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Back in 2014 I was practicing with the open source vector drawing program Inkscape (which is touted as a free alternative to Adobe Illustrator). I decided to trace over a photo of two dogs who became Internet sensations. One was Boo (located on the right in the below graphic), who got his start on Facebook after one of his owners posted photos of him on that social media platform. Those photos became popular and he was soon known as Boo the World’s Cutest Dog. The other was Buddy, who was Boo’s older brother and closest friend.


Soon after I finished that digital drawing, I uploaded it to, where you can still download it for free. I even used that vector art as the basis for this tutorial I wrote for on how to trace over a photo in Inkscape.

I followed Boo on Facebook and I’ve always enjoyed seeing the latest cute photos of him. At first it was just him and Buddy but then his owners added a third dog, a Golden Retriever known as Bluebeary Pie who soon grew taller than the two Pomeranians. Then Boo’s human owners had a baby daughter of their own and that child was sometimes in the photos with Boo and the other dogs that were taken from angles where the child’s face was partially or fully obscured. (It was obvious that the girl’s parents wanted to protect her privacy.)

Boo was a star but he basically remained a typical dog who was blissfully unaware that there was a Wikipedia page about him. He was also unaware of the spinoff products based on his image, including a brief three-issue comic book series. Boo seemed to take his fame in stride as he frequently traveled with Buddy, whom he was closest to. But then Buddy died in 2017, which apparently Boo took very hard. After Buddy’s death the family added another dog to the household, a sheepdog named Benny. Despite the addition of Benny, it was apparent that Boo really missed Buddy and had never quite gotten over Buddy’s death. Nearly a week ago Boo’s owners wrote this sad yet eloquent post on Facebook:

Dearest friends of Boo,

With deepest sadness I wanted to share that Boo passed away in his sleep early this morning and has left us to join his best friend, Buddy. Our family is heartbroken, but we find comfort knowing that he is no longer in any pain or discomfort. We know that Buddy was the first to greet him on the other side of that rainbow bridge, and this is likely the most excited either of them have been in a long time.

Since starting Boo’s FB page, I’ve received so many notes over the years from people sharing stories of how Boo brightened their days and helped bring a little light to their lives during difficult times. And that was really the purpose of all this…Boo brought joy to people all over the world. Boo is the happiest dog I’ve ever met. He was so easy going that we never had to bother with training. He made the manliest of men squeal with delight over his cuteness and made everyone laugh with his quirky, tail wagging personality.

Over the years Boo met some super cool people, a lot of crazy talented people, but most of all so many kind people…friends who gave him endless love, people who prioritized his comfort over getting that perfect picture, partners who understood that Buddy ALWAYS had to be included, and last but definitely not least, the amazing doctors, therapists, and staff at Adobe Animal Hospital and Sage Veterinary Centers for the countless hours of care and dedication they poured into Buddy and Boo.

I brought Boo home in the spring of 2006 and so started the greatest, most heartwarming friendship of all time. Shortly after Buddy died, Boo showed signs of heart issues. We think his heart literally broke when Buddy left us. He hung on and gave us over a year. But it looks like it was his time, and I’m sure it was a most joyous moment for them when they saw each other in heaven.

Boo, we love you with all our hearts and will miss you until the day we meet again. Have fun running around with Buddy and creating adorable mischief wherever you guys go.

Thank you to all of you for following along on their silly adventures over the past 10 years. They sure had a LOT of fun.

With love and our deepest gratitude,
Boo’s humans

I felt sad reading about Boo’s death but he lived the equivalent of 84 human years, which is nothing to complain about. Boo’s death was also covered by the major media outlets like CNN and the BBC as if he was a major celebrity. In addition to doing that vector graphic of Boo and Buddy, I also saw various spinoff products based on Boo on store shelves over the years. Here are the ones I shot with my smartphone.


Originally posted on December 26, 2014.


Originally posted on December 19, 2014.

And last, but not least, here’s a stuffed animal version of Boo alongside another Internet animal celebrity, Grumpy Cat.

Internet Celebrities as Stuffed Animals

Originally posted on July 28, 2014.

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This past weekend a major snowstorm hit the Washington, DC area where I lived. The snowstorm started late Saturday then it stopped for a brief period on the following Sunday afternoon before it started up again and it didn’t stop for good until sometime in the middle of the night.

As a result, most of DC was even more shutdown than it was before (due to the ongoing federal government shutdown where Donald Trump is still refusing to budge on signing on this year’s budget until he gets his border wall).

Yesterday morning it was sunny with a bright blue sky. It was still cold outside but it wasn’t quite as bad as before the snowstorm. I managed to bring out my Elsa doll and placed her along a shoveled sidewalk area to give you an idea as to how deep the snow was in my area. (Elsa is about 11-12 inches tall, which makes her roughly the same height as Barbie.)

I also took a few photos of the wooded area that’s close to my home.

Later in the day I went to the local mall where I went to Jo-Ann’s Fabrics & Crafts because I needed to buy some new patches for my jeans. When I was standing in the checkout line I saw these really cute stuffed animals for Valentine’s Day that had these groan-inducing puns.

Right next to the llama on the right-hand side is The Perfect Man chocolate, which I remember actually buying from that same store five years earlier then blogging about it. I ended up not buying The Perfect Man this time around but I managed to buy a pack of glue sticks because I had a coupon (through the Jo-Ann smartphone app). The store also had a sale on a bundle of two pairs of fuzzy Christmas slipper socks. Each bundle was originally priced at $9.99 but they were 90% off so each bundle now costs $1 each. (Which meant that each pair of slipper socks only cost 50 cents per pair. Sweet!) I purchased two bundles because I only wear slipper socks in bed these days so I really don’t care if I’m wearing green and red Christmas socks in—let’s say—early March since I only intend to sleep in them and not wear them out in public.

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I thought I said everything that needed to be said when I wrote my original post on the 90th anniversary of Mickey Mouse. What I didn’t realize is that the photos I posted of various anniversary stuff (ranging from cookies to waffle irons) was just the beginning. I went back to Target last week and I saw that the store had more 90th anniversary Mickey Mouse stuff that I hadn’t seen before, starting with this 90th anniversary remote control Mickey car.

Target had a special box of small Mickey Mouse plushes that depict him in the various stages of his long and distinguished career.

The box even had a cute handle shaped like Mickey Mouse heads.

There were small vinyl 90th anniversary Mickeys that I hadn’t seen before.

Plus there were 90th anniversary Mickey Mouse Christmas ornaments.

There’s one surprise I found out about a Mickey item I had previously blogged about. I saw Mickey Mouse Steamboat Willie plushes at Target. What I didn’t realize is that this particular plush is also animatronic. If you press one of his hands, he’ll rock side to side and sing Steamboat Willie‘s opening theme song. I shot a short video showing this.

I wouldn’t be surprised if more 90th anniversary Mickey items will arrive in stores in the near future. In any case, I’m not going to write any more posts about the 90th anniversary Mickey Mouse unless I see something that’s incredibly unique and interesting. One could easily spend 40 hours a week trying to keep track of all of the 90th anniversary Mickey items that are out there and I just don’t have the time to do that at the moment.

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When I made my previous trip to Tyson’s Corner Mall last month, I had a few reasons for making that trip. One was to get away from my ongoing personal problems for a few hours. Another was to check out the 2018 Girl of the Year doll at American Girl Place. The third reason was because I wanted to see what kind of 90th anniversary Mickey Mouse items were on sale at The Disney Store. Well, I managed to achieve the first two goals but The Disney Store announced that the 90th anniversary stuff would not go on sale until the following month.

As it was getting closer to the 90th anniversary of Steamboat Willie I saw more and more Mickey stuff on sale at stores closer to my home. A few weeks ago I decided to make a follow-up trip to Tyson’s Corner where I hit pay dirt. Not only did The Disney Store had 90th anniversary Mickey stuff on sale but I saw that other stores sold Mickey stuff as well. I already documented the Mickey stuff I saw at Tyson’s Corner Mall in this recent blog post about the 90th anniversary. This post is dedicated to other things I shot while I was at Tyson’s Corner Mall they had nothing to do with Mickey Mouse or Disney.

On my last trip it was raining like crazy outside. This trip was sunny but it was very cold outside. (The temperature was just above the mid-30’s.) The weather was making a comeback from this nor’easter that hit the entire area the day before. (I ended up being stranded indoors at home so I did some drawing that day of a dinosaur for my recently finished animation The Gift of the Dinosaur.) The Metro Plaza outside of the mall entrance has these life-sized bird statues placed all over the area. The majority were of small birds like cardinals and mourning doves. I saw this large bird on the ground that I thought was real until I approached it and it didn’t move at all. (A real bird would’ve flown away.) I don’t recall seeing this particular statue before so it’s either a new statue or I just didn’t notice until this last trip.

The area was already looking pretty festive with an already decorated Christmas tree. (I visited this mall just a few days before Thanksgiving.)

I decided to check out American Girl Place. Since I took a boatload of photos the month before, I thought I wouldn’t feel the need to shoot any pictures. This store had some new displays and Christmas-related stuff so I basically focused on them.

Here are a couple of the modern Truly Me American Girl dolls and their dog showing off some winter outfits.

American Girl Place has its own Christmas tree, which looked pretty nice.

I personally prefer the historic BeForever dolls over their other dolls because I love the attention to detail regarding the doll sized miniature versions of items that were actually used in the years that the historical doll represents. Here’s the 1950s historical doll Maryellen Larkin in her cute Christmas outfit.

Some of the tiny ornaments and punch bowl reminded me of what I used to see in the homes of my family, neighbors, and relatives when I was growing up. (Even though I grew up in the 1970s, there were still plenty of 1950s and 1960s stuff that families still used in their homes. The attitude was that you used something until it breaks or wears out.)

I still have the red plastic cookie cutters that my mom used to bake Christmas sugar cookies when I was growing up. I haven’t baked any sugar cookies in a few years. Maybe I should think about making them again.

Melody Ellison, who represents the 1960s, looks adorable in her winter coat with matching hat and mittens.

Julie Albright, who represents the 1970s looks cute in her New Year’s Eve outfit.

Rebecca Rubin, who represents the 1910s, also looks adorable in her winter outfit.

Josefina Montoya, who represents the 1820s, looks pretty regal in her Christmas outfit.

Kit Kittredge, who represents the 1930s, also looks cute with her plaid dress, Christmas stocking, and sock monkey.

The last picture show more modern Truly Me dolls in their Christmas outfits.

I took a couple of photos of Build-A-Bear Workshop. I saw this sign announcing that Build-A-Bear now has its own online radio station that one can stream for free.

I saw this gorgeous reindeer that I fell in love with. If I had more disposable income, I probably would’ve made an impulse buy. Instead I had to settle with just taking a picture of this gorgeous reindeer.

I ate dinner at a Mongolian grill place called Asian Bistro. I found the food to be tasty. After I was done with walking the mall I decided to take the Metro back home. Since it gets darker these days, it was nighttime by the time I left so I saw everything lit up.

Barrel & Bushel had these flaming torches on its patio. In warmer weather there would be tables set out and people would be eating and drinking al fresco. I found these torches to be gorgeous. Unfortunately, these photos don’t do them justice. They looked far prettier in real life.

Like I wrote earlier, this giant nor’easter went through out area the day before dropping rain, ice, and snow. By the next day most of the ice and snow were melted, except for this one small pile of snow that was near the Christmas tree.

The Christmas tree looked gorgeous at night. It was lit up with a variety of rainbow colors.

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Ninety years ago today a struggling young animator named Walt Disney released this groundbreaking cartoon called Steamboat Willie. The rest is history.

It can be pretty hard to fathom how groundbreaking it was and it can also be pretty hard to fathom a time when Mickey Mouse wasn’t the biggest cartoon character. While there were animated cartoon shorts before Steamboat Willie, they were silents, which meant that there were no recorded music or dialogue. They were played in movie theaters where a piano player or organist would play the soundtrack live in the theater, just like they did with live action silent films. During the silent era the biggest cartoon star was Felix the Cat.

Many people think that Steamboat Willie was both the first sound cartoon ever made and Mickey Mouse’s first cartoon. It turns out not to be the case on both counts. There were some earlier attempts at making sound cartoons, most notably Max and Dave Fleischer’s Song Car-Tunes series and Van Beuren Studio’s Dinner Time but they didn’t catch on in the way that Steamboat Willie did.

Steamboat Willie was actually the third Mickey Mouse cartoon ever made. His first two cartoons, Plane Crazy and the Gallopin’ Gaucho, were made as silent animation films but they had failed to impress audiences and Walt Disney was unable to get a distributor for those two. Walt Disney came up with the idea of making a sound Mickey Mouse cartoon after the ground-breaking live action talking movie The Jazz Singer was released and it became a huge hit.

Had the people behind Felix the Cat gotten into making sound cartoons immediately after The Jazz Singer was released, it’s highly likely that Felix would’ve permanently quashed that cartoon rodent upstart Mickey and Steamboat Willie would’ve become a footnote in the history of animation. After all, Felix was the biggest cartoon star in the world while Mickey Mouse was a relative unknown. It’s very likely that Felix’s animation domination would have carried over into the sound era and Felix the Cat would have remained the biggest cartoon star today. People would be spending the day at a Felix the Cat theme park, visiting related Felix websites online, and buying all kinds of Felix the Cat merchandise ranging from clothes to toys to high-end designer handbags.

But the people behind Felix the Cat underestimated the potential of sound cartoons and talking pictures in general. They felt they already had a winning formula with Felix so why alter it? The fact that studio head Pat Sullivan suffered from alcoholism so bad that it affected his decision making and it ultimately took his life at an early age didn’t help. By the time there was an effort to start making Felix the Cat sound cartoons, Mickey Mouse had already overtaken him in popularity and the original studio folded. While there were short-lived attempts to revive Felix the Cat in the 1930’s (as a series of color cartoons with sound) and 1950’s (as a children’s TV cartoon show), Felix the Cat had never quite regained the immense popularity he lost from that disastrous decision to delay making sound cartoons. Next year is the 100th anniversary of the first Felix the Cat cartoon so we’ll see if there are any attempts to put Felix in the public eye again.

Earlier this year I realized that this year was the 90th anniversary of Steamboat Willie when I saw these specially marked Pepperdige Farms Goldfish Crackers on sale. I purchased a couple of them and I wrote this blog post about these special crackers (which featured crackers in the shape of the usual goldfish and special ones in the shape of Mickey Mouse’s head).

If it weren’t for these crackers I would have completely missed this anniversary. But this is Disney, a giant multinational corporation, and it wasn’t going to let people forget that this year is another one of those important anniversaries where the number ends in either 0 or 5. Since buying those crackers I’ve seen other Mickey stuff in the stores. At the local Giant grocery store there was this display of Little Golden Books featuring Mickey Mouse.

The same store had special Mickey Mouse Oreos for sale. I purchased one of those packs for the heck of it. Here is what the outside package looked like.

I opened the package and noticed how the chocolate part of the cookies were designed. One side of the cookie had the usual Oreo stamp on it.

The other side had one of three special designs that were especially made for this package. One design had Mickey Mouse wearing a party hat.

Another design had a megaphone surrounded by tiny Mickey Mouse heads.

A third design had the number “90” surrounded by tiny Mickey Mouse heads.

The cream in the cookies was a special flavor known as “Birthday Cake.” Basically the cream tasted like vanilla frosting and I found it to taste far sweeter than the normal Oreo cream. While I found the taste to be passible, I personally prefer the regular cream.

If that wasn’t enough, Giant also had this special issue of Life magazine on sale, which was full of photos of Mickey Mouse over the years.

The closer it got to the anniversary, the more 90th anniversary Mickey stuff came out at a rapid rate. Here’s what I found at Target.

Of course there would be a Mickey Mouse Bluray DVD featuring “Steamboat Willie” and other seminal Mickey cartoons.

There were some special Funko Pops featuring cute versions of Mickey Mouse in his famous cartoon roles. While I didn’t see a Steamboat Willie Funko Pop, I saw ones based on other cartoons like The Brave Little Taylor and “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” sequence in Fantasia.

There were some large plush stuffed animals based on the opening sequence in Steamboat Willie when Mickey was steering the steamboat.

There were smaller plush stuffed animals as well, which not only featured Mickey as he appeared in Steamboat Willie but as he appeared in other cartoons.

There were special blind boxes shaped like Mickey heads.

The list on the label shows the Mickey figurines that one could get inside of blind box. Of course you won’t know which Mickey you got until after you purchased this special box and take it home with you.

If buying blind boxes aren’t your thing, you could spend $24.99 and buy the complete set of Mickey Mouse figurines.

I saw some special Mickey Mouse fabrics from Jo-Ann’s Fabrics & Crafts, some of which feature Minnie Mouse as well. You could make yourself a special outfit with these special patterns.

There were other Mickey fabrics as well but I only wanted to highlight the ones that had the Steamboat Willie-era Mickeys.

There were 90th anniversary Mickey Mouse Christmas ornaments and housewares available for sale at CVS.

A couple of days ago I made a return trip to Tyson’s Corner Mall. I went to The Disney Store where I saw this sign featuring Mickey and Minnie announcing that its Black Friday sale was going on right now. (By the way, my various store apps on my smartphone were pushing notifications all this past week announcing “Black Friday Preview Sales” and stuff like that? Is having pre-Black Friday sales a thing now in retail? God help us!)

There was a sign announcing Mickey Mouse-inspired activities at The Disney Store all weekend long. I showed up on Friday but I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. Today they have a thing where the first 90 customers to make a purchase will get a special commemorative Mickey key. I’m financially struggling too much to go for something like that. Even if I could afford to buy something, I think I can live without a special commemorative Mickey key.

The back of the store was having continuous showings of Steamboat Willie with seats small enough for young children to sit on.

There was just one small area of the store that had the commemorative 90th anniversary stuff, most of which were geared towards adults, such as paperclips and business portfolio covers.

The Disney Store wasn’t the only place that had 90th anniversary Mickey Mouse stuff. The Build-A-Bear Workshop had a couple of special 90th anniversary Mickey plushies that one could have stuffed. One is Mickey wearing his “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” outfit.

The other one was a regular Mickey Mouse wearing his usual red shorts. Like the other Mickey, this one had special soles on his shoes that were marked 90th anniversary. (The Mickey in this photo was unstuffed.)

Lolli and Pops had imported Mickey Mouse candy with the packaging written in some Asian language. (I couldn’t tell which language it was. I think it was either Japanese or Korean.)

Macy’s had these special 90th anniversary Mickey Mouse Ray-Ban sunglasses.

The only thing about these sunglasses that I didn’t like was the fact that Mickey Mouse was visible from inside of the sunglasses frames—the frames that other people wouldn’t normally see. What’s the use of paying more money for something that can’t be seen by other people? I might as well buy regular black-framed sunglasses without Mickey Mouse lining on the inside.

Sugarfina is an upscale candy store that had 90th anniversary Mickey Mouse candy on sale. I thought about buying a Mickey Mouse dark chocolate candy bar only to find out that their candy bars cost $9.50 each. And that’s the starting price of the candy in that store.

There was a store that sold 90th anniversary Mickey Mouse watches, clocks, and backpacks.

There were a lot of stuff for the 90th anniversary that one could buy. I can only imagine what it will be like 10 years from now when the 100th anniversary comes up in 2028. While we’re on the subject, here’s one fact that frequently gets overlooked: This year is also the 90th anniversary of Minnie Mouse, Mickey’s longtime girlfriend. That’s right, she appeared in the first two silent Mickey cartoons and she also appeared in Steamboat Willie. She’s been a regular in most Mickey Mouse cartoons since.

UPDATE (December 3, 2018): Over a week after I wrote this post, new 90th birthday Mickey Mouse stuff arrived at my local Target that I haven’t seen before. You can check them out right here.

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Today’s prompt word for Inktober is “chop.” It was yet another prompt word that I struggled with until I remembered a character from my childhood. Lamb Chop was a puppet that was operated by Shari Lewis. Lamb Chop had a childlike voice and she was pretty cute. I used to see her and Shari Lewis guest star on various TV shows. Shari Lewis died in 1998 but I learned through the Wikipedia that Shari’s daughter, Mallory Lewis, now operates the puppet. She has the performing rights to Lamb Chop while DreamWorks have the main legal rights now.

I wrote some information about Lamb Chop below the drawing mainly because I wasn’t sure if younger people would have even gotten the reference. That’s because Shari Lewis has been dead for 20 years and I haven’t heard much about Lamb Chop since her death. But then, just a week or two ago, long after I did the initial pencil draft and inking of the outlines and lettering of this drawing, I happened to be doing some grocery shopping at Giant when I saw these Halloween-themed plush squeak toys for dogs.

Yes, it’s Lamb Chop wearing a witch hat in a variety of colors. It’s nice to know that Lamb Chop haven’t been entirely forgotten.

Just seven more days and seven more drawings until Inktober 2018 ends.

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All those months of dealing with my ex-husband ending all further alimony payments, getting one job where I was promised that I would eventually get full-time hours only to not being able to even get 20 hours a week after working there for four months while the boss was job hunting himself, and only being able to get freelance piecemeal work began to take a personal toll on me. I really wanted to take a vacation for just a day or two but I couldn’t afford to do it so I was trapped. But then I got my current gig where I was helping a therapist prepare for a series of upcoming webinars that are slated to begin next month so I managed to get just enough money in that I could do something fun.

However the best I was able to afford was taking the Metro to Tyson’s Corner Center in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia. It was better than nothing so I decided to go for it. It was raining heavily that day but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. Besides, I was riding a Metrobus to the nearest Metro subway stop so I didn’t have to worry about driving on slippery roads. I rode the Silver Line Metro to the Mall. When I arrived at the plaza that has the entrances that are located the closest to the Metro station, I noticed that it looked pretty deserted due to the rain.

That’s in contrast to past visits where, depending on the time of the year, there is usually some kind of activities for people to participate in, whether it’s playing with a giant chess set or a giant ice skating rink.

I found out that this year is the 50th anniversary of Tyson’s Corner Center and there were signs touting this fact everywhere.

I walked past the Microsoft Store. I can count the number of times I’ve actually stepped inside of that store on one hand. I walked past the entrance but I didn’t go inside on this trip.

I’ll admit that I only went to this mall for a change in scenery. I didn’t do much shopping because money was still too tight for me at the moment. I basically shot photos of whatever appealed to me at the time.

At least I found out that Golden Girls socks are actually a thing this year.

Pez dispensers have always been a bit on the kitschy side but Pez has really outdid itself with pink flamingoes Pez dispensers.

I made a brief stop inside of the Apple Store, where I saw the latest computers with the large monitors.

I also got a look at the new iPhone XS, which has received a lot of press for its over $1,000 price tag. I have to admit that the iPhone XS has nice sharp graphics on its screen. If the phone allowed for people to do their own upgrades (such as adding more memory or replacing the hard drive) it would be one thing but, as far as I can tell, this smartphone is just like all of the others where you can’t even open your own phone and it will ultimately be disposable once it stops working completely. I’m going to stick with my Samsung Galaxy J3 phone for the time being.

I came across this kiosk that I haven’t seen on previous visits. It’s for a store called b8ta and it sells a mix of Google products and technology products that are created by smaller companies.

I made a brief stop inside of Build-A-Bear Workshop where I saw these cute Halloween plushies and a brontosaurus on display.

I eventually made my way to the American Girl Place. I haven’t been there since last December so there were plenty of new things to see. I saw that Felicity Merriman, the historical doll who’s supposed to represent the American Revolution era, has been taken out of retirement and is now available for sale once again. She’s on display with Addy Walker (who represents the American Civil War period) and Samantha Parkington (who represents the first few years of the 20th century that’s known as the Edwardian Era).

Here’s another historical doll, Nanea Mitchell (who represents Hawaii around the time of the Pearl Harbor bombing) with some new accessories available for sale.

Maryellen Larkin, who represents the 1950s, relaxes in her trailer, which is sold separately from the doll. The details of this trailer are pretty impeccable.

Kit Kittredge, who represents the Great Depression, sits behind her newly released vegetable stand.

Last year I saw Z Yang for the first time. Even though she’s a contemporary doll, this one caught my eye because she’s into photography and videography like I am. I learned that she is among the dolls who will be retired soon. I would say that I’m sorry to see her go but I’m still a bit cash-strapped at the moment so there was no way I could afford this doll and her accessories. There is also the issue of space because I really don’t have enough room to have a huge collection of large dolls.

This doll in the next photo was a bit of a surprise. Gabriela McBride was released last year as American Girl’s Girl of the Year Doll for 2017. Usually the Girl of the Year doll is on sale only from January 1-December 31 then she is retired. I was surprised to see that she was still around in 2018. I still remember last year the times I tried to take her picture but the first time I failed because the phone on my previous smartphone (Droid Ultra) began to act erratically and it wouldn’t take any photos while I was at the store yet it finally worked after I returned home. The second time I brought my older Canon DSLR with me but that effort failed because I had to be elsewhere and I shot photos at that other place before I arrived at the mall and I ran out of battery power by the time I arrived. My smartphone worked miraculously until I got to Gabriela McBride and my smartphone camera decided to stop working. The third time was finally the charm when I arrived last December with a Canon PowerShot camera that I purchased used off eBay and I took some photos of that doll and her accessories without a hitch. I thought that she would be retired at the end of 2017 just like her Girl of the Year predecessors but it wasn’t the case with her.

The country singing pair of Tenney Grant and her friend Logan Everett were also slated for retirement but I didn’t bother with taking their pictures. I had already shot them and their accessories on a previous visit and there wasn’t anything new with those two.

I managed to check out the 2018 Girl of the Year. Her name is Luciana Vega, she’s a Latina, she’s into STEM, and her big dream is to work for NASA so she could go to Mars.

American Girl went all out with the space theme. In fact, one of my Facebook friends who works for NASA was posting approvingly about this doll earlier this year. (He’s the father of two daughters—both of whom are now young adults—and I’m sure he would’ve bought this doll for them if they were still kids.)

Seeing this doll in person I have to say that she’s gorgeous and her clothes are literally out of this world. (If there were ever human adult versions of her dresses, I would definitely want to buy them.) She has gorgeous black hair with a purple streak in it. If I weren’t so cash-strapped, I would definitely feel tempted to buy this doll.

Her accessories, which are sold separately, includes things like astronaut ice cream and a replica of an Apple Watch.

There are corresponding books, one of which comes with the doll and the other two are sold separately. A few days before I came to Tyson’s Corner I was at the library where I saw a young girl checking out a pile of books, including one of the Luciana books.

Among her separately sold play sets is one that resembles a STEM makerspace. There is even a cute robot dog.

If it weren’t for the fact that this STEM maker station cost $100, I would say that it would be a cool thing to purchase for the local makerspace in my area for the kids to play with.

I thought that this robot dog came with the maker station but I found out that this robodoggie is sold separately for $35.

There is also a space telescope so Luciana could look up at the stars.

Then there is this NASA space laboratory and a NASA space suit for Luciana to wear. I can understand why my Facebook friend was gushing about Luciana online. In fact, this capsule reminds me of my ex-husband, who works for NASA. If we were still together, I definitely would’ve urged him to go to the American Girl Place with me so he could see this in person. I also would’ve told him that we could stop off at Wasabi afterwards because I was trying to get him to consider the two of us eating there before he abruptly left me just three days after Christmas and three months after my hip surgery in 2011. (I had gone to Wasabi for the first time when I was still married in October, 2011 but I went by myself that time.)

The details of this capsule are pretty astounding. My ex-husband definitely would’ve gotten a kick out of it if he had seen it for himself in person.

Yes, it’s sad that visiting the American Girl Place so we could see this NASA space laboratory together is another thing I’ll never get to do with my ex-husband but that’s the way things go.

My ex-husband was never into dolls and normally I would never have been able to get him to even step one foot inside of that door. I think I may have gotten him to make a rare exception and actually visit a doll store because he definitely would’ve been impressed with the painstaking details of this NASA space laboratory.

Luciana is totally rocking this astronaut space suit.

For families who want to purchase Luciana and her accessories but who are cash-strapped, there are Mega Construx kit versions.

Like other Girl of the Year dolls, the American Girl Place has a designated space where people can have their selfies taken with a standee of Luciana Vegan and a space capsule.

The sign said to turn the handle and look inside but the door handle was broken when I was there.

The best I was able to do was to shoot through the door window.

American Girl sold separate Washington, DC souvenir t-shirts for dolls. They also had matching shirts for their human owners as well but I only shot the doll shirts.

I didn’t spend much time in the store beyond Luciana and the BeForever historical dolls. But I saw this car that looked cool. It reminded me of that Volkswagen that American Girl came out for the 1970s historical doll Julie Albright a few years back.

I also shot these two outfits that were released just in time for the upcoming winter holiday trio of Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa.

After my visit to the American Girl Place I ate a sushi dinner at Wasabi, which is the place that delivers food on conveyor belts and you could pick which plates you want.

After dinner I walked around the mall a bit. I found a temporary Halloween store that was selling costumes. This year they have costumes based on that mega-popular video game Fortnite. (I’ve seen kids play that game and they can’t seem to get enough of it. I haven’t tried it myself as of this writing.)

I did get a chuckle out of this obvious parody of My Little Pony‘s Rainbow Dash, even though I know nothing about Fortnite‘s Rainbow Smash.

They also had two costumes based on the late artist and TV personality Bob Ross. A couple of friends or lovers could dress up together as Bob Ross and one of his paintings, which I find hilarious.

Just a few feet away from the Halloween store is a Christmas store. This is crazy. Halloween and Thanksgiving haven’t even happened yet and there is already a Christmas store.

Just a few days after I took this shot of these Grinch ornaments I learned that someone is coming out with yet another remake of How the Grinch Stole Christmas that will be shown on the big screen. I guess that’s why there was a display of these ornaments. I personally think that doing yet another remake is so unnecessary. I have the original 1960’s TV special on DVD so I can always play that one on my TV screen instead of paying over $10 to see the remake in a movie theater.

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Previous in This Series

A Shot of a Ferris Wheel on the Day Before the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, August 30, 2018
2018 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2018

I decided to blow off church that morning because I wanted to enter some of my work to the Retro Town Fair, which was held at the Greenbelt Museum as part of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival. I decided to focus on my crochet amigurumi creatures. I submitted my Sagittarius Dolly amigurumi who is now serving as this blog’s mascot.

You can read more about the making of this amigurumi (including the materials I used) right here.

I originally decided to submit just the Sagittarius Dolly amigurumi but, at the last minute, I decided to enter this amigurumi bunny I had made a few months ago.

You can learn more about the making of this bunny rabbit right here.

The night before I had an acid reflux attack in the middle of the night stemming from the fact that I was walking around in horrible heat prior to yesterday’s rainstorm that produced this lovely rainbow and that large cheese crab pretzel I ate for dinner didn’t help. So I didn’t get a good night’s sleep but I forced myself to consume diet soda so I could get enough caffeine to function despite the lack of sleep.

The Retro Town Fair accepted entries between 10-11 a.m. with the show running from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. I found that the free shuttle service going to and from the festival wasn’t starting until noon, which would’ve been too late to submit anything so I took the car down to the festival area early in the morning, where I had no problem with finding parking. (Mainly because I arrived before the festival started.) The weather was humid but it was in the low 80’s so it was barely tolerable for walking to the Greenbelt Museum. I shot these two photos on my way to the museum.

2018 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

2018 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

For lunch I ate this Lebanese Mountain Bread with cheese that was from the booth of a new Lebanese restaurant that will be opening in Greenbelt soon called Cedars of Lebanon. It tasted delicious. It also agreed with my digestion system better than that cheese crab pretzel I ate for dinner the day before. I ate it at one of the tables outside the Greenbelt Makerspace.

After lunch I walked around. That day was the first day of the craft show where local artisans sold their wares.

2018 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The weather had also gotten worse. It went up to the high 90’s with very high humidity. Walking around the craft show in high heat reminded me of what happened five years ago when I participated in the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival craft show and it was the same kind of weather. It was such as disaster for me on a financial level that I vowed that I would never work that show again. Here is what this year’s craft show was like. Note the lack of shoppers.

2018 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

I can understand what these vendors went through because I once had a similar experience myself.

Walking around the carnival midway area was like walking through Hades. I took one photo of this ride in action because it was just too hot to take extensive outdoor photos.

2018 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

I attempted to play a round of Bingo since all of the picnic tables were moved to either underneath a large tree or there were portable folding shade tents erected around the tables. But even in the shade I couldn’t stand to play more than one round because the heat really got to me.

2018 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

I felt so overheated that I decided to sit in the Greenbelt Library, which is usually open on Sundays. Except I saw a sign on the door saying that the library was closed on Sunday and Monday. So I walked next door to the Greenbelt Community Center where I just sat on a bench surfing the Internet with my smartphone. At least it was air conditioned. I was also totally exhausted. Normally I can walk around the festival with no problem at all. Thanks to the lack of sleep, the high heat, and high humidity, I felt like I had ran an marathon and I was feeling stiff all over.

I decided to walk over to the Greenbelt Museum a bit early so I can check out the Retro Town Fair and take advantage of the fact that it was free admission day. (The admission is usually $5 but I couldn’t resist the temptation of free admission.) So I arrived at the Retro Town Fair, which was held outside of the museum.

2018 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

2018 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

2018 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

2018 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

I came upon my own entries in the Retro Town Fair.

2018 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

I found that both of my amigurumi pieces won a third place ribbon in the Needlework category, which was pretty awesome.

2018 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

After I toured the Retro Town Fair, I had time to kill so I decided to tour the Greenbelt Museum. I last toured the Greenbelt Museum back in 2012. It turned out to be an awkward experience because my husband had walked out on me late in 2011 (three days after Christmas and three months after I underwent hip surgery). I decided to tour that museum because I had lived in this area for many years and I had never visited that museum even though I live close to it. Plus it was offering free admission so I decided to go for it. I saw the initial introductory movie and the volunteer who was going to serve as my tour guide was coordinating with other volunteers regarding giving me the tour. One of them told my tour guide that a previous couple were almost done with touring the museum and they were going to leave in a couple of minutes.

As I documented in this blog post, at the moment when the tour guide and I arrived at the entrance to the door where the tour would begin, the door opened and it was none other than my husband and the woman he left me for holding hands. They saw me, said “Hi,” and walked past me quickly. I was shaken to the core and I remained shaken as the volunteer guide gave me a tour of the house. I couldn’t focus on the tour at all because of seeing my husband and that woman just nine months after he left me for her.

Last year a water main broke inside of the museum, which caused flooding. The flooring had to be replaced and some of the furniture had to be repaired. The museum was reopened just a few months ago. I decided to tour the museum again in order to see what the renovations were like plus I wanted to duck inside of the air conditioning for a bit while I waited for the Retro Town Fair to end so I could pick up my amigurumi pieces and my new third place ribbon.

This time I had joined a small tour group. We went inside and the volunteer tour guide initially led us inside of the living room but then she herded us inside of the adjacent kitchen because another group had just finished its tour and they were about ready to leave and they needed enough space for them to exit through the living room.

While the tour guide was showing us around the kitchen, I heard a familiar voice. At first I thought, “There’s no way that my ex-husband could be on a tour right before mine for the second time at the same museum.” I looked out the kitchen door and I saw my ex-husband and that other woman (whom he married just two months after our divorce was final in 2013) walk out the door. This time they didn’t see me because I was in the adjacent kitchen and they were walking fast.

I couldn’t believe that both times I took advantage of the free admission during the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, I saw my ex-husband. I’m definitely going to re-think the idea of visiting during free admission, because I really don’t want to keep on encountering my ex-husband nor his wife. Saving on the $5 admission fee isn’t really worth it if I have to continue seeing the Backstabbing Couple From Hell every single time.

Well, anyway, I wasn’t quite as shaken to the core this time as I was back in 2012. I know it’s because I had to get used to the fact that I’m now divorced and I’ll never reconcile with my ex-husband. (To be honest, I wouldn’t want to reconcile with him now that he has a proven track record of sexually preying on mentally ill women like the the woman who is now his second wife. If we were to somehow reunite, it would only take another mentally ill woman to move into our area before my ex would leave me for her and the whole drama would start all over again.)

During the tour I took some photos with my smartphone since there was all kinds of vintage furniture, magazines, and other vintage stuff. (This home has been made up to reconstruct what a 1930s home was like at the time that Greenbelt was founded as a planned community providing housing for low-income families at the height of the Great Depression.)

2018 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

2018 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

2018 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

2018 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

2018 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

2018 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

2018 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

2018 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

2018 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

2018 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

2018 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

2018 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

2018 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

2018 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

2018 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

2018 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

2018 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

2018 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

2018 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

2018 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

2018 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

2018 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

2018 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

2018 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

2018 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

2018 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The museum had this Eleanor Roosevelt cloth doll on sale in its gift shop.

2018 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

Once the tour ended I hung around in the adjacent townhouse that the museum had recently acquired and it is currently in the process of turning into a new place for the gift shop as well as a place where workshops could be held. I socialized with one of the volunteers for a bit while I waited for the 4 p.m. closing of the Retro Town Fair so I could pick up my crocheted creatures.

The time finally came for the event to end so I picked up my crocheted creatures along with the third place ribbon and made the hot trek back to my car. It was a totally miserable walk with the sun bearing down on me along with the high heat and high humidity. I left the festival as soon as I could because I was so overheated and I was also stiff and sore. The heat made walking way more difficult than usual.

I made only one non-food purchase the entire weekend I was at the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival. I purchased a bar of soap at the craft show from a vendor known as Uncle Rick’s Natural Soap.

2018 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

2018 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

Next in This Series

2018 Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 3, 2018
2018 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2018
The Day After the End of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 4, 2018

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I had a pretty busy Sunday on July 15, 2018. I went carpooling with one friend to church where there was a Tye-Dye Sunday scheduled. By the time I got home from church I turned around and went carpooling with a different friend to this meetup that took place in Rockville.

CoderDojo is basically a global network that provides free computer programming clubs to young people. My friend thought it would be good for me to check this out, especially since I worked as an assistant facilitator with the Takoma Park chapter of Girls Who Code over the past year.

The Washington, DC chapter of CoderDojo meets at the Rockville Public Library in Rockville, Maryland. I had never stepped foot inside this building before but I have to admit that it’s very impressive.

There was an art show going on featuring art done by local youths. It brought back memories of the first time my elementary school art teacher had selected one of my art projects to be shown at the Anne Arundel County Art Show that was displayed at the since-demolished Harundale Mall.

The CoderDojo met in a room on the second floor of the library, which is a designated STEM center. That room had an array of all kinds of stuff that one would normally find in a makerspace (such as computers and robots) but there was some pretty cool STEM-themed art as well.

The meeting started off with a presentation about what computing was like back in the 1990s (when the Computer Internet revolution was just beginning). I enjoyed it because I remember those days like they happened yesterday. There was a mention of using modems attached to telephone wires in order to access the Internet at a blistering 9600 bps.

I enjoyed the presentation very much. Once that ended, the kids started to work on their own projects while parents and other adult volunteers went around helping the kids with their latest projects.

By the time that meetup ended it was closing time for the library. My friend and I were heading back towards the parking garage by cutting through Rockville Town Square when I shot this photo of some kids playing in the fountain.

I also discovered that there was an It’s Sugar store located in Rockville. I had previously visited It’s Sugar in Baltimore and Chinatown in Washington, DC and I managed to convince my friend to stop in the Rockville store for a brief visit, where I shot these photos.

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UCLA has a digital archive of over 1,800 children’s books dating from 1728-1999.

Americans are receiving unordered parcels from Chinese e-criminals and they can’t do anything to stop them.

An explanation on what is an animation pipeline.

A study shows that most artists make very little money, with women faring the worst.

Galapagos finches are caught in the act of becoming a new species.

Why incompetent people think they are amazing: An animated lesson from David Dunning (of the famous Dunning-Kruger Effect).

True self-care is not salt baths and chocolate cake, it is making the choice to build a life you don’t need to regularly escape from.

Time capsule letters from the 18th century found in the butt of a Jesus statue.

Check out these crochet amigurumi toys based on video game characters like Plants vs. Zombies and Super Mario Bros.

Everything you always wanted to know about the Krampus but were afraid to ask.

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