Sunday, November 30, 2014

Mini Josie Sees a Moose in Wasilla, AK

Woooo!! I finally saw a moose and it snowed! This moose was licking the snow of a car, it's a bull moose but young. See it's cute little rack?!

Going over to the neighbor's now. They are so tall and gangly! I wanted to go pet it but my host mom said we could get trampled. Nevermind!!

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

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

AG Store Exclusive: Limited Edition Ruby Red Ball Gown Review

Because I am a weak weak weak creature who cannot resist anything AG puts Limited Edition in front of, I picked up this year's store only, exclusive holiday outfit on Saturday. It was $72 (though currently it's on sale for $50) and if you live far from a store, you can call a store's Personal Shopped and request for it to be mailed to you. ^_^ I took several photos as I opened the outfit and Sawako Lilly is modeling!

The front of the box. The bow is very nice, and the box itself is made of very sturdy cardboard with a glittery snowflake design. It is the same gift box design as all of AG's other gift boxes for the regular holiday outfits, pets, and mini doll sets this year, but the bow is red instead of silver satin.

Close up of the bow. The sliver, glitter star is made of really flimsy cardboard and I saw several at the store that were bent and out of shape.

Different this year is that there is a sticker with the stock image for the outfit, name of the outfit, and the pieces that are inside listed. Last year's holiday outfit did not have this.
*Correction: Last year's holiday outfit also had the sticker. I just pulled it out to double check.*

Front of the box without the red bow. Although the cardboard of the box is very sturdy, the design on it is pretty fragile and easy to tear, especially on the edges of the box.

Back of the box, showing the price sticker of $72 and a sticker with safety information at the bottom. I appreciate the higher quality box but I am disappointed that it is not possible to fold the box, meaning it'll take up more space in storage.

I don't know if anyone else cares about tissue paper but the tissue is much thicker and softer than the normal AG logo tissue that comes with their other outfits. The tissue paper in my box did not have the AG logo on it.
*Correction: On closer inspection, the logo is on the paper, just very faint.*

All the pieces included in the outfit: White coat, Gold shoes, Red Purse, Jewel hair clip, and Gold & Red ball gown.

The gold shoes are a soft, fake leather material, and the gold is more of a matte. The clear rhinestone decorations are sewn on, not glued, so they will be pretty sturdy. The soles are black. Inside each shoe is stamped product & brand information.

The hair clip is surprisingly heavy, definitely made of metal, not plastic, and very lovely. It's my favorite piece from the outfit, though I wish the end of it didn't stick out so far.

The back of the hair clip. It feels pretty tight and secure, not loose, and it has a small row of 4 teeth to hold the clip stable in the hair.

The purse is made of red, shimmery polka dot material with a plastic handle. I am disappointed the handle is plastic, especially after seeing the very solid, metal hair clip. The bottom of the purse feels nice and plump, with beans or something inside. 

SECRET TAG!!! Imagine my surprise when I opened it and saw this giant thing poking at me. I thought it was a fortune from a fortune cookie but nope, it's the AG ego tag. The bag's volume is not too great so it's probably more for show than use. The sewn on handle threads give it a very cheap feeling (let's not forget the plastic), but at least it is sewn on very tight. The two ball parts that actually hold the purse together look like the gold paint could easily be worn off with a little use.

Now we get to the dress itself! It's a bit crinkly from being in the box but it looks like the scallopy layers will fix themselves with a little steam. 

I personally like the color combination of gold and red but I'm really not sure what AG did with them here. 

The gold lace on the bodice part is lovely and I like the pattern very much. However, the random shoulder spaghetti strap is driving me to distraction! It looks completely off and foreign to the design of the dress, as if someone hacked off a squid tentacle and attached it to a human. I would have much preferred for AG to just commit to the one shoulder (sort of like Disney's Pocahontas outfit), or even better, give her symmetrical sleeves. It never made sense to me why a winter outfit doesn't have sleeves. XD Last year I could just say, well it's a Frozen's Elsa dress, and she doesn't feel the cold so who cares anyway, but there's really no excuse this year. The bodice under material is a bit transparent but on the AG body it doesn't really matter so much.

The skirt is not my favorite thing, put mildly. I like this idea of a ballgown and layers, but I'm not sure what AG did to make it look so bad. The tulle is very soft and not crunchy so it can lie nicely, but it just looks really rough and put together overall. It might have looked better with more layers instead of just 4 tiers of tulle, and if the edges of the scallops were more decorated/finished instead of just abruptly ending like that.

The clip looks wonderful in Sawako Lilly's black hair! Please excuse how messy it is... Hair styling is most definitely not my forte. I just wish that pointed end wasn't so obtrusive. >_< Or maybe I'm putting it on wrong?

Back of the dress with Sawako Lilly's hair pulled aside so you can see how it looks. That asymmetrical top doesn't look any better from here. =__=

Close up of the velcro closure. It's the non snagging velcro, thank goodness, or that bodice and tulle would be in shreds faster than a cat with toilet paper.

I lifted up the layers of tulle so you can see the under skirt. The material for the underskirt is probably supposed to feel like taffeta, but I am not very knowledgeable about fabrics. It feels to me very stiff, and plasticy, and it's also a bit see through. You can see how the 4 layers of tulle were attached (layer 1 & 2 both start at the waist), though I still feel like either the dress needed more layers, or at least fuller layers so that each level of tulle gets progressively longer instead of just being sewn on lower. That would have added fullness to the skirt, and given it a more polished look.

Whereas last year there was a thick, fluffy cape, this year we get this white coat with fur trimming around the collar and wrists. The coat itself looks very nice but on closer inspection, it is unlined and the material is very thin. I don't know what the material is but it feels like a softer sheet of felt, same thinness. Absolutely useless against winter winds, even in Texas.

It irritates me the buttons are purely for show and the dress does not close. As a coat to keep warm, it's pretty useless, especially factoring how thin the material is. I wish it was thicker and could close with two columns of buttons down the front. The buttons themselves are very small and plastic. They're ring shaped so they don't lie down flat on the coat, and they look rather messy since they're all over the place.

Close up of the fur collar. It is not removable like some of the older AG holiday outfits a decade ago.

Close up of fur at wrist. Eek! Sawako Lilly has some smudges on her hands! Maybe she was digging for treasure with Lissie in the garden?

The AG logo tag is white and silver, and very small. It's at the bottom, left side and very inconspicuous which is wonderful! You wouldn't really see it unless you were looking for it and knew where to look. Which now you do... XD

Back view of the coat.

Back view of the coat with Sawako Lilly's hair parted. The crease down the back is from the imprint of the velcro closure underneath. Yes, I did warn you the material was that thin. The splotches on the right side are from where my fingers touched it trying to put it on. It can be smoothed out but it's irksome that the material is so flimsy. It could be just a quality of the fabric itself, but I know my coats don't crinkle and bend with the lightest touch. Then again my coats are actually lined, with working buttons too so that doesn't say much.

You can see how the buttons are attached underneath here. You can also see the seams used to shape the coat and the hemmed edges.

The inside of the coat. Even though AG won't line the coat, they absolutely will not forget the Ego Tag!

Bottom of the inside of the coat.

Top of the inside of the coat.
All in all, I like the outfit color combination but not how it was carried out. The material for all the pieces except the hair clip needed to be more substantial. The design of the dress itself was really lackluster and left much to be desired. At $72, it's not really worth it unless you can't resist the LE label like me. XD

I feel like you got more with last year's LE holiday outfit, since it included a tiara instead of a hair clip, as well as gloves and a belt. The shoes last year were heeled, and the fur cape was much thicker and nicer feeling. However, this year you get a tiny volume purse! Take that! With plastic handles and a secret ego tag no less!

At $50 though, it would be worth it, especially relative to other AG outfits where you just get a dress and the shoes. The coat's design is nice even if it's useless in actual winter, and you do get the fancy, holiday gift box.

Please let me know what you think of the outfit and if you have any questions. ^_^ Have a great Thanksgiving everyone!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Mini Josie Gets a Gift in Wasilla, AK

Look!! I got some Sombrita spruce soap! And it's made right here in Alaska. You can tell with this symbol:
It has been so windy but we did get a great shot of the mountains one morning. 
They are so close and enclose us in the Mat-Su Valley. 
Isabelle and I went to work with my host mom and hung out with these fun little dolls. They were kinda strange. My host mom works on the computer all day and we were a little bored.  Actually, a lot bored. 

I did see the Alaskan flag though! It's the Big Dipper and was designed by a little boy. Alaska became a state in 1959.  I am learning so much and having fun with Isabelle. 

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

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Sawako Lilly's November Kimono

The weather is finally turning colder here and it's feeling like autumn/winter! To celebrate Sawako Lilly has changed into her November furisode kimono. ^_^  It is decorated with falling momiji (Japanese maple leaves) and lots of kiku (chrysanthemums) and paired with a green and gold obi belt with a deep red shibori obi age scarf. It's difficult to tell in the photos but the bottom of the kimono is heavily lined and padded. It is common for winter kimonos in Japan to have a double lining to keep in warmth. I won't keep repeating the same facts about some of the basic knowledge of kimonos since I mentioned them in previous posts. You can see and read about them in the Photo Album. :)

I love the simplicity and child-like design of these simple geometric lines with momiji leaves in them decorating the sleeves.

Some kimonos have very subtle designs can it's difficult to identify which season they are meant for. This is not one of those kimonos. ^_^ A fallen, orange maple leave floating down a stream is a Japanese slap in your face saying it's Fall! It's Autumn! It's time for hot chocolate! (Maybe not the last one...)

The front panel has a traditional Japanese carriage with lots of kiku flowers surrounding it. I like the bright colors of the cart very much. The striking blue is not a normal/traditional color to use and I have never seen a cart painted so brightly so I feel the fabric weaver took artistic licence with it. ^_^

A close up of the the obi belt and the deep red shibori obi age scarf on top. It's difficult to tell but the wavey, uneven petals on the obi are from a botan (peony) flower, not a kiku. It's a pretty common, generic flower that common appears on kimonos from all seasons.

A close up of the sleep and the kiku blossoms. I do not know what the yellow dots flower sprays are in the background.

A close up of the back of the obi belt tie. I love that the tie has the two green wings and a golden body covering the knot. Usually the pattern is more distributed so I think it's quite artistic that this musubi (knot) worked out so symmetrically.

And although no one but the wearer would ever see this, I adore the fact that inside the kimono, the red silk lining the inside has a subtle pattern on it of bamboo and bridges. The bottom is heavily lined and padded for warmth in the colder months.

To see more of Sawako Lilly's kimonos, look in the Photo Album!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Mini Josie's Day in Wasilla & Palmer, AK

We had a great day today!  It happens to be Veteran's Day today. Addy shared her breakfast with me and explained the Civil War. Her brother Sam is a Vet.  

I could not believe it but Kirsten's house burning raccoon stole one of my strawberries!!
I got it back eventually. After breakfast I had another history lesson from Marie Grace and Cecile. 

Cecile was so smart and Marie Grace was very kind to me.  After that we went shopping for some early Christmas gifts. I told my host mom it was a little early but she insisted. To my surprise we found another girl just my size!  But she was trapped in a box. My host mom rescued her and thought it was so cool that she had pink hair just like her. Her name is Isabelle, my host mom was having so much fun with me she thought it'd be fun to have another while I was visiting. 

After that we went to get a snack and knit.
It's almost a sock!! We then drove over to the city of Palmer which was only 15 minutes away. 

Check out this HUGE cabbage!  We are in the Matanuksa Susitna Valley and it’s known for farming. Since the sun is out almost 24hours in the summer the produce gets ginormous!

We got to pose with a statue of Balto too!! He led his team on the final leg of the 1925 serum run to Nome, in which diphtheria antitoxin was transported from Anchorage, Alaska, to Nenana, Alaska, by train and then to Nome by dog sled to combat an outbreak of the disease. 

Pretty far from Texas! We didn't see Houston on the sign though. 

Woooooo!! It is windy here!  We went over a half frozen river, the "Little Su" Isabelle stayed in the car this time. 

We drove up to Hatcher Pass and went on a tiny hike. I had to revive my host mom a few times. She blamed it on the 'thin air' and being out of shape. But she still made it!

Our ride is waaaay down there. Good thing I had this poncho with me! I lent Isabelle my scarf since she wasn't very prepared. 

We went home around 3:30 because the sun was starting to set. It gets dark here early. Isabelle and I found some candy in a squirrel!! I wonder if there's anymore in here...

I wonder what we'll do tomorrow!
Love, Josie. 

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