Thursday, February 26, 2015

Book Review: The Two Princesses of Bamarre

The Two Princesses of BamarreThe Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I cannot believe I read through this book so quickly! It was a fast, fluffy read, one that I am glad I accomplished. However, I am conflicted over this book, and unsure how many stars I would give it. The plot is wonderful, revolving around sisterly love and bravery and courage. It sounds like a book that would be perfect for my liking, which is why I purchased it. I could go into depth about what displeased me, but I don't really think it is necessary. I think that basically this author's writing style comes across a bit too young for me in most places and some specific details in the book have me slightly wincing at the silliness. Don't get me wrong, this is a fabulous fairytale type of book, however, I have read much better that I found myself, in a way, comparing it to while reading. Even though I have not read a tale even close to this storyline (which I do admire), the finished piece was not put together well enough for my taste. I think I just have really high standards for fairytales, expecting perfection and to be absolutely wowed, simply because fairytales in general leave me in awe. I was not left in awe, but admired the author's creative plot and effort.
The thing I did really did like about this book was the creative take on sorcerers and dragons. I loved Rhys and all his quirks and how a dragon's laughter sounded like bells. It was refreshing to read the scenes that talked of Rhys or dragons. What I didn't like was when the author tried to pass minor events as a major one, or have a character come to a thought or an idea that seemed out of character, or too all of a sudden. I was also a little put off with the ending. The ending was wonderful, but I didn't like how she wrote the reactions of the characters in the ending chapters. I just didn't get why she was trying to force a happy ending into a bittersweet ending. It was weird for me.
Overall, I am glad I read it. I've been meaning to give a Gail Carson Levine novel a try for a long time. I don't know if this novel is a good representation of the general style of her novels overall, but I don't see myself picking up anymore of her books. I see myself reaching more for fairytales written by Mercedes Lackey or Dennis L. McKiernan. I will be passing this book onto my oldest daughter, I have a feeling she will really enjoy the fun of this book.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

book talk: more on The Two Princesses of Bamarre

Okay, so I am starting to love The Two Princesses of Bamarre. The writing style seems to have worked itself out, though I am still perplexed why the beginning chapters seemed so disjointed. I suppose it could have just been my mood, but there was an awful lot of really short sentences that pulled the reading level and intended audience down for me. I am still really bummed that they revealed that Meryl would catch the Gray Death on the back of the book. I know it seems like a minor detail, but this didn't happen until chapter 6, which means for 5 chapters everything I read I felt like had read spoilers. Every detail that was leading towards her being ill I would just think, yeah, I know, she's going to get sick. I think whoever created the blurb on the back could have written it in a way to not have revealed that, which is most definitely possible to do. This is really the first time I have ever felt that a description on the back of a book kind of spoiled part of a book, I am finding it slightly weird.
So far I am enjoying reading what appears to be a possible growing love between two characters, and now that Meryl has finally come down with the Gray Death, I feel I am all in the clear and ready to be surprised at what is to come. I do think this novel is more of a fluffy book for me, something that I wont be taking in too seriously and pondering over. However, I was surprised to find this in the book:

"Then why am I so tired?"
"Illness is exhausting, even when someone else is ill."

This is most definitely true, and I have never really thought about it in such simple terms. It is hard to watch a loved one be sick. I don't think it is exhausting in the physical sense, but mentally and emotionally, which can be just as debilitating. I am interested to see what comes of these characters and hope to get through it quickly!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

book talk and bummers

Today was a pretty tough day. Our family is on the cusp of a huge change, one that is not really desired but we may not have a choice in the matter. It is very frustrating and brings a lot of emotions out in me that just make me want to scream at everything that crossing my path. The worst part is that we wont know if this change will occur, until it occurs, which makes it impossible to truly prepare for. So I will be pretty stressed for a while I think. So far this year has been the bringer of bad news. I don't usually think those things, or say them, but I feel like it has become appropriate. I do, however, have a part of me (only a part of me) that believes that it is just a higher power, or the world shifting us to a better place. The other part of me is well aware that the world doesn't always work that way and has me terrified of what might come. To top it all off, my hand-washing is picking up again, which is a symptom that gradually sneaks in to alert me that my OCD is running amuck and on it's way to a more severe place. Lately I wash my hands then turn to leave the bathroom only to catch a glimpse of the bathroom garbage in my vision, instantly connecting it to my hands so that I have to turn back around and wash them... again. It is frustrating, and my poor skin gets the brunt of it.
So, after our family had a bit of a meeting to attend to bright and early this morning, delivering news that left me dragging my feet, we ate lunch at Noodles & Company for the first time ever. We discovered they had gluten free pasta, meaning they had food for my oldest daughter and we were anxious to check it out. Everyone enjoyed their meal, mine being some delicious chicken noodle soup. Then we stopped at our tiny bookstore to look around. I specifically wanted to look for a couple of books I decided I wanted to read, but neither books were available.
So I decided on a used copy of The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine. I am trying to get myself back into reading more, enjoying reading more, so I have been on the search for some random books that strike my fancy. Once I got home and into some comfy warm pajamas, to counteract the freezing cold weather, I sat down with some hot Raspberry Zinger tea and my new book. I love the plot of the book (from what I read on the back), but so far I am not too impressed. I know a lot of people love Gail Carson Levine, and I have never read any of her books before, but I am not 100% loving her writing style. So far it seems very disjointed for me. There will be a paragraph or two that are nicely written that I like, then all of a sudden many short sentences that seem geared for much younger readers. It is almost like she couldn't decide who she was writing for? I don't get it. I am still really early on in the book, and I am already feeling like they gave away too much on the back of the book. I have just been reading along (four chapters already), knowing what is going to be happening to start off a journey within the book, and I really think it would have been more fun if I hadn't already known. It is taking much too long to get to that event that it should have been left as a surprise to the reader. I am curious about this magnificent journey filled with magic and dragons, so I will continue on reading, at least until my Divergent series arrives in the mail (Friday hopefully!). It was a fun cheer-me-up moment, looking through the bookstore to find something and snuggling up on the couch with a new book. I will enjoy a bit more of it later tonight as well. My fingers are crossed that the story will pick up and make up for the strange writing style and the beginning events being given away in the description on the back of the book.   

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Heroines

I know I recently participated in something similar to this, but I feel more prepared this time around after I have thought further on this since. This specific Top Ten meme is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

The Secret Magdalene
Mariamne in The Secret Magdalene by Ki Longfellow
Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace (Star Wars, #1)
Padme in The Phantom Menace by Terry Brooks

Antigone in Antigone by Sophocles

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1)
Annabeth in Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordon

One Good Knight (Five Hundred Kingdoms, #2)
Andromeda in One Good Knight by Mercedes Lackey
The Meeting Place (Song of Acadia, #1)
Catherine in The Meeting Place by Janette Oke

Sense and Sensibility
Elinor in Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Poison Study (Study, #1)
Yelena in Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

The Photograph
Maddy in The Photograph by Virginia Ellis

My Antonia (Great Plains trilogy #3)
Antonia in My Antonia by Willa Cather

Monday, February 23, 2015

Fault in Our Stars... Never Again

Fault in Our Stars was on TV yesterday, and I watched it. I have been curious about this story since it came out, almost purchased the novel a few times. I think I innately knew that I should not have read this book because I replaced it on the shelf every time after some deep thinking. I can generally handle sad stories such as this one (or My Sister's Keeper) in a movie as opposed to book form. Books are so much more personal; they have their own way of weaving deep into your soul, settling in a way so that you feel it more deeply. I think two hours of sadness is easier to grasp than a few days or weeks until the novel is finished. I am not sure what happened with me and Fault in Our Stars, but it is a story that I really wish I hadn't put into my mind space. I rarely ever find myself thinking that. It has sent me into a depressive state (which I am guessing I was on the cusp of entering anyways) and just cannot get this story out of my mind. I found myself bawling late last night, several times as this story continued to torment my mind. Children sick and suffering has grown into my least favorite thing in our world, so hated that it can make me sick to my stomach and leave me keening and wailing if it were socially acceptable, though to accommodate I have learned to grieve in silence. This is something that I just cannot shake since my own daughter has been placed in that seat by unseen hands. Watching a young one's world being shaped by a disease is something that I think I will always grieve. They don't have that moment in their life to simply see the beauty of the world around them without the heaviness of a broken body, and that breaks my heart. I am quite sure that a lot of my issues are also stemming from a deep soul trauma that has been brought to the surface in this life, raw and bleeding, like a wound that never heals. Watching Fault in Our Stars just reminded me it is there, and I didn't really need to know that.  
Well, I have learned a great lesson... I cannot allow myself to indulge in those kinds of stories anymore. I must be more careful in my choices of what I allow to enter in and when. I suppose we should all be that way, even though the sources of pain might be different. Are there stories that you find yourself always avoiding to keep your mind space in a healthier place? I have always avoided grotesque stories, as they do no good for me. I suppose as we get older and grow and change we find ourselves editing the list to accommodate who we are and where we are in the world. I guess it is time to reflect on my own list to be sure that I am making choices that only bring good energy into my life.

The King's Cook

I stopped stirring the King's pudding long enough to hear it. The screaming grew louder and louder, wailing deep into my eardrums. I winced as I set down the bowl and headed outside to see what the commotion was about.
The crackling  noise sent a fear down my spine before my eyes reached the door, knowing. I placed my shaking hand on the doorknob, not surprised to find it hot.

I knew what was on the other side of the door. I knew what was crackling and causing all of the screams. I knew, and I was terrified. I felt my knees shaking as my breath caught in my chest, but I twisted the knob anyway.
I saw a group of townspeople huddled together in the distance, bodies scattered before them as they screamed in my direction. The kitchen shook as a large scaly tail slithered before me, smacking against the wall. Within seconds I saw the creature's head lower, inches in front me, releasing flames so hot that I could see colors swirling in the middle. The people screamed again, frantic as the flames licked towards their feet.
My mind raced as I saw images flashing deep in the dragon's eyes. The iridescent scales caught the sunlight, blinding me for just a moment. When my sight returned, the dragon was no longer in my view. I looked to the townspeople who were gazing up to the sky, shaking.
I ran into the kitchen, grabbed a pot and spoon and headed out into the chaos. My legs had a mind of their own, heading directly to the nearby hill on the edge of the kingdom. I stumbled a few times as my mind raced faster than my feet, but I quickly picked myself back up and continued on.
Once I was standing, panting, atop the hill, I turned to see the dragon flying in circles around the townspeople as if playing with his food. The people were now huddled together so compactly that if I hadn't seen them moments before, I wouldn't have known they were people. It was then that my heart took control of my hands and I began banging the spoon desperately against the pot. 
Clink, clink, clink.
The dragon's eyes instantly darted in my direction.
My breath stopped for just a moment, watching his massive wings swarming through the air, his body hovering, staring at me.
Clink, clink, clink.
Then it happened. His flames were now rolling towards me as his scaly lizard-like body began to slice through the air like a knife through butter, and I ran.

Written by K, Copyright 2015

Saturday, February 21, 2015

divergently excited

Well, I splurged unexpectedly today. I woke up and flipped on the TV for a little bit before I had to take my girls to their make-up dance class and saw that Divergent was on again. I had watched this movie in passing one weekend afternoon in December I think. My girls were up in their bedrooms playing all afternoon, my hubby at work, so I thought I'd give it a try. I was actually impressed with the storyline! For me, it was a bit cheesy in some places, like most books to movie interpretations (Twilight comes to mind), but overall I liked it. I think I was caught up in the idea of Divergent being too similar to Hunger Games (which I am not interested in at all), so I never gave it a second thought.
I decided today after catching the end of the movie that I wanted to read the books! I am always jumping on the band wagon a bit late when it comes to newer series. I don't mind though because then I don't have to wait before each book is released. I went ahead and ordered the 4 book box set today from Amazon and cannot wait to get them in the mail! I think it will be a series that I will really enjoy.

I also took my girls to Toys R Us today after dance class to spend a bit of money they had and stumbled upon the Divergent DVD, so I got it for myself. I think tonight or tomorrow I may have some momma time and watch the movie again. My husband works every other weekend, so this weekend is just us girls. That usually tends to mean just me because they have a blast doing their own thing together, playing dolls and all that fun stuff. It will give me something to do! Plus the DVD came with fun tattoos, I might just shock my girls and put them all over me...or them!

Friday, February 20, 2015

What are my favorite books?

I decided to take some time tonight to think about my favorite books. I haven't really done that in a long time, if ever. I've been answering all of these questions in participation to a lot of blog events lately, and I am finding myself to be feeling like a deer in headlights. So, I wanted to make a list, mainly for myself. For me, a book will make my favorites list if it is a story that absolutely captivates me and remains in my mind, lightly dancing around until I can take it no longer and have to crack it open again. These are books that I have read again and again, or have plans to read again and again. Here they are, in no particular order:

Great Expectations 1. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. I have mentioned this book many times before. Dickens' writing is absolutely beautiful, and I love the tale of Pip. His life is full of so many characters that are so colorful, it is hard not to find one that you adore. My specific copy is an adorable small, red hardcover that my husband gave to me as a gift. I love the story and absolutely love how beautiful my book is as well! It is a joy to sit and read.

The Christmas Box Collection: The Christmas Box Timepiece The Letter 2. The Christmas Box Collection by Richard Paul Evans. This book contains the three novels in this trilogy. I tend to almost always crave to read the first book in the trilogy during the late summer of every year. I find this story just remarkably peaceful. It is even possible this is my favorite book, as I tend to grab this book to take along in my purse whenever we are evacuating for hurricanes. This was a gift from my husband on our very first Christmas together.

The Official Quotable Doctor Who: The Wit and Wisdom of Doctor Who 3. The Official Quotable Doctor Who: The Wit and Wisdom of Doctor Who. This is a book that I purchased, felt was overpriced and not my normal choice of books, but I am so glad that I did. I love sitting down and reading through all the quotes from Doctor Who. Doctor Who is filled with so many profound deep thinking quotes (along with hilarious ones), it always makes for a good read.

Beowulf and Other Old English Poems 4. Beowulf and Other Old English Poems, Edited by Craig Williamson. I have not yet finished this book completely, but I have read enough to know that I love it. This book is truly a magnificent translation that keeps that true feel of the old English, but still written in a way that it isn't too hard to decipher the meaning. I actually spent a really long time over probably a good year, trying to find a really great translation of Beowulf. I am so happy I happened upon this copy.

My √Āntonia 5. My Antonia by Willa Cather. I have mentioned this book several times. It is a book that truly transports you to the prairies so vividly that it feels like you can breath the air straight from the pages. This book really helped me get through one of the toughest times in my life. I do love Willa Cather's writing.

The Secret Magdalene 6. The Secret Magdalene by Ki Longfellow. I first read this book right after it was released. I happened upon the hardcover in the store and just had to read it. Probably the first time I ever went ahead and purchased a full priced hardcover book right after being released. It was a book that really helped me to understand that I have it in me to make my own choices and follow my own path in regards to spirituality. It is an amazing novel that really leaves you thinking. The writing style is very beautiful and easy to read as well.

Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace (Star Wars, #1) 7. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace by Terry Brooks. Yep, I am a Star Wars fan. I love the movies, read a lot of the books, and even play the online game with my family. It has kind of become something that our family shares and enjoys together, which makes it all the more fun. This is a great novel, one that I feel really showcases Padme and Anakin's relationship in a more realistic, lovable way, compared to the movie. For me, this is a comfort novel. When I am feeling bummed or just blah, I can grab this book and start at the beginning, and I just love it.

The Three Theban Plays: Antigone / Oedipus the King / Oedipus at Colonus 8. The Three Theban Plays by Sophocles. I really really want this specific translation. I do not yet own it (though I own a different translation), but every time I come across this version in a store, the copy is always in pretty bad condition. One of these days, I will get this book in my hands! I do really enjoy these plays though. Antigone is honestly the only assigned reading I remember having to do in high school, and I remember loving it. It somehow popped into my mind several months ago and prompted me to seek out a copy of the three plays for myself to enjoy again.

The Eyes of the Amaryllis 9. The Eyes of the Amaryllis by Natalie Babbitt. This is a kids chapter book that I adore. This tale is so amazing! It has the ocean, treasures, grandmas, death, ghosts, and eternal love wound through all the pages. It is really a magical story. I absolutely love it!

I do notice that my list is missing my much loved fairytales. I think that is because even though I have read many, love many, I don't have any in mind that I would add to my favorites list simply because I don't see myself rereading them. I guess I need to find one to add to my list this year!

Queen Elizabeth I

Since writing up the answers for that literary heroine blog party, I have had Queen Elizabeth I on my mind, especially after watching last night's episode of Reign. Reign is now beginning to encroach into the thickening plot between Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. This is somewhat startling for me, to be watching this unfold, told quite differently through the eyes of the other woman. I want to comfort innocent Mary from Reign, but at the same time shout at the other versions I've seen of her in defense of Elizabeth. My heart seems to be entering new territory that leaves my mind befuddled! It is just reminding me so intensely how one event, even one so incredibly severe as a beheading, can still have two sides of the story, two hearts and minds entering into the story from different places. I wonder how many other viewers are shocked to see Reign unfolding to reveal an innocent loving Mary that you just want to hug, or is it just me?
I make no secret about it, I am partial to Queen Elizabeth I. In my mid 20's I came across her in a novel and was just deeply moved by her, brought instantly to tears by her. There was an instant connection, one that runs deep that has been there for ages, being rekindled. Have you ever had that feeling? That you know a person from history, truly know, somehow, from somewhere? I can watch Cate Blanchett pouring her heart into Queen Elizabeth, and be sobbing on the couch. Tears are coming to my eyes as I write this!
This woman exudes a power and strength of duty that I respect and love with all my soul, and have long before I was born into this life.
I am someone who believes in past lives and reincarnation, so I don't doubt that my instincts about her are stemming from something real. I think we sometimes bump into people, either in life or through records, that can tap into that part of ourselves that keeps those treasured moments or relationships from the ancient past carefully guarded under lock and key. I think for some, it is inevitable to make these connections.
England's QueensThrough becoming aware of this, I have grown to have a deep love in this life of reading or watching anything related to the Tudors. It fascinates me and catches my heart in places I didn't know existed. This morning I awoke and suddenly remembered a book I had purchased with some Christmas money my mother so kindly sent for me, England's Queens: The Biography. I had searched for a book that would encompass the lives of all the queens of England, and settled on this one. I hadn't read much into it, placed it on a shelf and forgot I had it! I am happily retrieving this book today and hope to dig a bit more into it. Reading about queens is really fascinating for me. I started out reading historical fiction on these queens, but have long since grown to appreciate the non-fiction pieces about them more. I can't wait to read through this book in it's entirety, though I am sure that it will take me a long while and I will be sidetracked!

There is just something about a book...

A few weeks back, when I went to our base library to scrounge through their books, I chatted a bit with a woman that was in charge of putting together the wonderful opportunity for us to get free books. She had said to me, "There is just something about a book." That statement has been popping up in my mind a lot of times since, leaving me to ponder, what is it about books, for me? I imagine that what makes books so special could be different and personal for each person, and I decided to put to words what it is about books that catches me every time.
For myself, I think it is just simply the record of something. The record of a moment, a time, an event, or a story. I am just so drawn to people of the past, the way they lived, learned, thought, and what they experienced. I think it makes me feel more connected on this planet, to know that others from even long ago have felt the same things I feel. I think I am an old soul (well, I know that I am), so feeling connected to the ancient part of our world is somehow deeply important to me. It grounds me in a way. My tastes, my interests, my desires or goals can sometimes make me feel like a fish out of water, but I can feel right at home amidst the pilgrims or walking amidst Charles Dickens' world. I sometimes get these old books more than what I understand swirling around me in the moment.
I also love to sit down and read something that is so incredibly old, knowing that what I am about to embark on is something that so many people from the past have also enjoyed. This is again in relation to people from long ago. I sometimes struggle to fathom that so many ears have heard these tales. It makes me wonder what the people looked like, what their lives were like, how the story made them feel. This is a huge part in why I am in love with fairytales. I can even be bought to tears at a creative retelling of a fairytale (such as Disney's Enchanted). I just find it so incredible that these tales are still so alive. And I guess to me, books are just the ultimate record, printed onto pages for future generations. Pages that will transport the reader back to those that wrote it and everyone that has read it since, creating a personal connection or bond that cannot be broken for as long as the language exists. For me, I breath in the words and they find a place to nestle in among my thoughts, among my heart, and when I am feeling lonely, disconnected, or depressed, the voices rise to be heard, bringing me comfort through embraces from long ago.
What is it about a book to you?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

literary heroine blog party fun

This post was created in participation of the Literary Heroine Blog Party hosted at Accordion to Kelly.

1.  Introduce yourself!  Divulge your life's vision, likes, dislikes, aspirations, or something completely random!  Hmm. I never know what to say with these type of questions. I generally use the name Paperdollmom throughout the internet world, which I came up with simply because I use to draw a lot of paper dolls. My aspirations? That is a bit of a loaded question for me. I guess I would aspire to be free of OCD, to see my daughter free from Crohn's Disease, be more efficient during the energy work that I do, and to find a way to enjoy the beauty of our Earth more abundantly. 
2.  What, to you, forms the essence of a true heroine?  Good heart, strength, and courage. The heroine's story doesn't matter, if she walks through life with those three characteristics, she is a heroine.
3.  Share (up to) four heroines of literature that you most admire and relate to. I am not sure I can really answer that? I don't think that I necessarily have a favorite, or favorites that come to mind. I think I just easily relate myself to just about any woman in a novel. I am a highly sensitive person and an empath, so I think looking through another's eyes comes quite natural to me. I will say that most books that relate to me on a lighter level, such as less meaningful characteristics of a person, reside in books that take place during historical time periods.
4.  Five of your favorite historical novels? I will take historic to mean loosely, not necessarily meaning the book revolves around a specific event. I love Great Expectations, which is no secret. I also love Beowulf (a very specific translation that I own, I am super picky), The Theban Plays (again, a specific translation that I am so sad to not yet own), O Pioneers!, and My Antonia.
5.  Out of those five books who is your favorite major character and why? Yikes. that is hard. I don't think I've ever really pitted characters from different novels against each other. I would have to say....Pip from Great Expectations. Probably Beowulf is a close second. I find that super strange to say, as I generally tend to gravitate towards novels whose main characters are female. Now for the why...I say Pip because his story is so full and complete. It is like reading through one's life, watching him be young and innocent, striving for things that are of no importance, discovering the truth of the world, meanwhile never losing his own heart in the process. It is much of what each of us go through in our own lives. And for Beowulf, that is probably pretty obvious. He has endless strength and courage when it comes to helping those in need.
6.  Out of those five books who is your favorite secondary character and why?  Oh, that is easy. Pip's aunt, Mrs. Joe Gargery. She is a sour character really, but her sourness is for some reason hysterical to me. I just can't understand how someone puts so much effort into being so unhappy!
7.  If you were to plan out your dream vacation, where would you travel to - and what would you plan to do there?  I don't know. I am not super picky about these sort of things, I just like being with my family. I always love it when we got to Florida to go to Sea World and Disney World. I always have such a blast. But I think it would be super interesting to go to England and visit all the castles and such. Maybe visit Jane Austen's home. I can't imagine that anyone else in my family would like that though! I also think it would be really interesting to visit Ireland as well. I just imagine it is so incredibly beautiful. Not sure what I would do there, probably just stare endlessly at all the landscape!
8.  What is your favorite time period and culture to read about?  I really enjoy learning a lot of about the Tudors. For many years now, I have been obsessed with Queen Elizabeth I. I am so in love with this woman that she can bring me to tears!
9.  You have been invited to perform at the local charity concert.  Singing, comedy, recitation, tap dancing…What is your act comprised of?  I am actually quite musically talented. I played a viola for 12 years, can basically pick up any instrument and play something on it. I got a Ukulele for Christmas, it was an early gift in November I believe. I was playing a ton of Christmas carols on it by Christmas. I would probably do something musical. What exactly? It would probably just depend on my mood!
10.  If you were to attend a party where each guest was to portray a heroine of literature, who would you select to represent?  Hmm. That is pretty tough. I would probably say Marianne Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility. She is so dramatically filled with emotions, I could have fun with that!
11.  Favorite author(s)? Not sure that I really have a specific favorite author. If I was to think of it in terms of which author do I love the most books he/she has written, I would probably say Mercedes Lackey. I like reading all her fairy tale books. I also really like Willa Cather.
12.  In which century were most of the books you read written?  Not 100% sure. That is pretty terrible of me I suppose. Probably the 1800's. I think.
13.  In your opinion, the ultimate hero in all literature is… I would have to say Beowulf. Grendel...blah!
14.  In your opinion, the most dastardly villain of all literature is… I don't think I have an answer for that. Even in the books I listed as my five favorites, I don't really think there are villains in them. Not in a way to consider them as a true villain. There most definitely would be in the fairy tale books I read, however, I am drawing a complete blank for those, as it has been a while since I read them. I did start Mercedes Lackey's The Black Swan the other night.....
15.  Describe your ideal dwelling place.  I absolutely loved living in Alaska. It is truly a beautiful place. I would love to go back there and stay someday, though I don't think that will happen. Ideally, I would love to live somewhere that is just beautiful.
16.  Sum up your fashion style in a short sentence.  According to my girls, what fashion sense? I am, and have always been, a plain Jane. I prefer plain jeans, plain t-shirts, nothing fancy. I prefer loose clothing over fitted. I like to be comfortable!

17.  Three favorite Non-fiction books? Letters of E.B. White, Essays of E.B. White, and not sure what the third is. I'm sure I have one, just can't think of it right now!
18.  Your duties met for the day, how would you choose to spend a carefree summer day? Reading, watching my girls play outside in the warm summer sun!
19.  Create a verbal sketch of your dream hat - in such a way as will best portray your true character.  Uhhh...?
20.  Share the most significant event(s) that have marked your life in the past year.  I'm not really sure I can think of something. It might be my frame of mind, thinking this event has to be HUGE. But our family going to Florida this past summer was pretty amazing. Our family really got to spend a lot of quality time together, even Grandma Shoes came out to be with us for a couple of days! I always forever remember our vacations in Florida.
21.  Share the Bible passage(s) that have been most inspiring to you recently.  I'll be honest and say I am not much of a Bible reader anymore. I have had a few experiences in my life that have left me in a place where I feel more comfortable seeking out God in my own way. I receive uplifting and inspiring messages in my world around me!

Spongebob and dolls

Our family went out yesterday, we braved the cold! I was glad to discover that we actually had snow boots for our girls from last year, tags still on them, and amazingly still fit them! We ate out at Applebee's and saw the new SpongeBob movie in the theaters. It was an overall fun day. I do love SpongeBob (who doesn't?), but I have a deep disgust for movies that combine animation and real live actors. They just crawl under my skin! I was able to make it through the move though (it helped that the first part of the movie was all animation) without going insane.
I also picked up some more yarn last night. I have had a deep desire to create a doll lately, so I picked out some yarns to make an Ariel doll for myself and let my girls each pick out yarns to create a doll for them as well. Ariel worked up quite quickly with knitting looms (I purchased a small set last night), and I crocheted her dress (and her little golden shoes are loom knitted). I do plan to make Ariel a tail to fit over her legs and a seashell top. First I will have to make a Jasmine and Aurora doll for my daughters. They have been hovering over my entire process, excited for their dolls. For now though, I need a break from yarn!
I dug out my dippy pen and ink today. I have been wanting to practice copperplate writing again. I received a letter from my friend the other day (which I was super happy about!) and decided it would be fun if I could write with my dippy pen more fluently so that I could use it to write her letters. Not sure if I will accomplish that, but I thought it would be fun to try! I like using graph paper for practicing, and I have a cute little Frozen tin that holds all my pen nibs. After watching my shows tonight I plan to have a bit of fun practicing.
Aside from all of that, not much has been going on here. Watching all the snow falling, staying indoors keep warm! 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Barbie Simple Classic Short Superhero Cape Free Crochet pattern

Created by Paperdollmom, Copyright 2015

Materials Needed: Deborah Norville Collection Premier Yarns Serentity Chunky Weight, 1 pony bead, and a size K hook

-Chain 22, SC in 4th chain from the hook (you just created the button hole), SC in the next st
-2 SC in the next 4 sts (you should have 2 sts at the end of the row that you will leave alone), chain 3, turn
-DC across the row for a total of 5 rows, making sure to chain 3 and turn at the end of each row
-Finish off, making sure to first add the pony bead to the beginning strand of yarn for the button

11" StrawBerry Shortcake Sleeveless Dress Free Crochet Pattern

Created by Paperdollmom, Copyright 2015
Materials Needed: Ever Soft Premier Yarn (2 colors) and an I hook

-Chain 22, DC in 3rd from the hook and DC across the row, chain 3, turn
-DC across the row, chain 3, turn
-DC in the first 3 sts, chain 3, skip 3 sts, DC in next 7 sts, chain 3, skip 3, DC in last 3 sts, chain 3, turn
-DC in first sts, decrease 1 sts all the way across (so you are combining 2 stitches all across the row)
-end yarn, starting with the new color, SC across the bottom of the shirt, making sure to connect it in a loop so you will be working on the skirt in a round,
-stitch into the first SC made, chain 3, DC in next sts, 2 DC in next stitch, now repeat the pattern 1 DC, 2 DC around
-[Slip stitch into the first DC made, chain 3, DC in the next DC and around]
-Repeat [ ] until you have a total of 4 DC rows in the skirts (including the row you added DC sts in)
-Finish off

how to create your own easy crochet doll clothes patterns

I have plenty of clothing patterns available on this blog, free for personal use, but what about that random doll that you love that I haven't created for? I have simple dress, tops, pants, and skirt patterns in all different types of yarns for many popular dolls, but I thought I might give some tips on how to create these same basic clothing pieces for any doll that you might own.

Tube Dress

Step #1: Picking your yarn.
The smaller the doll, the smaller the yarn. I usually try to get yarns that are more like fingering yarn for fashion dolls, or a little bigger. However, you can most definitely use thicker yarns like Red Heart. With a larger doll, such as an American Girl sized doll, I would definitely pick the thicker yarn. A yarn can definitely be too thick for small dolls though!

Barbie Dress with a Bow Free Crochet Pattern

Created by Paperdollmom, Copyright 2015

Materials Needed: Vanna's Choice Lion Brand Yarn, a scrap piece of a contrasting color, and an I hook

The Dress
-Chain 16, SC in the first chain made to form a loop
-SC around for a total of 8 rounds
-2 SC in each stitch around
-SC around for 6 more rounds
-Finish off

The Bow
For the bow in the front, I took the long scrap piece of yarn and wove it into the row around the waste (the same row that I added 2 SC in each stitch). I started in the front, leaving a tail, ended in the front, and used both tails of yarn to tie a ribbon in a double tie so that it holds. I also knotted each end to keep it from fraying

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Super Easy Barbie Short Dress Free Crochet Pattern

Created by Paperdollmom, Copyright 2015

Materials needed: Deborah Norville Collection Premier Yarn Everyday Soft Worsted and a size I hook

-Chain 16, SC in the first chain made
-SC in the next stitch and around for a total of 18 rows
-Finish off

Barbie Mini Cape Free Crochet Pattern

Created by Paperdollmom, Copyright 215

Materials needed: Deborah Norville Permier Yarn Serenity Chunky, a size K hook, and 1 pony bead

-Chain 11, SC in 4th from the hook (this will be the button hole), 2 SC in the next stitch and each sts across the row, except for the last stitch. So this means every stitch in the row will have 2 SC except the first and last. Chain 3, turn
-DC across the row for a total of 3 rows of DC, remember to chain 3 and turn at the end of each row.
-Add a pony bead to the beginning yarn before finish both ends off (the pony bead will work as the button)

how we met...

I thought it would be fun to write up a post about how my husband and I met. Being as it is Valentine's Day, I thought it would be fitting! Believe it or not, we met online. We came across each other in a chat room one day, chatted for a few minutes and exchanged email addresses. After a few emails, we exchanged phone numbers. We talked on the phone (way too much!) for about three months, already planning to elope. He was going to come to Iowa, where I was living at the time, and then we would be off! Unfortunately, the tragedy of 9-11 took place, changing everything drastically for so many people overnight, including the military. He could no longer get any time off to come to Iowa, so I took a bus (or several) to South Carolina where he was stationed. We met in person for the first time ever and got married three days later! We were married on a porch by an old man in slippers at about 10pm after my husband got off work. (We have the proof, as the old man is smiling in all our wedding photos!) We were accompanied by three of my husband's friends at the time (all military), one of them insisting he was my brides maid! Afterwards, we all ate at Applebee's. Our wedding cake was purchased by some of his friends at the local grocery store (with my name spelled wrong), and was eaten in one of their dorm rooms. Our honeymoon consisted of an afternoon at the beach between my husband's shifts, soaking in the sun and enjoying the ocean. It was a whirlwind experience that has taken us to where we are today. We have been happily married for 13 years and have two beautiful daughters! I love that we both knew with such certainty that we were meant to be together so early in knowing one another. I love that it reminds me of Disney's Enchanted, when the prince first meets Giselle:
What more could you ask for?

an old memory

To celebrate Valentine's Day we all went out to eat at a Mexican restaurant. I would say which, but I am pretty sure I would completely misspell it. It was delicious! My hubby said he was going to surprise me with the restaurant pick and that the experience would rekindle an old memory. Once he said that, I knew exactly where he was taking all of us. Our very first Valentine's Day together we wanted to eat out and had a terrible time finding somewhere. My husband was new to the idea of needing to make reservations on Valentine's Day and there was just no room anywhere. We eventually found a little hole in the wall Mexican restaurant (that really was not very good), and enjoyed our first Valentine's Day dinner together. We literally drove around for over an hour trying to find somewhere, I will never forget! So we had the fun sharing our little memory with our girls. Our lunch today was delicious, we even took home some chips and salsa. I've been shamelessly snacking on them all night!
We also decided to celebrate getting our taxes this week too. We gave our girls each $20 to spend in Toys R Us. I was also elated to discover there was a Barbie and Ken 2-pack from The Princess Power line, which means they are superheroes! I have been wanting a superhero doll to crochet some capes for, so needless to say, I purchased them for myself. I will be having a lot of fun crocheting for them. I think I have officially failed my goal of not purchasing more dolls this year. Again, I felt justified by them being one sale and the fact that I don't own a Ken doll to use as a crochet model. Either way, I now have two awesome superhero dolls to crochet for!
I also had to make a stop at Joann's Fabric store. I saw last night online that they are having a yarn sale. I cannot believe how much yarn I got today. I ended up buying 8 skeins of yarn for only $11. Joann's has some amazing sales sometimes! So I am ready for our bad weather to roll in tonight and tomorrow. We are suppose to get snow and winds up to 50 mph. I will be cozy inside with my family, happily crocheting some Barbie and Ken clothes!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Book Tag

I went ahead and snagged all these question that are floating around in the blogging world right now. I thought it might be fun to answer them!

1.  Favorite childhood book? I really loved reading Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary, but I also very specifically remember the book Behind the Attic Wall.
2.  What are you reading right now?  Writing Detective and Mystery Fiction
3.  What books do you have on request at the library? I have never put a book on hold for myself at the library. I have at a bookstore though...

Thursday, February 12, 2015

mysterious Sherlock

My night is pretty much taken over be the TV. Thursday nights are my favorite television nights, as most of my favorite shows are on. I love watching The Vampire Diaries, Reign, and Elementary. Elementary is probably my most favorite show. Well, that tied with The 100. But who doesn't like a little Sherlock? I know Benedict Cumberbatch fans will argue with me, but I love love love Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes. I have watched a lot of versions of Sherlock, and he is by far the most absolute. To me, he fits Sherlock's personality the best, and I just cannot get enough of this show! I also love how the writers took a creative twist and cast Lucy Liu as Watson. Perfect! I have had Sherlock on my mind lately, as I keep discovering Jonny Lee Miller in other random films and movies. Every time I notice him, I just think it is so awesome. Thinking about Sherlock lately has had me wondering a new book I snagged at our base library giveaway, Writing Detective and Mystery Fiction by Burack. This is obviously an old book. I removed the disastrous library cover to reveal the beautiful blue hardcover beneath. I have always thought it would be so exciting to have a character myself that I could write continuous short stories about, one that could solve all kinds of mysteries. I am thinking when my shows have finished tonight, I may crack this book open and see if it will give me any tips. I kind of can't wait to see what information this book holds, as writing mysteries would definitely be new territory for me. We will see what comes of it!

ballet dancing

I believe I must have been a ballet dancer in a previous life and that great love has leaked through to this one, saturating my being. Ever since I was very very young I have adored ballet. I am not sure I loved it as in the normal girly way that most girls love ballet. Such as being filled with giddiness at the thought of wearing pink, ruffles, tutus, and acting like a beautiful princess. I absolutely love classical orchestral music, and I love how watching how ballet dancers can express their souls through such graceful moves, with such precision and beauty. I watch in admiration and with hopeless hope that someday I will be able to do that. I found this video and just could not get over how incredibly beautiful this man dances paired with such a wonderful deep feeling song. I could just watch this all day.
I have realized over the past few months that watching someone perform something that they have poured their soul into, practicing and perfecting, touches me deep in my own soul. I hadn't pinpointed the specific reason for my gushing tears until I began to notice it across the board. A poetry reading, a kids recital, a ballet routine. I think it just always amazes me to see such hard work come to fruition and to know that there are people in this world that work hard to get good at something. I find that to be something amazing. I especially love it when it is someone celebrating their own body. I have watched my daughter mourn her own body for not working in the way that most do. My eyes have been forever opened to see that so many in our world are crying these same tears. I love it when I see people loving who they are celebrating the body they have been born into. It gets me every time. Add ballet into the picture, and I am elated. Add my own daughters, and I am in heaven. You can imagine what kind of an emotional mess I am during our daughters' dance recitals. Those are my favorite days.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

blogger celebration

I am venturing into the unknown and trying to participate in a little blogger celebration started by Edge of Night. Arwen Undomiel from Meanwhile, in Rivendell has nominated me, so thank you! From what I am gathering, it is basically to help bloggers recognize fellow bloggers for their wonderful efforts and talents in what they do. Here are the rules of how to participate if you are nominated, quoted directly from Edge of Night:
  • Write a post to show off your award! Give a brief story of how your blog got started, and give a piece or two of advice to new bloggers. Thank whoever nominated you, and provide a link to their blog. List who you've nominated in the post. 
      • Make sure to also attach the award itself! (You can do this by right-clicking, saving, and uploading the image above).
  • Comment on each blog and let them know you've nominated them. Provide a link to the award post you created.
  • Provide a link to the original post on Edge of Night. That way, anyone can find the original guidelines and post if needed, and we can keep it from mutating and becoming confusing! (It happens LOL).

So, here it goes:
I am probably repeating myself a bit, as I just recently wrote up a post to celebrate my 2 year blogaversary, but I started this blog originally to share my creative writing pieces. I tend to struggle emotionally in dealing with my oldest daughter's chronic illness and my own OCD, so writing can be a huge outlet for me. Lately, so far this year, my writing has shifted from poetry and short stories to more journaling based writing. I also like to share my crochet patterns that I create on here as well.
Advice for other bloggers? I am not sure I would say I am the one to give it, but I will try. I think posting material on your blog regularly is important. Even it if means you tend to your blog only once a week. I also think it is important to acknowledge any reader that makes the effort to comment on your blog. Part of the fun of having a blog is interacting with other bloggers, so make sure you take the time to dig around in the world of bloggers and start participating!

Now, I will do my best to come up with 15 bloggers whom I have grown to appreciate....

-Arwen Undomiel at Meanwhile, in Rivendell
-Clare at Peace, Love, Cranes
-Miss Missy at Miss Missy Paper Dolls
-Julie Mathews at Paper Doll School
-M. J. Joachim at Lots of Crochet Stitches
-Marianne at Life as we Know It
-Rachel at Paper Thin Personas
-Emily at The Toy Box Philosopher

I will have to keep thinking!

the laughing Jane Austen

I found myself thinking about movies that make me laugh through someone else's know who you are! I am a person that rarely laughs out loud in movies or films. (However Modern Family makes me laugh quite a bit). But I was pondering on what movie I thought made me laugh consistently when re-watching. The Jane Austen Book Club immediately came to mind. I absolutely love this movie, one of my favorites. The entire movie is filled with modern day characters that are portraying the main characters of Jane Austen's novels, while actually holding a Jane Austen book club. Brilliant! But there is this specific part in the movie that always makes me laugh, when Grigg (the only male in the group) pulls out this gigantic book filled with all of the Jane Austen books. You know the kind. Those ones in bookstores that are ridiculously huge, the ones that would be so uncomfortable to actually sit with and read, the ones you find and think to yourself, who would ever buy that? Grigg! He pulls out that massive book and plops it on the table in their first meeting, completely shocking all the women. I am even laughing as I am trying to explain this. It cracks me up every time. I could not find a good youtube clip of that part to share, so you will have to do with the trailer (that shows a small part of it). If you have not seen this movie, you need to!


I am not sure if I have been super clear on explaining things related to my psychic abilities on this blog. I did at one point decide I would open up about that more, then chickened out and deleted it all! But I do have psychic abilities. I generally tend to focus more on those abilities that are related to understanding energy and doing what I refer to as energy work to help others, such as helping to relieve pain in my daughter's arm so that she doesn't feel the IV being inserted during her Remicade infusions. That is what you will mostly find me discussing if I ever do share anything. That is where I am most confident. However, every now and then a different ability will surface, which happened recently. I had an encounter with a beautiful young teen who had lost her battle with cancer last week, and I was asked to relay a message to her loved ones. I was completely filled with anxiety about this task, as I did not personally know anything about this family and I wasn't sure how the message would be received coming from a stranger. I did not want to be a person that would cause more grief for this family during such a difficult time. I finally was able to make good on my promise, and was so relieved when the message was taken in a positive way. I don't know how people like Theresa Caputo can do that on a daily basis. I am not sure if it is confidence I lack in that specific area, social anxiety, or just selfishness, wondering what people will think of me, but it is definitely a challenge for me. I am sure my OCD plays a big part in what makes me avoid these types of interactions outside of the realm of my own loved ones who have passed. I constantly find myself second guessing what is actually happening, questioning the honesty of who is approaching me, questioning my interpretation and understanding of the information, questioning my ability as a whole. Sometimes with OCD, a thought will swiftly enter your mind, a simple thought created in the moment of doubt or worry, that grows and grows, planting itself in the forefront of your thinking so that it cannot be ignored or released. Stuck. Just repeating itself over and over again, until you find yourself so confused and filled with doubt that you are ready to back out of whatever you were initially trying to do.
But this has all been on my mind for several days as I was trying to find my own bravery to contact this family. I am glad I did it, very glad I was able to help give that family a small bit of comfort during such a hard time. Glad I was able to help out that young girl. But whenever something like this happens I find myself reflecting on the bravery that other honest mediums have that try to spread awareness of loved ones and bringing comfort to many families. There are some amazing people in this world!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Grantchester episode 4

I finally got to watch episode 4 in Grantchester. I had been waiting for it all week, then when it came on Sunday night I was just not in the mood to watch it. I think I was just feeling slightly cranky from being sick. But I really enjoyed watching in on demand tonight! I think I love this show because it has such a calmness, a small town feel, and a slow pace. I love watching the world through Sidney, how he lives such a peaceful and steady life. Of course he is out solving murders, but there is something nice about seeing him caring about people along his way, going out of his way to help everyone and anyone. I like seeing people genuinely care about others, especially when they are willing to take action to show it. I think we need more of that in our world. I love how he lives in such a small town that he just rides his bike wherever he wants to go. I think his minimalism is somewhat pleasing. I also liked that he handled some serious topics in this episode with grace and respect. He is a pretty admirable character.
Now, for some reason or another, the show ended with me craving to watch Titanic and the first season of the newer shows in Doctor Who. I have no explanation.  

some ramblings

I actually had to venture out of my house today, in the freezing cold! I kept checking my email hoping that my daughters' dance class would get canceled. It wasn't. I was correct in thinking that it was so cold it feels like you are walking around naked, no matter how many layers you have on. That wind is unbearable! I don't know how I can complain though, after living in Alaska. Alaska is by far much colder. You acclimate in Alaska though. It can be so much colder, and you are comfortable walking around outside with your coat unzipped, no hats or mittens. Here, we get a cold front and I am ready to stock up on food and just peer out the window for as long as my life will allow. I made it home in one piece though. I am back in comfortable pajamas, beneath a warm blanket, pattering at the keyboard.
I had to give my oldest daughter's GI doctor a call today. During our last visit, we were instructed to up a dose of one of her major medications from 4-1/2 pills to 5 pills. I am somewhat pleased with this, as it is a lot easier on me. I no longer have to fumble with an itty bitty circular pill, trying to snap it in half. But last night I realized the bottle only had 3 pills left. I was quite irritated and perplexed at how this happened, immediately wondering what I had done wrong. Then I realized the bottle says I was only given 18 pills. 18 pills does not allow for me to give her 5 pills for every dose, no matter how much you want it to! Thankfully, it should all be worked out before her next dose is needed. I am just thankful I realized all of this before I needed to give her the next dose! Then I would have been panicking.
I am starting to feel a little better. Well, probably a lot better than I did those first couple of days. But it is still lingering. Mostly just tired and soreness, and a minor stuffy nose. I do hate being sick though because my OCD is really enhanced, trying to keep the germs from spreading in the house. I am always more worried about getting my oldest sick than I am about myself being sick. It was nice to just stay in all this past weekend and relax.
I know I am just rambling on in this post, but I am trying to force myself to write down a few things to keep myself journaling. Really not much has gone on in my world since I have just been trying to relax and feel better. There has been a lot of Play-doh fun, Perler bead creating, and even sewing (not me of course) going on in our house. Now the week has restarted itself once again and we are thrown back into the routine of school work!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Strawberry Shortcake Styling Doll Review

I am kind of in love with this doll. I have been wanting her for several months, randomly find one in a store on occasion. I would grab her and carry her around the store, then returned her to the shelf. This weekend I finally gave in. I stood starring at the box in my hands debating back and forth on if I should just get her or not. I puffed a bit of her strawberry scent to my youngest daughter, which only enhanced her desire for me to get the doll for myself, and then puffed the strawberry scent to my oldest daughter, whom immediately changed her stance, telling me I had to get her! It was decided, I needed to have this doll!
Her illustration on the front of the box is adorable. I always think Strawberry Shortcake is cute, so I am not surprised to see this illustration portraying her sweet personality. I took all of these photos after I removed the doll from her box, so I wont do an overall shot. 
Here is a photo taken of the back of the box. It shows the two best friends that are in this line of dolls, this specific larger size. I am a little bummed that they did not design more of these larger dolls. I think it would have been nice to have more choices, as for me, smelling lemon is definitely off the table. The packaging was a bit frustrating to remove the doll from. It had those cheap plastic twist ties, but they seemed to be unnecessarily everywhere.  
Here is Strawberry out of the box. She is about 11 inches tall, a tad shorter than Barbie dolls. She does feel a little heavier than a Barbie doll, but not at all too heavy. Her dress is white and pink and velcros closed down the back. I do think it is a little tough pushing her hands through the sleeves of the dress, and would imagine a little one would get frustrated. Each hand has a different pose, the left is more open and the right hand is more closed as if it is ready to hold something. I think that is kind of fun to have the different hand poses. It might be fun to make some crafty things for her to hold in her right hand, too.
Her shoes are bright read and molded onto her, so you cannot remove her shoes. I think some people might dislike this, but it can also be great for young ones as they wont ever lose her shoes. My specific doll did have a weird dark brown spot on the white of her tights just above her red right show. I am afraid it will have to stay, as I don't want to remove the white paint on her tights trying to remove the brown spot. It is unfortunate, but something I can deal with.
Speaking of her tights, they are also painted on. Like most dolls, Strawberry is also wearing her undies over her tights! Her undies actually are pretty, with molded ridges/strips and a bow in the front. She is articulated in the legs, shoulders, elbows, and head. She does have more of a straight body shape as opposed to Barbies or Monster Highs with such a curvy body type. This makes perfect sense, as Strawberry is suppose to be a little girl. You can also see her different hand poses much better in this photo.
Her face is very much like her animation. She has that slightly oblong shaped face from the right to left, a tiny pointed noise, large eyes, and her bright smile. Her face paint is pretty basic, with a few freckles (that are hard to see in the photos) between her eyes. I like that her eyebrows are even pink! The different colored greens in her eyes are also a nice touch.
Her hair is a nice bright red and pink. There is actually different shades of red and pink mixed throughout her hair. It is very pretty. Her hair had quite a bit of gel in it across the bangs and the part of her hair just behind the bangs. I thought it was strange, as this was intended to be a hair styling type of doll. It did work itself out quickly enough though, so it isn't too much of a problem. Plus, I suppose it is possible the gel is a good thing, as you get the doll with her bangs in the right place straight out of the box. I did have to trim some of her bangs, a few stray pieces that weren't lining up right, but nothing too terrible.
The rooting of this doll's hair is a bit strange to me. It is very spaced out, to the point of me saying that I would normally be very disappointed. However, with that said, it is surprising how it really does not show much when her hair is down. They did a good job of having a lot of hair towards the top of her head to give her a full look. But remember, this is a hair styling doll. You put her into pigtails and she is practically bald. I can't imagine little ones will care about that though, and for myself, I prefer her pretty hair down anyways. Her haircut has a lot of layers in it which I think helps it to lay nicely and look so pretty. At first I was thinking that she should have just had straight long hair without layers to help make the hair play more fun, but I can see how her layers really helps add to the look of this doll and make the hair more manageable for little ones. I also noticed that there were a lot of times I would find a hair from a plug that would eventually wind its way back into her head through a different plug. This meant it was not easy to actually comb through her hair. I did manage to kind of wiggle all those hairs where they belonged, but I would assume that a young one would just become frustrated that the comb would get stuck, or just rip right through it causing some hair to fall out.
The other things that were included in the box is a simple red comb, 2 pink hair extensions, 2 red barrettes, and her traditional green bow in a barrette form. The barrettes to stay nicely in her hair, but I would advice against combing the extensions. As you can see in the photo, one hair extension is pretty wild and crazy, that is the one I combed.
Overall, I really actually love this doll. I am a bit partial to Strawberry Shortcake, as I grew up with the original dolls. But she is so vibrant in color, a nice new size of doll, and she is absolutely adorable. I am a sucker for dolls with red hair, painted on clothing pieces, and striped tights. Plus, I love strawberries. I am glad I finally gave in and purchased her! I do think that a little more work could be put into the doll's hair to improve her hair play ability, especially for little kids, but that does not cause me to hesitate on how much I like her.