Friday, August 28, 2015

Christmas Books and Fashions

It's only August (ok, almost September), but Nellie and I are showing off some of the goodies we'll have for Christmas.  We've always had our own Christmas tree, and this year we asked for some new ornaments for it. 

As it turns out, the little mini books our human makes are also the perfect size for little Christmas ornaments.  Instead of stapling the mini books, just punch holes in the spine and run embroidery floss through it to tie the book together.  Then just run a little bit of ribbon through the loop made by the floss, and voila, instant ornament!  As an added bonus, the books are perfectly readable and sized for us.

We have 8 different little Christmas themed books for ornaments, including 'A Christmas Carol' and 'The Night Before Christmas'.  Everything is from the mid to late 1800s, so there's a *lot* of moralizing in some of the picture books.

If you like these mini books/ornaments, you can find them for sale here.

And for this month's edition of 'The Human Is Not Allowed Near the Clearance Rack at Joann's'.  We're not quite sure what the human was thinking when she made these, but I actually like the lightbulb tshirt.  Or course, some of the others do have the wonderful feel of 'ugly Christmas sweater', only in our case, it's 'ugly Christmas T Shirt'.

This isn't too bad...
and this is cute...sort of...

OK, human, this might be excessive.
Did you have to use stripes?

What did we ever do to you to deserve this?
This might be tolerable.  Might.

We get cool toys and books.  In exchange, we put up with the indignity of aggressively seasonal clothing.  And the human is still eyeing the Halloween fabric with unholy glee.  We can only hope that the human is too busy to act on those desires come October.  (She has been threatening us with Halloween clothes for 3 years running, and we've been safe so far...)

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Back to School Printables for Historical Dolls

 We've been on a crafting kick lately, and only just got around to actually photographing and documenting all the cute things that have been made.  This time, Lily's being kind enough to show off some more historical printables.

The first batch are made with free samples from  Just sign up for their newsletter, and you'll get free doll sized printables every week.  This time we have 2 Little Delineator magazines from the 1920s, a copy of Beatrix Potter nursery rhymes, and a tiny little Golden Book (perfect for Maryellen).

We also made a set of Rewards of Merit, like the sort Kirsten had in her school collection.  There's probably 20 designs in all, dating from 1850s to the 1880s.  All of these are blank, so you can fill in your doll's name.

Download Rewards of Merit

And it's a little early, but we also made a set of itty bitty Halloween cards with images from 1900s greeting cards.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Lily's Laboratory: How to Grow Bacteria

Since the human took Shepard off to a biotech (actually, it's for design automation in synthetic biology.  Big words, I know.) conference last week, I took the time to get settled in the lab and start engineering some bacteria of my very own.  Nothing too hard, just your normal glow-in-the-dark bacteria with jellyfish fluorescent proteins.

The rest of this is going to read like the protocols section from a science journal paper.  It's what I get for letting the human proofread.

 We start by filling the petri dishes with agar.  The petri dishes are little jewelry organizers from Michaels, and the 'agar' is EasyCast resin tinted with a drop of off-white paint.  (I believe the actual color is 'Graveyard Bone' by Reaper Miniatures.  We may or may not have raided the DnD mini painting supplies for this project...)

For 'bacteria' (trust me, you do not actually want to be growing lab strain E. coli in your kitchen.  Or basement laboratory.  They smell.), we used some glow-in-the-dark fabric paint, and very carefully streaked the plates.  Alas, we did not have red paint for RFP, so no flow cytometry for us.

Biology lesson of the day:  'Streaking plates' is how you get a single colony of bacteria that's all descended from one cell.  You start by growing up some bacteria in liquid culture, and then spreading that out on a plate.  You dip a sterilized loop in the liquid, and zig-zag across about  a quarter of the plate.  Then you sterilize the loop again, and starting at where your previous zig-zags ended, zig-zag across another section of the plate.  And you do this until you fill the plate.  At the very last zig-zags, you'll have spread out the bacteria enough that you'll only have single cells.  Then you grow them up overnight and voila, colonies!

We have a whole 9 plates of 'bacteria', three green, three yellow, and three blue.  They may or may not be adorable, depending on your sensibilities when it comes to genetically modified organisms.

If you're interested in a set of petri dishes for your very own, please contact the human at  We have a set of 9 petri dishes (3 empty, 3 plain agar, and 3 with bacteria) ready to ship to any miniature lab in the US.  The price (including all fees and shipping) is $30.  If there's demand, we can take custom orders for more.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Mix and Match Challenge! (Part 2)

Part 2:  Handmade Clothing

All the clothing in this section (with the exception of underwear, shoes, socks, and tights) were made by me.  There's quite a bit of substitutions because there are some styles that I don't sew and I don't knit.  We're going for a playful steampunk feel with some of the outfits

1. Plain or subtly-printed t-shirt: white tshirt with pink ribbon and applique
2. Tank top: light blue tanktop with dragonfly applique
3. Printed t-shirt: super geeky Mass Effect 'Thresher Hugs' tshirt
4. Camisole: substituting blouse with lace ruffles
5. Long or 3/4 length sleeved shirt: pinstriped 1860s blouse

1. Blue jeans:  substituting blue pleated linen skirt
2. Colored jeans: black denim pants
3. Capris:  khaki capris with lace trim
4. Shorts:  substituting blue knit skirt
5. Skirt:  5 gored 1880s pink skirt
6. Khakis:  plain khaki pants

1. Cotton:  substituting sailor jacket
2. Cardigan:  substituting 1860s blue wool bolero jacket
3. Denim or "leather" jacket:  black N7 denim jacket
4. Hoodie:  substituting 1880s jacket bodice
5. Leggings:  grey leggings

1. Black flats:  substituting pink ballet flats (Life of Faith Millie's Party Dress)
2. Colored flats/ballet flats:  grey polka dot flats (Souvenir Accessories)
3. Espadrilles (any color): substituting black loafers (Plaid Skirt and Sweater 1999)
4. Sandals:  blue strappy sandals (Kanani's Meet Shoes)
5. Calf (or knee) boots:  brown boots (old Heidi Ott doll clothes
6. Sneakers:  black sneakers (Blue Jean Basics 2 1999

The Outfits:

Kana:  blue tank top, blue knit skirt, grey leggins, sailor jacket, strappy sandals
Shepard: (all Mass Effect, all the time) 'Thresher Hugs' tshirt, N7 denim jacket, black denim pants, black sneakers

Samantha:  1880s jacket bodice, khaki capris, brown boots
Nellie:  ruffled blouse, 1860s bolero jacket, khaki pants, black loafers

Lily:  1860s pinstripe blouse, blue pleated skirt, footless tights, grey polkadot flats
Anora:  white tshirt with pink ribbon and applique, 1880s 5 gored skirt, pink ballet flats

Mix and Match Challenge! (Part 1)

Here's my take on the AGC Mix and Match challenge.  I'm doing this in two parts:  AG branded clothing, and homemade clothing.

Part 1:  American Girl Branded Clothing

The Spread:

1. Plain or subtly-printed t-shirt: grey tshirt (Drawstring Cargos and Plaid shirt 1999)
2. Tank top: white stretch tank (Play Outfit 1998)
3. Printed t-shirt: substituting denim buttondown shirt (Play Outfit 1998)
4. Camisole: light blue cami (Blue tank and briefs)
5. Long or 3/4 length sleeved shirt: Grey striped turtleneck (School Jumper 1996)
6. Comfy sweater: green sweater (Plaid skirt and sweater 1999)

1. Blue jeans (Blue Jean Basics 1995)
2. Colored jeans: substituting navy blue ripstop cargo skirt (Urban Outfit 2000)
3. Capris:  substituting denim shortalls (Earth Day Outfit 1996)
4. Shorts:  khaki cargo shorts (Hiking Outfit 1998)
5. Skirt:  plaid skirt (Plaid Skirt and Sweater 1999)
6. Khakis:  drawstring cargo pants (Drawstring Cargos and Plaid Shirt 1999)

1. Cotton:  substituting wool jumper (School Jumper 1996)
2. Cardigan:  blue cardigan (Rebecca's School Outfit)
3. Denim or "leather" jacket:  WW2 Bomber Jacket (Molly's Aviation Outfit)
4. Hoodie:  navy blue hoodie (Drawstring Cargos and Plaid Shirt 1999)
5. Leggings:  blue leggings (Apres Ski Wear 1997)
6. Vest (any color, style, pattern, etc):  substituting plaid flannel shirt (Drawstring Cargos and Plaid Shirt 1999)

1. Black flats:  black strap shoes (Ruthie's Meet Shoes) -> not used
2. Colored flats/ballet flats:  grey polka dot flats (Souvenir Accessories)
3. Espadrilles (any color): substituting black loafers (Plaid Skirt and Sweater 1999)
4. Sandals:  blue strappy sandals (Kanani's Meet Shoes)
5. Calf (or knee) boots:  black boots (Rebecca's School Outfit)
6. Stompy boots:  doc martens (School Jumper 1996)
7. Sneakers:  navy blue sneakers (Drawstring Cargos and Plaid Shirt 1999)

I ignored this.  I'm not one for little accessories, and none of my dolls are either.  And frankly, if I can't be bother to wear jewelry myself, it's highly unlikely I will try to track down little matching accessories for my dolls.

The Final Outfits

Shepard and Kana have very similar tastes, that being 'plain and functional'.  The difference is that Kana hates to wear shoes and would go barefoot all the time if she could.

Shepard:  grey tshirt, WW2 bomber jacket, cargo shorts, doc martens
Kana:  blue cami, navy hoodie, drawstring cargo pants, strappy sandals
Nellie is being super stylish, but we're not sure what happened with Sam.  The 90s attacked, and it isn't pretty

Nellie:  white tank top, denim buttondown, plaid skirt, navy leggings, grey polka dot flats
Sam:   grey striped turtleneck, denim shortalls, sneakers
Lily is being her usual preppy Slytherin self:  green sweater, grey tshirt, wool jumper, black loafers.
And finally Anora is being a hipster before being a hipster was cool:  plaid flannel shirt, white tank top, navy blue cargo skirt, grey polka dot flats

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Shepard at the Pacific Science Center

The Pacific Science Center in Seattle, WA
Here we are in scenic Seattle.  The human is now occupied with her conference, but yesterday we had plenty of time to go exploring.  She *almost* didn't take me with her, but her friends persuaded her otherwise.  I was getting tired of the dorm room.  We took the bus to downtown Seattle, and then walked to the Seattle Center.

Outside at the pools
The human has a museum membership with membership reciprocity around the country, so that was abused immediately at the Pacific Science Center.   The pools and fountains outside were very attractive.  Less attractive was the fact that at least 3 day camps had kids there, and both the human and I got stares.  (The human was wearing a Charmander Shepard t-shirt.  It was her own damn fault.)

Gemini Capsule
Wonder of wonders, there were no small children in the Gemini Capsule, so I could get a quick picture there.  The small children showed up approximately 2 minutes later, so we went elsewhere.  To the giant bugs.  Of course there are giant bugs everywhere.  (Also naked mole rats, but those pictures didn't come out so well.)

Giant animatronic praying mantis/rachni
Bugs are meant to be ridden, right?

Giant animatronic scorpion too
The next building had some fun hands-on exhibits, which is why I'm in a giant carbon nanotube structure.  No small children tried to help the human build this, but some adults did.  It ended poorly.

Platonic solids
Trapped in a carbon nanotube

Back outside again, we found these sea life sculptures that the human and I had to take pictures of. 

The bronze sculptures outside

Further adventures (no pictures) included a ride on the monorail and a trip to Pike's Market where the human bought some more fabric and convinced someone to buy an AG doll for their daughter.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Casual Summer Mix-and-Match

Summer causal mix-and-match
Just something simple this time:  doll shirts made from old tank tops and some denim mini skirts.  The stripes on the tshirt actually match at the sides and back!