Saturday, April 18, 2015

Tess's Tidbits: Time to Say Goodbye

I hardly know how to begin. You've all been waiting for an official last post for so long, you've probably given up on us. For that, I wish to apologize.

Maggie and I had all sorts of plans for our "grand finale", so to speak. We were going to gather everyone for a huge photo shoot, record final thoughts from all of our friends, and go out with an incredibly involved and amazing post. 

Unfortunately, making these plans a reality was much more involved than either of us realized. Getting everyone together at the same time (and getting everyone to cooperate) was a near impossibility. The days turned to weeks, which turned into months. And now, here we are, all the way into April, when originally we were going to finish our blog in August. :( 

Last week, Maggie and I talked things over and decided that perhaps we were a bit too ambitious. It seemed like our best option was to end this blog the way we started, with just the two of us. And really, that's perfectly fine with me. :) 

Before we get into the rest of the post, I thought it would be noteworthy to share some of our accomplishments through this amazing adventure we've shared together. Maggie has agreed to step in and take over this part.

Hey all! Maggie here. So, yeah, I think we've done a pretty awesome job overall these past years...aside from these awkward MIA months this year. But hey, nobody's perfect, right? ;)

So here are a few of our stats to celebrate. In the past four years (and a little more), we have:

-published 239 posts

-collected 118,162 pageviews

-gained 130 followers

-gathered 144 likes on our Facebook page 

-enjoyed readers from countries all over the world, such as the USA (of course), Russia, the UK, Canada, France, Ukraine, Germany, Ireland, United Arab Emirates, Switzerland, Australia, the Philippines, China, New Zealand, and more! :)

-made some incredible online friends, especially fellow doll bloggers like us :)

I'm not really the sentimental type, as all of you probably know by now, but I just want to say that you guys have been awesome. It's been great to get to know all of you, and we'll miss you. We won't completely disappear, though. Mama plans to have us guest post every once in a while on her blog, so you won't get rid of us that easily. ;) Mama's blog is too nice, anyway. I think she needs a sarcastic guest ranter every once in a while, don't you? ;)

Okay, back to you, Tess.

Thank you, Maggie. :)

Last week, shortly after we made the decision to end with a simple, "just the two of us" post, Mama took us with her to Grandmama's house. The weather has been lovely and mild this past month, so everything was beautiful and green.

Of course, Mama had us pose for a photo shoot first thing. :}

I loved these pretty, purple hydrangeas. They reminded me of one of our earliest blog photo shoots.

Once we were free from photos, we spent the afternoon enjoying the beautiful nature around us.

 Just look at the colors of that sky!

I love the way the sun peeked through the trees at this time of day. It gave everything a warm, glowing light.

Of course, spending time with Maggie doesn't usually lead to relaxation and reflection. She soon found a tree she wanted to climb. I was so worried she would fall!

After that, she wanted to explore the woodshed. I was a little concerned about that plan, too. It was so dark. And what if there were spiders? :(

Thankfully, Maggie didn't mind a calmer activity after that. It was so peaceful sitting by Grandpapa's pond.

The peace didn't last for long, however. There was another tree Maggie wanted to climb. This one didn't look quite as scary. Maggie convinced me to come up, too. I didn't climb as high as she did, though. Climbing trees in a dress is not all that easy. Plus, I'm not overly fond of heights, especially when I'm sitting on a narrow tree branch. :}

I have to admit, the view was quite lovely.

Maggie told me that the view was even better from her vantage point, but I decided I'd take her word for it. 

After our adventures in the tree, we took a long walk together. As we did, we talked about our blog and how much fun we'd had.

"Can you believe it's been over four years since we began?" I asked her.

Maggie shook her head. "It seems like yesterday."

"I know." I twisted a strand of hair in my hand. "In some ways, it's a relief to wrap things up. I've been feeling so guilty about being behind on posts. But part of me wonders what I'll do with myself when I don't have the blog anymore."

Maggie's face held an almost tender expression. "You'll have plenty to do. Spending time with your sisters and the rest of us, writing your stories, watching movies, watching Mama's girls grow up." She grinned. "Besides, with a friend like me, things should never be boring."

I laughed. "I suppose that's true." An unspoken fear I'd buried in my stuffing over and over again resurfaced, chasing my laughter away. "I guess sharing a blog together has helped me feel closer to you. I mean, I know I'm not into any of the action movies you and Rachel enjoy so much. Sometimes I feel like we don't have much in common."

"We've never really had the same interests, but our friendship is based on more than that. You know that, Tess."

I felt embarrassed. "I know. I just hope we can find things to do together once our blog is done."

"Of course we will! Look how much fun we had today." She gave me a mischievous grin. "And I'm still determined to get you to watch 'The Avengers'. I keep telling you, Thor is basically Mr. Darcy with awesome fighting skills and better hair. Not that he's anything to Iron Man." 

"Only if you agree to watch a Jane Austen movie with me. Maybe they'll grow on you." I was surprised at my courage.

Maggie made a face. "We'll see. It's not like we have to watch movies together. I've got Rachel and you've got Emma for that." She threw an arm across my shoulders as we kept walking. "Don't worry, Tess. Rachel is fun and all, and she's a great friend. But you and I go way back. No one can ever replace you. Who else puts up with mean old me like you do?"

I gave her half a smile, trying to decide if this conversation was reassuring or not. 

"Besides," Maggie continued, growing serious, "you know me better than anyone, and you still like me anyway. I can't tell you how much that means to me."

I swallowed. It almost looked like she might tear up.

But then my unsentimental, matter-of-fact, say-it-like-it-is friend cleared her throat, blinked a few times and shot a grin my way. "You ready to explore more of the yard?"

"Sure." I smiled back. Maggie would never gush about our friendship, but I knew she'd always be there for me. And being around her made me feel brave. Maybe someday some of her boldness would rub off on me. Maybe. But she loved me in spite of my timidity, and that meant a lot. Maggie was and always would be my very best friend. 


And now, dearest readers, it's time to leave you with one final goodbye and our endless gratitude.  Even though you won't hear from us here on this blog anymore, as Maggie mentioned, we'll appear occasionally on Mama's blog. We'll be thinking of you often, even as we close the chapter on this adventure. Thank you for sharing this journey with us. :)

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Tess's Tidbits: Birthday Trip Photos

Hello again, dear readers.  What a pleasant surprise to be able to address you once again in a special post. :)  

As you have probably guessed by now (or already knew from reading Mama's blog), I was the one chosen to accompany Mama and her family on the birthday trip for her daughters.  I was so excited to be chosen!  Mama and I haven't taken a trip together in a while. 

When I first got into Grandmama's van, Lanie, who lives with Grandmama, was there waiting for me.  Lanie and I haven't really had a chance to get to know each other yet, but we connected right away.  (Any doll who wears a fancy dress for a trip out of town is someone I want to get to know!)  I couldn't wait to spend the rest of the weekend getting to know her.

Oh, and you might have noticed my adorable Addy doll.  Some of you may recall Alice's post about her trip to the American Girl Place with Mama several months back.  At the very end of the post, she shared that she had an idea about the Addy doll she ordered.  Well, that idea was to give the doll to me!!  I was completely shocked!  Alice said that she wasn't really into dolls, and she knew how much I really wanted to go with Mama on that trip, so she decided that I should have Addy.  Addy and I have been inseparable since. :)  I will never forget Alice's generosity.  I tried to thank her, but she brushed it off, saying it made her happy to see me so happy.  Isn't she a wonderful friend? :)

One of our first stops was a dinner stop for Mama and the other humans.  I'd never been to In-n-Out before, but I must say it was absolutely delicious!  Especially the fries. ;)

As if that wasn't enough, we had Krispy Kreme donuts for dessert! 

It was so interesting to see how the donuts were made.  Even more fun was the fact that all of these ones were heart-shaped for Valentine's Day. ;)

Here are the donuts we ordered.  Mama chose a plain maple donut and shared it with me.  Her daughters chose heart shaped donuts and a "kiss" donut (there were "o" donuts that were "hugs" as well).

After stopping at the Toys R Us near the restaurants, we stayed overnight at Mama's aunt and uncle's house.  Mama, the girls and I got to sleep in her aunt and uncle's trailer.  It was a bit crowded and a little cold, but we made some fun memories. 

The next morning, we went to breakfast with Mama's aunt and uncle and then drove the rest of the way to our destination: the Westfield Galleria Mall in Roseville!

Mama didn't take many pictures of me at this stop because she was focused more on her girls and Mimi, who wasn't feeling well, poor thing.  But we had a really fun time.  There are more mall pictures to come, though, so don't worry. :)

After the mall, Grandmama checked us into our hotel.  The trees were full of blossoms out front, and the sky was a perfect blue.  Such a lovely day!

The rest of the evening was rather uneventful.  Mama and the girls made a few more stops, and poor Mimi got a ride back home (we missed her very much!).  I stayed in the hotel with Lanie to share some uninterrupted visiting and get some rest.  Later, Mama, Grandmama, and the girls came back and relaxed with us, watching a channel on the hotel TV that had all sorts of shows about cooking.

The next morning, we took it easy and had a leisurely breakfast and a swim in the hotel pool before heading out for another day of shopping.  Well, Lanie and I didn't swim.  It's rather difficult to dry out without smelling mildewy when you're a cloth-bodied doll, after all.  Our first stop of the day was this large Toys R Us store.  I've never seen so many toys in one place!

We headed back to the mall for lunch and ate in the pretty food court.

Then we visited Build-A-Bear Workshop...

...the Sanrio Store (Hailey's favorite!)...

...and the Disney Store for a second time.

I've never been inside a Disney Store before.  I must say it was quite impressive.

The girls, and Mama too, loved seeing all of the Frozen merchandise.

There was a nice section for the new Cinderella movie, too.  Mama's told me all about it, and I'm very much hoping to see it when it is released. :) 

The floor included this fun sparkly pathway.  I can see why this place is such a favorite with Mama and her girls. :) 

After a full day of shopping, we had a delicious dinner at Red Robin.

Just look at this beautiful sunset we got to see on our way back to the hotel!

Since it was our last night that night, Lanie and I stayed up a little later than usual.  Grandmama and Mama let us sleep in this little open closet, which made the perfect little room for us and gave us a bit of privacy.  We spent the first part of the night talking.

After a while, we raided the snacks Grandmama had brought for us and played "Apples to Apples".  We discovered fairly quickly that the game works much better with more than two players. ;)

Grandmama shared some of this delicious "Zebra Popcorn" with us that she'd bought from Popcornopolis in the mall.  It was one of the most incredible things I've ever tasted! 

After a while we were too tired to keep our eyes open.  We snuggled under our covers and fell asleep.

Oh, Mama mentioned that some of you might be curious about our bedding.  Grandmama found Lanie's Frozen blanket and pillow at Build-a-Bear.  My "Beauty and the Beast" sleeping bag is on loan from Emma.  It was one Mama found for her on eBay.  

The next morning, we got up bright and early.  

Lanie and I took the opportunity to enjoy the pretty view from our window. 

Monday was to be our pack up and head home day, so that's just what we did.  We managed to find another Toys R Us on the way home, though. :)  

You can't see it very well in this picture, but there were so many beautiful blossoms on all of the trees.  I just adore the springtime and all of the beautiful flowers and blossoms we get to enjoy! :)

That's all of the pictures I have to share with you.  Things were rather hectic when we got back home, so Mama didn't take her usual picture of me arriving back home to greet everyone.

I didn't end up getting any souvenirs on this trip, but that's just fine.  I have so many things already, and it was pleasure enough just to get to go. :)  It's also nice to be back home and see everyone.  Things have been rather quiet since I got back.  Mama has been busy taking care of the girls, who all promptly caught colds a day or so after we returned.  Poor Mama.  The coughing all night long is really getting to her.  I hope she sleeps better tonight!

Thank you for sharing my trip with me!  I hope you enjoyed seeing my pictures and hearing about what I did. :)

Until next time,


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Maggie's Memos: Yeah, We're Still Here...Sorta...

Okay, this is just embarrassing.  We somehow "missed" our final post.  Talk about incompetence!!  Although in our defense, Mama has been an absolute computer HOG for the past month and a half.  Between blogging, her Kickstarter campaign, and writing her book, she's been glued to this thing.  It's a little difficult to wrap up a blog when the human of the house needs to learn a thing or two about sharing.

So since we left you guys hanging with no final post, we've decided to reward you with an extra one before we close up shop.  See, Mama is going on the annual birthday trip she takes with her daughters tomorrow, and she's invited Tess or Charlie to go along.  (Mama, Tess, and Charlie are still deciding who it will be.)  Once again, I've been left out in the cold.  Mama says it's because I can't stand very well any more, and she's not sure how to restring me.  WHICH IS JUST FINE WITH ME!!!  Stay away from me with those hemostats and pliers, lady!!!

Ahem.  Anyway, sometime next week there should be a post about Tess or Charlie's big trip.  And then we'll do our final post after that.  Really.  Seriously, this time. :}

Talk to you later,


P.S. We're switching back to an older header we like, so here's our Christmas one we did:

Friday, January 2, 2015

Maggie's Memos: Our Christmas

Ha, you thought we forgot to do our big Christmas post, didn't you?  We didn't forget...we just aren't organized enough to get it done before New Year's Day...or the day after. ;)

Christmas.Was.Epic.  Seriously, it was the most incredible Christmas ever, in spite of the fact that Mama documented the whole thing with WAAAYY too many pictures. ;)

Oh, and while we're on the subject of pictures, I apologize in advance for the random blend of lighting and such in the pictures in this post.  Mama had just gotten her new Samsung Galaxy S5 phone and wanted to try out the camera it had, but she ALSO took pictures with her regular camera, just in case.  We've chosen a combination of pictures from both cameras for this post. :}

As Tess mentioned in a couple of our earlier posts, Mama took all twelve of us with her to Mimi's to enjoy Christmas together.  It was a crazy ride over with all of us stuffed in the front seat of the truck.  I'm pretty sure I had Rachel's hand stuck in my armpit most of the way. :{

When we first got to Mimi's, there weren't too many humans there, and the ones who were there knew about us (that we can move and talk on our own).  So thankfully, we had a bit of freedom to relax and move around.

One of the first things we saw was our very own welcoming party that was waiting for us.

Tess, Hailey, and Ella's cousins Katie and Lucy were there.  They haven't been around for a long time, even though they've still been local.  Tess was almost in tears at the sight of them. 

Piper and Ruthie were there, waiting to give Alice big hugs...

...and their cousin (and Coral's sister) Saige was waiting right next to them.

I almost fell over when I saw my sisters, Maddy and Mary, waiting to greet me.  Although we'd kept in touch, I hadn't seen them in a year or so.  I hadn't realized how much I'd missed them.

So of course, the next few minutes were spent hugging and laughing and getting reacquainted. 

Coral and Saige sharing secrets.

Hailey and Ella talking with Lucy.

Katie and Tess hugging. 

The Hathaway/Ellison bunch chatting together.

Hugging my sisters.

Rachel and Jenna don't have any extended family (at least, not yet), but they looked on from the sidelines, happy for everyone who'd been reunited with someone special.

After we'd had the chance to visit for a while, someone mentioned the yearly tradition of climbing all over the presents.  That sounded pretty cool to me!  We all took off exploring the human loot and seeing who could get the highest.  I'm pretty sure it was me. ;) 

So after we'd gotten tired of climbing all over the presents, we decided to split up and explore different parts of the house before too many of Mama's human family got there and we'd be stuck in one area.  I'd heard a LOT about the famous snack table from Emma and others who had been at Mimi's house before, so I asked Charlie to show me where it was.  Rachel joined us, too.

Once we were there, I followed my nose until I found Aunt V's homemade gingerbread.  Yumm!

Charlie helped herself to some of Aunt V's fudge...

...while Rachel decided to start with a helping of pistachios (already unshelled...nice!). 

Alice got a bit distracted by Mimi's shelf of Doctor Who DVDs.  Guess what she spent most of her time watching while we were there? ;)

Coral and Saige sat by the tree and enjoyed the pretty lights.

Tess and Katie found a comfortable spot and took some time to talk.  I'm glad Tess had the chance to catch up a bit.  I know she's been missing her cousin.  They might as well be sisters, they're so close. 

Hailey and Ella decided to play blocks with Lucy.   

Ella also found Mimi's Little People Santa and Mrs. Santa set.

Lucy was very intent on making a big tower of blocks.

I think Hailey had more fun watching her cousin and talking with her than "playing".  It's fun for her to get to step into "big sister" mode a little more than she's used to.

Emma and Ruthie escaped to Mimi's backyard and took a long walk, talking about who knows what. ;)

Hayden and Jenna wandered off and explored some of Mimi's Christmas decorations.  They're all over the house.  Finding every single one was like going on a scavenger hunt.  Even the bathrooms were festive!

Piper, Mary, and Maddy decided to read some Christmas books together. 

Sadly, this blissful freedom did not last for long.  Mama had the bright idea that we should all get family photos taken since we were all together and dressed up.  Whoopee.

Here I am with my sisters.  Okay, I have to admit, it is kinda nice to have pictures with my sisters.  Even if I did have to sit and pose for a gazillion photos. :} 

Jenna and Rachel

And another shot with the traditional camera. 

Ella, Tess, and Hailey 

And again.  Tess couldn't decide which of these she liked better, so she asked if we could include them both.

And then their close-up.

Mama also decided to take cousin pictures.  [On a side note, Hailey thought it was pretty cool that Katie now has glasses, too.] ;) 

Lucy and Katie's sister picture.

And their close-up.  (I'm not sure why my sisters and I didn't get a close-up, too.  I think it was because we were the first ones Mama took pictures of, and she didn't think of it then.  Oh well, one less picture is totally fine with me!)

Here's the huge Hathaway/Ellison/Copeland group shot.  Back row from left to right: Saige Copeland, Piper Ellison, Hayden Hathaway, Emma Hathaway, Coral Copeland.  Front row from left to right: Ruthie Ellison, Charlie Hathaway, Alice Ellison.

And again, because Emma couldn't decide which group shot she liked best.  It's a good thing I'm so nice about letting dolls use extra pics in MY post. ;) 

Here's Saige and Coral's sister picture.

And their close-up.  Check out Coral's eyes!  Aren't they the most amazing color?  I wish I didn't just have boring brown eyes. 

Okay, and this one Mama wanted me to keep in because she couldn't pick her favorite.  Seriously?  Could I please finish this post without any more special requests? 

Here are Alice, Ruthie, and Piper in their sister picture.

And their close-up shot.  

I guess I should be coming up with more unique labels for each of these pictures, but they're all pretty much the same thing over and over, and I'm not as flowery or creative as Tess and Emma would be.  Plus I don't really care all that much. >:}   

Here are Charlie, Hayden, and Emma.

And, shocker, the three of them even closer.

And just when I thought I was safe, Mama decided she should get a few pictures of Tess and I together since we were the official blog authors.  I guess that makes sense.  And I guess I shouldn't have been surprised.  

And here we are again...


At last, the never-ending photo shoot did actually come to an end.  We had dinner and then were shooed off to bed.  Mama had to get our presents ready.

We actually all slept in the guest bed.  It was a little crowded, but thankfully no one snored or rolled around too much.

The very next morning was Christmas morning!  We all hurried out to the living room in our pajamas to open our gifts from Mama.

Each of us got a small gift and a candy in our stocking.  The dolls from other houses got the same, but they didn't have their stockings with them.

Here are a few pictures Mama got of us opening our gifts:

We had a wonderful Christmas together.  We did a lot more, too, like playing games, watching movies, taking walks, listening to Christmas music, and eating lots of yummy snacks, but we didn't capture all of it on film. ;)

We hope that all of you had an incredible Christmas season with your loved ones.

So, although it's a little bit late...


from all of us at Jane Austen and Unicorns. ;)

We'll be back with one last post for all of you within the next few days!  Until then, this is Maggie Wilson, signing off.