Thursday, May 30, 2013

Texas A&M University Ken® Doll - African American | Barbie Collector

Mattel Stock Photo
Texas A&M University Ken® Doll - African American | Barbie Collector <== Click to read full description.

I just found out about this guy.  (Basic Model 17 head sculpt on what appears to be a semi-articulated body -- hope I am wrong since his knees look slightly bent.  Perhaps they are articulated, too.)

Update (05/31/13):
Ken is a playscale version of a Texas Aggie Yell Squad member.  According to their website, "the Fightin' Texas Aggie Yell Leaders... are the leaders of the unique spirit for which Texas A&M is so well known. The Yell Leaders are comprised of five students that are elected by the student body. They are the official spirit organization of the university and they lead Aggie fans in 'yells' during athletic events and other school events. Unlike cheerleaders, the Yell Leaders do not perform gymnastic feats. Instead they use a variety of hand signals, called 'pass backs', to direct and intensify the crowd."

So don't go callin' him a cheerleader.

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Loveseat Followup

After viewing a My Froggy Stuff tutorial on how to make a doll loveseat, I made one in playscale a few weeks back using textured felt found at Wal-Mart.  Images of the loveseat can be seen in a previous post.

My husband mentioned that he could make a matching chair for the loveseat.  So on a subsequent trip to Wal-Mart, I checked for and purchased additional quantities of the textured felt.

It took him several weeks to begin and another week or so to complete the chair, because he works at his own pace and on several projects at a time.  He is so unlike me in that area because I want my projects to end as soon as I start them, but sometimes haste does make waste.

As a reminder for him, I left the loveseat on the kitchen counter along with the doll he used to scale the chair.  They both remained there for several weeks before I discovered he had finally taken the felt into his work space to begin crafting the chair.

Once I knew he had begun his work, I pulled up the My Froggy Stuff video and asked him to come into the doll room to watch it.   "I don't need to watch a video," he insisted.

"Oh, just come watch it to see what she does," I urged.

Unrelenting, he firmly said, "I can do this."

So I politely stepped down

His chair is shown below followed by a trio of women gathered to discuss whatever.  I'll allow the reader to caption the second picture.
Playscale chair made by Husband to match the playscale loveseat I made several weeks ago.

Caption this (click to enlarge)
Kayla (seated on the left in the matching chair) is the doll that was seated on the loveseat on the kitchen counter until the chair was completed.  Perhaps she is saying, "No, he didn't need to watch a video; but ladies... I didn't think I'd ever make it back to the doll room."  Dayle listens attentively while Pop Life Christie gives Kayla a serious co-signing side glance (as if to say, Girl, I didn't think you would either).

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Friday, May 24, 2013

A Doll for an Arm

After receiving the beautiful hand sewn dressings from Betty A., I telephoned her to offer my personal thanks.  During our conversion, Betty shared that she enjoyed my post on Mama Dolls and marveled about the variety I own.

During our discussion of these dolls, I asked Betty if she was able to answer the question I posed in the post regarding the 27-inch transitional mama doll that is featured at the end:  Can you tell what she's missing? 

As shown more clearly here, the doll is missing her right arm.   She arrived to me with one arm over a dozen years ago.  My plan had been to find a replacement for her but I never put forth the effort.

Betty shared that she has the exact same doll, "but it's white," she said, and offered to send it to me to use for parts.  "You'll have to paint the arm," she said in her soft-spoken voice.  "Are you sure?" I asked.  "She's in storage and I'm not doing anything with her" is what she said to convince me to accept the doll.  I assumed the doll was in disrepair and was only good for parts.  To save on postage, I urged Betty to remove the right arm and just send that to me.  She politely declined stating she wanted to leave the disassembling to me.

Mama doll received from Betty A. to use for parts.

After the doll arrived, I understood her dilemma.  Had she removed the doll's arm, she would have damaged a near perfect doll!  With the exception of a few minor crazed areas and her hair needing to be reset, there is practically nothing wrong with this doll, and I won't be the one to remove an arm from a near perfect doll either.  Once again I called Betty to thank her for her extreme generosity.

After naming the doll, Jane, I decided the two will be "sisters under the skin."  Twins from different mothers (or perhaps different fathers!).

Jane, the would-be arm donor, and her one-armed twin.

Instead of removing Jane's arm, I decided to take a stab at making a mold of her right arm.

My first bright idea was to wrap Jane's arm in foil paper to create the mold.  I did this but decided that was not the best approach.
Plan A:  The foil wrapped arm.
I removed the foil paper, Saran wrapped the arm, and covered that with paper tape.  The plan was to next apply glue over the entire surface of the paper-taped arm, allow that to harden before slitting it along the under surface of the hardened mold to remove it, and hopefully not damage Jane's arm in the process.  The "hopefully" part worried me so I axed the glue application idea.

Plan B, Step 1:  Saran-wrapped arm

Paper tape has been applied over Jane's Saran-wrapped arm in the above image, step 2 of plan B.

Instead of glue I decided to cover the plastic and paper tape-wrapped arm with some of Husband's polymer clay (if he still had enough, I thought).  I asked.  He did and suggested that I just sculpt the arm with the clay.  "You don't need to put it [the clay] over the doll's arm.   You can just sculpt it."  (Easy for him to say and easier for him to do, I thought.)

So I said, "Show me" before proceeding to gingerly cut the Saran wrap and paper tape from Jane's arm with a pair of scissors.

Saran wrap and paper tape removed from Jane's arm.

(This is her arm, I thought... if his sculpting doesn't work, I'll add a step 3 to plan B -- stuff this with Polyfil, paper-tape the cut edges, paper mache it, shape the fingers, and paint it to create the arm.)

So far, here's the arm Husband sculpted with polymer clay.

Plan C:  Doll's right arm visually sculpted using polymer clay.

It appears I will not have to add a step 3 to plan B!  The sculpted arm looks pretty darn good, almost identical to Jane's right arm.  I helped with the smoothing, but Husband did the sculpting.  After he smooths it out, rounds off the upper portion and flattens the under surface that will attach to the doll's body, I will bake it in a glass dish at at 275 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes or until it hardens.  I can handle painting it to match my doll's complexion, but I'll solicit his help once again to attach it to the body.

I'll post a followup after Lynn (I just named my one-armed doll) has two arms.


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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Gift For No Particular Reason

Earlier this month doll-friend Betty A. surprised me with three beautiful hand sewn dresses.




The yellow dress and brown and gold two-piece dress are made of cotton.  The red and white polka dot dress is a very sheer organza-type fabric.

Betty's sewing is impeccable and impressive because she makes her own patterns.

I love all three dresses but the yellow one is my favorite.  It's so right on time because Matoka, who is currently wearing another dress from Betty, has been wanting to change into spring attire.

I will hold off on redressing Matoka until my doll from Germany arrives.  She may be the lucky recipient of the yellow dress, but the two girls can always share.

Thank you again, Betty for your caring generosity that you have extended to me for no particular reason! 


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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Out of the Mouths of Babes

The following is a brief transcript of a conversation I had with my daughter yesterday around 3:30 p.m.:

Me:  Hello

Daughter:  Where are you?

Me:  At the store, why?  Where are you? (Thinking she was at my house to visit).

Daughter:  Still at work.  You know you have to check up on old people because they can come up missing.

Me:  I'm not that old, yet.

Daughter to youngest son who was with her:  Tell Granny what you said.

Grandson:  [something about buying me] a doll.

Daughter:  Did you understand him?

Me:  No.

Daughter:  Say it again, slowly so she can understand you.

(Admittedly sometimes I cannot hear clearly on my cell phone.)

Grandson:  I said, Can't we just buy her a doll?

Daughter:  I told him tomorrow's Granny's birthday and he said, "Can't we just buy her a doll?  That's all she wants."

Me:  Awwww... tell him I love him.

Daughter:  He can hear you, Mama.  I have the speaker on.

Me: Oh [acting my age].  I love you Logan.

Logan:  I love you too, Granny.



Logan at age 3 months, June 3, 2006, in Granny's doll room/office

Logan is now a 7-year-old first grader at the school where my daughter teaches.  My husband and I were the "daycare providers" for both grandsons from their ages 3 months until they were enrolled in Mother's Day Out at age 3.   They have been around my dolls all their lives and probably consider it abnormal for people not to own them or just normal for people who do.

I love dolls, but my children and grandchildren are my greatest gifts. 


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Monday, May 20, 2013

Nice Enough To Hang On the Wall

Bounce TV is a new-to-me African American-owned station currently broadcast in 68% of local US markets.  It has been available in my area for quite some time; however, my main TVs are connected to cable.  The cable provider excludes many local stations, Bounce TV included.  I have been able to watch Bounce TV on an infrequent basis in my doll room on a non-cable-connected TV, but I rarely turn that TV on.

In order to watch Bounce TV on my high-definition television and the other local stations that I could not receive through the cable box connected to that TV,  I used a two-way splitter to connect a VHF/UHF antenna to my HDTV.  With the local stations programmed in, I gained access to 50 extra channels.  I can now "Bounce" and enjoy classic movies and shows geared toward the AA community. 


I recently watched a 1980s Soul Train program on Bounce that featured the Brothers Johnson.  After their performance of "Stomp!" (not to be confused with Kirk Franklin's gospel song), the main group members (George and Lewis Johnson) presented Don Cornelius with a platinum record plaque.  Cornelius commented, "Once in a while someone gives you something nice enough to hang on the wall."

While not platinum records, but worth as much to me as thoughtful gestures, I have received several extremely nice doll-related gifts that were designed to hang on the wall.  Some of these are shared below:

One of my initial doll-related gifts, a throw or blanket, was received in 2003 from the WeLoveBlackDolls group as part of a congratulatory gift package after my first book was published.  Made from a picture of a group of my dolls, it can be used as wall hanging.

The throw measures 45 x 63 inches and features Magic Attic Keisha, My Twinn "Danika", and Robert Tonner's Penney.
In 2004 or thereabouts, I received a framed canvas of the cover image of my first book.  A gift from doll-friend Vicky Williams, it hangs in my doll room/office.

Framed canvas of book cover image

Meeting master carver, Floyd Bell at the 56th United Federation of Doll Clubs Convention held in Dallas, Texas in 2006, led to a collector-artist friendship.  Bell and I have collaborated on articles for Doll Reader and Dolls magazines.  In late 2007/early 2008, he surprised me with a beautiful Music Dolls on Canvas framed portrait of his 6-inch carved "Music Dolls."  The dolls commemorate the 2007 UFDC 58th Convention theme, Music! Music! Music!

Music Dolls on Canvas by Floyd Bell #4/500 features his music doll grouping of 6-inch carved dolls.  This portrait also hangs in my doll room/office.

In late February/early March 2011, I received a painting, ready for framing, from renowned doll artist, Goldie Wilson.

Girl with Blue Bow was shared in a March 3, 2011 blog entry.  It sits on a shelf in my doll room/office

I bartered for and purchased for myself the following two doll-themed items suitable for hanging.

This doll tapestry contains a scene of three porcelain dolls having a tea party.  It was purchased for me from Cracker Barrel, ca. 2002 by another collector in exchange for a Mattel Classics doll (AA Chatty Cathy, I believe) that I was able to locate and send to the collector, who was eager to complete her series of these dolls.  I use the tapestry it to cover a green, vintage storage trunk that sits at the foot of a bed. 

Six rag dolls and six stuffed fabric hearts are attached to this doll wall hanging by Delton Products Corporation.  Not shown in the image are the cloth loops at the top which accommodate a wooden dowel used for hanging it.
I have other doll-themed wall hangings that I purchased for myself, but the purpose of this post was to share those I received as gifts.  I included the last two because of their uniqueness and readily available photos.

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Coming to America

 


All photos courtesy of Woelfert-Puppen, but the doll is mine!

This smiling beauty, handcrafted by Woelfert-Puppen, will travel to America from Germany this week with an unspecified date of arrival, but soon, I hope.  She is my happy birthday present from me to me.

Upon their recent request for name suggestions for another doll, I submitted the name, Nya Imani, which they accepted.  I cannot, however, think of a name for the doll I purchased.  Like Nya Imani's name, I'd like for my doll's name to have a special meaning.  Nya means purpose and Imani means faith.  Both names are of Swahili origin.

Nya Imani's sister is all vinyl and stands 33-1/2 inches tall.  She is jointed at the head, shoulders, hips, legs, and knees.  Her brown eyes are hand-blown glass from Lauscha.  This smiling beauty has a handmade human hair wig.  Made in Germany, she will arrive wearing a butterfly embellished sarong. 

Below are more pictures of my unnamed smiling beauty.   








As Stevie Wonder wrote about his first-born (Aisha--a name I have contemplated), "Isn't she lovely?"  

I am open to suggestions and solicit your help in selecting a name for her.  Thank you in advance.



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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

7:01 Praise for Vanessa

This is a quick post to publicly thank Vanessa Morrison of Fashion Dolls at Van's Doll Treasures on behalf of my Mother for one of  the Mother's Day gifts my mother received from me:  a handcrafted ink pen made of olive wood.

At 7:01 a.m., according to the time on my oven clock, my phone rang but immediately went to voice mail when I answered on the third ring.  Caller ID revealed the caller was my mother.  I am always worried of late when she calls early or late as her health has been waxing and waning.  I immediately returned her call.  The conversation was as follows:

Mama:  I know you're working, but I wanted to call you to tell you to thank Vanessa for my pen.  It feels so good in my hands. 

Me:  Oh Lord!  (Relieved that she's okay.)

Mama:  This is the smoothest writing pen!  Tell her that I can feel the love she put into making it and that I really thank the person who made it and the person who gave it to me.  Tell Vanessa she will always be in my prayers.

Me:  Oh Lord (messing with her).

Mama:  Make sure you tell her, Debbie!

Me:  Oh Lord!

Mama:  Get off the phone, Debbie Garrett. 

Me:  Bye Mama.

The lighter pen, made of olive wood, is my mother's; the other is mine, which is made of Padauk wood.)

The time is set 5 minutes faster than the actual time on my oven clock.  By the time I sat down to craft this post, my computer clock also read 7:01.

Vanessa -- on behalf of my mother, I thank you for making the beautiful olive wood pen for her on such short notice.  My mother sends copious thanks to you as indicated above.

And as I have already informed you, I love my pen that arrived in August of last year.  Its beauty and superior crafts-woman-ship is the reason I had one made for my mother.  She deserves and desires only the best. 

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Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mama Dolls

Circa 1940s-1950s Mama Dolls

Whether or not they are mothers, most females are natural-born nurturers.  Beginning in infancy, being cared for and witnessing a mother or guardian care for younger children aids in the development of a child's instinctive desire to nurture.  In young children, this instinct is also developed through role and doll play.  Today's baby dolls and their predecessors, specifically mama dolls, have been used by children to mimic the mothering role.



The vintage picture of Miss Edna Earl Gaston and Friend (the friend being the mama-type doll which was either a studio prop or the young Miss Gaston's personal doll) inspired this post about mama dolls.

Mama dolls became quite popular in America during the 1920s.  The initial mama dolls were made of composition with cloth bodies that contained a voice box which made the sound "ma-ma" when the doll's body was tilted forward or backward.  Their voice boxes, also known as criers, are located either in the front or back of their torsos.  When found today, most mama dolls' voice boxes are mute. 

Mama dolls were made in a variety of sizes as babies and toddlers well into the early 1950s.  Composition, hard plastic, and stuffed latex/Magic Skin were paired with cloth, or a combination of all these materials, to produce the final versions of mama dolls. 

As a child, I remember playing with baby dolls.  While these were not the original mama dolls, they served to develop my nurturing skills through doll play.  I recall making sock dresses for American Character's Tiny Tears (and incurring a skin-incorporated stitch injury to my thigh during one such doll clothes-sewing event).   Pretending to rock Ideal's Thumbelina to sleep after turning the wooden knob in her back, which made her rock on her own, was done to mimic my father's cradling of me in his arms and rocking me from side to side as he sang, "go to sleep little baby... go to sleep little baaaaa-aaaa-by...." 

(Okay, admittedly, men have the ability to nurture, too.)

After my adult interest in modern dolls was nearly exhausted, I began adding vintage black dolls to my collection in the late 1990s/early 2000s.  As a result, I own a few unique examples of black mama dolls that I imagine helped several little girls and big girls before me develop and continue their innate nurturing skills.

On this Mother's Day weekend, I decided to share a few images and brief descriptions of early mama dolls from my personal collection. 
These are the same dolls shown in the first image above.  The flanking dolls are both from the late 1940s-early 1950s.  Their heads are hard plastic with brown sleep eyes.  The arms and legs are stuffed latex.  The larger one is 25 inches.  The other measures 24 inches and is the only one with a working crier.  The 1940s doll in the center measures 29 inches and has a composition head with brown tin eyes, stuffed latex arms and legs, and cloth body.  She came to me professionally restored (repainted face and new wig.)  As I indicated in Black Dolls a Comprehensive Guide...    
Because of some lighter brown-to-tan areas in the creases of the doll’s legs and feet and the uneven darkening of the Magic Skin limbs, it is possible that this doll was originally a white Magic Skin doll whose limbs darkened and the face and body later painted/replaced to match the darkened limbs.

(The Magic Skin material used on all dolls usually darkens with age; this includes white dolls which can transform from their original pink/white color to various shades of brown to black.)

26-inch composition girl and 23-inch (rare) composition boy, circa 1940s and 1930s.  Based on the boy's metal eyes, he is the older of the two.  Both have voice boxes which can be felt in the front (the girl) and the back (the boy) of their cloth torsos.  These dolls are attributed to W. B. Abbott's line of Sun Tan dolls.   A close-up of this pair follows:

Close-up of composition mama dolls, described above 
Not all mama dolls were babies.  These two are nice examples of toddler dolls that have ma-ma voice boxes.  They are 21-1/2 and 27-inches tall, respectively, circa 1940s-1950s.  Both dolls have hard plastic heads and breast plates, cloth bodies, and composition arms and legs.  Due to their mixed media construct, these dolls are also considered transitional dolls.  As doll media transitioned from one popular material to the next, innovative medium, some doll makers  incorporated the new with the old, combining previous parts and materials until these were exhausted.
Transitional mama dolls, close-up; the doll on the right is missing something.  Can you tell what she's missing?


Happy Mother's Day to mothers, grandmothers, and doll lovers whose dolls serve as inanimate children.

Related Links:
Mama Dolls
Oh Such Eyes
Transitional Doll Clean-up (and answer to question posed above)


A white Magic Skin doll's restoration

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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Circa 1925 Photo of Girl With Doll


Internet photo of Miss Edna Gaston and doll -- first found on Flickr.

This lovely little girl is identified as Miss Edna Earl Gaston and friend (doll in carriage).  The doll appears to be a brown composition Mama doll. The Horsman doll company is known to have produced similar dolls along with other early American doll companies. 

On back of photo: Sept. 25, 1925 -- "To Uncle John from Edna Earl Gaston.”

A later annotation indicates that “Uncle John” was John Clark, a “founder and Senior Warden of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and an organizer of their parochial school for blacks.

Durwood Barbour Collection of North Carolina postcards in the North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


Quoted text had been on Flickr. 

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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Mixis-S.I.S. Barbie Comparison for Tracy India

In a comment to my "And Then There Were Six..." post about YNU Group Inc.'s Mixis dolls, Tracy India of Dolls and the City wrote:


Beautiful girls! I would probably consider purchasing two of the ladies, your Rosa and Emerald are very appealing to me. Since they are first edition they may not be articulate. Can you tell me what the size comparison of their head to a Barbie head? Also, do you know if their heads are removable for body swapping?


For a quick illustrative comparison, I photographed First Edition Mixis Rosa with S.I.S. Barbie Marisa because Mixis dolls have a similar figure.

Head wise, Mixis dolls have a longer chin whereas the S.I.S. (Mbili) chin is round.  Otherwise, as illustrated in the first and second images, Rosa's head and body are well proportioned.

 
So In Style Marisa and Mixis Rosa head and height comparison
 

Rosa is from the First Edition series, so she is not articulated.  Additionally, the following nude image of the dolls illustrates the smaller-than-Barbie bust size, longer torso, and wider waist size of the Mixis dolls.



Also, Mixis dolls' feet are more proportionately sized with their body; therefore, much smaller than Barbie's and specifically the S.I.S. dolls' feet.  Unlike Barbie and the S.I.S. dolls, they have a natural foot arch, illustrated below.

S.I.S foot, Mixis foot

The natural foot arch aids in their ability to stand unsupported.

Size-wise, the Mixis dolls' feet are about the same length, maybe a little shorter, than Stardolls' as illustrated next.

Stardoll foot, Mixis foot


I have not removed their heads for body swapping, but Roxanne's Dolls has done this.  She currently has the head of Mixis Opal (with curly hair) on an action figure body as illustrated here (third doll from the left).

The Mixis clothes, shoe gear, back packs, and all other accessories are very well made.  The boots zip closed and some clothing items are even lined.  The only thing this line lacks is full articulation.

Hope this helps! 

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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

And Then There were Six in the Mix


The above dolls represent my formerly incomplete Mixis doll family.  They are from L-R:  Emerald Okada, three versions of Opal Nkrumah, and Rosa Dominguez Katz. 

Mixis dolls are unique, 12-inch dolls representing a racial mixture of two or more ethnicities.  No other doll company has created dolls devoted to people of mixed racial heritage, which is one of the reasons I wanted to own at least one YNU Group Inc. Mixis doll to support and applaud the company's efforts.  Everyone interested in dolls, little girls in particular, should be exposed to or own dolls that represents who-they-are.

My first Mixis doll purchase was made in February 2009 after having been introduced to the line by D7ana at A Philly Collector of Playscale Dolls.  Her enthusiasm about the line was and remains infectious, prompting my purchase of  Mixis Limited Edition Opal (now known as First Edition Opal). 

As things go with me, one doll in a particular series or line is usually never enough.  Usually two suffice, but by June 2009, Sunshine Opal (jointed arms version -- now known as Limited Edition Opal) and the curly haired Sunshine Opal (now also renamed Lt'd Ed) had joined the first doll to form a trio.

As described in her online profile, Opal is of Ghanaian and British descent.  Of the Mixis dolls, curly haired Opal is the only wigged doll.  All others have rooted hair.

Sunshine (Lt'd Ed) Rosa and Emerald also arrived in June 2009.  Rosa's mix is Latin and Jewish while Emerald's is more complex.  She refers to herself as "Black American/Native American, and Japanese." 

Some four years after my first Opal arrived, recent online chatter about the line and doll purchases by fellow collectors influenced the thinking that my incomplete Mixis collection needed Houda.  To complete my collection, the French and Lebanese, Houda arrived at the end of April. 

Houda Degas is shown in her initial photograph taken upon arrival prior to removal from her well-constructed box.  She wears a brightly colored mint green and light blue sundress, handmade espadrilles, and has a matching light blue shoulder bag.

Below houda joins the ladies for a head shot and one final full-view image (click to enlarge):

Emerald (far left) wears an original Mixis fashion which was a gift from a Mixis retailer.  Immediately next to Emerald, is First Edition Opal dressed in her original fashion.  Curly haired Opal and Lt'd Edition Opal (with straight hair) wear Mixis fashions, Rockabilly Girl and Apres Ski, respectively.  Dark-haired, lovely Rosa wears her original fashion as does Houda (far right).


Other Mixis Links:
Dolls from Around the World, Canada Too
Mixis website
Mixis Dolls by YNU Group
User:DAF_Collector/Mixis_doll (needs to be updated to reflect the current names of both versions)
Mixis Dolls Go Viral
US Retailer:  4KidsLikeMe
US Retailer:  Gile Toys (At the time of this post, Emerald is the only Mixis doll in stock.)

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Saturday, May 4, 2013

Coral Roses


What is the Meaning of Coral Roses?  This question was answered in an Ehow.com article:  ... coral or orange roses rival the red rose when it comes to sending messages of romance and passion.

Ah... I am not sure if that was the intended message behind the coral roses I received last week, but they were a pleasant, beautiful surprise.  I enriched my previously limited knowledge of the significance of their coral color here.

Omega and Emerald share in my enjoyment of the coral roses.

To keep this post doll-related, I placed my Djimon Gaston Hounsou look-a-like (Triad's AA Omega figure) and Emerald (Mixis) dolls on top of the shelf with the roses before capturing them in a digital image. 


At the home of a minister friend last week, Husband admired Minister's blooming floral garden, particularly his coral roses.  At Friend's insistence, Husband picked these for me.


Until all petals have fallen and the beauty of the coral roses fades, I will continue to enjoy my pleasant, thoughtful surprise. 


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