Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Lissie & Lilly: Episode 17 - How to Wear Money

Lissie & Lilly: How to Wear Money (Photostory)

Sam: Has everyone left? Is it safe to move yet?
Lydia: Shhhhh, someone might be behind the door.
MG: I heard them close the door a few minutes ago. We are sans danger, safe.

Cecile: Mon dieu! Thank goodness! I thought I would go une folle, crazy!
Lilly: It’s not often our Big Person has time for visitors though. I’m glad her friends were able to visit.
MG: Oui Sawako Lilly, mais look at us! Her friend has dressed us so… strangely! I do not even have shoes et Cecile does not have a hat!
Lydia: It is most improper indeed! We are not even dressed from the same century!
Cecile: C’est vrai Lydia Charlotte! I am in a tutu and it is near freezing. My vinyl has metaphorical goosebumps!

MG: And I look like a satin cupcake nightmare.
Sam: This cap is crushing my curls as well. Our Big Person never puts a cap on me.
Lilly: Well, that is also partially out of laziness Samantha.
Sam: Nevertheless, this outfit will be the death of my wig!
Lydia: Where is Lissie? It doesn’t feel like a proper rant session if she is absent.
Cecile: Perhaps her outfit is too atrocious to appear in public and she is hiding for fear of mockery.

Lissie: General Washington hides from nothing save sauerkraut!
Cecile: Ooof! Lissie, your umbrella is digging into my cloth stuffing.
Lissie: What is an umbrella but a scepter of dignity?
Sam: Why are you so exuberant Lissie? Do you like your outfit?
Lydia: But it is not even raining today.

Lissie: Ahhh my dear comarades, it is not raining today, but what of tomorrow?
MG: It will also be sunny.
Lissie: … … … EVENTUALLY there will be rain! And when it comes I shall be prepared! To conquer the kraken!

Cecile: Oui, it will rain one day, and I may be in a ballet one day, and Marie-Grace may be a bridesmaid one day –
Lydia: But today is not that day Lissie.
Cecile: Lydia Charlotte is correct. We must dress for today and not for one day!
Lissie: Even though we’re naked the majority of the time? Though I can’t deny I’m still naked, under this raincoat.
MG: It is the principal of the matter. We must change into something with more of a… theme!
Lissie: Then I guess you’ll have to scale the Cliffs of Vanity because that’s where I saw several boxes that look suspiciously like the ones our clothes come in.

Cecile: You can do it Marie-Grace! You are almost there!
Lilly: Be careful everyone! Are you alright Samantha? Lissie?
Sam: Oomph! Humph!
Lissie: We’re moderately fine. We’re better balanced than an elephant on a circus ball.
MG: Almost… there! Ahhhh! We are shifting!
Lissie: Sorry! That’s me! I had to scratch. This raincoat chafes.
Everyone: LISSIE!!!

Sam: Thank goodness we are all here and in one piece! I thought we were goners for certain after Lissie’s second sneeze.
Lydia: Now let us decide what the theme of our outfits should be this time. Does anyone have any suggestions?
MG: Il est difficile, that’s difficult question. Usually our Big Person picks our theme.
Cecile: Ecoutez, listen everyone, I have une bonne idée! Do remember last night when our Big Person was muttering to herself?
Sam: I do! She has a habit of muttering to herself every time that envelope from Bill comes each month.
Lydia: Why yes, you’re right Samantha! It seems like there is more than one Bill too, and these Bills do plague her incessantly.

Cecile: Moi aussie, I always remember as well because she usually says something like “I could buy Spain’s Armada with the money I spend on their clothes.
Lydia: Goodness! Are our clothes really worth so much?
MG: Oui Lydia Charlotte, they must be or she would not cheer so loudly whenever she wins something on the eBay.
Cecile: Well, let us wear the most valuable outfits we can find, to show our Big Person how much we appreciate her spending Spain’s Armada on us. It would be a great pity if she bought us so many expensive clothes and we never wore them.
Sam: That is an excellent idea Cecile! Let’s do it then!
MG: Oui! This will be fun!

Lissie: What do you think of all this Lilly? You’ve been quiet.
Lilly: It sounds like a fun idea, but I don’t think our Big Person needs to see us in expensive clothes to appreciate us. We’re valuable to her even without our clothes. What about you Lissie? It’s even more strange for you to be quiet when there’s talk of Spanish Armadas afoot.
Lissie: I’m… thinking…
Lilly: Thinking?
Lissie: Oh alright! Plotting if you will. Cecile’s idea has given me an idea, you know how these things work. It’s like indigestion and gas.
Lilly: I’m not sure if that’s the analogy you’re looking for Lissie.
Lissie: That’s because you’re not plotting! Humph! I don’t have to explain myself madam!
Lilly: Well, as long as you meet back here with us after you’ve changed, I don’t really want to know.

Sam: Marie-Grace, Sawako Lilly, we are over here!
MG: Bonjour! You all look tres belle in your outfits.
Lilly: Sorry for being so late, Marie-Grace and I were having trouble deciding on which outfits were more expensive.
Lydia: I think you both look lovely. What outfits are you wearing?
Lilly: I’m wearing something called Kirsten’s Midsummer Outfit. There was a basket and flowers in the box as well, but I didn’t want to bring the entire set out.
MG: I had a windmill in my box for Felicity’s Town Fair Outfit also, but it seemed so fragile I was afraid to bring it out. I assumed it must be expensive since there was a limited edition band on the box.

Lilly: What about all of you? What outfits are you wearing?
Sam: I am in a stilting outfit, Addy’s I believe, though since I don’t know how to stilt I left those in the box.
Cecile: My outfit is Samantha’s Bicycling Outfit, but I did not wear the gaiters since I wear no shoes.
Sam: Mine? Are you sure Cecile? I have never seen that outfit before, as pretty as it is.
Cecile: Non, another Samantha, I am certain. And you Lydia Charlotte?
Lydia: It seems this Kirsten is quite the aristocrat, for my outfit is her Promise Plaid dress. Can you believe that together we’re wearing the Spanish Armada?
Sam: Their armada does seem to be made of rather, loose material if I do say so myself.
Lilly: And where is Lissie? I wonder what fine thing she’s found.

Lissie: Oh it’s fine alright!
Sam: Lissie? Is that you?
Lissie: Perhaps... Depending on the day of the week…
Cecile: You keep us in such suspense Lissie, come out and let us see!
Lissie: Ah… but can you handle the sheer magnificence? Or will your armada be utterly crushed with my monetary weight?
Lilly: Oh Lissie, the only thing we can be crushed by is the extra weight you accumulated in chocolate over the break. Now stop teasing us and let us see what outfit you chose.
Lissie: You seek your own doom Spain!

Lydia: Good gracious! What on earth are you wearing Lissie?
MG: Is that – ? Are those – ?
Sam: Receipts???
Cecile: Lissie! You are wearing nothing but receipts!
Lissie: Ah ladies, you may admire me as I preen and strut. Please, do not hold back your flattery on account of my modesty.

Lilly: I don’t know if I’m beyond proud at your ingenuity or mortified you’re more or less naked except for those flimsy receipts.
Lissie: They won’t be so flimsy when our Big Person sees them on her Bill, that’s for sure. And anyway, I was naked as a tilapia under the raincoat too so it’s not that much of a difference.
MG: Hahaha! I do not know how to even value your outfit Lissie.
Lissie: You may be wearing the Spanish Armada, but I, oh ho ho! I am wearing the New World and all her capitalistic potential!
Sam: Capitalism indeed! Are these all the receipts from our Big Person’s recent purchases for us?
Cecile: Lissie, you have picked the most expensive outfit of all, and it is not even an outfit! C’est un génie! Genius!

Lilly: I understand, you are trying to demonstrate to us that the most expensive outfit is not the important thing, it is the representation of how much out Big Person loves us that is truly important.
Lissie: That’s… exactly what I was thinking when I taped these receipts on.
Lilly: You have your shifty eyes on Lissie.
Lissie: Shifty? Me? Do I look like a tectonic plate to you? Anyway, everyone knows genius is what you make it out to be! Behind every great mind is –
Lydia: An even greater mind to interpret it?
Lissie: Beautifully explained Lydia Charlotte! Now will you guys please untape me? I’m need to scratch again.

Recently, I had a friend come over for a visit. She saw the L&L girls standing on my shelf naked since I haven’t had time to dress them in a while now, and asked if she could dress them. I was pretty surprised and laughed when I saw what outfits she had picked because it seemed so random. I normally have a theme in mind, however loose when I pick their outfits, but she picked outfits based on clothes she thought looked fun and interesting, which made for a funny sight.

When I was trying to decide what theme to go with next when I finally got around to changing them, I had just paid a pretty penny for a retired outfit on Ebay and thought, that I would go through my collection and pick out which outfits are valued to most right now and use that as the theme. It astounds me how some of these retired outfits have risen in price to the point where they cost more than a new doll. Kirsten especially, had an expensive collection on the secondary market, despite her humble background in the stories. I want to make it clear it is not my intention to brag or flaunt my collection in front of others. I worked hard to save for these outfits instead of other things and there are many who have much larger and more valuable pieces than I do.

I was trying to decide which outfit each girl gets to wear, and for some reason, I kept hearing Lissie scoffing in my mind, and saying “Come on! I know you can do better than that for me!” Then my eyes rested on the stack of AG receipts resting on the side of my desk and I knew exactly what she needed. ^_^ It was tricky to figure out how to make an outfit for her from the receipts. I don’t consider myself a very creative person, or crafty, and the design is not that stylish or pretty. XD But then again, I doubt Lissie cares so it was fine. :D

Thank you very much for taking the time to read the photostory! ^_^

Monday, January 26, 2015

Featured Etsy Shop: Cupcake Cutie Pie & Giveaway!

- This giveaway has ended. Winner announced here. -

Ever since I discovered the magic of Etsy, I wanted to start featuring some wonderful shops on my blog that create and design for American Girl dolls. There are so many talented sellers out there and it can be overwhelming initially to see how many options there are on Etsy so hopefully this section will give people some suggestions of where to start. ^_^

I am so honored that our first, inaugural Etsy shop feature is Cupcake Cutie Pie, created by the talented Erin Green! She has not only agreed to answer some questions for L&L, but to also sponsor a giveaway for one of her outfits, as well as gift us an outfit to review.

The interview is presented first, then the review, with the giveaway is at the end of the post.

CCP = Cupcake Cutie Pie

~Interview with Erin Green of Cupcake Cutie Pie~

Lissie: Alright Big Person, we know you’re excited but keep your eyebrows on. We’ll take it from here!
Lilly: Hello everyone! We’re here to present to you a very lovely, wonderful, talented seamstress and designer today! She’s been sewing since 6 years old –
Lissie: More importantly, she’s been sewing for American girl sized dolls like us for six years!
Lilly: She has even designed 2 patterns produced by Simplicity, with 2 more on the way this year.
Lissie: Without further ado and jellybeans…
Lissie Lilly: Presenting the fantastic Erin Green!

Lilly: Thank you so much for joining us today Ms. Green. I’ll get started with the first questions. How did you get involved with sewing & designing?
CCP: My mom taught me to sew when I was about six.  I was more interested in embroidery, cross stitch and plastic canvas at that time.  I really started using a sewing machine again when I had my oldest daughter about 17 years ago.  I was really disappointed in the quality of store bought doll clothes at the time and longed for clothing like my mother made for my dolls.  Since we lived in Germany and my mom was back in Washington State it was quicker for me to sew them myself.  In 2008 my mom and I decided to start an Etsy shop creating for American Girl and Bitty Baby.  Designing came at first from the need to make something not currently achievable from patterns that were available and second in 2013 when I was contacted by Simplicity to develop a pattern for 18" dolls. 

Lilly: My you’ve been sewing for a long time! It’s wonderful that you and your mother worked together to create –
Lissie: Oh Lilly, don’t ask such ordinary questions! We all know what people really want to know, out of all the doll options, why did you chose to create for American Girl dolls? We are fantastic, amazing, and superb in every sense of the vinyl, but for the audience’s sake, can you reaffirm our ego?
CCP: Originally I sewed for baby dolls.  My daughter had a couple of Gotz and a Kathe Kruse.  She then got a Bitty Baby so I sewed a few things for that doll.  It wasn't really until my second daughter was born about 6 years ago that I started sewing for AG.  My oldest daughter and step-daughter both had American Girls and that Christmas was a big AG year at our house.  At that same time Liberty Jane was up and coming and those patterns really inspired me to make modern appropriate clothing.  I realized that I really enjoyed sewing for AG, more so than baby dolls and found it gave me more creative license.  I was working remotely in web development, so that allowed time after hours to focus my creative energy on doll clothing.

Enchanting Roses is one of the many dresses she has created in her shop, perfect for Valentines Day or the arrival of spring! ^_^

Lissie: You hear that Lilly? She said we give her more creative license! That’s us alright!
Lilly: I don’t really think she means you or me specifically Lissie. That would be a bit inflated of you to say.
Lissie: Ahhh…. I’ve already gone up with inflation. A little more won’t hurt.
Lilly: Well while Lissie tries to let out some of her hot air, could you please share with us the story behind the name Cupcake Cutie Pie?
CCP: I have had a few other Etsy shops and an Ebay shop as well.  When my mom and I decided to feature doll clothing in a shop by itself, we needed a new name.  I personally like the aesthetic of a name comprised of three words.  Cupcakes were becoming quite the iconic image at the time and I called my niece Cutie Pie so it just happily fell together.

Lilly: No one can really say no to cupcakes, especially if they’re cuter than pie, and 3 is a magic number, so I’d say you picked a winning name.
Lissie: Now what I’d like to know is, out of all the different time periods and styles your designs reflect, do you have a favorite time period/style to design and make outfits for? Paleolithic? Neolithic? Gothic?
CCP: My most favorite would be vintage/retro 1930-1950.  I myself swing dance and listen to big band, boogie woogie, jazz and swing music all day long so this tends to be the style I gravitate to most.  I also feel it was very flattering yet modest and still highly detailed so I think it suits most AG dolls well.  

Lissie: I agree! Allow me to demonstrate –
Lilly: Lissie, we don’t have time for that right now! We need to finish the interview so we don’t take up too much of Ms. Green’s time!
Lissie: Oh fiddlesticks and cheese sticks!
Lilly: Ms. Green, you’ve already released 2 patterns with Simplicity, with 2 more to come this year. Can you tell us what are some things people don’t realize about creating a pattern to sell?
CCP: My patterns are contracted through Simplicity so I need to create 6-7 looks for each pattern.  It can be challenging to develop a pattern that has alternate looks that are still relevant to the overall look and feel.
Simplicity Vintage Style 18     Simplicity 18
Keep your eyes out at your local crafts and fabric store for these 2 Simplicity patterns designed by Cupcake Cutie Pie!

Lissie: That’s a lot of work! I love to shirk from work!
Lilly: If Ms. Green had your work ethic Cupcake Cutie Pie wouldn’t be in existence today Lissie.
Lissie: Ah… the sacrifices I make for dollmanity… Enough tough questions, what is your favorite part of what you do? Least favorite?
CCP: My most favorite part of creating doll clothing is the unrestrained creative outlet.  Before I started sewing full time I was a web developer.  While that is a creative field I was constrained by what the business needed not necessarily where my creativity took me.  I also love that I get to live in my small town and run my business out of my shop instead of having to live in a big city and commute into work.  My least favorite aspect is not having enough time in a day.  I have so many ideas and projects that I have in organized piles.  I try to work in an efficient manner but that still doesn't allow for me to make as much as I'd like to in a single day.

Lissie: I have a lot of ideas for projects too! My problem is not having enough time in the day though. 
Lilly: Your problem is not having enough laxity in the law to get away with most of your mischief.
Lissie: You know me so well! I feel both horrified and honored!
Lilly: While you sort your feelings out, I want to ask Ms. Green how much time on average goes into an outfit or design? Could you briefly explain the process to us?
CCP: Any particular design usually takes from a couple of hours to a couple of days from idea to completion.  It depends on the complexity of the design, fabrics used and lack of interruptions.  Patterns I work on regularly take about an hour from start to finish.  For new ideas it either starts with fabric selection or pattern choice, depending on what is most important to the design.  When I get to the pattern stage I find a suitable pattern and work on modifications to alter the pattern or in some cases I start from scratch.  Constant fittings during the construction ensures the right fit in the end as well as a mockup sample.  Finally photography and descriptions for listings take up a decent chunk of time after everything else is said and done.

There are many lovely Valentine themed outfits in her Etsy shop with various designs and styles to suit a doll's personality, such as the outfit on the left called Hearts in Love. Or perhaps your historical doll is coveting the ensemble on the right, a Victorian bustle skirt called York Bridge.

Lilly: Goodness, I didn’t realize so much work goes into preparing an outfit or design for sale! I can see what you mean now when you say your biggest problem is not having enough time in the day.
Lissie: Other than my most beautimous, dashing self, can you tell us what or who inspires your creativity when sewing and designing patterns? But if you insist on giving me credit, please don’t hold back on my ego’s account.
CCP: I take inspiration from current fashion, vintage patterns, customer requests and character replicas.  Depending on the type of outfit or the end user will determine if it’s a fabric, color, material or replica look that I'm trying to achieve.

Lilly: With so many ideas running through your mind, do you ever get a creative block?
Lissie: Of course! Doesn’t every one with a brain fall into the throes of lethargy and apathy once in a while? I think you should ask instead, how do you overcome a creative block?
CCP: I do get creative blocks on occasion, but I generally overcome this by making several things that I've made before and having the pieces ready to sew on.  Since I only make one of a kind outfits the end result is fresh every time.  This also allows for my creativity to rest and when I feel inspired for something new I have the time to add it to my workload.

Cupcake Cutie Pie also occasionally create beautiful custom dolls complete with their own wardrobe collection. Take a look at this doll, Conney, as the White Rabbit and her outfits collection. 

Lilly: Hear that Lissie? Next time you fall into one of your throes, instead of lounging like a concussed sloth, try working instead.
Lissie: Work is a potato that’s half baked! Now, I would never imply you should divulge state secrets of the most sensitive nature, but if you so desire to er… um… let slip…
Lilly: Lissie!
Lissie: Oh snuba socks! Can we hear a little sneak preview of your two upcoming patterns to be released this year?
CCP: The next Simplicity pattern should be released in their early fall release 2015.  This pattern will have a jumper, leggings, tunic length blouse and beret as well as an infinity scarf.  The pattern that will be released for winter 2015 will consist of party dresses but that is still on the drawing board so to speak.

Lilly: That’s so exciting to hear! I know our Big Person will be picking the patterns up when they appear in stores, and I hope all our readers will as well.
Lissie: After all, a doll can never have too many clothes, no matter what their Big Person’s wallet says.
Lilly: Before we let you go, is there anything you would like to share with the readers? Any advice?
CCP: Measure twice, cut once :)

Lissie: MWAHAHAHA! It’s finally time for our… 1 Word Bonus!
Lilly: Lissie, this isn’t in the script! When did you add this in?
Lissie: Just now by the hair on my chinny chin chin! Ms. Green… I want you to think hard, impossibly hard, harder than Jupiter tap dancing with Saturn through a pair of lip locked newlyweds…
Lissie: Tangerines or Tacos?
CCP: Tangerines

Lilly: Thank you so much Ms. Green for letting us interview you, and sharing insights into your work. It’s been wonderful having you here to kickstart our Etsy features on the blog! Let’s have another round of applause for her! You can visit her Etsy shop and keep up to date with her new releases at the links below:
Etsy Store -
Facebook -
Pinterest -

Lissie: And now, so you can see for yourselves that we’re not just blowing smoke and biscuits at you, we have in the studio a Cupcake Cutie Pie original outfit to review, and another to giveaway to one lucky reader!
Lilly: Please put your hands together as we go over now to our fashion experts, Samantha and Cecile!


Cecile: Merci Lissie and Sawako Lilly! Bonjour mes amies! Samantha et moi received this lovely outfit from Cupcake Cutie Pie to review.
Sam: The dress is based off of her most recent Simplicity pattern, 1220. We were so excited when she sent us the photo of it!

Cecile: Oui Samantha, and we were even more excited to see it in person! It even came with a matching headband and sandals.
Sam: Cecile won the thumb wrestling war, and will be modeling it for us today. Presenting Cecile, wearing Green Meadow!

Cecile: Merci, merci! J’adore the colors and design. It is so perfectly suited for the start of spring!
Sam: Would you be so kind as to tell us about the feel and weight of the dress?

Cecile: Ah, I am not very familiar with the ways to describe a fabric but I will do my best. It feels like a good quality fabric, very thick and heavy.

Sam: The buttons on the front are sewn on beautifully.
Cecile: Oui, and they match the pink lace edging and the buttons on the back.

Sam: May we see the back please?
Cecile: Certainly! You can see there is a sash that attaches to the sides of the dress and ties in the back.

Sam: The bow is… crooked Cecile.
Cecile: That is because our Big Person, well, she is not so handy with bows.

Sam: I can see there are only two buttons closing the back. Do you feel yourself in danger of being exposed with so few closures?
Cecile: Non, not at all. The buttons are perfect because mes cheveux, my hair will not get caught in the scratchy velcro and pull out my ringlets. The 2 buttons are enough for modesty and easy to use.

Sam: Why are you not wearing the headband Cecile?
Cecile: That is because our Big Person, well, she is not so handy with headbands.
Sam: … … … It seems there are many things our Big Person is not so handy with.
Cecile: It is sad, but true. Fortunately she can still put on sandals. Look how cute they are!

Sam: Thank you for modeling the beautiful dress Cecile. Now would you take it off so we can see the inside?
Cecile: Take… take it off? Must I?
Sam: Cecile! Be professional now. How else can we see the inside?
Cecile: But I have only just put it on…
Sam: Madam, please! We cannot hold up the review.
Cecile: Ah, c’est la vie. Very well, if the audience insists.

Sam: Now moving forward, you can see the bodice is fully lined.
Cecile: Ah, so that is called the bodice! You can also see where the two buttons on the front attach.

Sam: All if the edges are finished to prevent fraying.
Cecile: Because nothing is so frustrating as having a dress dissolve into threads on you.
Sam: Well put Cecile! No one fancies loose threads in the joints.

Cecile: And you know this is a Cupcake Cutie Pie, one of a kind original because of the tag. Is there anything else you wanted to show them Samantha? I would like to put the dress on again.
Sam: Very well, we are done here. I want to thank Ms. Green again for making such a lovely dress.
Cecile: *muffled voice* Oui! Meric Ms. Green!

Sam: Cecile! Where did you go?
Cecile: *muffled voice* I am changing!
Sam: But we are not finished!
Cecile: *muffled voice* Do not worry, I will be ready when it is time for the encore!
Sam: But this is not a performance! Well, since Cecile is occupied, I shall have to finish. If you like the design of this beautiful outfit, stay tuned as we go to Marie-Grace and Lydia Charlotte who will be presenting one fortunate reader with their very own Cupcake Cutie Pie original dress!


MG: *whispers* Lydia Charlotte, it is our turn now.
Lydia: *whispers* I feel nervous in front of such a crowd. Where should we begin Marie-Grace?
MG: Let me see, it looks like we are responsible for the giveaway.
Lydia: That’s the most exciting part! Wonderful! Here we go! *ahem* Now that you’ve seen the lovely Cecile model a Cupcake Cutie Pie original, are you prepared for a chance to win one for yourself?
MG: Ms. Green has very graciously donated a complete outfit for this giveaway!
Lydia: This gorgeous outfit is also made from her Simplicity pattern 1220, and it is perfect for your doll’s Valentine Day celebrations.
MG: C’est vrai, exactly Lydia Charlotte. This outfit comes with this beautiful dress, handmade by Ms. Green, as well as a matching headband, and pink sandals for a complete, festive look.
Lydia: Presenting… Valentine Heart!

Lydia: Be sure to read all the rules carefully. What else do we need to inform them of Marie-Grace?
MG: Are international readers allowed to participate?
Lydia: Certainly! No one is excluded, however if you are under the age of 13, please ask your parents or guardians to enter for you.
MG: It is free to enter, no purchase is necessary.
Lydia: Is it? Lissie said something about extortion and bribery in sweets.
MG: Non, Lissie is channeling her inner mafia boss. Is there anything else?
Lydia: Ah, I nearly forgot! It is very important to make sure you have your name with your entry. If you comment and you do not have a Google+ account, you may select the “Name/URL” option, which will let you put in your name.
MG: Bonne chance! Good luck everyone!

- This giveaway has ended. Winners are announced here. -

The giveaway will run from Jan. 26 - Feb. 5 (midnight Central USA time).

To enter:
Visit Cupcake Cutie Pie's Etsy Store by clicking here. Share with us your favorite outfit in her shop and why (color, theme, pattern, design, time period, etc.)

For bonus entries:
Favorite Cupcake Cutie Pie's Etsy store. (include username in comment for verification)
"Like" Cupcake Cutie Pie 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 you 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 7 additional entries*

The winners will be announced in 2 weeks on Friday, February 6th on this post, so check back then! ^_^

- This giveaway has ended. Winners are announced here. -

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Lissie & Lilly: Cruise Day 5 - Arrival at Back at Port

Today is just a super short epilogue to our trip. After that brilliant sunset last night, we woke up to a mass of fog outside this morning. Due to the weather, the port authorities shut down the port until the fog rolled away so our ship, along with many others, sat outside the port waiting until the weather was clear. Basically, we had a delay over nearly 3 hours. XD

Lilly: Oooo, it's so thick out there I can't even tell where the ocean stops and the sky begins. I'm not surprised the Galveston Port authorities have shut down the port until the fog lifts. It's dangerous for so many large ships to try to enter the small port when they can't even see.
Lissie: This would never be a problem for Capt'n Lissie! I bet we could parallel park a snowmobile in the heart of Hell itself.
Lilly: I wonder, you know snowmobiles aren't made of snow right? They just drive on them.
Lissie: My metaphor makes perfect sense if you don't think about it!

Lissie: Hey look! What's that smudge off there?
Lilly: It looks like another ship, probably one that transports cargo.
Lissie: We're stuck. They're stuck.
Lilly: What are you trying to get at?
Lissie: It's not too late to squeeze in one last commandeering expedition.

Lilly: But can you even see enough to commandeer? 
Lissie: Well, I suppose there's no glory in commandeering a stuck ship anyway. Let's go do something that's actually glorious while we wait instead.
Lilly: Like what? I can get a lot of studying done in 2 hours.
Lissie: One last go through the Make-Your-Own-Omelette bar!!!
Lilly: Did we talk about about cholesterol with you yet?
Lissie: No, but you can tell me over omelettes! Onward!

Something I learned is that when a large ship comes to port, there will be a pilot (that's what he's called) who will come to the ship in a small boat and board it. The captain will give the wheel to the pilot and he is actually the one who steers the ship into the port. Pilots are trained specifically to bring ships into a port safely. This is supposed to reduce liability on the cruise line (and other ships) in case the port is damaged due to, er, bad ship parking if that term exists. 

When the port authorities finally felt it was clear enough to open the port, they sent the pilot to our cruise ship and he brought us into the port and "parked" us (I'm not sure what the nautical term is). By this time everyone was super antsy and ready to get off the boat so the ship staff had a heck of a time trying to hold back the crowd until the customs people had boarded. You know... in case people try to smuggle dolls into the US.  -__-
Lissie: We're finally out! FINALLY. 
Lilly: It wasn't that bad, at least it was shorter than getting on to the boat.
Lissie: And if by that you mean it was only one hour instead of two, then yes.
Lilly: I mean that security didn't stop us this time. I'm proud of you Lissie. I thought for certain you'd try to smuggle a towel animal through.
Lissie: ...Who says I didn't?

Lilly: Our ride is sure taking a long time. I wonder if they got lost.
Lissie: Or maybe they're just parked in that very shady VIP Cruise Parking garage.
Lilly: It could be VIP on the inside. Don't judge a parking garage just because it looks shady from the outside.
Lissie: No, I'm fairly certain it looks shady on the inside too. Parking garages by default are shady on the inside, especially if you're in an action/thriller movie.
Lilly: But we're not in an action/thriller movie.
Lissie: ...Who says we aren't?

Lilly: At least parking in a shady garage would be better than just parking on the median randomly.
Lissie: WOW! I didn't know you could do that! Who is this person who has such a flagrant disregard for societal rules and laws? I must learn their ways!!!
Lilly: I'm not sure you need to learn from them. You seem to be doing pretty well on that front already.
Lissie: Awww, shucks Lilly, don't flatter me so. You know what blushing does to my vinyl. I guess we can have a flagrant disregard for societal rules at home too. It's so boring now that our trip is over.
Lilly: ...Who says it's over?

Hahaha! That's right! It's never over! ^_^ Thank you to everyone who has read through our trip with us! It was so much fun to write and put the photos together, and I hope it was fun to read. Overall the cruise left me with so many wonderful memories and a few more inches to my midriff. 

I wanted to take a moment to ask anyone who likes to go on cruises or plans to go on one eventually to please be kind and gracious to your cruise staff. They are recruited from all over the world and work extremely hard nonstop. To give an example, our cruise ship docked in the morning, unloaded us, and departed again in the afternoon with a new load of passengers. The people working on the ships get little to no breaks between voyages, and are under a lot of pressure to not fall ill or down on the job least they get sent back to their home country. Admittedly, I am not familiar with the labor laws that govern cruise ships. However, I have seen first hand how much mess and chaos these people deal with with little rest on a daily basis and at the risk of sounding preachy, would like to ask other passengers to treat these workers kindly, with dignity, and if possible, generously. Your trip with be that much more enjoyable for it, I promise! ^_^

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Lissie & Lilly: Cruise Day 4 - Fun Day on the Sea (again)

After the intense day out in the sun and wind yesterday on Isla Passion, we thought it would be a good idea to start off the day with some good old fashioned heat/steam therapy in the sauna and steam room. Lissie and Lilly can't go into the steam room, but I was happy to see no body was awake at 8am in the sauna and I had it all to myself. ^_^

Lilly: Hurray! It's all for us!
Lissie: Why am I only 18 inches of raw steel? I want to stretch myself over the entire room!
Lilly: I doubt that would be relaxing, and that's what we're here to do. Let's go sit near the window and watch the view!

Lilly: Isn't it strange Lissie? It's just the sea and even though the view is the same, at the same time it's not because the water is ever changing. 
Lissie: Oh Lilly, don't speak eloquently with such poetic rhythm to me this early in the morning. It's not hot enough in here to even soften my vinyl. I wonder if they turned the heat on yet? Let's check!
Lilly: I think you're just using that as an excuse to do something dangerous first thing before breakfast.
Lissie: I cannot tell a lie! Especially first thing before breakfast.

Lilly: Be careful Lissie! I don't know what we would do if you melted!
Lissie: Aw potato skins! It's barely breathing! Hand me the pail of water Lilly. I'm going to dump it over these rocks and make steam!
Lilly: If the rocks aren't hot, they won't steam Lissie, and the water will just go down and break the heater. Now come down before it gets really hot. Don't you want to go to the breakfast buffet?
Lissie: THAT'S RIGHT! We gotta beat the crowd!!!
(No dolls were harmed in the taking of this photo! :D I actually arrived before they turned the sauna on so I snagged a few photos while it was only warm then asked them to turn the heat up.)

Lissie: Drats and cheese muffin! This is what I get for climbing on heaters and rocks! It'll be forever until we get our food!
Lilly: It's not so bad Lissie, don't sulk on such a rainy day. Let's go wait in the omelette line. I hear you can pick your own add-ins!
Lissie: Unlimited add-ins! I want to add chocolate!
Lilly: Er... I don't think that's an option...

Lissie: Ahhhh... this is the way it should be! A private pool deck for my most magnanimous self!
Lilly: Actually I think no one is in the mood to jump into cold water when it's so cold outside.
Lissie: Ahhhh... as it should be! The weather recognizes my heart's desire and seeks to please!

Lilly: Anyway, there's not much swimming people can do with the pool covered by that net. I think it's still too early to open it.
Lissie: But in the mean time, that net makes an excellent trampoline!
Lilly: ....Why does that sound like a fantastic, fun idea? Am I still asleep?
Lissie: No! You're in the... Lissie Zone! 

Lilly: Phew, I'm exhausted! Who knew chess was such a workout!
Lissie: Who won? Did anyone checkmate?
Lilly: I don't know. Who am I leaning against? The queen? The king? 
Lissie: The lamp post in Narnia. This is too much thinking and too much heavy lifting... At this rate we'll have to head back to the sauna to recover.
Lilly: Anyway, it's almost time for afternoon tea.

Lilly: We're traveling so fast!
Lissie: I'm going to go water skiing! Hold on to this rope Lilly!
Lilly: Lissie no! You'll sink faster than the Titanic! And I'm not strong enough to hold you! Besides, the life preservers are all too big for you.
Lissie: I don't need a life preserver! I've got... panache!

Lilly: I can't believe we made it safely to afternoon tea. I really thought you were about to go flying off the back of the ship!
Lissie: Aw, it's the dratted rain, ruining all my fun.
Lilly: We'll write Mother Nature a Thank You card when we get home. Hopefully the warm tea will calm you down.
Lilly: ... so much for that...

Alright, I'm going to straight up confess here I am a complete, absolute afternoon tea snob. During my time in England, I became properly addicted to afternoon tea and was so crestfallen when I discovered clotted cream was all but impossible to find in the USA, which is why I was so excited to see it was on the menu here! Afternoon tea is not the same as high tea. High tea is basically a meal with lots of hearty food, and taken by the lower, working class as a way to stay full while working. Afternoon tea is what people are usually talking about when they imagine a high class, hoitty toitty English tradition. It consists of three courses in the following order: tea sandwiches (traditional flavors are cucumber, salmon, chicken), warm scones with jam and clotted cream (I usually asked them to hold the jelly and give me double clotted cream... XD), and ends with the pastries (usually of the French style, so very elaborate cakes). 
Lissie: Are you done narrating yet? Can we pleaaaase eat already? 
Lilly: Shhhh! A lady doesn't interrupt Lissie.
Lissie: I'm not lady! I'm straight up about to chuck my tea out the window!
Lilly: But the windows are sealed.
(They only had 2 options of sandwiches, the cucumber and the salmon. The cucumber was bad. I don't like saying negative things normally but it was actually bad enough I couldn't finish it, and not just because I'm a snob. The bread was damp. No one likes damp bread except mold. And I'm fairly certain they washed the cucumbers in sea water because it was SALTY. SO SALTY. As in I probably won't have to use the restroom for a week because there's so much salt in my body retaining the water. The salmon was delicious though and I asked for seconds. ^_^)

THE SCONE! THE GRAIL OF RESPECTABILITY! :D I'm so happy! I love love love clotted cream beyond imagination. If anyone knows where to get it in the USA, please let me know! I usually load up on scones and skip the pastries portion. They didn't really serve everything in the proper fashion because within 10 minutes I had been served my sandwiches, scones, and pastries already, but I realize it's a cruise ship and accuracy is not what they're shooting for. There was no jam served with the scone, and the scones were not warm. They were served the the clotted cream already slathered on for you. The pastries were not very French style and elaborate, but basically comfort cake and cupcakes. (I'm sorry! I know I'm being a snob! XD) But nonetheless I didn't care and I was ecstatic because after over a year, I finally tasted my beloved clotted cream again. ^_^

Lissie: Look at the horizon! 
Lilly: What is it? It's so foggy and cloudy I can't make out what it is.
Lissie: It's black gold! Or black death if you're the environment.
Lilly: That makes sense. What else could be so far out here in the Gulf of Mexico?
Lissie: A panda.
Lilly: ....It was a rhetorical question Lissie.
Lissie: I stand by my response. A panda.

Lilly: Look at the wake the ship is creating! Aren't you glad you didn't try to water ski in that? 
Lissie: Argh, Capt'n Meself fears no wake when she be asleep!
Lilly: ...The wake is the mass of waves caused by a ship's movement through water. It has nothing to do with circadian rhythms.
Lissie: Well then. 
Lilly: Yes. 
Lissie: Hmph! Knowledge is such a spoilsport. I guess we'll have to wait for the rain to stop to go back on deck.
Lilly: Let's go back to our cabin! This is a wonderful time to squeeze in some more studying.
Lissie: You know, on second thought, I think I will try water skiing, awake or asleep.
(Arrrrgggggghhhhhh the truth comes out! I totally brought my textbook and study guides with me onto the cruise and used them prolifically. I'm *that* kind of vacationer... the one others must avoid lest the wet blanket of industriousness slaps their vacation down flat. The dreaded... student vacationer!)

On the deck of the cruise ship is a mini golf course among many other fun things (basketball, giant chess, jogging, water slide, pools, jacuzzis, etc.) so after it stopped raining I decided it was a good time to squeeze in a game.
Lilly: I am so happy the weather cleared up! Smell how clean and fresh the salty sea air is!
Lissie: Hole in one! Hole in one! Come on!
Lilly: Do you really think standing here is the best idea? We're awful close to the hole and our Big Person has awful aim.
Lissie: Pah! I'm sure we'll be - PONK! OW!!! Man down! Man down!
Lilly: Lissie! You're a hero! That was a hole in 1 thanks to you!

Lissie: Save yourself Lilly... That golf ball did me in. I can see the light...
Lilly: Don't be a pamby Lissie, it's real! What a beautiful sunset after such a dreary shower! All the colors looks like streaks of cleansing fire 
Lissie: You're spewing poetry again. The last thing someone who just met the gates of eternity wants to hear is poetry.
Lilly: You don't fool me, you'd never just meet the gates of eternity. You'd just barge through them with trumpets and fanfare. 
Lissie: What can I say? My reputation proceeds me.

Lilly: The ship is glowing in the setting sun!
Lissie: I glow too, when I'm fed. Come on Wordsworth, let's go to dinner already!
Lilly: But I thought you were mortally wounded by the golf ball?
Lissie: Nah, everyone knows only a ping pong ball can mortally wound someone of my stature!

Lissie: Bring on the menu! I'm ready!
Lilly: It's our final meal aboard the Triumph!
Lissie: That means we have to go all out! Bring forth... the juggernaut of consumption!

Lilly: Ooooo Lissie! This plate scares me so much! The faded black and white people look like spectors!
Lissie: How can you even look at ghosts at a time like this? I wish a ghost would try to come near. I'm so hungry I'd devour their ectoplasm without so much of a by your leave.

Are you ready? Presenting... The Final Dinner Menu! 
This is called, "A Study in Sushi". XD It's such a long name with more words than sushi! From the left, it's ebi shrimp (I find this hilarious because ebi means shrimp in Japanese so basically it's shrimp shrimp), norwegian salmon tartar, and seared ahi tuna. Just for reference of scale, my thumb can wear the cucumber border in the middle sushi like a ring. >_< But it was delicious at least!

Crab cake! Actual crab cake because there was more crab than cake! Whoot!

Penne Mariscos, aka sauteed shrimp, clamari, and scallops served on penne pasta with tomato cream sauce. This was fantastic. I was tempted to order 2, but there's still more ahead!

Veal parmigiana with tomato sauce: Golden fried, milk fed veal, baked with mozzarella cheese, diced potatoes, and grilled zucchini. I'm not afraid to admit I ordered this despite not knowing what veal is (it's beef from young cows) because I saw parmigiana. Nothing can be bad with that descriptor attached right?

And now, a quick break so we can present the entire dinner table to you! That's right, 9 entrees between 4 people. The appetizers have already been removed or we'd have to move to a banquet table. And did we eat it all? Oh yes we did. ^_^

Grilled fillet of mahi mahi served with diced potatoes, grilled zucchini, and tomatoes with olive dressing. Not my entree but can't say I didn't have a bite. Or two. Or half. XD 

And just because we were curious to see how people serve tofu, this is the grilled tofu steak with scallion and cured tomato stir fry. It was surprisingly delicious and moderately filling as well.

Lilly: Oh it's another performance tonight! Look, there's our server on the 3rd step!
Lissie: Dance yesterday, song today? 
Lilly: Shhh, I want to hear what they're singing.
(It was a very sweet, funny song, with basically the message "We will miss you very very much, please come back and see us soon." I thought it was a cute but smart way of asking the passengers to remember to sail with Carnival again. I guess the cruise line industry is tough competition and they are doing everything they can to appeal to their guests.)

Lilly: You know, I can't help but wonder if that really is true. Will they miss us? They see so many of us come aboard each trip, near 3,000, twice a week. I can't imagine they will remember individual guests.
Lissie: Oh they'll remember the money we bring to the company even if they don't remember the person holding it. But either way, we'll be remembered. 
Lilly: That's true. I don't know if they've ever seen an adult spend her entire time on a cruise carting dolls around to take pictures of them everywhere.
Lissie: Not our Big Person, us! No will aboard the Triumph will ever forget the fearless Capt'n Lissie and her trusty first mate Lilly!
Lilly: ... For vanquishing a pineapple?

Lissie: Dancing too? These people sure know how to recognize a heroine when they see one!
Lilly: Don't preen at dinner, you'll interfere with the macarena!
Lissie: Heeeeeey! Macarena!

After the fun performance, dessert is served! Today's special...
Baked alaska! Vanilla sponge cake with Neapolitan ice cream backed with meringue. Or at least, that's what it says on the menu. But I'm still sitting here rubbing my eyes wondering how you bake ice cream. That's not adding up for me. somehow. Which isn't really a problem because it's adding up most tastefully in my stomach. :D

Lilly: It's so sad! The final show in the Rome Theater!
Lissie: It's not the final show, there's bingo afterwards.
Lilly: Bingo isn't really a show though.
Lissie: That's cause you haven't seen the rich grannies from deck 5 play. Man can things get rough quick. Never get between a rich granny on vacation and her bingo card.
(The show was called The Big Easy and featured several scenes and story lines on the back drop of New Orleans. There was the food, the easy lifestyle, the ghost stories, the bayou, Mardi Gras, etc. It was fun to watch and they threw beads and streamers at the end. It was a very elaborate, glitzy show by the same dance troupe that did the performance from Day 2. I think it's just 1 troupe contracted to put on the performances for the ship.)

Lilly: Aw! That's adorable!
Lissie: The towel elephant, the towel heart, or the chocolates?
Lilly: All of it! I think this is my favorite towel animal, and the heart is the sweetest touch.
Lissie: Our steward probably wanted to go all out for our final night.
Lilly: That makes me sad, to think this is our last towel animal. Are you going to ride it?
Lissie: No, I'm going to bask! Come on, there's room for two!
Lilly: But I thought we were going to visit the pool? We even changed already.
Lissie: How can we float if we don't bask first? You'll see!

Lilly: This is what you mean by basking!
Lissie: We shall bask in terrycloth love and comfort on our last night here!
Lilly: Can you really believe that tomorrow we will arrive at port and this cruise will be at an end?
Lissie: Of course it will end, it has to, or else the next amazing trip can't happen.
Lilly: .... You know Lissie, for someone who runs from poetry, you're really very eloquent at times.
Lissie: It's the elephant. He ghostwrites all my best lines.