Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Welcome to Lissie & Lilly!

Hi Everyone! I'm Lissie and this lovely lady in pink is my partner in awesomeness Sawako Lilly! Welcome to our blog and all the wonderful secrets it contains! Please look at the tabs on the top to navigate. You can go and read all the episodes of Lissie & Lilly and see our adventures in full color glory, as well as see where our little sister Josie is now in her travels and read her travel log. It's no easy thing for a mini doll to travel so far and wide you know, as we're all jealous of the cool places she gets to go.

Perhaps you covet with a shameless heart our wonderful closet of magic and mystery. Learn more about the outfits in the reviews, and see how the outfits look on all the girls at L&L in our closet! In the links section is a plethora of wonderful resources and other blogs that we love and stalk discreetly. Come meet all of us heroic, dashing, fearless girls at L&L and learn more about who each of us are!

There are also paper dolls and color pages for those who are looking for something to do. Or mayhap you want to peruse the history of sales that AG has had in the past? The the Sales History is the place for you. Eyes are the windows to the soul so come stare into all our eyes and compare the different colors AG offers in eyes. We're constantly growing and adding more pages and content so check back often for the latest fun and gory excitement!

Enjoy your stay here and be sure to follow us to stay up to date on all of our antics! ^_^

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Mini Josie visit a Brewery in Houston, TX

Today my host took me to visit the Saint Arnold Brewery! They're a local brewery that makes craft beer in this building downtown. 

This is the mural of Saint Arnold himself from when you first walk in the door. Did you know he is the patron saint of brewers? It's because back in the day, water wasn't sterilized before people drank it so often times drinking the water made you sick. But Saint Arnold who was a Bishop back then walked around and told people to drink beer instead. The reason beer didn't make you sick like water is because part of the process to make beer involves boiling it, which kills off a lot of the bacteria and microbes, making it sterile and safe to drink.

Onward to the beer hall!

No beer beyond this point? But this is a brewery! It's filled with nothing but beer! Apparently it is against the law to have beer in the brewery part of the building (aside of the stuff being made). 

Every visitor to the brewery received this cool beer glass with some drink tokens at the bottom! More on that later. I was so awesome the lady behind the counter gave me a glass for my very own. 

This is the first room and first step of how beer is is made. Basically you need 4 ingredients to make beer: Water, Hops, Yeast, and Malt (which is basically a grain like wheat or barley which is heated and dried). In the first step they mix the malt with the water and heat it into a mushy paste until the sugars are all released. 

Hops are then added to the mix. Hops are these funny small, green cone like things that grow on vines. They're what give beer it's flavor, and used to add bitterness to balance out the sweetness of the sugars. If it was me, I wouldn't add any! Why would you make beer bitter when you could drink sugar water? But the tour guide said it also acts to preserve the beer and make it last a long time.

After that, we went to the next part of the process. If you thought the giant boilers were big before, check out these! This is where the mixture comes after the hops are added. It's cooled before the final ingredient, yeast is added. That's because if it's too hot, the yeast will be killed, and yeast is what actually converts the sugar to alcohol. The beer sits in these giant tanks to ferment until it's ready.

The fermentation process can be anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks depending on what kind of beer they want to make. Light beers are more bitter and ferment for a shorter period of time. Another thing... this room was HOT! There was no air conditioning because if the yeast got too cool, they wouldn't be able to work, so instead, they had a giant fan. 

When it's ready, the beer can be stored in bottles, cans, and barrels, like this one! Hi-ho! A pirate's life for me! Shhhhhh! I'm sitting where the plug is supposed to be.

Each of the giant fermenting tanks are named. Some are after actual saints, and some are named after people who helped start the brewery, and they even raised the money for one of the fermenting tanks by auctioning off the name to the highest bidder on eBay! Geez, you can buy anything these days. 

There were so many of these fermentation tanks! Saint Arnold makes 67,000 barrels of beer each year. Sounds like a lot right? Well get this, Budweiser makes over 6 MILLION barrels of beer a year! 

This is the room where the beer is packaged and put into bottles and prepared for shipping. We couldn't go in here because it's got to be a sterile room after all. 

After the tour, we went into the big drinking hall of the building and it's exactly what it sounds like. Since you can't legally have beer in the brewery or sell beer at the premise, this is where those drink tokens come into play! What the brewery technically does is sell tickets to tour the brewery and they give you 4 tokens for drinks afterwards in the drinking hall. 

The tokens have the name of one of the ingredients for making beer on them. Do you remember what they were? There were 2 beer dispensing stations serving different types of beers and you give the person there one of your tokens and tell them which type of beer you want to try. My host said she couldn't drink 4 glasses of beer so she said I could have these to take home! Maybe Lissie can turn them into chocolate tokens.

Saint Arnold was originally thought up by a college student at Rice University who brewed beer in his dorm room and decided to turn it into a business. Genius comes in all forms!

And that's the tour!

To see more of Josie’s adventures, click here to view her Travel Log!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Mini Josie eats her way through Houston, TX

It's good to be back in my home state, even if I arrived as my Bigger Sisters left on their road trip. That's alright though, cause my host said she'll comfort me with food!

You know how they say everything is bigger in Texas? Well it's true! At least it is for the pancakes. I could use this as a sleeping back with room to spare. Mhmmmmm.... pancake sleeping bag. 

My host told me the traffic in Houston is always like this whenever you get to downtown, but it has the best view of the skyscrapers. It's such a clear day! Doesn't it look nice? You can't really feel the scorching sun from the picture right? But trust me, you could cook an omelet on that highway! Mhmmmmmmm..... omelet.

We went to my host's favorite cupcake shop called Crave Cupcakes! There were so many different varieties and flavors! I wanted to try them all but my host said I probably shouldn't or I'll be too heavy and the cost for shipping me will exponentially increase.

They had lots of old fashioned mixers int he window and I thought I'd give this one a whirl since I couldn't eat the cupcakes.

To see more of Josie’s adventures, click here to view her Travel Log!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Featured Etsy Shop: Faux Real Foods & Giveaway!

After a two month break, L&L is happy once again to bring your our bi-weekly Etsy Shop Features and Giveaways! To kick us off with lots of fun and energy, we are over the moon excited to present to you the talented food sculptor of the delicious goods at the Etsy shop Faux Real Foods, Winter! She has very generously provided not just one meal, but TWO meals to give away to two lucky readers. ^_^

The interview is presented first, followed by the review, with the giveaway details at the end of the post.

FRF = Faux Real Foods

~Interview with Winter of Faux Real Foods~
Lissie: We’re back! We’re back! We’re back with a knick-knack-paddy-whack-give-a-dog-a-bone!
Lilly: No Lissie, what we’re giving out is so much better than a bone. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Lissie: Better ahead than behind! Welcome back everyone! I hope your Pavlovian responses ready because have we got some delicious treats for you today!
Lilly: All of us at L&L are so honored to have the chance to introduce you to Miss Winter, the genius behind the Etsy shop Faux Real Foods which offers detailed, high quality doll foods in a variety of scales!
Lissie: Though we all know I only care about myself. And chocolate. I care about chocolate too. And-
Lilly: Would you kindly care to join me in welcoming Miss Winter to the studio?

Lissie: *whispers* Uh, Miss Winter, did you, you know, by any chance, er, smuggle, no I mean, slip us, any you know, snacks?
Lilly: Lissie! Stay professional please! I apologize Miss Winter. Thank you for taking the time to chat with us today. I’ll get us started with the first question. How did you get started crafting with polymer clay?
FRF: I've been sculpting as long as I can remember, my first memories are of mashed potatoes and mud pies, I soon graduated to salt dough and plasticine. As a teen, I discovered polymers and was instantly hooked. My Noni, (Italian grandmother) had walnut trees. I have fond memories of sitting on a clean sheet on the living room floor surrounded by my family while we all shelled walnuts. I tried to crack them precisely in half so I could sculpt tiny polymer mice, squirrels and angels sleeping in the walnut shells. My parents and siblings took notice and soon everyone was saving the perfect half shells.

Lilly: Walnut cradles? That sounds adorable! It must have been so much fun for your family to help you collect perfect half shells. I’m sure they were curious to see what you would make from them too.
Lissie: Hmmm… I am desperately curious to know how did you transition from mud pies and walnut beds to AG scale food?
FRF: I've always been fascinated by miniatures and all things tiny. Among my favorite childhood possessions were the books my grandmother, Mary gave me. The one that sparked my interest in miniatures was about a squirrel, Miss Suzy, who temporarily resided in a doll house. I had a dollhouse with plastic furniture but I dreamt of a dollhouse like Miss Suzy’s with beautiful furniture, real carpets and plaster food.
When our youngest daughter, Ella was four, she asked for a "real" dollhouse. My husband and I built the house from a kit and I built all the furniture. I also made all the rugs, bedding and accessories but still felt as if something was missing. Then I remembered Miss Suzy. I pulled out my old polymer clay and made food for the little doll family. Tiny pies in bottle caps, diminutive cakes, cookies, fruit, sandwiches, a roast turkey dinner . . . I got a bit carried away. It was so much fun!!
Fast forward four years and eight year old Ella requests the AG baking set for Christmas. I replied "yes, we can do that but it's expensive so you won't get very many other gifts". A few days later while playing with her dollhouse, Ella had an epiphany. She sauntered into my studio while I was painting and said "Mommy, you're an artist, you can make anything!" (I am an artist and I appreciated the sentiment but that is an enormous overstatement.) "Thank you, honey" I replied. "Mom! You could make the baking set and I'd get more presents!" Clever kiddo. I took a careful look at the AG baking set, decided I could do better and made my own version. It was so much fun! After I finished the gingerbread house, I made pie, cake, cookies, sandwiches, drinks fruit. . . I got a bit carried away. Are you seeing a pattern here?
Ella's friends began asking their parents for "real doll food, the kind Ella has" and a business was born.

Lissie: I already like your daughter. She has all the skills necessary to conquer the world! A sugary tongue, a sharp wit, and a pinch of sauntering!
Lilly: Oh dear, it sounds like you found a protégé Lissie. Miss Winter, do you have a favorite food or type of food you like making best?
FRF: I love a challenge, the more complex the food, the happier I am. I also enjoy researching historical dishes and food from other cultures. The research and recipes are fascinating.

Lilly: That’s fantastic! Did you hear that Lissie? A true craftswoman appreciates a challenge.
Lissie: I appreciate challenges! As long as I get to rule an empire, and fill my stomach, I’ll challenge any bok choy that comes my way! Of course, any great leader *ahem* I mean craftswoman needs the proper weapons *ahem* I mean tools. Would you tell us what is your favorite tool for working with the clay Miss Winter?
FRF: I have three; my handcrafted needle tool, tissue blade and elongated ball tool.

Lissie: Now did you hear Lilly? She clearly said blade. I need a blade. A sharp one.
Lilly: Come now Lissie, you don’t need a blade. Why, the true artist can make tools out of practically anything. For example, Miss Winter what is an everyday tool people wouldn’t think would be good for crafting doll food but is?
FRF: There are several, Aluminum foil leaps immediately to mind. It's great for texturing, using as an armature in larger items, lining plastic bowls and dishes to make fitted oven-safe molds. A battered toothbrush is essential. And I wouldn't be without my soft pastels.

Lissie: Lilly, I’m gonna need some foil and armature too.
Lilly: I’m not sure why that sounds so much more devious when you say it Lissie.
Lissie: Geez, it’s as if you’re expecting me to build a foil palace complete with turrets!
Lilly: … I’m not going to comment on that Lissie. Just ask your next question.
Lissie: Oh alright then. Miss Winter, I know working with food must be delicious and fun but what is your favorite part of what you do?
FRF: My customers! I have the best customers. I enjoy making custom orders, replicating a nostalgic food. A recent week had me sculpting bunny shaped pizzas one day and an accurate colonial feast for Felicity the next. That was great fun.

Lissie: A colonial feast??? FOR ME?
Lilly: I don’t think you qualify as colonial anymore Lissie.
Lissie: Why not? I have the pin curls don’t I?
Lilly: Miss Winter, could you tell us what or who inspires your creativity when crafting doll food?
FRF: Gosh, everything inspires me. I always notice patterns, colors, the way the light plays across my project table. I research cookbooks, Pinterest recipe pages, the Internet. My family often gives me ideas they’d like to see, I think they’re trying to stump me. Ella has been requesting garlic roasted tofu for quite some time. I should probably make that.

Lissie: Argh now I’m certain she’s a girl after my own heart! Garlic roasted tofu sounds drool worthy and I’m not even sure I’m anatomically capable of drooling.
Lilly: Quick, change the subject  before we find out!
Lissie: Okay! Next question! Do you ever get a creative block? If so, how do you overcome it?
FRF: No, not with sculpting. A much bigger problem I have is time, there isn't nearly enough time to make all the things I have in mind.

Lilly: That seems to be a common theme among artists, lack of time.
Lissie: It’s a common problem for eaters too! I never have enough time to eat everything I want.
Lilly: Though certainly not for lack of trying. Now Miss Winter, I know you craft mainly for AG scale dolls like us, but you also make food for smaller scale dolls like Barbie and Monster High. Could you tell us what are some differences between crafting food for 18 inch AG scale dolls versus smaller dolls like Barbie and Monster High?
FRF: 1/6 scale, Barbie and MH require a lighter touch, both in terms of texture and color but you still need the detail if you're going to sell the realism. 1/3 scale requires more precise detail, slightly more vibrant coloring and heavier texturing. And at 1/3 scale you can’t fake it, every error is obvious. I also work in 1/12 scale, and life size. Each scale has its challenges. 1/12 tends to be fragile, life size is challenging because the pieces like to crack when curing.

Lilly: That’s so interesting! It never occurred to me there would be such a difference when it comes to making the food difference sizes.
Lissie: Life sized chocolate… Big Person sized chocolate…
Lilly: Lissie? It’s your turn to ask the last question.
Lissie: Huh? Oh! Ahem! Miss Winter, aside from polymer clay, do you work with other mediums or materials when crafting AG scale food?
FRF: Yes. I often use two part epoxies and dyes. I almost always use soft pastels for more realistic color and shading.

Lilly: Well, that concludes our interview. Thank you so much for sharing your time and talent with us Miss Winter! Is there anything you would like to share with the readers? Any advice?
FRF: If you're interested in sculpting, or creating any type of art, start where you are. It sounds simple but in order to improve you must practice. Make mistakes. Lots and lots of mistakes. Ask questions. Watch other artists work every chance you get. Experiment; be brave enough to create bad art. I look back at work I did a few years ago and I almost feel I should apologize for it. But if I hadn't done that work, I wouldn't be able to do what I do now. The most important bit of advice, do the things that give your heart joy. Life is fleeting, enjoy every moment.

Lissie: WAIT! Lilly! How could you forget the 1 Word Bonus!
Lilly: Oh, um, well… I was waiting for you to ask it! Clearly!
Lissie: Miss Winter, here is the last and most critical question a doll can ever put to an artist. Your 1 Word Bonus: Dumplings or Donuts?
FRF: Donuts. Definitely. But not too sweet.

Lilly: Let’s have one more round of applause for Miss Winter! If you would like to see more of her work, you can visit her Etsy shop here:
Lissie: Now, we’ll gorge on the feast Miss Winter has provided!

Lilly: Down Lissie! Now we’re going to go to Samantha and Cecile who will be reviewing 4 fantastic meals Miss Winter has kindly sent to us. Lissie, restrain your urges!

Cecile: Thank you Sawako Lilly! Bonjour everyone! Samantha et moi are eager to give you an up close look at the delicious meal sets Miss Winter has graciously sent us.
Sam: She provided 4 separate meals for us to review and at the end of this feature, 2 lucky winners will get to choose their favorite set to keep!

Cecile: Let us get started! And what better way to start than with the packaging? Here at L&L we always like to advocate environmentally friendly practices so we would like to mention Miss Winter’s packaging is all reused or recycled material.
Sam: When you receive a delicious treat from her, please do recycle or reuse the packaging material as well.

Sam: For our first meal, we have this traditional Vietnamese dish featuring two spring rolls stuffed to the fullest with a bevy of carrots, lettuce, julienned daikon, crab sticks, and shrimp. There is a side of sweet and sour sauce, and the entire dish is paired with a delicious strawberry smoothie topped with whipped cream and a strawberry on top.

Sam: The lettuce is cut thinly and the edges are ridged, like actual lettuce. The sauce is lightly translucent and you can see the individual chili flakes in the sauce. 

Sam: The wrap for the spring rolls is translucent as well, similar to actual rice wraps used for making these rolls, and allows you to see the details of the cut shrimp on top. 

Sam: The crab stick in the center has gradations in color to give it the same look as a real crab stick. 

Sam: The whipped cream and strawberry are firmly attached and won't fall off. The strawberry has little indentions where the seeds would be. 

Lissie: Hey Samantha! Something smells good!
Cecile: Oh no! C'est Lissie! We must distract her.
Sam: Lissie! Look! It is a lollipop! Don't you want the candy?
Lissie: CANDY!
Sam: *throws lollipop* Go get it Lissie!
Cecile: Bonne idée Samantha! Good idea! We are safe for now. On to meal two.

Sam: The second meal is a traditional meal, perfect for Thanksgiving. It contains two slices of turkey with gravy, a large serving of mashed potatoes also with gravy, as well as a side of glazed sweet potatoes, and a side of green beans. It comes with a glass of water stuffed to the brim with ice. 

Sam: The individual ice cubes are throughout the entire cup, and like true ice cubes float towards the top of the water.

Sam: Now I will show each item on the tray individually so that you can see the details.

Sam: Even our vegetable avoiding Lissie would enjoy these green beans. Notice the seam lines on them as well as the melted pat of butter on top. The beans are one piece so the butter and the melted butter drippings line up.

Sam: We were so impressed with the turkey slices! The texturing on the surface gives it the lines a real piece of cut turkey would have, as well as the variations in the turkey meat that show where the fat is. The skin around the turkey was not forgotten and also textured and colored. You can see tiny specks of pepper in the gravy drizzled on top. The two slices are attached so the gravy lines will match up.

Sam: The mashed potato mountain has little holes and edges where it was shaped with a utensil. A hole in the center holds a lake of gravy.

Sam: Although sweet potatoes may seem simple, the glaze on them is not uniform, which makes them look more realistic. They are not clumped together like AG food, which lets your dolls share!

Lissie: Mmmmmmm.... You know, I love gravy...
Sam: Lissie! You are back! What happened to the lollipop?
Lissie: Oh, I finished it eons ago. Now what I really want is-
Cecile: Another lollipop! Here Lissie! *throws lollipop*
Sam: Hurry Cecile, we are half way done!

Cecile: The next meal is very américain, the cheeseburger with a side of fries and a glass of orange soda.

Cecile: You can see the tiny soda bubbles rising up the cup and gathering under the ice cubes!

Cecile: Now we will look closer at this délicieux meal! The edges of the cheese are melted and hanging over the patty. Under the patty you can see the lettuce. Notice how the edges of the lettuce are ridged so you can make out the individual leaves. There is ketchup on the burger as well, all to make a mouth watering taste.

Cecile: Most impressive! The fries are all individual and separated so your dolls can steal fries from each other. The ends of the fries are cut at a slant and all are of different lengths. They were painted and colored to resemble real fries, hot out of the fryer with the golden exterior.

Cecile: Miss Winter has also taken the time to texture the undersides of the buns as well! The top and edges of the buns are lightly toasted as well. 

Lissie: Cheeseburger! Fries! I love to steal fries!
Sam: Ahhh! Lissie! You sneaked up behind us.
Cecile: Ah, but why steal fries when you can steal another lollipop? *throws lollipop* Steal it before our Big Person's puppy does!
Sam: Do you think she will get there first?
Cecile: Mais of course! This is Lissie we are talking about. Now for our last meal!

Cecile: Our final meal is truly comfort food, perfect for warming you up on a chilly October day. It is toast with cheese and a big bowl of tomato soup. A glass of milk will wash everything down so your doll will be ready for more fun again.

Cecile: The tomato soup has a rich color and you can see tiny specks of seasoning and pepper on the surface. The cheese cutouts give the bowl a seasonal touch of fun. The bowl itself is study glass.

Cecile: What happened to the rest of the cheese slice? It is sitting on top of these crispy piece of toast. A perfect meal after an evening of trick-or-treating. The spoon for the soup is metal and very solid.

Cecile: As with everything, Miss Winter does not leave out any details. The back of the toast slice is textured with bubbles like break, and colored to resemble toast. The edges are darker as well too where the crust is.

Lissie: RAWRRRR! I'm back! And all that running has made me hungrier than ever! FOOD!
Cecile: Oh no! Quick Samantha, another lollipop!
Sam: We've run out of lollipops Cecile!
Cecile: Non! We must protect the food! Tackle her!
Sam: Hurry Marie-Grace and Lydia Charlotte! We can only keep her back for so long!

Lydia: Do you best Cecile, Samantha! Marie-Grace and I will take it from here.
MG: Deux, that is, two winners will receive their favorite meal from the four meals Miss Winter has so generously provided, the spring rolls, Thanksgiving meal, cheeseburger, and tomato soup.

Lydia: All you must do is visit the Faux Real Foods Etsy shop and comment below and tell us what your favorite food in the shop is and why.
MG: C'est très facile, it is easy! Be sure to put in your comment which meal set you would like to be entered for. In the case of both winners opting for the same set, the second winner will be asked to select their second favorite meal.
Lydia: The giveaway is open to all readers, including international ones, no purchase necessary. However, if you are under the ago of 13, please ask a parent or guardian to enter for you.
MG: Please do not forget to put your name in your comment if you do not have an account. You can use the "Name/URL" option. Put your name in the "Name" box and leave the "URL" part blank.
Lydia: Now please hurry, before Lissie eats everything! Good luck to everyone!
MG: Bonne chance, good luck to us, if we can keep Lissie from eating everything!

The giveaway will run from June 29 - July 10 (midnight Central USA time).

To enter:
Visit Faux Real Food's Etsy Store by clicking here and then come back and comment with your favorite item in her shop and why.  

For bonus entries:
Favorite Faux Real Food's Etsy store. (include username in comment for verification)
"Like" Lissie & Lilly on Facebook (click here to go to the page) (include username in comment for verification)
Follow/Google+ this blog. (If you are already a follower/google+, just comment with your account. ^_^)
Share about this giveaway on social media (Facebook, Your Blog, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, Google+, Pintrest, other forums, etc.) - Be sure to include the link(s) to your post(s) in your comment so we can verify where you shared. 
*max 5 additional entries*

The winners will be announced in 2 weeks on Friday, July 10th on this post, so check back then! ^_^