Desperately Seeking Solutions

1 Dec


Hello all. I believe that it was Mrs Anderson of Andersons All-Purpose who once said that a blog destined to go no further usually has a long break in between posts, then an enthusiastic post featuring an apology for the long silence with a firm promise to post more in future … And then, nothing. (She put it better than me – I’m paraphrasing because I can’t find it right now). I smiled when I read it, because I’ve noticed this many times. However, now that it’s happening to me, it’s not so funny. I don’t want to be that person! I’ve put a lot of work into Barbiebeauties and got to know a lot of great people by doing it, and I’d rather not let it just taper off.

But I’ve not been posting, have I? Here’s the problem – Barbiebeauties has been annoying me recently. I started writing it pretty much at the start of my return to doll collecting four years ago and as a result, it’s grown organically, like my collection. This means that much of it is wrong – just wrong. I don’t mind the changes in opinion that you’d find if you go back far enough. I don’t mind the poorer quality of the older pics. I don’t even mind having my battle against (and my eventual defeat by) the desire to diversify documented. Still, it’s all terribly disorganised! For instance, do you know that I actually have no category for Lea dolls, despite having written well over thirty posts about them? Even the blog name isn’t accurate any more, as I post as many Monster High dolls as I do Barbies. This might not seem like a big deal to you – or maybe it does. Presumably, you’re also a collector, and collectors have a strange and intense relationship with the drive to organise. If you don’t have a system of some kind, it’s basically just a big pile of stuff, isn’t it? Well, Barbiebeauties has always been my system, and also my motivator. Up until recently that is.

Which brings me to another part of the problem: I have always liked to use Barbiebeauties as a way of cataloguing my collection, but it can take me four or five hours to photograph and write a post about each new doll. This year has been a year of car boot sales and extraordinary finds, as well as some fantastic new releases and many doll gifts from my generous partner, and I just can’t keep up with cataloguing the new recruits. I don’t tend to debox until I am ready to post, which leads to a backlog of boxed dolls which hang around until I’ve practically forgotten about them. Lastly, too often the choice seems to be – do I make something, or write a post? I’ve been sewing more and more recently, and I really enjoy it. But with a job, a partner, a five year old, three cats, two guinea pigs, three tortoises and an enormous snail (yes, really) to factor in, that’s a choice I really have to make, and just recently I’ve been choosing to make things. I need my blog to fit around my interests, not vice versa.

I know – whinge whinge. I don’t expect anybody to care about any of this except me and I’ve only written this as an attempt to offer some kind of explanation to the lovely souls who follow me, especially those who have been leaving me kind, concerned messages. I should have answered, it was unbearably rude not to, and I apologise. I just didn’t want to come back without a solution, and I didn’t have one. I’m still not sure if I do.

Here at Barbiebeauties, we are, to coin a bit of corporate-speak, “solution-focused”. Here are some of my proposed solutions:

1. I just need to chill out a little bit. Relax about it, and make some changes to my format. I know a lot of this is in my head. So what if I don’t do just one or two dolls per post and keep up with featuring my acquisitions? I actually hate writing reviews (I like to write about whatever interests me rather than general overviews, because I’m selfish like that) and this is where the “one or two dolls a post” approach leads. Plenty of doll bloggers just write about what they’ve been doing with their collection that week, or month, or whatever. Maybe I should be doing that – more of a “dear diary” kind of approach. And if I can get my categories right, the cataloguing will then take care of itself.

2. I don’t even know if it’s possible, but at least I could look into updating my categories and my tags, and work my way through the old posts. Yes, it’s a big job but I started a similar exercise on Instagram recently and I got a surprisingly long way in a surprisingly short time (heheh, got myself blocked doing it too, but that’s another story – I’m currently posting from @the_plastic_strikes_back instead of @intheplastic in case you’re interested).

3. More wordless posts. I’ve come to realise that sometimes I just like taking pictures, so maybe sometimes I’ll just take pictures … They’re quicker too.

4. Stop delaying deboxing until posting. Why have I been doing this anyway? I don’t know, probably just because the pictures of the boxed doll get “lost” in my massive collection of dolly pics. Still, it’s silly. And it annoys me. No more!

Any other suggestions/ comments/ observations are welcome, by the way. Please let me know what you think, I’m interested.

Anyhoo, enough navel contemplation. Would you like to see some more of the doll in the picture above?




I gave this Fashion Fever Drew a makeover recently, this is what she looked like before:


As soon as I saw her, I thought of early Madonna, but she’s been in my doll drawers for the longest time. Then I decided to do her for a doll challenge (@dollphotogallery if you’re interested, check it out, nice friendly hosts, it’s fun) on Instagram. It nearly killed me, but I got stubborn about it. This is what I did:

* Boil permed her hair, I did it messily on purpose btw!
* repainted her eyes blue and gave her the famous beauty spot
* rebodied her to a Fashionista – how could she have got into the groove otherwise?
* made her a corset top out of a bra closure
* pierced her ear and made her an earring out of beads – also made her a necklace out of some cheap dangly earrings and a cheap pearl bracelet
* the most time-consuming bit – I made a copy of her jacket and embroidered the back. I was quite proud of this, it’s definitely the most effort I have ever put into an item of doll clothing:


So anyway, I hope you like it. I certainly work harder with a deadline!

Back to the blogging issue. I can’t make any promises that this DEFINITELY isn’t another one of those apology posts to be followed by a big silence, but I don’t think it is – that’s all I can say about that. After all, its Christmas soon, which is always a nice time to be posting. My plan is to return later this week with some round-ups of what I’ve been up to while I’ve been away …


31 Responses to “Desperately Seeking Solutions”

  1. jocey dyson December 1, 2014 at 10:50 pm #

    I hope you are enjoying all your wonderful posts. They are great from the earliest ones to this one with the gorgeous Madonna. The photos, your models, fashion and the settings together with your refreshing insights and comments. They are fun to read.

    • barbielea December 1, 2014 at 11:44 pm #

      Thanks so much Jocey – that’s so very kind of you. I really appreciate it πŸ™‚

  2. discodiva1979 December 1, 2014 at 11:39 pm #

    It’s definitely obvious why you love to sew & make things. The jacket is devine
    where did you get the embroidery inspiration? Thank you for sharing your handmade treasures. As always, looking forward to your enlightening doll posts!!

    • barbielea December 1, 2014 at 11:45 pm #

      Thank you very much Discodiva. I find sewing very relaxing and I enjoy the challenge of working out how to do things. The jacket is a copy of the jacket worn by Madonna in this film:

  3. sailingmartha December 2, 2014 at 12:19 am #

    Your doll makeover turned out fabulous! She is gorgeous! I don’t have any solution to the blog problem as I am a failed blogger myself. As far as my dolls, all I do is keep an inventory document on my computer and every time I get a new one I make a note of it. I think it’s fine to not have a completely systematic approach to your blog – I enjoy eclectic blogs, and I also enjoy wordless posts. I think it’s fun to just see what other people are into.

    • barbielea December 2, 2014 at 7:48 am #

      Thanks so much sailingmartha! I thought about doing a doll database myself – maybe I should, maybe that would take some of the pressure off and stop me feeling like I have to feature everything. I’ll definitely think about this. See, you did have a solution after all πŸ™‚

  4. Taswegian1957 December 2, 2014 at 12:30 am #

    I think the Madonna makeover looks great. I just want to say that you don’t have to apologise for having a life. Blogging is meant to be fun and so is doll collecting. You shouldn’t have your enjoyment of them spoiled by guilt. I don’t want to be that person who starts a blog and then leaves it for ages either. In fact one of the reasons I started mine was to see if I could keep it up. I’ve not been going for as long as you but I get what you mean about feeling that the blog needs to change. Some of my earlier pictures I don’t like so much now. I have tried to keep the tags and categories in order to make posts easy to find but every now and then I find that I need to add a new one because my blog features all kinds of dolls although Barbie is probably more than half of it.
    I think the solutions that you have come up with will probably work but don’t stress over it if you can’t post long posts every week. Nice to see you back anyway.

    • barbielea December 2, 2014 at 8:05 am #

      Ah, it’s not the lack of posts I feel guilty about so much as not answering people’s comments , especially my regular commenters. I didn’t mean to let it go so long, but I shouldn’t have done.

      Are you going to keep your earlier posts and pictures? Personally, I don’t mind the earlier posts that I did – you live and learn, don’t you, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. I might delete one or two of the really awful ones (early makeovers – I never want to think about them again!). I completely understand about the tags and categories – they drive me mad!

      Mostly, as you say, I think I’m just going to have to accept that there might be times where I can’t post as much as I’d like. Grrr … Thanks x

      • Taswegian1957 December 2, 2014 at 9:15 am #

        I think most of us feel bad if we don’t reply to comments. I would keep my early posts it’s good to see the progression of the blog. One day I might go through and delete photos I don’t like and replace them with better ones but I am focussing more on adding new content than revising old right now. I have been looking at the photos I have that I haven’t posted and a lot of them I would delete now. I’m thinking of rephotographing most of my dolls eventually as I have a better camera now than I had when I started doing this.

  5. Teresa B December 2, 2014 at 5:26 am #

    Oh I am so glad you are back! Your readers will follow along with you no matter what you do with your blog. I am an organization freak so I can hear you there. Maybe create tags at the side of your page like “Lea” and “Frankie Stein” would help. Although I’m not the blog master but that’s what I would do. And posts with just pictures are just fine! Its your blog and your collection, post what you like! I love your jacket. I don’t know what the design is called, all I know its on the back of our US dollar bills πŸ˜‰ It totally works with your doll’s style! I’ve been wanting to try a boil perm with one of my dolls. Do you use straws or actual perm rods? I’ve seen both but I don’t have the actual perm rods…

    • barbielea December 2, 2014 at 8:20 am #

      Hi Teresa! I hope you are well? I have been periodically lurking on your blog, you know. I need to catch up with it! Yes, that’s just what I want to do with the tags, but I’m not sure how to alter categories or of it’s even possible, I’ll have to read up on it.

      Yes, I heard that the back of the jacket is a design from a dollar bill πŸ™‚ I just read my post back and I didn’t do a very good job of explaining that it’s the jacket Madonna wore in “Desperately Seeking Susan”, did I? Haha it mustn’t have occurred to me that not everybody will have seen this, or remember it! It made a big impression on me when I was a kid, I thought it was the coolest thing ever …

      I use straws to boil perm rather than perm rods. I do have some small perming curlers but I find the curls come out quite fat, which isn’t always what I want, and unless the hair is a very even length you get tufty bits that stick out of them. I secure my straws with at least three hairgrips, to make sure nothing escapes, which you can’t do with the curlers. I repeat though – I messed this one up on purpose to get that very 80s “birds nest” kind of look – I can do it neater than this, honest I can!! πŸ™‚

      • Teresa B December 3, 2014 at 6:25 am #

        Nice! I had no idea it was a Madonna jacket. Its awesome! And the hair looks very 80’s as well. I love the 80’s workout wear myself. I have been well, baby’s been active, can’t wait to see his cute little face πŸ™‚

      • barbielea December 3, 2014 at 8:53 am #

        Omg! Exciting times!! That’s great news x

  6. Night Owl December 2, 2014 at 9:34 am #

    Hi! First of all I LOVE your makeover, the jacket is awesome, and the doll’s look too. I saw the movie, and at the time enjoyed it very much :-). I don’t follow your blog for very long yet, but I enjoy reading your posts even if I don’t comment often. I understand some of your issues with blogging. My first blog was not what I wanted, so I stopped it, and I started a new blog that is much more what I like. I don’t feel obligated to post many times a month anymore, and sometimes I don’t want to “talk” much either, so it’s about the photographs then. If you adjust the things you don’t like on your blog, and take the time you need to do it, I think you will feel much better. I really like what you’re doing here!

    • barbielea December 2, 2014 at 10:24 am #

      Thankyou for the vote of confidence Night Owl! I’m glad you like the doll too πŸ™‚


      • Andrea December 2, 2014 at 5:15 pm #

        I’m so glad you are back and fine! Your makeover is beautiful and Madonna’s jacket just turned out awesome. You did very well.

        You don’t need to apologize. Life tends to get in the way sometimes and real life comes first before dolly life. Don’t we all have periodic preferences in our doll hobby, when we emphasize on making stuff, playing or acquiring new pieces?

        Organizing a doll collection is very time consuming, especially with limited space. I keep a list of my dolls on the computer and, for the ones who have to live in boxes, I keep a list of who is in wich box. Maybe not the best way of organzing, but it keeps me from wasting time searching in the wrong place.

        I thought of starting a blog myself a couple of times, but I never did. I was always busy enough with making stuff for my dolls, collecting, make the preloved ones pretty again and organzing. I just felt, that I could not keep it up to post regularly a couple of times a week and still enjoy it – fearing it would become a burdon then. I really admire those who can do this and still find the time to enjoy their treasures.

        I’m sure you will figure it out eventually. Take your time making the changes you want. Though I love your writing and your sense of humor, I’m just fine with your dolly pictures as well.

        Dolly hugs

      • barbielea December 3, 2014 at 10:11 am #

        Hello Andrea! And thankyou so much x you are quite right, sometimes we just feel like doing other stuff for a bit. But I did miss Barbiebeauties and the input from my regular commenters! I think it would have been a mistake to give up on Barbiebeauties entirely. If I come to make the changes I want to make and they are not feasible, I’ll probably just move to a different blog …

        As I said to Sailingmartha, I think that it would help if I set up a system a bit like yours, and it would solve some other problems I have too (struggling to remember where the doll I am looking for is, for instance). I appreciate that it’s terribly time consuming, but I think the way I’m doing it at the moment (ie a post per doll) is harder, as well as being less organised. Do you use database software or a spreadsheet or something? At the moment I’m thinking of a private Flickr album for each drawer, that way I can have a headshot of each doll available without having to dig through the drawers. I don’t know, I’ll have to think about I some more.

        I completely appreciate your reasons – trust me, I really do! – but it’s a shame you don’t blog, just because I bet your collection is pretty amazing!

        Sent from my iPhone


  7. kewpie83 December 2, 2014 at 4:59 pm #

    I know what you mean about having lost control of tags, categories, etc. One of my resolutions is to really go through mine with a fine tooth comb and get them organized. When I started blogging, I went tag crazy and now I’m paying for that misstep! πŸ™‚ And we’ve all posted our fair share of “I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry… for not updating,” posts. πŸ˜‰ As far as change, I guess blogging is a lot like life sometimes– we can get stuck in ruts.

    I, personally, like that you don’t do the same ol’ reviews as other blogs (mine included). To be honest, I tend to not read detailed reviews on other sites, b/c I don’t want anyone to say they influenced me, in case I get to review the same toy/doll. (Plus, after working on my posts, it can get redundant!) Your blog is one of the few I do visit every now and then b/c of your short, stylized posts.

    My advice is to do what you like to do! I love the customizing posts and the craft projects you’ve posted on here. And man, can you sew!!!! (I’m jealous! I can only use that ‘sew cool’ kids sewing machine, which isn’t even sewing, it’s felting!)

    So, anyway, great post! All blogs grow and change over time. I look forward to seeing where yours takes you!

    • barbielea December 3, 2014 at 10:39 am #

      Thank you Kewpie! I have a confession, though – I can’t use a sewing machine either, so I sew everything by hand. I hate the noise, and I’ve always got this irrational fear that I’m going to sew over my own fingers :-/ I’d love to be able to, its a resolution of mine to learn. If I could use the sewing machine, I’d be churning them out!

      As for the blog, it’s really nice that you like my preferred style. I know where you’re coming from with review posts. I read yours because they are interesting and I trust your judgement, plus being in the US, you get the dolls about six months before me so it’s rarely something I’m thinking of writing about at the time. I don’t enjoy doing them myself because I dread finding myself writing “and there’s there’s this pretty bit, and THIS is very pretty too …” When you could really just say “you know what, I like this whole doll – that’s all”. I prefer to do this – or just write three paragraphs about, for instance, a button on the outfit that interests me πŸ™‚

      • kewpie83 December 6, 2014 at 6:59 am #

        I have that SAME fear of sewing my fingers!

      • barbielea December 6, 2014 at 10:39 am #

        Hahaha! Good to know – I thought it was just me! πŸ™‚

  8. Neytiri December 2, 2014 at 5:13 pm #

    She looks amazing! Make-up, hairstyle and jewelry are really pretty, but the most I like this jacket, it’s true masterpiece, congrats πŸ™‚

    • barbielea December 3, 2014 at 10:12 am #

      Thank you so much Neytiri! It was a labour of love, something I’ve always wanted to do πŸ™‚

  9. amystika18n December 2, 2014 at 7:31 pm #

    I totally sympathize, as I’m having similar problems with updating due to school, family, and technological issues. I just posted about this after seeing this post-sort of the kick in the pants I needed. I think you’ve come to some great solutions. Mostly I would recommend just loosening the pressure you put on yourself-and yes, I know how hard that is to do! I think your regular readers (and semiregs like me!) will understand.

    • barbielea December 3, 2014 at 10:42 am #

      Thankyou Amy πŸ™‚ this post – and these comments – have really helped me think about my direction. It’s been really useful, I’m glad I did it. I hope you find your way through it too πŸ™‚

  10. Andrea December 3, 2014 at 5:10 pm #

    Hi Lea, I did my lists with excel and yes, you can insert pictures there as well. You just have to adjust the height of the line where the pictures should go and you can just insert them there via “insert”, “graphic” and “graphic from file” (folder where you keep the head shots). You can even search for a specific doll, if you know her name and excel jumps right to her cell. This saves a lot of time, if you are looking for a certain doll. You can make excel sort the list in chronological order (if you made column for the release or box date), or by doll name, or manufacturer. Excel is a my best friend in organizing and for me it works like a charm. One advantage is that the list is right on your computer, so you have access even if the internet connection is down for some reason.

    • barbielea December 3, 2014 at 8:28 pm #

      Hmm. I’ll have to think about it. I’d give myself a six out of ten for excel ability, but I’d probably have to use Numbers instead as we are all Apple based, which I don’t know at all. I’ve lost data in blue screen crashes before and would actually prefer something web-based, even if I couldn’t access it all the time … But on the other hand, I love the idea of being able to sort everything by different factors … Well, as you say, I’ll find a way. I’m actually quite looking forward to it! Haha

  11. SaturdaySequins December 4, 2014 at 11:20 am #

    I’m going through something similar with my own blog. I haven’t updated for months and months and months because it’s a beadwork/jewelry blog, and lately, I’ve been more into customizing dolls and sewing clothing for them (I wish I could make a jacket like the one you made… it’s impressive). I’m struggling with what I feel I ‘should’ write about, versus what I want to write about. Which means… no writing gets done at all.

    In the end, I think we have to do what makes us happy. Whatever you do on your blog, I’ll stick around. And if you don’t post for awhile, I’ll picture you with your sewing, and I’ll know you’re having fun. And that will make me happy.

    • barbielea December 4, 2014 at 8:04 pm #

      I am quite taken aback by the sheer loveliness of the comments on this post! Thanks so much for the support, Saturday Sequins, I really appreciate your kind words.

      As for your blog – have you considered splitting it? I have noticed that WordPress will allow you to host more than one, because I have (occasionally) toyed with the idea of setting up a secondary blog devoted to the old children’s books I collect. If you split them, maybe you could work on each at your own pace without feeling that one was taking over the other? I love your doll stuff, btw. You should definitely post more! πŸ™‚

  12. April_n_Paris December 5, 2014 at 2:33 pm #

    Reblogged this on Fashion Doll Diva and commented:
    Hi Barbiebeauties. Glad to see a new post from you. Unless you are making money from your blog (which most of us are not), the most important thing is to have fun. When I started out, I read that for a blog to be successful, you need to post several times a week. Ha! It depends on what your subject matter and what you have to say. Accept that your interests will change which necessitates changes to the blog.

    Stop being nostalgic over earlier posts. No one cares about its “evolution,” only what’s happening NOW! Edit out those posts that either don’t hold up to your current standards or are no longer relevant. It also makes room for newer, better pix in the total allowance you have on these free blog sites!

    Define a mission for your blog. Make a list of subject ideas you’d like to do. It is important to stay faithful to your topic. So you started out with Barbies but now have expanded to other types of dolls. Change the name of the blog to encompass all your dolls (with sub topics maybe) OR create separate blogs. I have 3.

    Stop beating up on yourself about posting, but instead, adjust your schedule to meet your needs. But don’t panic if you miss your deadline. The most important thing is that you favor quality over quantity and that you have fun!!!!

    • barbielea December 7, 2014 at 2:29 pm #

      Hello April N Paris, and thankyou.

      I am going to get rid of a few early posts that just depress or annoy me. I think evolution is OK as long as your earlier stuff isn’t really awful. Well, some of mine was awful but I still quite like most of it, even if I could do better these days, so I think I’ll leave it. I’m not worried about storage, I’ve been blogging for four years and I still have enought left for another four at least.

      You are quite right about an ideas list. I used to keep one until I changed devices, then it got lost which has definitely made things harder. I’ll start one again. I’m looking into how to do a name change, I might have to leave my site address the same though as it can cause problems and I’m not sure if this might be confusing? I’ll think about it … I’ve thought about separate blogs before, but I think I’d just get even more bogged down.

      As I said on an earlier comment, I’m not beating myself up for failing to post, but more for failing to get back to people who had taken the time to leave comments. Everybody has been very understanding, but at the end of the day I thought it was a bit rude of me, and I hate rudeness. I would love to post more! But I have to accept that right now, rl issues mean I can’t do as much as I would like. Quality over quantity is a good rule of thumb too! I will try to stick to that, I’ve learned over the years that it’s better not to post at all than to post something shoddy. Thanks again for your advice πŸ™‚

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