Thursday, November 28

Gobble Tov!

Happy Thanksgivukkah! 

Thanksgivukkah is a holiday name given to the convergence of the American holiday of Thanksgiving and the first day of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah on Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013.

It is a result of a rare coincidence between the Hebrew calendar and the Gregorian calendar. Because the calendars are not calculated the same way, Chanukah appears at a different time each year on the Gregorian calendar.

Thanksgiving Day has fallen during Hanukkah at least twice between 1863 (when Thanksgiving was proclaimed a U.S. federal holiday by President Abraham Lincoln) and 2013.

In 1888 Thanksgiving was the first day of Hanukkah, and in 1899 it was the fourth day. Thanksgiving occurred later in 1888 and 1899 than is possible under current U.S. law: as a result of changes between 1939 and 1941, Thanksgiving is always held on the fourth Thursday in November.

The last time Hanukkah overlapped with the fourth Thursday of November was in 1861, before Thanksgiving existed. As a result of this confusion, some media reports have mistakenly claimed that Thanksgivukkah had never occurred prior to 2013.

The next Thanksgivukkah? The year 77,094.

Wednesday, November 27

A friend through life's ups and downs

Ella photo courtesy of Dolls for Downs
I have been watching the development of some very special dolls for months now, and I am quite pleased to say they are now available!

Connie Feda of Robinson Township, Pa.,was inspired in 2010 when her daughter Hannah was 9-years-old. Hannah was flipping through an American Girl catalog when she looked up and said, "There are no dolls like me in here. No dolls had surgery. They are all not like me."

The rest is history. Originally called Dolls for Downs, they now seem to be called Extra Special Dolls. So far there are 16 girl dolls and 10 boys dolls in all skin tones!

Our world renowned sculptor, Karen Scott, referenced hundreds of pictures of individuals with Down Syndrome before incorporating such beloved traits as the simian palmar crease, the sandal gap toes, the tiny curved pinky finger, and the correctly proportioned arms and legs. But, we didn't stop there. Our special, deep joints and all vinyl body make our doll ideal in therapeutic settings. Our doll's limbs can be moved in all directions and can be easily disinfected for hospital visits and therapy sessions.

Our exquisite doll faces reflect the lovely features found in individuals with Down Syndrome.

From the sparkling, almond shaped eyes, gently curved noses and down turned lips to the smaller, lower set ears and generally flattened forehead, we believe that we have captured the essence and playful personality of a child up for anything!

Momma and I adore the slogan, "My friend through life's ups and downs."

Everyone needs a friend, don't you agree?

Tuesday, November 26

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

News flash!

The steampunk outfits and extras are now available for order at Carpetina!

And what is more, I was told to tell my Faithful Followers - next year they will have steampunk for American Girl, too!

Carpe Carpatina!

Monday, November 25

Penny for your thoughts

Pardon me for sounding like a modern tween but, "Squee!"


Please excuse my uncharacteristic exuberance.

You might recall Momma and I both like Monster High's Robecca Steam.

Momma nabbed an Art Class Robecca, but she is still looking for a Dead Tired Robecca.

But we have discovered Captain Penny is soon to be released as a Secret Critter.

Pets can be the best friends and the best secret keepers. The pets of the core Monster High ghouls have come to unlife to keep your secrets! Each of these five scary cute sidekicks (sold separately) has a secret-keeping feature. Write in secret- or in the open - but expose your thoughts only when it's safe! Share secrets with your pets and your friends!
I have always wanted him to be larger and now he is. Captain Penny is supposed to be twice the size of the original Captain Penny, according to someone who saw him.

Captain Penny will come with a basic pen and paper that can be used along with his secret-keeping and note-passing features.

Secret keeping is essential for a spy.

Sunday, November 24

This week in the Civil War: Nov. 24, 1863

The Battle Above the Clouds

This week 150 years ago in the Civil War, Union troops scaled Lookout Mountain southwest of federally held Chattanooga, Tenn., and ousted Confederates dug in with artillery on the heights. The attack by nearly 12,000 Union soldiers drove the Confederates off the mountaintop overlooking Chattanooga, effectively ending a siege of Union forces holding the city below. Fog covered the Union forces as they went up the 1,700-foot mountainside, aiding their offensive in what later would became known as "The Battle Above the Clouds." By late in the day on Nov. 24, 1863, Confederates under pressure of the Union offensive abandoned their artillery posts atop the summit and withdrew. A day later, Union forces would definitively break the Confederate siege lines ringing Chattanooga with another withering offensive, this one aimed at another height called Missionary Ridge.

Friday, November 22

Linkin' Kennedy

Fifty years ago today, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.

Momma was not born yet since Grandmomma was about six weeks pregnant with her. She has told Momma she was napping on the sofa and heard the news and thought she was dreaming....

Over the years many people have commented upon some of the similarities between Abraham Lincoln and Kennedy's assassinations. Here are a few, but I have eliminated those that are false.
  • Both presidents were elected to the House of Representatives in '46.
  • Both presidents were elected to the presidency in '60.
  • Lincoln defeated incumbent Vice President John C. Breckenridge for the presidency in 1860; Kennedy defeated incumbent Vice President Richard M. Nixon for the presidency in 1960.
  • Both their predecessors left office in their 70s and retired to Pennsylvania. James Buchanan, whom Lincoln succeeded, retired to Lancaster Township; Dwight D. Eisenhower, whom Kennedy succeeded, retired to Gettysburg.
  • Both their Vice Presidents and successors were Southern Democrats named Johnson (Andrew Johnson and Lyndon Johnson) who were born in '08.
  • Both presidents were concerned with the problems of African Americans and made their views strongly known in '63. Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862, which became law in 1863. In 1963, Kennedy presented his reports to Congress on Civil Rights, and the same year was the famous March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
  • Both presidents were shot in the head.
  • Both presidents were shot on a Friday in the presence of their wives.
  • Both presidents were accompanied by another couple.
  • The male companion of the other couple was wounded by the assassin.
  • Both presidents had a son die during their presidency.
  • Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth at Ford's Theatre; Kennedy was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald in a Lincoln automobile, made by Ford.
  • Both presidents' last names have seven letters.
  • Both presidents have five syllables in their full name (which counts Kennedy's middle initial).
  • There are six letters in each Johnson's first name.
  • Both Johnsons were succeeded as President in '69 by Republicans whose mothers were named Hannah.
  • Both assassins died in the same month as their victim in a state adjacent to the state of their birth.

Rest in Peace, JFK.

Wednesday, November 20

Steampunk adventures

The new catalog is here!

The new catalog is here!

The 2014 Carpatina Dolls catalog is out, featuring one of the two new steampunk outfits upon its cover!

Fun and exciting traveling
fashions in the age of steam – the style is late Victorian with a modern twist.
The outfits, which are on page 15, are adorable!

However, please be warned. These outfits DO NOT fit 18-inch dolls such as American Girl ME. The Fantasy Adventures outfits are designed for their slimmer 18-inch doll. (The Girlfriends Collection does fit American Girl dolls.)

Maybe I'll get a new friend for Christmas? 

Who do you think should join my Steam Team?

I tend to like brunettes, if that helps.

I wonder if they'll let me borrow the Steampunk Extras?

Tuesday, November 19

I'm a Toys Я Us kid!

It's official, I am the luckiest Vinyl American ever.

Momma got a seasonal job at Toys Я Us!

Toys Я Us is a dedicated toy and juvenile-products retailer founded in 1948 and headquartered in Wayne, N.J. The company now operates more than 877 Toys Я Us and Babies Я Us stores in the United States, more than 685 international stores, and over 170 licensed stores in 35 countries and jurisdictions.

Charles Lazarus started Children's Supermart (which would evolve into Toys Я Us) in Washington, D.C. , in 1948 during the post-World War II baby boom era as a baby-furniture retailer. Lazarus began receiving requests from customers for baby toys. After adding baby toys, he got requests for toys for older children.

The focus of the store changed in 1957, and Toys Я Us was born in Rockville, Maryland. The company's mascot Geoffrey the Giraffe (formerly known as Dr. G. Raffe) made his debut during 1957 in print advertisements for Children's Bargain Town. He was known for saying "Toys"R"Us," a quote that later became the company's name. Dr. G. Raffe was renamed Geoffrey in 1969 when Children's Bargain Town became Toys Я Us, and became the official Toys Я Us "spokesanimal."

The original Toys Я Us store design in 1969-1989 consisted of vertical rainbow stripes and a brown roof with a front entrance and side exit. Some brown-roof locations still exist, although some have been painted different colors or renovated.

Toys Я Us acquired toy retailer FAO Schwarz in May 2009.

FAO Schwarz, founded in 1862 during the Civil War and
the oldest toy store in the United States, is known for its unique high-end toys, life-sized stuffed animals, dolls, and games. The FAO Schwarz flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York City is a popular tourist destination, and has gained iconic status for its floor piano, cameos in major motion pictures, and real-life toy soldiers.

The Gettysburg Address

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Monday, November 18

Inventions in steampunk

Melody Valerie Couture is at is again, this time with a 1930s inspired steampunk outfit on eBay.

As the train pulled away, she looked around anxiously. It was her first trip to the country, and she wasn't sure who had come to find her at the station. She was spectacularly dressed, even by city girl standards -- the lovely striped dress, the beautiful corset, and the delicious top hat perched precariously on the side of her head. Just then, someone appeared around the corner. "Dianne?" She smiled. Vacation had begun.

"'Dianne' is a hand-made, originally designed steampunk ensemble, sized to fit American Girl or other 18" dolls, and is completely OOAK. The winning bidder will receive the dress, decorative corset, and top hat.

"The dress: With its fun, 1930's inspired lines, plenty of gathers, unique seaming details, and a high collar in the back, what's not to love? It closes down the front with antique rhinestone buttons and elastic loops. Tiny bands of leather, hand-stitched into place, keep the gathers in check. Fully lined with cotton voile and silk ribbons.

"The corset is crafted from leather and two other coordinating fabrics, and accented with fun bow charms and bling. In the back, a sturdy silk ribbon wends its way through some of the awesomest eyelets you'll find anywhere.

"The top hat: This hand-made beauty is accented with a leather bow, feathers, and some sparkly beads; it has wired edges so you can reshape the brim to your fancy. It's fully lined, and also features a horsehair loop in the back, so it can be securely and easily pinned into your doll's hair."

The auction ends Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013.

Good luck!

Welcome to a brave new world

Looking back, it appears I have never truly addressed my fondness for Disney's Phineas and Ferb.

Phineas and Ferb is an American animated comedy-musical television series. Originally broadcast as a preview on Aug. 17, 2007, and officially premiered on Feb. 1, 2008 on Disney Channel, the series follows Phineas Flynn and his English stepbrother Ferb Fletcher on summer vacation.  The boys embark on some grand new project
every day which annoys their older sister, Candace.

So imagine my excitement when Phineas and Ferb went steampunk in Friday night's episode: Steampunx.

When Phineas and Ferb discover a commemorative coin from the 1903 Danville World’s Fair, Lawrence recounts the events of the festival to them, in which steam-driven devices were introduced and a set of kids, who were very much like them, were preparing for the highly anticipated event. 

It was so good my Perry the Platypus and I watched it twice

Now I shall be the first to admit their clothes weren't inspiring, but their inventions (as always) did not disappoint and my musical hero, Professor Elemental, made an appearance, too!

But what I simply can not understand is why Perry the Platypus became Sweary the Swan. I mean, what could be more steampunk than a semiaquatic mammal endemic? A platypus just screams alternative universe!

Sunday, November 17

This week in the Civil War: Nov. 17, 1863

Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address"

President Abraham Lincoln delivered the "Gettysburg Address" on Nov. 19, 1863, at the Gettysburg battlefield, one of the most famous addresses by a politician in American history. The occasion: a dedication ceremony planned near the Gettysburg battlefield to give a better burial site to fallen soldiers than the shallow earthen graves they were initially given after the epic battle in July of that year. A former Harvard president was designated the featured speaker at the deciation and Lincoln was asked to speak as an afterthought, but would go down in history with his short by memorable speech that opened "Four score and seven years ago ..." 

Fighting in Tennessee

Elsewhere, Union soldiers under the command of Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside plunged Nov. 16, 1863, into the thick of fighting with Confederate opponents near Knoxville, Tenn. The Confederates struck on the flank of Burnside's column but Burnside was able to maneuver his troops and get them on the march to Knoxville. The Confederate attack by Lt. Gen. James Longstreet ended with a Union victory and Knoxville firmly in Union control.

Wednesday, November 13

It's a small, small, small, small world

Please excuse me while I have a fit of snickers.

I heard that Carpatina was releasing at least three steampunk outfits and accessories next month, so I rushed to their site to check it out.

This is what I found.

Yup, those are full-size.

Now I know steampunk is a small (but growing!) genre, but that's ridiculous.

I have asked for larger photos but in the meantime, break out your magnifying glasses.


Tuesday, November 12

Bon voyage!

Treasures from the orient!
Chinese guardian lions.
Momma has more than 100 of these teapots!
Fresh exotic flowers.
This phone booth is perfect for me!

More fresh flowers.

Tea for two and two for tea....

This original life preserver is well preserved.
A gown worn by Diana, Princess of Wales.
Diana's a bit of a drag here.

Elbow, elbow, wrist, wrist!
My future quarters.

I liked the bellhop uniforms better!
Captain Ted. E. Bear

I did NOT want to go home!

Haute under the collar

I am fit to be tied.

In the past month Momma has missed out on four (FOUR!) designer steampunk outfits. I am beside myself.

Now, in all fairness, the first three by Melody Valerie, while Gorgeous, are a bit too formal for my active steampunk lifestyle. But I can still like them, right?! (And Momma does love purple!)

But the fourth by Liberty Jane is exactly what I need while time traveling.
As you might recall, Momma got me a Liberty Jane Tokyo Libby outfit two years ago, and several pieces in my wardrobe (and Clementine's) are based upon her patterns.
So I am Simply Stunned that Momma snoozed through these latest auctions.
How shall I ever hold my head up again?

Momma said she'll get the pattern for the Steam Bib Top for me, but it's just not the same.

Momma also says it's time for me to accept reality.



Maybe I'll have better luck with the upcoming Melody Valerie steampunk auction.... 

Sunday, November 10

I love the nightlife

Photo bomb!
Continuing with my long delayed adventures upon the Queen Mary, after exploring the cabin we went to a friend's house to celebrate with the happy couple.

Smoke from the QM's haunted Dark Harbor.
I, of course, had to sneak into at least one photo!

After feasting upon a delicious homemade vanilla cake with raspberry filling, we returned to the ship where I continued to explore.

Harboring no suspicions.
Outside the Queen Mary was a fantabulous haunted house called Dark Harbor, but I decided I wanted to explore the Queen Mary more.

Remember the Titanic? ALWAYS know where your lifeboat is!
Many of the ship's rooms and exhibits were closed for the night, but it was deliciously thrilling to explore at night.

I'm the Queen of the World!
The Queen Mary is known as "the haunted ship." It’s not surprising that the Queen Mary was voted one of the Top 10 Most Haunted Places in America by Time magazine!

Among the ghosts reportedly still hanging around are a sailor who died in the ship's engine room, a "lady in white," and children who supposedly drowned in the ship's pool.

Despite my detailed explorations, not a single ghost made itself known to me.


To be continued....

This week in the Civil War: Nov. 10, 1863

Fighting in Virginia

Union soldiers crossed over the Rappahannock River on Nov. 7, 1863, at Rappahannock Station and captured hundreds of Confederate fighters in the process. As fighting erupted, there were hundreds of casualties near a place called Kelly's Ford before the Confederates retreated further south. The fighting came about the time Gen. Robert E. Lee's fighting force was preparing to go into winter quarters near Culpeper, Va. The AP reported on Nov. 9, 1863, on the fighting. "It will be seen that a severe battle has been fought on the Rappahanoock," said the dispatch, reporting Confederate fighters had moved in the direction of Culpelper. "The number of Confederates taken prisoners is twelve hundred," said the dispatch, adding, "In the attack on the redoubts on the north side of the river, the Confederates are reported to have suffered severely."

Thursday, November 7

The ship of woods

Functioning portholes!
I know this post is three weeks overdue, but I wanted to share our experiences in California.

Believe it or not, it was my first experience flying in a modern airplane ... and Momma checked me in her luggage! (She had some feeble excuse about her camera bag being her one-and-only carry-on.)

However, once we got to Los Angeles, we checked into the Queen Mary.

Art deco mirror!
What a ship!

We were lucky enough to have a stateroom with a lovely view of Long Beach through the portholes. We were pleased to find they could still be opened so we could enjoy the ocean breezes. (Not many of those in Arizona!)

Momma headed off to attend her friends' wedding and left me to explore our cabin.

Woo hoo!

How they used to heat and cool the rooms.
As previously mentioned, the Queen Mary sailed as a luxury liner (and transport) for 30 years before being purchased by the city of Long Beach, Calif., as a hotel.

Heaters for wimpy American travelers.
Many of the historic elements were left in place as the ship was converted into a stationary hotel.

The 346 original First-Class Staterooms and nine Suites are situated on three decks and all are above sea level and no two rooms are alike. Many of the Staterooms feature the original artwork found on the ship during her heyday, as well as authentic Art Deco built-ins for additional storage.
Brass bars to attach trunks to the wall.

Phew! I'm tired! I'll share more tomorrow!
Electric fans!
Hot and cold fresh and salt water taps.

Our most popular room! Space and luxury are the defining attributes of the Deluxe Stateroom. The preferred choice of first-class travelers back in the day, the Deluxe Stateroom also includes a large built-in headboard with bookshelves, as well as operable portholes. The rich polished wood and Art Deco décor give guests a 1930’s feel without ever sacrificing the convenience of modern amenities. Additionally, several of our King Deluxe Staterooms are on the starboard side and include beautiful Long Beach Harbor views.

Room Amenities:

  • King-size bed (or two Twin beds) with plush pillow-top mattresses
  • Operable portholes
  • Some may include a sitting area with a table and two chairs*
  • 32” LCD flat screen TV with satellite and Pay-Per-View movies
  • Wi-Fi Internet
  • Mini-fridge (available upon request for a fee)
  • Relaxing Green Tea & Willow Archive products
  • Hair dryer
  • Iron/ironing board
  • Rollaway bed is available (upon request)
  • Authentic Art Deco mirror and original built-in storage
  • Built-in Art Deco headboard with bookshelf
- See more at:

Tuesday, November 5

Somewhere in time

Momma and I are hoping to get back to regular blogging soon, but I had to share these new dolls with you.

Introducing Déjà Vu by Robert Tonner.

“Time after time, life after life, looking for her one true love....”

Ever have that strange sensation of overwhelming familiarity, when something shouldn’t be familiar at all? Penelope Brewster does. She can’t recall if these experiences are manifesting from something that she’s read in a book or seen in a movie, but…could it be the remembrances of past lives? She just chalks it up to Déjà Vu™ …but could it really be that simple?

Follow Penelope as she sets out on her latest adventure across time!

To read the full Déjà Vu™ storyline - CLICK HERE!

To get a sneak peek at the full 2013 Déjà Vu™ Collection - CLICK HERE!

Explore the poseability and endless possibilities of the ALL NEW Déjà Vu™ body - just CLICK HERE!

And the companion book is coming out this spring!

If one can't time travel, remembering past lives is the next best thing!


Sunday, November 3

This week in the Civil War: Nov. 3, 1863

Confederates moves toward Knoxville, Tenn.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis ordered one of his most capable commanders, James Longstreet, to send forces against Union rivals and advance toward Knoxville, Tenn. The so-called Knoxville Campaign by Longstreet would drag on through November 1863, part of a series of skirmishes and military assaults in eastern Tennessee 150 years ago in the Civil War. Both Union and Confederate forces were seeking to control eastern Tennessee in the fall of 1863 and Longstreet began pushing toward Knoxville over muddy roads in a bid to assault Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside's Union forces defending Knoxville. A Confederate siege of Knoxville would open on Nov. 17, 1863, but after two weeks of trying to starve out the garrison and one disastrous assault, he would scuttle the siege. Not only would Longstreet ultimately fail in his quest to take Knoxville, but Union forces would largely take control of eastern Tennessee after Grant also ended the Confederate siege of Chattanooga in the autumn of 1863.