Saturday, November 26, 2016

Kirsten's Swedish Dirndl and Kerchief

Image result for meet kirsten illustrations

It's been over two months since I've posted on this blog!

Sorry about that-and for my long disappearances on American Girl Collectors. I'm still active in the AG World-I went to the Orlando store for Melody's release and I still continue to buy from both the store and the secondhand market. I still dress my dolls in new outfits every month and display them, But with my advancing pregnancy (only about a month and a half to go!) and my job which takes up a lot of my time, I haven't had a chance to post.

I would make a promise about posting more often but it would probably be a promise I couldn't keep. Instead, I'm just going to say that I'll post as often as I can.

The reason why I'm posting now is because of the election. As we all know by now, Donald Trump won.

Part of the platform he ran on was about immigrants. He incited a lot of anti-immigrant feelings.

But immigration is one of the reasons I love the United States. The diversity of the country is wonderful. Being able to walk down a city street and hear a multitude of languages, being able to taste the foods of many different countries all without going further than five miles from your house, witnessing people practice their religions and wearing traditional clothing, being exposed to people from all parts of the world...that is what I love about America. That is the America I want my daughter to live in.

All of us, unless we are fully Native American, are the children of immigrants. Immigrants, coming to the United States for a better life that they hoped would promise more opportunities for their children, are the backbone of America. They are true Americans. They are what makes America great.

And to emphasize that, to emphasize that we are the country that asked for the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, I am going to try my best in my next few posts to highlight some American Girls that perfectly illustrate that.

Kirsten, Rebecca, Nellie (child of Irish immigrants), Ivy (grandchildren of Chinese immigrants)...they are American Girls too.

And I'm going to try to focus on the people of color that some people wish were not part of America but that very much ARE a part of America-Kaya, Addy, Josefina, Ivy, CeCe, Melody...

This is the real America. This is the real America that needs to be recognized. These dolls-even though they are fictional-represent the diverse America that is alarmed that the new administration will not protect them, as the Hamilton star Mr. Dixon said to Vice President Elect Pence. I want to highlight the contributions of those groups to America and American history, to remind all of us what makes America.

To start off, I'm going to lead with the first immigrant character that American Girl released-Kirsten, dressed in the clothes she came to America in.

Why Kirsten?

Because she illustrates so many of the challenges that immigrants did (and do) face when they come to the United States.

She and her family faced a tough voyage to come to America. It was full of dangers, just as the journey to the United States is often dangerous for immigrants today. She even lost her best friend on the way-Marta died of cholera once she reached America,


When Kirsten and her family left, they knew that there was no going back. They would never see Kirsten's grandmother again-she would die without her two sons. They would never see their friends or their home country again. While travel is certainly easier today, it is still terrifying to leave behind everything you know to go to an entirely new place where you know no one.

But Kirsten's parents believed that they-and their children-could find a better life in America. And so, like thousands before them and thousands after them, they made their journey. That takes a special kind of bravery, a kind of bravery I think perfectly fits in to America, the home of the brave.

Once they were here, things were not easy. The struggle to learn English is painful and something that I, as an educator, see every day. Children will come into my classroom and some of them will not know a single world of English. They're lucky if their teacher speaks their language. I myself only speak English and have to rely on a para to help me-when she's available. But resources are scarce. Beyond that, I'm thankful for my bilingual students and the suspicious translations available through Google Translate.

Imagine for a moment how afraid my students may be when they enter my classroom. They come in and sit down. An adult (me) confronts them and starts asking them questions in a strange language which they don't understand. They try to respond but the adult clearly doesn't understand. They want to learn and they want to do well (and the adult wants them to learn and do well) but that barrier prevents it. Then they take state tests all in a language they can't read.

And not all of the adults are as understanding as I am. I try to get my notes translated over-though God knows how well I do with Google as my only ally. Other teachers may just let them sink or swim.

I'm proud to say that most of them will swim, through their own hard work and determination. But it isn't easy.

Kirsten goes through that as well, but with even fewer resources than my students have. Her teachers didn't have Google Translate. There was no para to help her learn English, no special ESOL classes to assist her.

Kirsten is a perfect illustration of the immigration experience in America. Though many of her challenges are at least partly because of the time period she lived in, her experience is still similar to that of many immigrants in all times.

Swedish Dirndl and Kerchief

I decided to feature Kirsten in the outfit she is wearing when she arrives in America. The outfit that is called her meet outfit isn't actually the outfit that we meet her in at the start of her first book-just like the Addy doll doesn't come dressed in her slave clothes but is instead attired in the first outfit she received as a free person.

The outfit came out in 1989 and retired in 2002 so it had a long run. Based on that, I wouldn't pay stupidly elevated prices for it on eBay. It isn't exactly rare. I think I paid around $40 for mine-which is $18 more than the original price but most AG outfits cost around $30 today anyway and the price included the shipping.

The outfit includes a skirt, a long sleeve blouse, a vest, and a kerchief. It is meant to be paired with her carpetbag. It is modeled after the traditional clothing that Swedish, Scandinavian, and Austrian women would wear.


Kirsten wears a vertically striped skirt. The fabric contains muted reds and blues. The red almost reminds me of a rusty color. The fabric is understated but the colors are very pretty.

Like most American Girl skirts, it velcros in the back. The waistband is fitted and then it eases into a circular skirt that reaches below the knee, which to my understanding is correct for this type of outfit.


Kirsten pairs the skirt with a cream colored blouse. It's a very plain top but that's because it's not meant to be worn alone. Without the vest, the outfit is very plain.

The sleeves are slightly puffed and end in narrow cuffs at the wrist. The neckline is high.

My blouse looks a bit yellowish but I'm not sure if it was always like this or if it's due to age.

I've noticed recently that American Girl isn't producing as many long sleeved outfits. I'm not sure why. But, like many of the older long sleeved outfits, this one has Velcro at the wrists. I really appreciate that because it makes getting the sleeves over stiff doll hands so much easier!

This shirt could potentially be used for other outfits. It almost reminds me of the white shirt that comes with her winter outfit but in a much sturdier, rougher fabric.


The vest comes in the same red and blue tones as the skirt. However, the colors are a bit more vibrant and the pattern is a plaid instead of stripes. It has black lacing up the front, which isn't real-the vest velcros in the back. However, it looks real and it doesn't bother me that you don't actually lace it. I think it makes it easier and wish that Felicity's jacket from her school outfit was the same.

However, I am a bit curious if older versions (not sure how old mine is) had real functional laces. If anyone has a version of this, let me know in the comments if yours has functional laces.


Her eyes look very blue in this picture.

Kirsten doesn't walk around bareheaded. She covers her pretty blonde hair with a dark blue kerchief that ties under her chin.

The kerchief features a floral pattern in the fabric.


While I'm glad that Kirsten comes attired in her American meet outfit that she puts on when she arrives in Minnesota, emphasizing that she is truly an American, I'm also glad that Kirsten's collection includes the outfit she made the journey in. People like Kirsten and her family had a proud heritage.

That heritage doesn't detract from being American either. The cultures of immigrants enrich the broader American culture, adding new sounds, words, foods, musical styles, clothing, values, religions, etc. Diversity isn't anything to be afraid of, though so many people are. Diversity is something to be celebrated and encouraged.

Many Americans realize that too-as long as the immigrants in question look like Kirsten. When those immigrants are people of color or people who practice other religions, the tolerance isn't so high. America seems to be perfectly fine with the Melania Trumps of the world. Accepting immigrants from places like Mexico and the Middle East is what we seem to be struggling with today. That is why I started with Kirsten, to make a point. Most of us are the descendants of immigrants-and that is something to be proud of. It takes a lot of bravery and will power to leave behind everything you know and love, like the Larsons did, in search of a better life. But why can't we recognize that when it comes to immigrants of color and immigrants who aren't Christian? Why are we so afraid?

This series on immigration and people of color in the American Girl line isn't over. I plan to be focusing on this for a while, in light of current events.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Meet Ruthie

So I realize I've had Ruthie for quite a while. But I never did get around to introducing her to the blog. I bought her right before I moved, never even took her out of the package because I knew I was leaving, and then took her out when I got to my destination.

I got a really amazing deal on her too-I got the doll and all of her collection except her meet accessories in one purchase. I also have a few Kit outfits that are designated for Ruthie-Kit gets her original school outfit but Ruthie gets the pink skirt set since Kit would turn her nose up at it anyways. Once I purchase the original overalls outfit for Kit, the new chicken keeping set will belong entirely to Ruthie along with the pink Valentine's Day set, the flouncy summer dress, the yellow and pink photographer outfit, and the striped nightie. That's what I love about BeForever-I take a lot of the reimagined outfits and reassign them to the Best Friend characters that have limited wardrobes.1

Anyways, welcome Ruthie!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Melody Release and Other Shiny Historical Things

This past weekend, I took a break from my job. I'm enjoying it but it is literally swallowing me whole. I'm on salary for the first time ever so there is less of a clear cut start and stop time for me. I can show up as early as two hours before the official start of the day, stay as long as I want, and then take things home if I wish. The problem is that I haven't exactly worked out a good system for forcing myself to leave in a timely manner. The to-do list never seems to get shorter because as soon as I cross one thing off, five more get added.

But I took my break and headed down to the Orlando store to pick up Melody. We made a weekend trip out of it, wandering around the Florida Mall, getting sushi (well I watched my husband eat sushi while I ate a marshmallow "egg roll"-you can't eat raw fish while pregnant), going to Downtown Disney. We watched a movie where they also served us dinner-I had the best donuts ever. I really needed this trip.

Anyways, here are all the cool things I saw while down there!

Monday, August 8, 2016

I'm Here! I'm Alive!

Wow, its been over a month since I've posted anything! Almost two months! For everyone still checking and reading this blog, thanks for sticking with me!

I wanted to get on here and assure you all that I'm still alive. I start a new job today that I am super excited about, I am currently 18 weeks along in my pregnancy (second trimester) and starting to show/outgrow all of my regular clothes, and doing super well.

I also received my stuff from the military movers so I should be starting to post again soon! Once I straighten everything and get my dolls on display, my life will return to normal. This will be the most demanding job I've ever had (first full time job!)  and of course I have the pregnancy but I do intend to start posting again, likely starting this week.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Felicity and Elizabeth: Ready for Summer!

It is getting way too hot-and pregnancy just makes it worse. I've been doing various things to keep cool-worshipping my AC units, getting used to the sound of a fan at night, and trying to wear cooler clothing.

Of course, whenever I think of  the heat I always wonder how people kept cool in the past. I'm not really talking about the lack of AC. I've lived without AC before-in Florida of all places. I know all about that. I'm really referring to the clothing people wore in the past. Women especially wore several layers of clothing-the chemise, stays, and petticoats (or panniers/hoops for more formal occasions-see Felicity's colonial undergarments). Women truly labored under heavy materials.

Eventually though there came a call for lighter, more relaxed clothing styles-Felicity's simple white gown tied with a ribbon and paired with a straw hat evokes this movement. That is what I wanted to discuss today, along with one of the women who made these styles very popular. Arguably, she had the greatest impact on Western fashion during this time.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Samantha's Middy Outfit

Wow! It has been over a month since I published anything to this blog! 

I do have some excuses though. My husband is getting out of the military in a little over a month. That means we also have to move away from the base he works at and back to my hometown. This involves packing up all my American Girl dolls, our clothes, our furniture...and, most complicated of all, two elderly cats that have absolutely no interest in moving. 

My husband will be going to college while I work. That means I need to find a job that makes roughly the equivalent of what he made in the military (plus the cost of housing-the basic housing allowance is not included in the salary since it is an allowance) and that will also give us decent health insurance. I think I have found that job-I'll give more details once it is set in stone. As part of getting that job, I am traveling back and forth between the state we currently live in and our home state. It is exhausting.

So that's a lot right there-transitioning back to civilian life, becoming the breadwinner, moving several states away. 

Oh, and, by the way, I'm also pregnant. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Felicity's Spring Gown with Pinner Apron

Happy belated birthday, Felicity!

Looking good (and fashionable!) for being 251 years old

I realize that I haven't been posting on here lately and that I haven't been active on AGC either. I've been busy. My husband is getting out of the military this year and so the breadwinner baton has passed to me. He will be going to college (and I am so proud of him, because there were people who thought he'd never get there because of some of his teenage behavior-never give up on kids, because look at him now) and since it has been so long since he's been in school, I don't want him to work all that much if I can help it. I've seen otherwise good students be crushed under the weight of 40+ hours of work on top of their 15 credit hours (I've also seen students rise to the challenge like champions but it does make it harder). 10-20 hours is plenty. But that means I need to find a better paying job-and I think I have! In between that, preparing for the move, working, and traveling to Charlotte for an early anniversary, I just haven't had a lot of time. I intended for this post to go live on her birthday but that didn't happen.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Maryellen's Poodle Skirt Outfit

Ah, the 1950s! Soda shops, drive in movies, sock hops...but also of course horrible racism, sexism, and McCarthyism...The 1950s...

The time period that, more than any other, tends to incite the most nostalgia from white Americans. American Girl was inundated with requests for a 1950s doll and they finally delivered in the form of Maryellen Larkin, a charmingly rambunctious kid who gets into all sorts of trouble in the course of her book series. 

Friday, March 11, 2016

Nellie's Irish Dance Outfit of Today

So here I am to continue my series on the Irish American experience and just in time for St. Patrick's Day.

To celebrate it, I've brought in my favorite Irish girl Nellie. She's wearing the Irish Dance Outfit of Today.

A few of the dolls received outfits "of today." In other words, they looked at the culture of the doll in question and then looked to see how that culture was celebrated today. They are basically all dance or celebration outfits. Addy received a hideous African Dance Outfit of Today. Nellie received this. Kaya has received several modern Pow Wow dance outfits because that is how she gets new outfit sets.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Marie-Grace's Skirt Set and Cécile's Parlor Outfit

Back to the NOLA girls (New Orleans, Louisiana for those who don't know what that means). But this time, we're finally meeting Marie-Grace!

Just to be clear, I think Marie-Grace and Cécile were the biggest flops ever released by American Girl (in the historical collection at least-they have some competition in the GOTY line). This wasn't an inherent flaw of either doll or character. Rather it was because American Girl refused to really commit to releasing a second African American doll. Instead they paired her with a white cohort. Instead of having Marie-Grace be a secondary Best Friend like Nellie or Ivy, Marie-Grace and Cécile shared the collection equally. The six book series was basically cut in two, with each doll receiving half the series.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Kit's BeForever Reporter Dress and Reporter Accessories

I am so close to upholding my goal of featuring every doll in my collection on this blog. I am so close-the only dolls I haven't done reviews on yet are Maryellen, Julie, Marie-Grace, and Kit (I do not have Ruthie yet). Today I'm going to talk about Kit.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Ivy's New Years Outfit

Happy belated Chinese New Year! As some of you may know, February 8 was the Chinese New Year-a holiday Ivy celebrates in Julie's books. 

Now I was originally planning to have this post out on the the actual date. I had most it typed out, the pictures taken, etc.

And then I got strep throat. And because my immune system is bad, I got a bunch of other illnesses (whenever I get sick, I always get something else completely unrelated). It has only been in the past couple of days that I have been feeling at all better. And then I had to work a lot to make up for the missed other words, I just couldn't complete the review.

I thought about delaying this post for a year...but Ivy doesn't have that many outfits to review. I don't own her rainbow romper so the only other thing I could review is her meet outfit in the fall (I try to dress the dolls seasonally). I could review a Julie outfit with Ivy wearing it but it still wouldn't be HER review. I don't want to wait 6-12 months for this beauty to grace my blog. So I'm just going to go ahead and press forward.  

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Nellie's Holiday Coat

It is still SO cold outside! The one good thing about that is, in my time spent hiding from what, to my Florida mind, looks like a frozen wasteland, I have been able to take lots of pictures of my dolls. Hopefully that means I can stay ahead and keep to my goal of posting about once a week.

Again, we have a new doll on the blog: Nellie O'Malley, the Irish best friend of Samantha Parkington who is center stage in a fantastic (and historically improbable-but hey, it warms my heart) rags to riches tale.

It is hard for a lot of people to understand this nowadays, when Irish Americans have become so assimilated into mainstream white American culture, but the Irish went through a lot to make that happen. The Irish in America were discriminated against, hated, and were not considered white.

A political cartoon showing that African Americans and Irish Americans were seen as equally inferior. They are both drawn to look inhuman. 

My family has been in America for a long time. I don't speak with an Irish accent or eat traditional Irish foods. But I want to stress that the reason I do not is because of specific choices made by other cultural groups that systematically stomped out (not for everyone, but for people like my family) the unique things that made up the Irish culture. Lots of people in America, including myself, have ancestors like Nellie who were treated like garbage because they were Irish and Catholic. Many Americans have ancestors who were forced out of their homes because of horrible practices and the threat of starvation and experienced the Irish Diaspora.

I am going to use my Nellie posts to both talk about her clothing and to discuss the Irish experience in America. I will go way before Nellie and way after Nellie.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Frosty Fair Isle Set

So I hope everyone is keeping warm like Saige!

Look how toasty she looks! Please check out the P.S. on this post to learn about my new picture taking methods!

I'm from the south, where even the hint of snow sends us into a panic. The city I live in might as well be shut down-and yes, I did participate in the mayhem. I went to the store to purchase the obligatory bread and milk as well as a flashlight in case the power went out, bottled water for me and the fur babies just in case, a huge bag of cat food (the apocalypse was surely coming, but my cats were gonna survive!), and Mountain Dew (which I am addicted to, there should be a Mountain Dew Anonymous).

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Kaya's Winter Cape and Hood Set

Finally Kaya makes her appearance on my blog!

So I've discussed Kaya and tokenism before (Kaya would be a perfect doll and a perfect addition to the line if they would also have a modern Native American doll to show people that Native Americans are still around and live modern lives-some people truly think that they all live in teepees even today!) but I have never done a clothing/item review for her. It's also not yet her turn for the future prediction stuff. Therefore I'm excited!

So why the delay?

Mostly because I am not all that familiar with the clothing of the Nez Perce tribe (the modern term for the Nimíipuu-every source I consulted called them the Nez Perce so I used the terms interchangeably). I can discuss riding habits from Felicity's time or Christmas dresses from WWII with some ease. With Josefina, I at least have some background.

With Kaya, I often feel lost-the sad truth of the matter is that Native American history is pretty much ignored in our current education system and even though I have personally studied history, my knowledge is still lacking. It's actually embarrassing and I am trying to rectify the situation.

Since I don't want to mess up something that I believe to be important, I have avoided it. However now is the time.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Felicity's Riding Habit

I hope everyone is having a great 2016! My resolution for this blog is to post weekly-I don't know if I'll be able to maintain that, but I do think every other week is certainly doable.

So I should be doing the yearly GOTY collection review but...I just don't have it in me this year. I haven't been to a store to see it all in person so I don't have personal pictures. I do have a catalogue and I could do it that way but...

I'm just not feeling it this year. Lea is a beautiful doll, very similar to Kanani who is gorgeous...but she is a disappointment. We have been waiting and waiting and waiting for a DOC for GOTY and what do they give us? A 1/8th Brazilian doll. It's a sop to get us to shut up.