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Monday, September 24, 2012

A Great Road Trip...

... deserves a great road trip song.

My friend Sally, you may recall from my very first post, is the one who inadvertently got me started on this hobby and then declined to get obsessed along with me. But she's a good sport and has accompanied me on several trips to Michaels and Circus Dollhouse and other spots as deemed necessary by me to feed my addiction.

You also may recall that I mentioned in that same post that my original plan was to buy a finished dollhouse from Craigslist.  One person with whom I engaged in negotiations was a lovely woman named Amy.  Although I did not end up buying her dollhouse, we struck up a nice email friendship of the satisfying kind that happens between people who are totally enthralled by the same, somewhat offbeat hobby.  Amy alerted me to a shop that I didn't know existed, having somehow missed it in my online exploration.

The Dollhouse Factory

So today Sally and I ventured south on a road trip to The Dollhouse Factory in Lebanon, New Jersey.  Here is their website.

It's an overused expression but it works here:  O. M. G. !!!  This place is nirvana for dollhouse enthusiasts.  It's an entire HOUSE full of the most wonderful miniatures of every possible type and description.  I would really challenge you to come up with something that they don't have a miniature of.  The Dollhouse Factory, as you can imagine also has a huge assortment of finished dollhouses to drool over.  The place is run by two really nice guys.  They are so helpful and friendly, they talk and laugh with you and don't seem to care if you hang out there all day, which Sally and I practically did.  You feel like you are at your friend's house.  As if all this wouldn't make it my happy place anyway, when you walk up to the door there is a sign that says, "Please don't let the cat out."  They have a cat that wanders around at will amidst the dollhouses - Ah, bliss!

[The next time I go back there, I am going to see if they mind if I take some pictures to add here.]

The other great thing about this place is that you can get some really good bargains.  They have tons of dollhouses as I mentioned, and instead of just having empty rooms, they have them partially furnished.  You can buy the furniture in these houses at very good prices, since it has all been gently used.  I scored two corner bookshelves, a little end table, and a really nice dresser for the bedroom - all for $5.00 or less.  I won't mention all the other money I managed to spend there, in case Bob ever reads this blog.  

Now last but not least, here is the final bit of awesomeness about The Dollhouse Factory.  As I was checking out, I mentioned to the guys (I didn't catch their names, or did but immediately forgot them, as I am wont to do) that I was working on the Strawberry Patch dollhouse, but that my dream house is Grosvenor Hall, which you can't seem to get in the United States but only in the U.K.  (I found out much later that I am wrong about this, you can get a whole selection of awesome British style dollhouses at this site:

Grosvenor Hall is, as far as I am concerned, the Holy Grail of dollhouses.  It is absolutely gorgeous and stands over five feet tall:

Grosvenor Hall, the Grand Poobah of dollhouses.
From the website
When I mentioned it, I was ushered into their private office where before my dazzled eyes appeared - Grosvenor Hall!  Apparently a wealthy client had custom ordered it and then traded it in or something, so they were finishing it off as a labor of love, with the best of everything.  The thing is truly awesome.  They said at some point when it's done they might try to display it in the main shop, but it would be tricky because of the size and expense.  But I got to see it, so I am very grateful for that!

Nearby - A Great Place for Lunch!

Well, you wouldn't think the day could get any better from here, but when Sally and I staggered back out into the light of the parking lot, after hours of hunching over little bins of miniatures, we realized we were hungry.  So we drove right down the street to a cute little place we passed called the Fox and the Hound Tavern.

It is a beautiful, historic inn, circa 1820, and it serves absolutely wonderful food.  I had this...

Spinach Ravioli sun dried tomatoes, mascarpone cheese, toasted pine nuts, asparagus and plum tomato ragout

...which earns the second, overused "O.M.G!!!" of this blog post.

As a last final good thing of the day, when we got home from our trip, I found a little tube of replacement parts that I had requested from Real Good Toys, so now nothing stands in the way of me finishing my Miniature House.

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