Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Dalicious - Challenge 1

Dear Readers,

The theme for the first challenge of the Dalicious Photo Contest was MAGIC!  It took me a few days to figure out what I wanted to do and then I had to wait until I got the time to set up a photoshoot.

As you know from my last blog entries, I was stressed out because of my mom's death anniversary and my son's birthday so I didn't work on the photoshoot until Sunday which was the last day to submit the picture!

The most difficult task was to occupy baby so I could work in peace.  It was not easy.   My daughter is very attached to me because I work all day long so when I come home (or during weekends), she sticks to me like a magnet on a fridge!

So whether I try to cook or do the laundry, or read with my boy, she will want to be with me.  My husband tricks her away by taking her out on her tricycle or letting her watch Peppa Pig.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't and she would sit there and cry until I pick her up. 

Well last Sunday was one of those days when it would not work.  She kept running back to me while I was setting up the background for my photo and it was really difficult to focus amidst her screams and tears but I had to do it or I would be eliminated from the contest.

My home situation surely matched my scene because Scout (DAL Tweety) was dressed as Cinderella crying on her Fairy Godmother's knees.  The Fairy holds a magic wand and is about to transform one of the little mice who are hiding behind a pumpkin.  Do you recognize the mice?  They are the Sylvanian Families Norwood Mice children :)

The pumpkins are real by the way.   I bought them at the grocery store so we can use them as home decorations and for carving Halloween pumpkins later.  The broom is a Madeline toy from Eden.

The wand was made with a Q-Tip covered with glitter.  I had glued the glitter a day in advance so it would have time to dry but tons of glitter kept coming off during the photo shoot anyway.  It landed everywhere: hair, dress, grass.  I constantly had to blow them away or pick them out of the picture scene.

The two dresses actually belong to a Snow White Disney doll.  I had the Cinderella dresses as well but they looked way too big on my DAL doll.  The Snow White's poor dress was however smaller and simple enough to look like a common rag dress.  The Fairy Godmother is wearing a Snow White Winter Gown.

I took about 20 pictures with my camera and they turned out all blurry >.<  I then took 10 pictures with my Samsung Cell Phone and I ended up using one of those photos.  I don't have Photoshop so I could not edit or change anything to my picture.  I wished I could have photoshopped some tears on her cheeks.  But to be honest, I was already so relieved at least ONE photo came out clear enough!!! 

I then had a mild panic moment when I realized my photo was not the proper size requested for the contest.  Good thing that Chloe from Moonrabbit_Ly's Miniature World had told me about iPiccy a few days ago.  I used that program to resize my photo to the correct dimensions!  Thanks Chloe!!!

The next day the contestant's photos are posted on the Dolly Market Forum.  You can view them on the discussion thread of the forum.

I must say I was floored to see the quality and creativity shown in those photos!  I knew I was nowhere near as good.  I really have to work harder on my setup and my photography skills!  But it was a fantastic experience and I am really looking forward to the next challenge.  I certainly "played" with my dolls more than I did on a regular basis and I had to think about using objects I have at home as props in my scene.  I didn't want to go buy extra material (there was no time for that either) so it was great to look into my existing stack of toys!     

I heard some websites can help photoshop but I really don't have much free time to explore!  I will try my best with unedited photos at first and then look into photoshopping if I have time left!  Wish me luck!






Monday, September 29, 2014

Of Beignets and Ducks

Dear Readers,

Did you have a good weekend? On Sunday I didn't want to do anything stressful.  I had such a long and tiresome week that I just wanted to relax come Sunday.  So we went out to a Café to eat beignets.  Beignets are fluffy pillows of fried cinnamon dough (like donuts but more chewy) covered with powdered sugar and/or honey.



We went to a nearby lake for a walk.  There is a picnic area nearby and it's shaded under many trees so it's a great place to bring some food and eat outside.

And there are so many ducks!  As soon as they see somebody, they swim over in hopes of getting some food.  We didn't bring any for them yesterday but I'll remember to take some bread with me next time.

I survived my first doll photo contest by the way!  I will write more in details tomorrow about the first challenge! :)

I wish you all a very good week!!!  


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Barbie Fashion Fever Build a Room Kit

Dear Readers,

I have been wanting to build a roombox for quite some time so I can take pictures of my dollies.   I even chose the wood planks at the craft store but I am no good at this.  Fast-foward 4 months and still no roombox so I decided out of desperation to try the Barbie Fashion Fever Build A Room Kit.  It was a whopping $25 dollars on Amazon.  I told you I was desperate >.<


The outside box looked so promising.  It included two different wallpapers and ridges on the floor (which means I could re-use it for other wallpapers of my own),   There was also a thin shelf and a few accessories like yellow stickers for the floor and other non-memorable plastic items. 

The walls are made of two cardboard pieces that you can insert in the ridges you see on the floor.  One side is covered with a rather hypnotic and annoying pattern of pink and red roses. The shelf is super thin and could probably carry only a frame or other light objects.

On the other side of the wall is another equally hypnotic pattern composed of white, green and blue diamond.  Notice the gap in between the two walls?  That's a design flaw.  The miWorld mall store solved that issue by providing a small triangular plastic piece that connected the top of the two walls.  I used tape on the back to do the same trick in this case.

The Barbie doll shown on the front of the box looks small but I think it's because she is standing in the middle of the room and the angle of the shot made her look that way.  In reality, a Barbie doll is very tall for the walls of this room.  See below for a comparison photo.  From left to right: Barbie, Liv, J-Doll, and Licca.


I think the J-Doll and Licca dolls would be suitable for the height of this room because Barbie and Liv would look awkward in the shots unless they sit down. 


In the picture below is J-Doll Marche.  She is a beautiful doll with an awesome outfit.  I changed her into a more comfortable attire.  She is dressed in a white and green summer dress made by Re-ment.  She was blessed with gorgeous soft hair so I did not have to rewig her like I did for J-Doll Esplanadi Katu.  


The chair, footrest and table are from my Hannah Montana Malibu Beach House.  The flower and vase are accessories from a Barbie blue kitchen set. 

J-Doll Esplanadi Katu was invited for an afternoon tea.  Her grey shorts and white top with blue polka dot are also made by Re-ment.  Shelf, chairs and table by IKEA and all tea cups and plates by Re-ment.  The scones and muffin are from Re-ment  Bread and Butter Collection.  They look amazingly real and the texture was even well done!  It was just too much fun to set up this scene!  But that red line on the wallpaper corner annoyed me to no end!  


I had to take a shot from another angle to hide that red line.  Don't you think it looks less distracting now that it is no longer there?  That's another design flaw.  The red line is from the other side of the wall covered with the roses.  What an unprofessional finish to leave it there for the other wallpaper! 

The floor is meh.  The yellow stickers were ridiculous and I would have preferred another cardboard insert to show a proper wood floor or carpet or something actually less tacky than huge pink tiles but hey, this is Barbie stuff so getting pink is rather the norm.

I do love that Mattel actually came up with a roombox but it could have been so much better.    Sadly, they didn't improve on the initial design and it fell out of production.  I hope they will eventually release something close to that idea but with better walls and floors and maybe allow for a window or door to be added.  That would be AWESOME!  

I think I overpaid for this and it is really not worth the $25 I spent.  I am still biting my hands over that but it may have possibilities and I will look into creating my own wallpapers... preferably without hypnotic patterns or a red line smack in the corner of the room!



Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Cherry Jam and CinnaPup

Dear Readers,

Here is the new Cherry Jam doll from Bridge Direct.  A cute dog named CinnaPup is included in the package as well as a purple comb.  But cute as it may be, the puppy does not stand up very well on its own.  It kept falling down as I tried to take photos.





I couldn't help but compare the new version with the older one from Hasbro.  Their hair color is almost the same purple shade and they wear the same dress except for the flower which is only printed on the Bridge Direct dress while it's a button for the Hasbro doll. Their shoes are almost the same as well except there is a flower printed on the new doll.   


Can you see how the new doll has more defined hands?

The new Cherry Jam comes with a headband.  She also has much bigger eyes and her face is painted with bolder colors than the Hasbro doll.

They can wear each other's shoes and dress without any problem. I swapped their outfits to show you.




Here they are without their clothes.   The Hasbro doll is a tiny teensy thinner than the Bridge Direct doll.

From behind as well!

There is really nothing much that sets them apart except for their face.  I did notice however that the hair of the older version is better than the newer version.  The Bridge Direct doll's hair falls out in clumps when I brush it.  The Hasbro doll has smoother hair and it has never fallen down in clumps like this!  Also, the bangs of the Bridge Direct doll is covered with some sort of glue that makes it stiff.

I must admit it is one of the reason why I prefer the Hasbro doll over the Bridge Direct doll.  But maybe I am just not quick to embrace change.

Which doll do you prefer?


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

DAL Tweety

Dear Readers,

I would like to thank you all for your kind encouragements about the DALICIOUS Photo Contest.  I hesitated for a long time but once I read your comments, I realized participating in this competition would be a great opportunity to learn :)  I bought a new DAL doll just in time to send in my application to Dolly Market.  I named her *** SCOUT *** !

I have quite a history with DAL Tweety.  I bought a DAL Tweety a few years ago.  She was my second DAL after DOTORI (I could no enter Dotori in the contest because her arm is broken :/).  Her whimsical outfit and amazing face-up were too cute to resist.  And she has orange hair!!!   But then I sold her off during a time period in which I resolved to only collect 1:12 scale figures and miniatures and forget about 1:6 scale.  My resolve crumbled quickly and I had lost a few dolls in the meantime.  I was very sad to had let DAL Tweety go and often regretted this decision.  I kept wanting to buy another DAL Tweety after that but her price was always very high so I gave up.


As luck would have it, I found a DAL Tweety in a Tuesday Morning store just a few days ago.  I just couldn't believe it!  She was only $39.99 (faints).   I bought her right away I decided to jump in the DALICIOUS Photo Contest.

I only have a cheap camera and I my photography skills are terrible but I figured that I never play with my dolls as much as I would like to so this is the perfect opportunity to explore my hobby.  I have tons of clothes, furniture, houses and accessories for my dolls but I never really set them up in any interesting diorama.  I have always been an admirer of people's photos but not really a doer (if you know what I mean).  So this is my chance to have fun too and learn about dolly photography. 

I don't know how I'll be able to keep up with the challenge schedule but I hope it will be feasible.  I usually have to wait until the kids are asleep to set up any kind of photoshoot.  And then I have to take it apart before my baby rips through everything when she wakes up.

I gave my DAL Tweety a name that I love.  Scout is inspired by the little girl in To Kill a Mockingbird.  She is brave, has a quick temper but has a golden heart beneath that rough exterior.  DAL Tweety gave me that fearless vibe about her so it was a matter of seconds to choose a name.  Scout is also the name my husband wanted to give our daughter but I rejected that option because it was too tomboyish.  I was thinking about how strange it would be if she was named Scout but would become very feminine and into ballet and dolls.  Funny enough, she turned out to be a super tomboy (I should have known... with seven boy cousins, it was hard to avoid).

I hope Scout will inspire me to come up with interesting ideas for the Photo contest!

Thank you again for your help!  Wish me luck :)




Sunday, September 14, 2014

miWorld Mrs. Fields Cookie Shop

Dear Readers,

This weekend was over in a blink.  I really wanted to make a full review of the miWorld Mrs. Fields Cookie Shop because so many people had requested information about it.  I squeezed in as many pictures as I could take in-between cooking, cleaning and watching the kids.  Anyhow, I wished I had more time to do it but many projects are scheduled so this will be a very concise review!  

Dimensions: 7 3/4 inches wide and 8 inches tall (or 19.5 cm wide and 20 cm tall).

The counters and stool were in between 1:12 scale and 1:6.

The food items were a little bigger than 1:12 scale.  They are comparable to a lot of the Re-ment minis I have but not as detailed and are made from rather flimsy plastic.  The trays and cookies are very very thin (as in almost flat).  

The set is packaged very securely in a colorful cardboard box with pictures of other mall sets.

The content is listed on the front of the box: 2 wall pieces, 1 floor piece, 31 accessory pieces.

 The side of the box gives a more detailed account of the content:

  • 12 chocolate chip cookies
  • 6 sugar butter cookies
  • 1 plate
  • 1 hot chocolate cup
  • 1 cookie cake
  • 1 cookie display and display cover
  • 3 cookies trays
  • 1 cash register
  • 1 display counter and display cover
  • 1 counter
  • 1 bar stool
  • 2 walls / 1 base


Not mentioned on the box but it should be noted: there are stickers provided to complete the look.  Those stickers do not stay put and they come off constantly while I was taking pictures. 

VERY IMPORTANT BECAUSE WITHOUT IT, THERE WILL BE A GAP BETWEEN THE WALLS: there is a tiny piece to connect the top of the walls.  Included is also a long piece to be used if you want to connect another store to yours.

Content is packaged tightly inside the box.


And here is what it looks like once set up.  It looks pretty but do you notice something?

My set is INCOMPLETE!  The cookie cake, hot chocolate cup, 2 chocolate chip cookies and 1 sugar cookies ARE MISSING FROM MY PACKAGE!  And I am sure it didn't roll down the floor because I emptied the content in the box itself to make sure I would not lose any piece. - UPDATE: THE MISSING ITEMS WERE IN THE BOX GLUED to the outside shell!  Look at my 2nd picture in the clear round bubble! Silly silly me! >.<

But fortunately for me, I did buy two Collector Packs ($2.99 each) when I purchased the Cookie Shop.  Each pack contains different items to complete your Cookie Shop.

One pack had 6 triple chocolate cookies, a bag, a pumpkin chiller (the cup with the cream on top), and the other pack had one cookie cake, a box to go and 2 small hot chocolate cups.

Now my set looks somewhat more complete.  The set is fine but the bar stool is useless because it's so flimsy.  Nothing can sit on it or it would topple over (well except maybe a tiny minuscule item like a micro lalaloopsy).

Here is a close-up.  Can you see how thin those cookies are?

But the most pressing question: how does it look with dolls in it?  Here below are pictures that will speak for themselves.

It won't fit well with the  Sylvanian Families :/

This Mimiworld doll is so cute with this background!

Yikes!

Don't mind Stacie's weird pose.  It was the only wait to make her stand.

Miki-chan and Maki-chan are a good size for this store.

Princess Tulip is grumpy: "You already know I am too small for this..."

Poor Madeline is much too big!

It's getting more interesting now.  Can you imagine a big mall for those darling Strawberry Shortcake dolls?  This is a perfect setting for them!  

Ah jackpot!  Of all the dolls, the one that suits this set the most is a Picco Neemo from Azone that I had paired with a Little DAL's head (do you recognize Lady Foxy)?


I apologize for her terrible hair day but I hurriedly put her on that body so I could show you the size comparison.  She didn't even have clothes of her own yet so I grabbed a Kelly dress because it was the only thing that seemed to fit her.


Overall, I am happy with the miWorld Mrs. Fields Cookie Shop.  For $14.99, you get a colorful room box and actual furniture and miniature food.  But let's see the pros and cons in detail.

Pros:
  • Affordable price
  • Very easy setup
  • Nice counters
  • Glossy stickers
  • Colorful walls 
  • Great for 5-6 inches dolls
  • Accurate miniature of the shop

Cons:
  • Incomplete package (my bad, I found them!)
  • Flimsy bar stool
  • Cheap plastic miniature
  • Stickers do not stay put

Would I buy another set?  I would.  I want to try a set which has a chair and not a bar stool to see if it would be better.  Apart from the missing items, it was a very nice roombox full of realistic-looking minis.  The counters alone can be very useful for other dioramas, especially if you don't use the stickers and leave them blank.

When I was a teenager, my favorite place to meet up with my friends was the mall.  I have no doubt children would love to re-create the mall environment with these mini sets.  My own niece has bought her own this weekend.

I have a few dolls that don't fit in any 1:12 or 1:6 scale diorama so the miWorld Mall is a very good option.  I am thinking about gifting them to my daughter who loves Strawberry Shortcake so much.  But it will have to wait until she is at least 7 years old (which is the recommended age) because I think this set is too detailed for her now.

From the point of view of a miniature collector, I am not too impressed by the cheap quality of the trays and cookies but I feel I got what I paid for so I am not disappointed.

The scale is totally strange and it does not fit many of my dolls.  But it will fit my Picco Neemo and other 5-6 inches dolls like the Ai-Dolls and other BJD tiny dolls.  In case you are wondering,  I could not feature my Ai-Doll Phlox today because I couldn't get her to wear her dress (I'll talk about that another day LOL).

I hope my review was helpful to you and will answer some of the questions you had concerning this miWorld miniature mall.  So what do you think after you saw the pictures and read my post?  Will you go ahead and buy it for yourself (or for your children)?


EDIT: I looked over my pictures this morning and noticed the cookie cake and missing items in front of the package in the clear plastic bubble!!!  After work I checked the box again sure enough, it was still glued to the outside of the box in that clear bubble!  How silly of me!



Friday, September 12, 2014

Licca Castle Small Shop in Tokyo

Dear Readers,

Did you know that Licca Castle has opened a store in Nihonbashi, Tokyo!  It's called LICCA CASTLE SMALL SHOP and it will sell Licca Castle and Jenny dolls, shoes and outfits!  And they apparently sell rare dolls and dresses that are exclusive to that store!

Photo from Licca Castle Website

The shop has recently opened on August 1st, 2014 and I only saw a very few photos of the store so far.  But the most memorable pictures are from this fantastic Japanese blogger Kokeshi Diary !  She has an incredible collection of Licca dolls, Blythe dolls and Azone Pure Nemo dolls!  Her blog is such a pleasure to follow because of her super beautiful pictures!  It's thanks to Chloe Liu from MoonRabbit_Ly's Miniature World that I found out about the blog!

The photos I am posting here are however from the Licca Castle Official Website and are not that blogger's personal photos.  I wished I could ask Kokeshi Diary for her permission to repost her pictures here but her blog is in Japanese and I don't know how to navigate around to ask her nor can I write in Japanese :/

Photo from Licca Castle Website

So you must take a look at the Licca Small Shop on her blog entry!  Can you imagine rows and rows of dreamy doll's dresses and shoes?  It's a Licca Heaven!  
Photo from Licca Castle Website

The dolls themselves are super kawaii cute and for the fist time I am considering buying a boy Licca doll (they do exist!).  I think the pictures are showing Charles (Licca's cousin from France who has blonde hair).  I didn't know boy's outfits could interest me this much but they look fabulous on these dolls!  I found a close up photo of the boys in this other blog entry (scroll all the way down).  I am also in love with the sailor suit and dress shown on that post.  Aren't they amazing?

Oh to go to Tokyo and buy all these goodies!  One can dream.  What is your dream shop?