Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Life in miniature

Hello! Thank you for all the wonderful comments recently. I'm glad to know there are some out there who share my love for rain. I realize that it rains a lot in some places. I've lived in a few of them myself, and I certainly got tired of rain too. Don't even get me started on snow, especially the lake-effect variety. But I live in a dry place now and cloudy skies and rain showers feel like a real treat. I'm glad I've seen both sides because I appreciate both rainy days and dry ones.

I want to share some adventures in tiny things we've enjoyed lately. I've always been an enthusiast of miniature versions of real items. Did you ever have a dollhouse? I had one as a child and it was one of my favorite toys. Mine was made by Brumberger and sold at Sears in the late '70's and early '80's. My dollhouse was Tudor-style, sort of a split-level design. I no longer have my dollhouse, though I wish I did. In recent years, I've gone looking for it online and have found a lot of information and pictures. This website has some good photos of dollhouses made by Brumberger, including several photos of my exact dollhouse and the furniture and family it came with! I've had so much fun poring over these photos. Some of my furniture was in different colors than this site shows; specifically, I remember my doll-parents' bedroom furniture being green instead of red and pink as in these photos. But it's all the same otherwise and I was very happy to see it all again. I'd begun thinking that the GB might like to have her own dollhouse, since I'd enjoyed mine so much. Santa brought her one this past Christmas and it's been fun for the whole family, actually. We've been playing with it often and also making small things to use with it. Would you like to see?


The GB's dollhouse is made by Plan Toys; it's the Chalet model. It's a really cool dollhouse. Kids' toys have come a long way, haven't they? My dollhouse was made of masonite, with paper coverings printed to look like flooring and exterior features. All the furniture was plastic. The GB's dollhouse is made from reclaimed wood decorated with environmentally-friendly paints. This house is in two parts, which can be moved around as desired to create a funky, multi-level living space. It came with five rooms of furniture, all made of wood. I bought the doll family separately. The family has sort of a Waldorf thing going on; they have faces, but they're simple and plain and the clothes are casual and sort of Putumayo-style; my dollhouse family looked a little bit like they'd stepped off the set of Mad Men. The open plan and earthier style of the GB's house make it easy to add our own personal touches and we've all enjoyed it.



Mom and Dad have been the first recipients of a hand-crocheted blanket for their bed. I started working on this right around Christmas but found it rather difficult. It took me awhile to finish hooking this five-inch granny square from perle cotton. I shared it awhile ago and readers commented on the Cath Kidston-like colors I was using. It's true, they do give off that certain CK vibe. Like me, these latter-day hippies enjoy a touch of shabby-chic finery here and there.


Sister doll stands near the children's as-yet bare bunk beds. I plan to make small blankets for these beds too, but I haven't rushed to do it yet. I found the tiny crochet to be a little nerve-wracking, lovely though Mom and Dad's blanket turned out. I'll get around to the children's blankets soon. But I may need to pick up a pair of cheaters first.


We've made a number of small food items for the kitchen. We use different types of clay, such as the basic white Crayola modeling clay and various types of polymer clay, usually Sculpey. Then we paint the items with acrylic paints. Here, a ham, a platter of bread rolls and a box of green beans grace the table along with a gallon of milk. This family eats well.


There are three dogs in this household. I think some people might have fantasies which are not being fulfilled in real life. Actually, the dogs were made before we got the dollhouse, but we realized they are the perfect size to play with here. The more the merrier, I say; my dollhouse had an artist's rendition of a dachshund printed on the back outside wall of the house, looking as if he hoped to be let inside someday. I wished I'd had a little plastic dachshund instead. For our dog-filled Chalet, we've made dog beds, including two clay ones and a stuffed flannel one, and they have a ball and bones to play with. They're happy dogs, there's plenty of room to play in and around this house.


A robin perches on the edge of the roof, chirping as she greets the day. Sometimes dogs can be found perching up here too; just out of the shot is a clay "dogloo" at the bottom of the sloped rooftop. Of course there are dogs (and a doghouse) on the roof; it's a free-range kind of place.


Do you remember Daddy's Cafe? I've written about it a few times in the past. This is a coffee shop-cum-roadhouse sort of place we built from Lincoln Logs last summer. There are working lights inside and out, made with LED's wired to a tiny computer. The Bear and LB do all the electronics together, using Arduino technology. Inside, there is a coffee counter, espresso machine, table and chairs and handwritten signage. We've continued to work on Daddy's Cafe over the past few months. The LB made a wreath at Christmas time to hang on the outer wall of the building; he has been updating it with the change of seasons, using small clay items he creates and paints with acrylics. Here, you see the "spring" decorations, which I suspect may be the same as the "Christmas" ones; he tells me the yellow thing is a flower, but I think it was also used as a star. The wreath itself is a disc of cardboard with a hole in the center and green yarn wrapped around to cover the cardboard. He came up with this design himself and I was quite impressed.


A barrel, bales of hay and a pile of logs have been added to the front yard. I don't know why. But it may be indicative of a side business that the proprietors have moved into recently. Times are tough in the imaginary beverage business.


Daddy's Cafe now has a fireplace made of clay and painted to look it's made of stone. It has a red LED light inside and it really looks like a fireplace when it's on! But it photographs quite poorly so I turned it off. I assure you, it offers a very homey glow inside the cafe, and everyone enjoys drinking, playing cards and reading near the new fireplace.

Pretend-play is alive and well around here. We have a lot more plans but real life has a tendency to get in the way. I think the Bear and I love it as much as our children do!

43 comments:

  1. I love GB's dollhouse! I am going to bookmark that company to keep in mind for Lucy when she gets a bit older. I love the fact it is made from wood, and I am a fan of the Waldorf style of dolls. Instead of crocheting blankets for the children's beds, would it be possible to make mini quilts out of fabric? Also, I 'm curious about something. Did you glue together the Lincoln logs you used for Daddy's Cafe? You might have mentioned so in an earlier post and I missed it. My recollection of playing with Lincoln logs when we were kids was they weren't very stable and I was wondering how you keep the cafe from falling down.

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  2. I really enjoyed the GB's dollhouse! -It's put together so well. Every single detail tells a story. And the Daddy's Cafe is very cozy. I love the added fireplace. -A cozy place to sit and enjoy a warm beverage. I love how pretend play is alive in your home. We love gathering around and enjoying some pretend play as well. :)

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  3. Mini worlds are addictive! My dolls house lies unloved in the garage awaiting a few spare afternoons when I intend to paint it and make a bookshelf with it!

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  4. My husband and I lovingly restored a dolls house for our grandchildren, we have hours of fun with it whether the children are here or not. My husband is currently working on a castle and a fort for gifts for Christmas for them.

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  5. Its wonderful, I have fond memories of my Sindy doll house from many years ago. I loved it & played with it everyday. I love all the handmade elements to your children's doll house, such lovely additions.

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  6. Hello Madame Thistlebear! (Doesn't that sound wonderful?)

    I am very glad to have found you! It has been a pleasure to read through your most recent posts. You have an amazing eye for colour. I am also very taken with this dollhouse. You have put so much love and patience into adding details to it. I thought you might like to take a look at Vicky's blog: http://lovejoybears.blogspot.fr/ as she specializes in miniature worlds. She has not posted since early April but her blog is enchanting.

    Warmest wishes from your most recent follower,

    Stephanie

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  7. Brilliant post Jennifer - so much fun ! That blanket is seriously cute - so enjoyed my tour round the house.
    Kate x

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  8. Hello Jennifer,

    We have truly delighted in this post. GB's dolls house is fabulous as are all the items you have made so. Lovingly for it. We totally agree with the view that one does, perhaps, live out certain fantasies in the dolls house world as they are so much easier to deal with than in real life. Three dogs......imagine all the walking....In the rain (you would love it, of course).

    We have a dolls house having never owned one in our childhoods. It is dated 1910 with real glass in the windows.....no health and safety concerns for us....and made by the Lines Brothers Company who later became Triang, the largest toy makers in the world.

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  9. This is sooo cute ! I love all the attention for the little details, like the robin on the roof, the milk bottle, the doggy's bone... Fantastic !

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  10. Oh my, what a super dolls house, and so beautifully added to! I love your teeny crochet blanket and the wee birdy and just about everything really. What special memories you snd your children will have of making and playing! xxx

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  11. Oh gosh, this is beautiful! Thank you for the tour Jennifer, I really enjoyed it. My doll's house was my favourite toy growing up, I know GB will get a lot of years out of this. I truly loved the little blanket. The cafe is looking great too. :) Pretend play is so important, I am trying to hang onto it around here too. :)

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  12. So sweet love the granny blanket on the bed, I used to love my dolls house so much when I was little.
    Clare xx

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  13. Hey Jennifer,
    I loved everything about this post. I had a dolls house. It was called 'Caroline's Home' and it was very swish. I got it for Christmas when I was about nine or ten. It had working lights, one of which was a chandelier. I was all very Southfork. I adore the clay sundries you have made. I would have enjoyed making those too. Sometimes it sucks having three boys!
    Leanne xx

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  14. How cool is this!!!! I tell you!!! What a brilliant idea to make small pieces for the dollhouse to add your own personal touches! That little blanket is adorable! You have completely inspired me to get making with the beans!!! Have a great week friend!!! Nicole xoxo

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  15. i used to love my dolls house and we made one for my daughter out of a bedside table which she loved. The homemade items you have made for yours are fantastic! Sarah x

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  16. What fun! When I was little my cousin and I made a dollhouse out of a box We made everythng that went inside too. Such fun memories!

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  17. Do you know, I can't remember if I had a dolls house, I must ask my mum. I was a bit of a tomboy and might not have played with it if I did have one. Annie did never played with hers (similar to the GB's) and sold it on Ebay. Maybe if I had put so much loving effort into it she would still have it? You are just amazing, Jennifer and I would enjoy being your daughter very much. Christina x

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  18. What a fabulous doll's house. And Daddy's Café looks great too. I think I'd be playing with those at every opportunity! :o)

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  19. I love the lives that the little homeowners and shopkeepers live in your house! They all seem to have very nice lives and do lots of exciting things in their little homes. How lovely is that. Glad that they are all settling in well. I hope that the financial difficulties at the coffee shop don't last too long! xx

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  20. I have my teenie tiny suitcase packed...I'm moving in!
    So cute, Jennifer....
    Cheers!
    Linda :o)

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  21. Jennifer, I totally enjoyed the tour of your tiny abode and cafes.. you know I love dollhouses and miniatures! I need to do a photo shoot of mine. It currently lives in our master bedroom which get very little bright light. I actually ordered a photographers light with the white umbrella thing so I could get nice photos of the rooms in mine. But have not done it yet.. someday. Enjoy your summer! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  22. Gosh I loved this post Jennifer! How wonderful the doll house is and such a cute granny square for their quilt ☺

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  23. Hi Jennifer,

    How wonderful your post is with the lovely dolls house - love it with all the furnishings, family and dogs.
    Brought back such happy memories of my sister and my dolls house - we used to spend hours playing with it and making things for it. I wish that I had mine too.
    Happy week
    hugs
    Carolyn

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  24. This is beautiful! Plan toys are wonderful - I bought my grandsons the entire city street system and they love it. It is an heirloom for sure. My favorite part of your dollhouse is mom and dad's blanket - WOW!

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  25. Wow, that looks like fun. You've put so much work in to it. I like the idea of the dogs. I'd have lots of pets too. X

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  26. I bet you're little ones love to play with their fools house, I never played with a dolls house or dolls just had one teddy bear that still sleeps on my bed.

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  27. Just fantastic, we are towards the end of our pretend play here which is a little sad, I love that little crochet quilt cover! :) x

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  28. It's wonderful. I love how you've made things for it yourself too. There's too many electronic toys around these days and not enough pretend play in my opinion, glad to see it's alive and well in your house. Eleanor had a Sylvanian dolls house with all the little creature families, we've still got it all, packed safely away in the loft.

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  29. Oh so cute!!! I love it. Hugs :D

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  30. How wonderful I love the granny square blanket. I adore these sorts of toys .They connect us with generations of other playhouse lovers. A secret club that time doesn't alter.

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  31. I used to long for rain when I lived in Syria but I think we get more than our fair share of it here in England. I love all your miniature treasure's so cute, I bet your children love playing with them. I never had a dolls house but I remember we made one for my daughter along with a little wooden bed to go inside, it had drawers at the back and I lined them with red velvet. I had forgotten all about it until I saw your post today, it brought back happy memories, I played with it more than my daughter such fun

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  32. I LOVE miniatures, and this little house is perfect! So full of beautiful handmade items, these will be cherished memories forever and ever! Chrissie x

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  33. Another fan of mini things here ... I adored by dolls house as a child, and making things for the dolls houses my girls had, so I can just imagine the fun you're all having x

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  34. I bought a dollhouse for a friend who gave it back to me when she had to move, and now my granddaughters play with it from time to time, but you have inspired me to see if I can add some personal home decor to it :) Sigh... I love playing at your house, Jennifer :) xx

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  35. Oh I love it Jennifer! I never had a dolls house but that one is beautiful.

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  36. Oh, how sweet! My next sister and I had a dolls house each that our father made for us one Christmas and now my youngest sister is having enormous fun decorating and furnishing a grown-up dolls house in Victorian style.

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  37. I love that you do so many creative and hands-on things with your kids. And this is one of the coolest dollhouses I've ever seen! I had two dollhouses when I was little...a metal one that was typical in the 1970's, then a big plastic mat that was a home floor plan - complete with plastic furniture. I still have all the furniture. I don't remember what I used for people, or if the set came with the typical plastic figurines. Have you ever seen Claudia's dollhouse at Mockingbird Hill Cottage?

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  38. What a sweet post! I love the GB's dollhouse and all the little accessories...great little crochet blanket too, very cath kidston!
    Marianne x

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  39. Lovely post, you have just the most darling family.
    Meredith

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  40. Oh, this is so cute! I love the blanket!

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  41. That is such a cute dollhouse, and that little blanket you crocheted is adorable! I'm so glad children (and adults) still play with Lincoln Logs. My daughter had a dollhouse, and my son had Lincoln Logs. I wish I had saved the Lincoln's for our grandchildren. I did save a couple of things -- Fisher Price Castle & the Farm (about 40 years old now), and our grandchildren have all played with them every time they come to our home.

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  42. Oh My Goodness! How incredibly darling and creative! The granny square is just beautiful! Indeed CK - LOVE the colors you chose. The food and animals are just darling...my girls used to make food out of clay for their dolls. So fun! xo Jen

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  43. This is adorable. I love this so much! I really think that, if I had the time, space and money, I could really become one of those dolls house collector types, I just love things in miniature. My dolls house as a child (made by my Grandpa but no less full of retro plastic!) was much loved, my mum has it now and all the grandkids play with it. I'll have to do a post on it someday, the decor and furniture are fab. And my Sindy house was full of modelling clay food, handmade by me aged ten. x

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