hard for him to walk, and he hates it. But, it is good for him.
Here’s a photo I took on the way back:
✨🌈🧃🥟 Friday 🥟🧃🌈✨
Today, one of my last two dolls arrived. This was Antonio Juan’s Bella, whom I’ve named Penny. Her box was absolutely luxurious, and huge:
The dolly herself is about the size of an American Girl doll. Her vinyl is soft. Her clothes are very pretty and understated.
She has that immediately recognizable Antonio Juan trademark to her expression. Pouty rosebud lips, and serious, deep eyes with long eyelashes:
Here’s all three of my girls together, Penny, Marzi and Molly. I think Marzi would be happy to know she is still my favorite:
Kalinka, Camila and Polenta sit on the bunk bed instead, while Kamalata sits on my empty studio chair, and tends to be my constant companion, at least for this week.
Reading has been progressing very well! I finished both Jurassic Park/Jurassic World and Kaya’s Story Collection. Kaya’s Story Collection is now a firm favorite, equal to Samantha’s Story Collection. I badly want Kaya (the doll) but, having promised myself not to buy anymore unless I got them for special occasions, I am stuck. I did want her before reading her story, but so much more now that I have!
I hope she won’t be retired… it’s a sort of luck I seem to have, and a pattern with Mattel/AG these years. I’ve kinda hinted to my guys that I’d love her as a jointed Valentine’s present, but I know I probably shouldn’t hold my breath, nor should I use every special occasion as an excuse to get something new. 😔 She is so special though, and so different from any other AG doll…
I almost got her instead of Molly when I saw her at the store. I want to go to the store again so badly, too, and choose Kaya right there. Her character is wonderful. I was so sorry that the book was over so abruptly… I wished it’d been twice as long. I wanted to see Kaya find her wyakin, and take Swan Circling’s name. I wish I could even have seen grow into a young lady and perhaps court and be courted by Two Hawks someday. It just wasn’t enough!
Anyway, I had another nice little lunch, and began reading Raggedy Andy Stories.
The illustrations are very beautiful. It is always poignant to see Marcella mentioned.
It’s pretty saccharine writing, but I enjoyed it very much. I’ll would eventually finish reading it on Saturday evening, to then start on Stephen King’s “It”.
✨🌈🌳 Saturday 🌳🌈✨
Here is the line on Saturday morning to stare at the bird feeders:
After breakfast we went to IKEA to get nightstands for our partner’s room. We had Swedish meatballs and Christopher even treated me to a slice of cake! It is always fun to walk around IKEA, and I brought Giorgio to carry around.
After we put together the nightstands, I grabbed some coffee, a snack, and my Switch. I played Pokémon for hours before falling asleep (I’ll recap my playthrough in a separate, detailed post). It was so relaxing and blissful. I woke up when Christopher came downstairs from his own nap, then resumed my housework.
✨🌈📚 Sunday 📚🌈✨
On this day I began intermittent fasting, which gave my mom amazing results over the last two years. In addition to my extra exercise, we’ll see what it does.
I went grocery shopping, did a bit more housework, worked on art, began reading Stephen King’s “It”, and played video games. Elliot kept me company:
I now have all my Gym Badges, so the League is next! But maybe I’ll battle a few more Titans, first.
I also found an area to display my Jurassic Park Advent Calendar, and some other minis I had:
This has been a week of many accomplished important resolutions so far –but none as important as that of writing. I wrote 500 words a day almost every day, sometimes more, making up for the days I did not reach that number, to not only get to my total of 3,500 words, but completely surpass it, at 3,701 words. This was over two whole chapters!
When progress happens on my books, I feel, more than at any other time, as though my life has purpose. Considering this, you’d think I would try harder to make time for it. I’ve avoided it for so long, that my brain is still a little broken when it comes to working on my fiction, hence the small daily goal. But it’s getting better –as it is for reading, gaming, and simply letting my thoughts wander.
All of this time I’ve tried to keep up with news, with social media, with “the latest”. Making sure I am seen, not drowned out in the noise everyone else makes online, as they, too, try to be seen. I am accepting more and more than just having local friends, and a couple of online friends, is okay. That it’s okay if I lose touch with a ton of acquaintances, and it’s okay if I’m forgotten by people, it’s okay if I don’t keep up with every bit of news.
My own life and needs, the needs of those closest to me, and long put-off dreams and desires (often for the urge to make money to buy another toy) are slowly coming back into focus, and I couldn’t be happier. It’s only week one, but I’ll do my best to keep it up all year. For now, I’ll say…
…until next week!
Hello, my dear friends, and Merry Christmas! Though it is the 26th now, this post will encompass the last three days, including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Below you can see Buddy, Sarah and Señor Elf as I found them the morning of Christmas Eve –all together and getting along!
I hope with all my heart that Señor Elf belongs to our household now. Guess we won’t know that until next Christmas. If he goes back to Christopher’s job, I’ll worry about him all month long. 😞
The final surprise in the Jurassic World Advent Calendar was this MASSIVELY cool Jurassic Park gate:
Here are some pictures of the gate attached to the final setup:
Of course, the last reward of the LEGO City Advent Calendar was the man of the hour himself: Santa!
He came with a carrot to feed his pony:
Here is a final look at everything, elves and all:
The Advent Calendars were a great joy all through the month. It was so much fun! I hope I can have one again next year.
🎄 Christmas Eve Morning 🎄
In the morning, I worked on Christmas cards and had mate while Celeste kept me company:
I wrapped my White Elephant present to take to the family Christmas the next day, and placed a couple of surprises on our partner’s side of the bed for him to find at the end of the day:
The rest of the day was a busy flurry of chores, of packing for the trip, of making sure everything around the house was just right. Having stayed up cooking on Friday night with our partner until around 2:00am, at least I didn’t have to worry about that on this day.
🎄 Christmas Eve 🎄
Not long after my mom arrived, we got dinner on the table, and then we started with presents (around 8:00pm). We couldn’t wait til very late, because we were leaving early the next morning.
Before my mom got there, I had spent about an hour moving all the presents into the movie room, were we had the projector going with a merry scene and Christmas music, and sorted everything into piles for each family member, as well as hid a few very special presents for last.
One was a special record I managed to find for our partner. Another was a stuffed bunny from my mom to Christopher that he utterly loved, it was one of the highlights of his night:
Her name is Ribbon. We will be getting her a nice, soft black ribbon for her neck.
Yet another was the LEGO DeLorean that he wanted most of all (from his mom) and finally, the crowning glory of his evening, his famed LEGO “White Whale”, the LEGO 10194 Creator Emerald Night.
Naturally I couldn’t discuss this anywhere, but I got it around August, kept it hidden and have been paying it off since then (it’s a retired set of astronomically inflated price that will not go down, ever). All my excitement that you saw me have this year in regards to Christmas was tied to giving this present to him, which had its intended effect upon my beloved recipient. 😊 Very worth it, though definitely the sort of thing I can only manage once a great many years.
This was the entirety of Christopher’s LEGO haul. Everyone got him LEGO this year, he’s a lucky boy:
It was very cold, so we got unusually cozy. I was wearing my deer kigu.
More photos taken throughout the evening…
🎄 My Haul 🎄
Note --I took multiple photos since I couldn't fit my presents into just one, and spread them randomly through this section. They aren't necessarily placed to match any accompanying text (for the most part) and rather to generally illustrate this section.
Both in magical experiences throughout the entire season and in material gifts, this has been by far the most excessive Christmas of our lives. To such a degree, that I hesitated to share any of my presents. But, I AM so happy and I do want to express that happiness and gratitude on my personal space, at least. Ultimately, I figure that few people look at my blog, and it isn’t likely to upset anyone of the few people who do read it, so I will only talk about it here. I do want to acknowledge the people who showered me with wonderful things, somewhere.
In years past, when I got really nice things for Christmas I kinda told myself “think of how little you had as a kid” and then I felt less bad about having many nice things as an adult. But year after year, and especially this year, I feel like I’ve gotten spoiled to incomprehensible levels, to the point where all of these wonderful things fill me with guilt. Not just during Christmas, I mean in general. Whatever “balance” I was trying to adjust of feeling like I missed out as a child, has been firmly unbalanced in the opposite direction, and I think I need to Calm The Heck Down™.
At some point I need to start enjoying what I have in front of me. And right now I have a lot… I have years worth of incredible stuff to enjoy, books to read, games to play. Like, I was overwhelmed taking the photos. If I never received another Christmas present ever again, it would STILL be a lot.
From our partner I got the Medieval Blacksmith LEGO set and the beautiful Spanish doll I wanted so much –I’ve named her Kalinka:
I also got the Sesame Street figure set from him, and a Bluey smartwatch.
From Christopher, Santa, Buddy and Sarah I got my LEGO Holy Grail, the Lions Knight’s Castle, which brought me to tears even though I was pretty sure it was coming. And also from Christopher, I got two Rowdy Roars (Beta and Dilophosaurus) Mandalorian curtains for my studio, two Snap Squad dinos (velociraptor and triceratops) a Hammond Collection Parasaurolophus, a Camp Cretaceous Allosaurus, a Grogu puzzle, a Velociraptor click tracker, a Scribble Scrubbie Crayola dinosaur set, a Jurassic World Create-A-Scene book, a Highlights Hidden Pictures magazine (dinosaur themed) and two Crayola Art Edge coloring page packs –Jurassic World Dominion and Mandalorian.
From my mom I got a beautiful red mate gourd (a happy coincidence, as I am working towards replacing my coffee intake with mate) the Amnesia: Memories fan disc (Amnesia: Later x Crowd) as well as Paradigm Paradox for the Switch, a box of alfajores, chocolate eggs and chocolate strawberries, a luxurious dinosaur coloring book with thick pages and the most beautiful, intricate pen-and-ink artwork, and an E.T. Tervis cup.
Regarding the coloring book, I actually don’t want to color it. I wanted it as an art book, just to look at. It is just so beautiful.
From my sis-in-law I got one of the most coveted items on my list and one of those that made me cry from happiness, the Monchhichi girl I wanted so very badly. I’ve decided to call her Ponzu.
From my mom-in-law I got an amazing 3-in-one LEGO Castle. Together with the Lion Knight’s Castle and the Medieval Blacksmith, it will all make an incredible setup. I also got two smaller LEGO City sets from her, and Amnesia: Memories for the Switch. One of the most charming things I got was a little snail ceramic figure that my mom in law herself painted for me. It’s so adorable and silly!
I also ended up with two White Elephant presents. This bird feeder that my sis in law didn’t want (and I’ll definitely enjoy):
It’s prettier than I expected, and even lights up. I’m looking forward to hanging it.
And this little waterproof speaker, which I’ll bring along when we go kayaking:
I also got these very cute dinosaur lollies from my mom in law’s roommate:
I also got gift cards from my mom in law, Grandma, and my mom in law’s roommate. One Starbucks card, and few Amazon ones. So I now have a bunch of dolls and books coming, too. These were all high on my list, to the point that I only have like two dolls left I ever really want —someday. Someday in the FAR FUTURE.
The dollies I ordered are all high quality, made-in-Spain dolls. They will take a long time to arrive, but I hope to have lots of fun taking photos of my new friends. They are of different sizes, and a couple I should be able to take places with me as I do my bears. Below you can see their stock photos, along with the names I have picked for them (their original names were Bella, Lidia, Martina and Chloe):
Once I receive them, I’ll make posts about them. I am especially thrilled to have been able to get Martina/Natasha, since she was discontinued and already terribly hard to find. So now I’ll have dolls by Gotz, American Girl, Así, Llorens, Antonio Juan, Paola Reina and JC Toys. It’s a pretty well-rounded collection.
If THAT wasn’t enough, I also have these books on the way. I haven’t been able to read Corazón since I was in elementary school.
There was one more BIG present I got, but I’ll talk about that one in a bit.
🎄 Christmas Day 🎄
Christmas morning we got the car loaded and headed to Grandma’s. I was a bit grouchy. During a lot of the holiday I’d had mild headaches and the cold was making my skin shrivel like a raisin. But I got a peppermint mocha and my crayons and coloring pages, my wearable blankie, and Raggedy Andy for company. I spent the car ride relaxing and feeling small and cozy.
Christmas with family was okay. We were all very eager to head to my mom in law’s to play games, relax and have some actual fun, because the Christmas meal with extended family is always stressful. But here came the big low of the holiday: my poor mom-in-law got COVID. So it was a rush of tests, of quarantining, heading back home before we could even unpack, sis in law changing her flight, basically a hard stop to all celebrations.
My mom in law’s face as we were leaving her house barely an hour after getting there was heartbreaking, her eyes were filled with tears. She almost never gets to see my sis in law these days, so it was a terrible turn of events for her who does so much and sacrifices everything for others; all she ever wants is to spend time with her children.
Honestly I would have rather risked COVID than leaving her alone. I felt so awful. I know Christopher and our partner would have stayed, too (Christopher is on vacation at home anyway, I work from home and our partner doesn’t interact with people at his job, plus we are all vaccinated and boosted, and we have all had COVID already). It would have been risky and stupid anyway, I’m well aware, but leaving her behind felt worse than that risk.
But even if we don’t care if we get sick, my sis in law has an upcoming surgery, works with immunocompromised people and has a big event coming up, all situations where COVID is taken very seriously so she simply cannot get sick. And we had to take her back with us so she could catch a plane back. So that is how Christmas Day ended.
🎄 Monday 🎄
We made the best of things and enjoyed one last day with sis in law. She masked, and stayed some distance from us. We had hot dogs for dinner and just enjoyed each other’s company and watched silly YouTube videos.
Oh, I said I would mention: the last big gift was something my old boss sent me, the double doll bunk bed I had on my wishlist. I was really shocked that anyone bought it for me, it’s so big and silly, but I love it. Christopher was nice enough to put it together for me when we were relaxing early in the afternoon:
It is really beautiful, even more than I’d expected. I think my dolls are going to fight as to who gets to sleep on it…
In the evening our partner made Mexican hot chocolate for everyone. But, it had cayenne pepper in it or something. It was very delicious but also painful to drink. Lol. Christopher could barely touch his, and I had most of mine, but couldn’t finish it.
In spite of the ups and downs all of this has been… well, a LOT. The amazing trips, the once-in-a-lifetime MOUNTAIN of incredible presents, it’s been a lot of happiness but it also feels a bit as if I just ate three giant cakes in a row. I feel bloated and guilty, both physically and emotionally.
I feel like I want to go on a diet of EVERYTHING: toys, outings, food. I want to quietly and calmly work for a few months, heck, a few years, and just enjoy what I have without buying or asking/trading for any more things.
I have so many toys to love, games to play, books to read, and things to do. I really need a break from all this excess, and to do just that. But above all, I am craving the rest and respite that I can only get from hard work.
So, I’m going to put the mountain of toys away, put the house back to normal, and hunker down to do art. I hope everyone’s Christmas was happy. I’m as excited to return to normal as I was about the holidays!
Today was our holiday house party! To our delight/horror, Buddy decided to contribute:
You don’t have to look THAT thrilled at the show, Sarah…
Unfortunately none of our guests wanted to sample Buddy’s special lemonade. 😞
Today’s Jurassic World Advent Calendar friend was Dimetrodon! I kept telling everyone I showed this to earlier that it was Spinosaurus, I got confused. 🙈
Today’s LEGO City Advent Calendar prize was a mailbox! I built it with my friend Shelly and it was really fun:
Now this kiddo has someplace to drop his letter to Santa!
The party was SO much fun. Shelly and I watched a movie before everyone got there: Samantha, An American Girl Holiday.
I’d seen this movie long ago and it was just as lovely as I remembered. It’s also a little bittersweet for me. When I watched it, I’d really, desperately wanted a Samantha doll. I’d eventually get one, on what was a deeply special occasion. She was precious to me. Even at the point I owned the most dolls, it was only three. But, when I did one of my toy purges, I worried that dolls were something I couldn’t really collect because so many people find them creepy. It seemed like one of the things I had to let go of, at the time.
People who visit may think I have a LOT of teddy bears but they still find them cute. Dolls really go off the creepy charts when you pass a certain number. I felt I couldn’t take them our or enjoy them as I enjoyed teddies, and while I now have my friend Shelly, back then I had no one who loved dolls as I did. So all my dollies were donated. It is one of the rare cases where I regret every one of those cases. I never regretted donating my horses for example, but I really miss my dolls.
Shelly loves her Samantha as much as I loved mine. I get to see her Samantha doll whenever she visits, and that makes me really happy! Besides, I have my Marzi, and when our partner asked what I wanted for Christmas, I asked for a new doll from Spain. So I’m going to have a new doll again. This time, I’ll try to just enjoy and not worry about what others think.
The doll is made by a brand called “Así”. It’s a very beautiful child doll with vinyl head and limbs and a soft, cuddly body. She’s big, almost 23″ tall!
Because it’s coming all the way from Spain, it’s not 100% sure that it will arrive in time for Christmas, but I’m hoping with all my heart! I think I’ll name her Kalinka.
Anyway, ramble over –here’s the only picture I took for the night, of two of our friends being very cute together:
My favorite part was giving everyone their presents. I was so happy. And Shelly had a surprise for me too! She knows me so well now, and everything she picked showed it. There was a Grogu blanket, neck pillow and eye cover set that I LOVE:
Dinosaur-egg shaped Belgian chocolates:
And a little Boo!
It’s so nice to get a bunch of little surprises that show the friend who picked them for you really thought about and remembered everything you like. That was the best part.
Shelly even made this lovely little hairbow for me. I wanted to wear it right away so we could be matching, but in wearing my Santa hat, I forgot. So for now I am displaying it by the LEGO Advent Calendar because it’s so pretty:
As an aside, I took these photos of Rosie during the party. I think she’s feeling better.
Before bed I also snapped this photo of the lights in my studio, which I’ve changed to Christmas colors. I really love them.
I went to bed before everyone else and read a little bit more of Marcella: A Raggedy Ann Story. I’ve been really enjoying this book:
Stories from the POV of toys are among my favorites, and it reminds me that creating stories with my toys as the characters is something I really want to do. But I don’t want to start new projects, so whenever I get this urge, I work on my book some more. So I’ve been doing that a bit this last week.
Anyway that’s all I’ve got to share for this post. Tomorrow is my chore day so I’ll be busy! But next weekend we go to LEGOLand. I’m so excited!