Monday, December 30

The End is just the beginning…
The more I read about Ever After High the more I realize the same creativity behind Monster High and its characters extends to Ever After and its student body.

As they say, "This isn’t your mother’s fairytale… this is Ever After High!"
The children of famous fairy tale characters are destined to follow in their parents’ footsteps to keep their stories alive through generations, otherwise their stories will cease to exist.

However, Raven Queen is unhappy with her destiny and wants to write her own path. The school gets divided into two factions.

"Royals" are those who know they will have a happily ever after:
  • Apple White: Daughter of Snow White
  • Briar Beauty: Daughter of Sleeping Beauty (Briar Rose) 
  • Ashlynn Ella: Daughter of Cinderella 
  • Blondie Lockes: Daughter of Goldilocks

"Rebels" are those with less favorable destinies together with those who prefer the idea of creating their own destiny:
  • Raven Queen: Daughter of the Evil Queen and the Good King 
  • Madeline Hatter: Daughter of the Mad Hatter 
  • C.A Cupid: Adopted daughter of Eros and Psyche 
  • Hunter Huntsman: Son of the Huntsman in BOTH Snow White AND Little Red Riding Hood 
  • Cerise Hood: Daughter of Little Red Riding Hood ... AND  the Big Bad Wolf(!)

So, are you a Royal or a Rebel?

Sunday, December 29

The Curse of the Crystal Mummy

My Big Sister wrote this Original Story after it appeared to her in nightmare form and wanted me to share it with you!

I told my Big Sister her nom de plume should be Penny Dreadful.


Once upon a time there was a family with seven kids and the parents were very poor. They couldn't afford any toys.

One day, a little girl named Steampunk Addie went to school and bumped into her best friends: Sophie, John, Mary, Marty, Jack, Daisy, and Margaret.

Marty said, "Why don't we go to the Crystal Pyramid?"

Steampunk Addie said, "No!"

When Sophie asked, "Why?" Steampunk Addie said, "Because my Momma told me that there was a curse in there. If we break a crystal, a so-called 'Crystal Mummy' will awaken."

Jack said, "Oh, baloney!"

Sophie said, "Yes, let's go to the Crystal Pyramid by ourselves. We don't need Steampunk Addie!"

Margaret said, "I'll just stay here with Steampunk Addie."

So Steampunk Addie's friends went to the Crystal Pyramid without her and Margaret.

They found a crystal at the entrance. Sophie picked it up but then she deliberately broke it!

Then the entrance opened and they saw that the Crystal Mummy had woken up. They all screamed and tried to run away. All the girls escaped, but the boys did not.

The girls went back to the school where they screamed at Steampunk Addie and Margaret, "You were right! The Crystal Mummy woke up and took the boys."

Margaret swooned. A few minutes later she awoke and she said, "What?" while looking questioningly at the girls.

Steampunk Addie said, "We have to go to the Crystal Pyramid to save the boys!"

The girls said, "No way, Jose!"

Steampunk Addie said, "Fine! I'll go by myself then!"

The girls tried to stop her but could not.

Steampunk Addie asked her Big Sisters to go with her but they said no. (She would have asked her Little Sister but she was a Baby.) So she went alone to the Crystal Pyramid with all of her dad's dangerous weapons.

(She told her Momma she might be gone for a few days or weeks. Her Momma said that was okay - she'd have leftovers.)

So Steampunk Addie went to the Crystal Pyramid. She had forgotten she could read Egyptian, but it said,

Go away Steampunk Addie, or I shall turn your friends into Crystal Mummies like me!
The Crystal Mummy

Steampunk Addie gasped with fright. She was not afraid of the Crystal Mummy, but she was afraid she might be too late to save her friends.

She found a code on a piece of papyrus near the entrance. It said, "5, 5, 2, 1, 8, 0."

Steampunk Addie punched those numbers into the combination on the pyramid's door, but it was rejected, so she tried it again backwards (0, 8, 1, 2, 5, 5) and the door opened!

She saw another note on the floor as she stepped inside the pyramid. It said,

Go outside or I will curse you too, Steampunk Addie.

The Crystal Mummy

P.S. It's too late. I cursed your friends.

Suddenly, her friend Marty appeared seemingly out of nowhere. Marty had been hiding in the room where the Crystal Mummy's ancestors had been entombed.

Steampunk Addie found papyrus and a pen on the Mummy's great-great-great-grandfather's tomb.

Marty had somehow escaped the Mummy's Curse. He said, "Save them" as quietly as a moth flying.

"Okay," she said as she went to get the papyrus and the pen. When she picked up the papyrus and pen, the tomb opened!

She looked inside, but nothing was in there.

"It must be a trap!" she gasped because suddenly there were cobras, quicksand, and spiders coming out of the walls and tombs.

She tried to escape, but could not. Marty appeared wearing shoes that could walk on quicksand. When she asked where he got them he told he was a wizard! That was how he escaped the Crystal Mummy.

Marty happened to have a pair of magical shoes that were steampunk style for girls, so they escaped together as fast as they could walk on quicksand.

They found a small Crystal Mummy. "It is John!" said Marty. Steampunk Addie agreed, and using Marty's magic they freed John.

John said, "What happened?" Steampunk Addie explained as they tried to find the others. They found Jack, who was also a small Crystal Mummy. Using the magic once again, they freed him.

After explaining what happened yet again, Jack said, "Okay, let's go kick some mummy butt!"

They found the Crystal Mummy, and he dared to laugh in Steampunk Addie's face!

"What's so funny?" she said angrily, and he said, "This." He stepped aside, revealing Steampunk Addie's Baby Sister whom he had (mysteriously) kidnapped.

Steampunk Addie was sad, frightened, and furious at the same time. She felt weak in the knees because the one person whom she loved more than anything had been kidnapped. 

Her friends who happened to be male (not boyfriends!) surrounded her. Steampunk Addie stood up and said, "Come and fight me, if you dare!"

Her friends went to free the baby while Steampunk Addie fought the Crystal Mummy. While he was taunting her, Steampunk Addie snuck up behind him and poked him in the spine with her Unusually Stout Parasol.

He fell like a tumbling, crashing building.

The Crystal Mummy begged for mercy and promised Steampunk Addie he would do anything she asked.

"Well, I do want you to use your powers for Good instead of Evil." After discussion, he agreed to her plan and they all left.

The next day, when they awoke they found piles of presents everywhere. In fact, everyone in the whole, wide world had received presents.

And Steampunk Addie's Baby Sister said her very first words, "Merry Christmas!" as they ripped into their presents.


This week in the Civil War: Dec. 29, 1863

Fighting subsides as troopers enter winter quarters

As troops on both sides begin to enter winter camps, fighting has subsided with the onset of cold weather this month 150 years ago in the Civil War. The Associated Press reported on Dec. 27, 1863, that the U.S. steamer Massachusetts arrived from the Carolinas at Union-held Fort Monroe off the Virginia coast with more than 200 federal military personnel recently discharged from duty. The ship also was carrying dozens of sick and 16 rebel prisoners taken from the captured rebel steamer Chatham off the Carolinas. AP also reported that the ship was bringing northward examples of some of the obstructions removed from Charleston Harbor in South Carolina that Confederates were using to defend the area. The obstructions were to be taken to Navy officials in Washington for examination. AP added federal warships were continuing a blockade of Charleston with "little firing" between Confederate land batteries and federal warships anchored in nearby waters.

Saturday, December 28

Spellebrating the holidays
My Big Sister got a gift certificate for Christmas and decided to use it today to get the Ashlynn Ella and Hunter Huntsman dolls from Ever After High.

Ever After High is a doll line released by Mattel in 2013. It is a spin-off to the popular Monster High dolls, however in this line the characters are based upon fairy tales and fantasy stories. In fact, Monster High's C.A. Cupid transferred to Ever After High! 

The children of famous fairy tale characters attend high school in the village of Book End and are destined to follow in their parents’ footsteps to keep their stories alive, otherwise their stories will cease to exist.

Most Ever After High dolls are similar to the Monster High dolls but have rounder, babyish faces and thicker limbs. However, Maddie Hatter (Momma's favorite) has a thicker version of Howleen and Twyla's shorter body. They are all articulated like the Monster High dolls.

Momma was not too impressed with the dolls until she unboxed my Big Sister's Ashlynn and Hunter. We both like how the dolls look and feel.

I expect more will be joining our Vinyl American family.

Sunday, December 22

Looking for a few good toys

One of the things Momma has enjoyed most this holiday season is helping people with their Toys for Tots purchases.

In the past three weeks she has seen everything from a woman specifically coming in to buy one single toy to donate in the bin at the front of the store, to ringing up toys totaling $4,000 for coordinators in northern Arizona.

Momma said she has seen collection bins for as long as she can remember, but it surprised her to find out Toys for Tots originated with the United States Marine Corps Reserve back in 1947.

Toys for Tots, now a
501(c)(3) not-for-profit public charity located in Triangle, Virg., began as a Los Angeles charitable effort in 1947 when Major Bill Hendricks, USMCR, was inspired by his wife Diane when she tried to donate a homemade Raggedy Ann doll to a needy child but could find no organization to do so.

At her suggestion, he gathered a group of local Marine reservists who coordinated and collected about 5,000 toys for local children that year from collection bins placed outside of Warner Bros. movie theaters.

Their efforts were so successful that, in 1948, Toys for Tots was launched as a national campaign. Hendricks used his position as director of Public Relations for Warner Brothers Studio to enlist celebrity support, as well as have Walt Disney Studios design the red toy train logo.

Marine reservists and volunteers collected and refurbished used toys until 1979. In 1980, only new toys were accepted, as reservists were no longer able to dedicate drill hours to refurbish toys, as well as legal concerns and the mixed message of giving hand-me-downs as a message of hope.

As of 2013, the Toys for Tots Program and Foundation have collected and distributed more than 469 million toys.

This article incorporates material from the
United States Marine Corps Reserve.


This week in the Civil War: Dec. 22, 1863

Fighting in Tennessee

The Union, which had bolstered its positions in East Tennessee earlier in the year, launched into one more battle to fight in the state before ringing out the year 1863. A Union brigadier general, Samuel D. Sturgis, got word on Dec. 28, 1863, that Confederate cavalry had been spotted near Dandridge, Tenn. He chose to go out and attack the force, opening up a battle at a place called Mossy Creek. Initially Confederate forces got the upper hand but then the Union troops turned the tables, forcing a brigade of Confederate cavalry to retreat. The Union victory, though a minor one, further consolidated Federal gains in the state.

Thursday, December 19

Ear comes Santa Claus
I've said it before and I'll say it again; Momma has Most Excellent Friends.

Momma's friends went to Disneyland last week to celebrate their anniversary, and while they were there they got her a little something.

A limited edition purple steampunk ear hat ornament!

Celebrate the holidays and the glory of steam-powered machinery with this limited edition Steampunk Ear Hat Ornament. Finely detailed by artist Costa Alavezos, this light-up ornament will make Christmas a science fiction holiday.

Created especially for Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort
  • Limited Edition of 2400
  • Light up feature
  • Sculpted detailing
  • Includes printed artist signature
  • Includes ribbon for hanging
  • Created by Disney artist Costa Alavezos
  • Collect all the Steampunk Ear Hat Ornaments, each sold separately
  • Part of the Disney Ear Hat Ornament Collection, each sold separately
Knowing Momma and her passion for all things purple, they chose the purple hat. Of the seven ornaments, two light up - including Momma's!
Thanks Jennifer and Steve, and Happy Anniversary!

Château Sinistre
Right now I don't know who I am more jealous of - my Big Sister or the Monster High crew.

While working at Toys Я Us,  Momma spotted the Winland Spooky Mansion and wanted to get it for my Big Sister and her MH dolls, but (alas) the only one they had sold before she could acquire it.

So she was delighted this week when it was returned in a damaged box.


It no longer seems to be available under that name, but we found it now listed as Teamson’s Monster Mansion Corner Dollhouse:

Have a frightfully fun time with Teamson’s Monster Mansion Corner Doll House. Three floors of top notch terror, include a kitchen, living room, and bathroom. Perfect for a tight space because it fits in the corner. Spend the night if you dare! Great for ages 3 and up.

They have at least one other version that we could find, but we particularly like this version because it fits snugly into a corner.

Included with the Monster Mansion is:

  • Bed
  • Loveseat
  • Dining chairs (2)
  • Table
  • Coffin bathtub

Now comes the hard part, and I don't mean assembly.

I can't play with it until December 25th!

Not ready for prime time
I do not know when I last laughed so hard.

Someone on late-night talk show host Conan O'Brien's "Team Coco" let me know late last night about this video clip.

(Since many of you might not normally stay up so late, O'Brien is an American television host, comedian, writer, producer, and voice actor. He is best known for hosting several late-night talk shows.)

While it is a bit more, um, mature than typical American Girl fare, it does strike my funny bone.

That is, my "no real" funny bone.

Tuesday, December 17

Peg o' my heart

Imitation is the sincerest of flattery, right?

I have been a longtime admirer of Kirsten's Adventures. She's also Pleasant Company and has an attitude that I quite admire.

One of her boon companions is Pegleg Sally. I have long wanted my own version of her, and Momma said she will finally be joining my Steam Team!

I think I shall call her Peggy.

(Kirsten has not had any adventures in a very long time. Does anyone know why? I hope she and her Momma are okay.)

Sunday, December 15

This week in the Civil War: Dec. 15, 1863

Lincoln’s Proclamation on Amnesty and Reconstruction

In early December 1863, President Abraham Lincoln announced his Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction, an early document aimed at speeding reconciliation and reconstruction of areas recaptured from the Confederacy by this point in the Civil War. At this time in the conflict, Lincoln’s armies had recovered large parts of the South and with the reclaimed territories came a pressing need to rebuild and reorganize them. Lincoln’s document, in an annual message to Congress, sought to permit a full pardon and restoration of property rights to all who had rebelled against the government — save ranking Confederate commanders and leaders. It also called for permitting a new government to be formed when 10 percent of eligible voters had sworn allegiance to the United States and to resolve questions involving freed slaves. Several Northern newspapers immediately supported the plan. “The President’s plan of restoring our Federal system to its normal operation ... finds us already thoroughly committed to it .... What is the problem to be solved? It is — How to restore truly and safely the part of the Union which revolted,” The New York Times said on Dec. 11, 1863.

Friday, December 13

Paper caper

Printable Doll Clothes
One size fits all.


If there is one marketing gimmick that makes Momma laugh, it is that.

Printable Doll Clothes
She is 6 feet 3 inches tall (or was in her youth) and claims clothes are even harder to find for herself than they are for Me and my Steam Team.

So we were both surprised when we discovered printable doll clothes thanks to Char at Doll Diaries.

Yes, printable. As in your computer printer.

Did you know paper clothing, in the form of women's dresses and other clothes made from disposable cellulose fabric, was a short-lived fashion novelty item in the 1960s United States?
Historically, paper and papier-mâché clothes and accessories (especially masquerade costumes) were used as early as the 19th century, but mass-produced paper fashion was invented by the American Scott Paper Company in 1966 as a marketing stunt. Customers could send in a coupon and $1.25 to receive a dress made of "Dura-Weve," a cellulose material patented in 1958.

But as the novelty appeal of paper clothes wore off, their downsides became more apparent: they were generally ill-fitting and uncomfortable to wear, their garish colors could rub off, they were often flammable and, of course, they ended up as trash. By 1968, paper clothing had disappeared from the market.

We had to go see for ourselves after hearing about Printable Doll Clothes. Momma and I both had to laugh when we saw this:

"My dolls never seem to understand the concept of 'size' when they want to borrow each others dresses. Luckily my printable doll clothes are very accommodating to different doll sizes."

Sounds like me, Clementine, Robecca, the Wilde bunch, and now Ana Ming.

Inspired by Jules Verne books with a dash of Steampunk, Julia is perfect for an adventure into the realms of imagination.

Each outfit set comes with mix and match tops, skirts, sleeves, and accessories which can be combined to create many different outfits.

This collection includes five outfit sets (four color, one B&W), each of which is a four-page PDF file and contains three tops, a straight skirt, flared skirt, circle skirt, one small circle, and two belt and strap sets.

Elizabeth has kindly shared the Julia pattern with me, so expect a more in-depth review and fashion shoot in the near future!

In the meantime, if you would like more information on Printable Doll Clothes and how they are made, you can visit her website, Her designs are available as printable PDF files at her Etsy Store,

Tuesday, December 10

Everything a toy store should be
Working at Toys Я Us this holiday season has brought back many wonderful memories for Momma of going to Children's Palace in Columbus, Ohio as a child.

Growing up in a small town in southeast Ohio, Momma said there was nothing like the experience of walking into the huge toy wonderland on West Broad Street.

Children's Palace was a well-known toy chain on the East Coast. The chain was known for its warehouse-style merchandising, long aisles, and overstock storage above the selling-floor shelves.

Children's Palace was also known for making its stores resemble castles, complete with turrets, battlements, and three arches (two small, one large) in the front door.

After the acquisition of Children's Palace, Child World became the second largest toy retailer in the United States after Toys Я Us, its chief competitor. 

From 1977 until its closure in 1992, Child World also operated the Children's Palace chain and incorporated most of its castle theme features from Children's Palace into Child World stores.


Monday, December 9

Ana Ming dynasty

I'm sorry I haven't blogged as much recently as I had hoped, but Momma (and I!) have been swamped with her new job at Toys Я Us.

However, I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my new friend, Ana Ming, straight from Char at Doll Diaries!

Char needed to make room in her dolly world for another doll, so Ana Ming is coming to live with us.

According to the Carpatina website:

Ana Ming
The vitality and glory of the ancient Orient-home of her mother's ancestors-fascinate Ana Ming.

Lively intelligence glows in her rich brown eyes. With gleaming waist-length black hair, glowing cheeks, and rose-touched lips, she has a timeless beauty.

A0000 ~ Ana Ming Doll

  • Collectible, 18" slim all vinyl body, Kanekolan wig, closing eyes
  • Golden Brocade Dress with Mandarin collar and delicate frog closures, Underwear & Matching Shoes
  • Blue Presentation Box and tag with care instructions

Momma has promised to get her the Camden Station Outfit as soon as possible. 

Meanwhile, Clementine and I are camped outside waiting for the Pony Express to arrive....


Sunday, December 8

This week in the Civil War: Dec. 8, 1863

Lincoln lauds Confederate pullout from East Tennessee

The Associated Press reported 150 years ago this week in the Civil War that Confederate Lt. Gen. James Longstreet was in retreat after abandoning his siege of Knoxville, Tenn. The dispatch dated Dec. 8, 1863, said Longstreet appeared to withdrawing through a mountain gap either toward Virginia or North Carolina with "Federal cavalry pursuing." The dispatch added; "he will scarcely be able to make good his escape without material loss, though he has thirty-six hours the start." With Ulysses Grant now firmly in control of Chattanooga, Tenn., and Longstreet unable to capture Knoxville, the Confederates are reeling from the blow. AP reported that a key for the Union was the arrival of William T. Sherman's cavalry at Knoxville in early December to reinforce the existing federal forces. Meanwhile, President Abraham Lincoln issued a statement that the Confederate retreat from East Tennessee renders it "probably that the Union forces cannot thereafter be dislodged from that important post, and esteeming this to be of high national consequence. I recommend that all loyal people, do, on the receipt of this information assemble at their places of worship, and render special homage and gratitude to Almighty God for this great advancement of the national cause (Signed) A. Lincoln."

Sunday, December 1

This week in the Civil War: Dec. 1, 1863

Fighting subsides at Knoxville, Tenn.

Confederate James Longstreet abandoned his attempted siege of Knoxville, Tenn., on Dec. 4, 1863, withdrawing from the area after his failed bid to weaken the Union's growing grip on the state. The withdrawal of Confederate forces was closely watched by pursuing Union forces. Although the Confederate attempt to take Knoxville had ended, the fighting was not yet over in this corner of Tennessee. More skirmishing and battles would continue in the cold days of December 1863 as Longstreet's forces clashed with Union forces at various sites. But then Longstreet would pull out of the area entirely and have his fighters settle into winter encampments as the Civil War dragged on 150 years ago this week.