Tag Archives: American Girl

Summer Reading – Freebies

To me, nothing says summer like the arrival of summer reading programs for kids!  I will be sad when DD is too old to participate, and that day is coming way too soon!

SummerReadingTri-228x132Barnes and Noble has launched their summer reading program, which culminates in a free book that your elementary school-age child can select from their list.  As always, they have a great selection of free books for kids to choose from.  I would have to choose Mercy Watson, Mr. Limoncello, or the new American Girl book about Lea Clark.

Have you participated in the Barnes and Noble program in the past?

Advertisements

Ordering Summer, Hold the Big Vacation

Morton Arboretum. Looks like England, Not Chicago Suburbs.

Morton Arboretum. Looks like England, Not Chicago Suburbs.

In January we begin thinking about summer vacation plans. We add money to our vacation fund every week, year round when we come in under budget with our weekly expenses. We try to hone in on our plan in January to make sure we have money to pay in full for our fun. (Bring home memories, not debt!)

This year we tossed around a number of ideas… Another train trip out west, or a trip to Montreal? Rent a summer lake house? We felt like we needed to come up with some sort of “legitimate” vacation, but we weren’t really feeling any of the ideas. They all sounded like work for mom and dad!

We came up with some driveable regional options that would give my husband lots of long summer weekends, good food, no travel stress, and time together doing new things. Two-thirds of us are excited to be going to the Madison Children’s Museum American Girl doll benefit sale this summer, but we hooked my husband in with snazzy accommodations and hiking at Devils Lake State Park. Minimal planning, packing and stress, and something for everyone to enjoy.

We have saved up enough to fund our summer plans, and plan to keep on saving so that next year we can contemplate a bigger trip if we are up for it. We would love to get to England in the next few years, but right now that level of planning seems daunting, and the cost to travel as a family seems like a lot of money for a week or two.  That doesn’t mean we won’t ever do it, but if we can build up a nice vacation fund, it may not seem so painful!

Happy Valentine’s Day

AG Valetine

Happy Valentine’s Day from all the girls decked out in pink at our house today!

It’s brutally cold out today, so we are enjoying a night of sushi at home and maybe a little “Top Chef” finale off the DVR.

American Girl fans, note that the preview for the movie “Grace Stirs It Up” will premiere Tuesday, Feb 17 during the show Master Chef Junior on Fox.

American Girl Outlet, Oshkosh

American Girl Outlet Oshkohs My fellow budgeting, decluttering, and meal-planning friends, cast your eyes away while I take a moment to talk to American Girl doll bloggers about the American Girl Outlet Store, located in Oshkosh, WI near the Experimental Aircraft Museum.  When you consider the Wilmot Warehouse Sale, the Madison Children’s Museum doll sale, and the Oshkosh outlet store, Wisconsin is quite the location for AG deal-seekers to make a pilgrimmage. There are some deals to be had for sure, and other items at the Outlet are not priced far off the catalog.

These prices are nothing to get excited about

Some prices are nothing to get excited about

There were many huge boxes with Julie’s VW car, at the still-astonishing price of $ 350.  At the Wilmot Warehouse sale this same item was $ 175.00. American Girl Julie VW In fact, there were many Julie items, but none priced to move quickly.  noexif_IMG_5258_private

noexif_IMG_5259_private

The best deal is the American Girl books, all generally 50% off sticker price.  This includes the illustrated historical fiction before they switched to the BeForever books, and activity and quiz books.

Two things got our attention recently. Saige’s welcome t-shirt, $ 2.50.  A nice price!  I also saw Saige’s wrap bracelet for girls which I believe was around $6.00. American Girl SaigeAnother find was Addy’s birthday dress, retired in 2013.  The boxes contained all items originally sold with the outfit, including the pointelle stockings and a brown and cream snood.  Price was $ 14.00.  The sewing detail on this blouse and dress blows me away.  This item came home with us, paid for out of my personal fun money of course!Addy Birthday

The sleeves are to die for!

The sleeves are to die for!

There were definitely a few Ebay folks there–some items at the Outlet do have limits on how many can be purchased.  I can see how this can be an income stream, but that is too much risk for my  taste.

Other items include Bitty Baby clothing, AG clothing for girls, (including Saige’s sweater and a number of BeForever clothing for girls’ items), and clothing for retired Cecile and Marie-Grace.

There are no dolls, of course.  The only place to buy those on discount is the Madison Children’s Museum sale.

If you are in the area, it is worth a stop to be sure.  Personally, I think only the Wilmot Warehouse sale has prices to warrant a road trip.

Stop over at our AG Doll blog “The Dolls Between Us”!

Send in the Butterflies

cigcardfairybutterflyHappy New Year!

I have been blessed to be home for the past two weeks.  Today Mr Saver and our daughter took down the Christmas tree–hooray! Meanwhile, I was in our daughter’s room trying to do some cleaning.  I’m talking underneath dressers and beds kind of cleaning.  She has been working on her room a little every day, but there is a force in there that resists it ever looking much improved.

This force is… creativity.

As I was digging out home-made American Girl iPhones and tiny school folders for dolls from underneath the dresser, it hit me… I have a Flybaby in training.  Flylady is the home organizing system created by Marla Cilley.  Flybabies are her creative souls who weren’t “Born Organized” as she says.

FlyladyI present Exhibit “A” at right:  A container used to store Barbies has been turned into an “American Girl Washing Machine.” Creative right? Guess where the Barbies are?

Thing is, I’m no different. I can find myself getting Inspired on Pinterest while the dishwasher just needs to be started.  Or I am thinking about our next birthday party idea while the mail sits unopened.  We’re just too creative to want to pay attention to the boring details!

Why the butterfly above?  Marla says that butterflies flit from thing to thing, spreading beauty wherever they go.  Good analogy?  Yes, but I know that butterfly has a basket of laundry wrinkling in the dryer for sure. You can read her butterfly essay here.

This weekend I am working on getting our routines back in place so we can keep the creativity flowing but yet be able to enjoy the space and nice things we have.

Gifts for Next Year? Oh Yes!

Mr Saver and I were able to get out today for a little post-Christmas shopping (Thanks Grandma for babysitting)! I was thrilled to be able to get some 50% off gifts for next Christmas.

There are three keys to making this work for me:

1.  I have to be buying for a specific person.  I can’t just buy random stuff and hope it works for someone next year.

2.  I have to come home and enter the purchases on our gift spreadsheet for next year.  Otherwise, yes, I will end up forgetting that I already bought a gift for that person.

3. Of course the gifts must be purchased with CASH.  You can’t save 50% and then pay 19% interest on the gifts for the next three years.

Gifts for next year

Gifts for next year

 

My first haul included the gifts at left.  All were $ 5.00 or less.  The kids’ gifts are tried and tested.  The Disney Princess card set we own and used hundreds of times.  Dolly stickers – sure hit as well.  The Stonewall Kitchens soap is always a pleasure to give.  I also found a wooden gift tag/ornament. I try to pick gifts that I would have purchased at full price and not just grab things because of a low price. We all have so much stuff in our lives and I want my gifts to be valued.

Another unexpected find at Target was an Isabelle American Girl mini doll.  Strange item for Target to sell as they have their own line of American Girl-like dolls.  My daughter was there when we found Isabelle. I said 11.00 is too high for an impulse purchase for me at this time of year, but if she would like me to hold it for her birthday I can do that. It is important to me that she have some “skin in the game” with discretionary purchases. When you are a grown-up, even small purchases that you can afford affect your finances. “A small leak will sink a great ship.” Amen to that, Ben Franklin.

Isabelle Mini at Target

Isabelle Mini at Target

Finally, I knew I needed tissue paper for gifts, labels, and three small gift bags for next Christmas. Those were also purchased for 50%’off and I won’t need further gift wrapping supplies next year.

Have you found any gifts on sale for next year?

Report from Wilmot American Girl Warehouse Sale, Day 2

noexif_IMG_4662_privateLast year we hit the American Girl Warehouse sale on the first day of the sale, and it was grueling.  This year we tried the sale on Day 2, with no idea of what to expect, only hoping the lines would be shorter.  We set out on the open road after our traditional stop at Dunkin Donuts.

noexif_IMG_4653_private

Saige in Julie’s dress.

We arrived at 9:58 am, and were shocked to find the parking lot comparatively empty, and only a handful of ladies waiting to get in when the doors opened at 10 am.  We walked right in.  Mind boggling!

noexif_IMG_4674_private

They restock the sale overnight, and there was plenty of merchandise, both Bitty Baby and American Girl.  Also some Corolle dolls.  Note the Warehouse sale does not have dolls except for the mini historical dolls, which were $ 8.00.  You need to go to the Madison Children’s Museum Benefit for the regular dolls.

noexif_IMG_4667_private

Not our bags, but this is a small purchase by Warehouse sale standards!!

noexif_IMG_4668_private

The sales staff wear t-shirts displaying stick figures hauling huge bags around. True!

noexif_IMG_4664_private

There are always plenty of AG pets for 8.00 – 10.00

noexif_IMG_4665_private

Lots of items for last year’s GOTY.

noexif_IMG_4661_private

This one came home with us!

noexif_IMG_4659_private

There were accessory kits for Addy, Julie, and Ivy.  Also a shawl for Rebecca.

noexif_IMG_4663_private

Like I said, plenty of merchandise, and easy to find.

A favorite item:  McKenna's Warm-Up Outfit.  Those are some cute shoes!  $12.00

A favorite item: McKenna’s Warm-Up Outfit. Those are some cute shoes! $12.00 for the whole outfit.

This year there was only 1 historical doll outfit, Cecile’s yellow summer dress and bonnet.  Lots of MYAG outfits including a soccer outfit, cheerleading outfit, ski set, tennis outfit, a cello (!), and two Halloween outfits for dolls.

Alluring, yes.  Enough money in the budget, No!

Alluring, yes. Enough money in the budget, No!

We were stunned to be out of the sale by 11:15.  We decided to have our picnic lunch outside the warehouse, for old-time’s sake.

Saige, Addy, and a Webkinz along for the ride.

Saige, Addy, and a Webkinz along for the ride.

After last year’s sale we started saving $10.00 from each of my paychecks for future AG adventures.  When it came time for the sale my daughter knew exactly how much was in the AG budget!  We were happily surprised, though, that Grandma chipped in as a way to celebrate our school year.  Thanks Grandma!

Update:  We will be blogging about future Wilmot sales at our new blog “The Dolls Between Us”, so follow us there!