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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

In the News: Some Miniatures We ALL Know and Love

I think the reason for today's song choice will shortly become obvious. Please enjoy the stylings of Sir Tom Jones:

Even for people who have never had the slightest involvement with dollhouses, these iconic miniatures will surely be familiar:

Because I am not on Facebook, I was completely unaware of the momentous announcement until I read about it this morning on
Over the past month, hundreds of thousands of Monopoly fans worldwide voted for which new token should replace one of the iconic ones being retired after countless journeys past Go. After a hard-fought campaign, representatives revealed the newest game piece Wednesday morning on TODAY.
I may really have to reconsider my non-presence on Facebook, if it deprives me of the chance to vote on the important issues of the day.  But it seems that the right choice was made without me.  I couldn't be more pleased with the newest Monopoly piece:

The Newest Monopoly Token!
Photo:  Hasbro

The cat!  Yes!!  Excellent choice, Monopoly voters!!  The other choices were a helicopter and a robot. Puh-lease!

The announcement of this new token got me to reflecting about the popularity of cats, and I found this website:  Cats and Coffee, which reports that the following famous people were cat lovers:  Ernest Hemingway, Winston Churchill, Mark Twain, Albert Einstein, Claude Monet and Charles Dickens. For some reason Freddie Mercury was included, not that I don't love him but it seemed incongruous.

According to this same site, do you know who HATED cats?  Adolph Hitler.  In the interest of doing at least perfunctory fact checking, I found endless other citations that confirm the Fuhrer loathed felines.  And I also found this ...

... which proves that there is literally a site about EVERYTHING on the internet. Apparently Stephen Colbert mentioned the site on his show awhile back, and hits went through the roof. Some people found it offensive and in poor taste, feeling that it glorifies Hitler. The owner of the site makes it clear that is not the case. I'm not sure how I feel - I mean, I hate snakes more than anything in life, and if someone started a website called I think I would find that insulting, not glorifying.  But anyway, hopefully no one is offended.

Now that we have established the awesomeness of the new Monopoly token, we must talk about the darker side of the story. To make room for the cat, one of the old classic tokens had to go, and this was also decided by vote.  Sadly, I cannot endorse this choice with the same unbridled enthusiasm, in fact I am downright disappointed.

The wheelbarrow and the shoe were also on the chopping block, but they were saved.
In fierce voting from 185 countries, Monopoly fans showed the least interest for the iron piece, exiling it from a new version of the game set to debut in mid- to late 2013. The statuette, which was added to the game in the 1930s, picked up just 8% of the vote.
The iron??  Really Facebook voters?  The iron is the PERFECT Monopoly piece.  I was ALWAYS the iron.  It's so cute and easy to move around.

RIP, Iron Monopoly Token
 Well, I am very upset, but life must go on.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Dollhouses

Right before Christmas, my sister and I took a road trip to spend the weekend with my niece and bring her home from college. It was an awesome visit for so many reasons, but I forgot to bring a book with me and that's how I accidentally stole my niece's copy of "Pride and Prejudice." That's okay because I'm the one who gave it to her. I go on a Jane Austen kick every year or so, and this incident set off the latest round.

So today's musical selection is from the wonderful 1995 A&E miniseries, which I just finished watching for the umpteenth time. Elizabeth Bennet sings a beautiful song while Mr. Darcy looks on with undisguised love and yearning. Is it possible NOT to fall in love with Colin Firth after watching this scene? I know some fans would argue for the "Mr. Darcy goes swimming in the pond" scene, but this is the one that does it for me.

When I'm in this frenzy for all things Austen, I get disappointed when I run out of things she actually wrote, and movie versions thereof, and I start looking around for related things. For instance, I also happen to love zombies. I've been thinking about them lately because the movie "Warm Bodies" is coming out and I can't wait to see it:

Apparently, the number of people who like both Jane Austen and zombies is not a small one, because there is a book called "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies," and it sold a LOT of copies.

The book has been around for awhile and I keep meaning to check it out, but I'm not sure that I could deal with Lizzie killing Darcy and eating his brains or something like that. (I would enjoy it if they both killed Mr. Collins and ate HIS brains, though.)  Since the release of "Warm Bodies" coincides with "Ange's Austen-Fest 2013," this may be the year that I break down and read it.

DHE Minis Celebrates P&P

This post was inspired when I looked at my blog list and noticed today's update from The Dollhouse Emporium:

Pride and Prejudice Free Wedding Gift Collection

They are offering "a charming collection of beautiful wedding gifts, created in honour of Jane Austen’s romantic novel, Pride & Prejudice, which is enjoying its 200th year in print."

Holy cow - I didn't even realize it was the 200th anniversary!  And I call myself a fan. Well, fortunately my dollhouse obsession continues to pay dividends, as it allowed this important fact to be brought to my attention.

Almost as soon as I finished the Mini House, I made these little pictures of for the top of the piano:

Lizzie and Darcy Photos on the Piano
I made them out of buttons from Michael's and images of Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth from the internet that I printed over and over again until I got them small and clear enough.  ("Who ARE these people?" my husband wanted to know, handing me a stack of papers covered with their images.)

I liked to imagine that Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy were the grandparents of the current occupants of the Mini House. Or maybe the great-grandparents? I would have to sit down and figure it out - and I really try not to have my Mini House be polluted by associations to unpleasant things like math.

One final thought on this theme:  I have always been iffy about actually having dolls in my house, but if ever I was tempted it would be by these Lizzie and Darcy dolls in full wedding regalia:

Wedding Dolls from the Dollhouse Emporium Collection

They really did a great job of reproducing the clothes from the movie!

But if I were to give in to the very strong urge to get the dolls, it would change the whole time-frame of the Mini House, which I imagine to be very late 1800's. And then I would have to redo the bathroom or find something else to do with that room, because while my beloved Jane never talks about it, I am sure they didn't have indoor flush toilets in her day. And on that glamorous note, I will end.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

What Makes a House a Home? Gifts from Friends!

Yesterday I had lunch with my friend Kara, a truly lovely person who I don't get to see nearly often enough. Kara and I used to work together at [COMPANY] before she left to become a full-time mom.  I stayed on until recently when [COMPANY] was bought by [OTHER COMPANY] and I, like hundreds of others, was swept up in a mass layoff and dumped into the trash heap like yesterday's TPS reports, after 12 years of hard work and dedication. But I am not bitter.

While I was still with [COMPANY] and we were all waiting to find out if we would get to keep our jobs, there was a lot of reference to The Bobs scene in the movie "Office Space." Well, there was a lot of reference to it by those of us who love the movie, mingled with expressions of horror and pity towards those of our coworkers who had never seen it. (Seriously, how do you work in an office and not know this movie?  I submit that it should be shown by HR to all incoming employees:  "Yes, what you are about to see is a comedy. But it illuminates Great Truths about the absurdities you will be subjected to every. single. day. that you toil in corporate America.  And the sooner you accept this, the happier you will be.")

So instead my usual song of the day, I bring you "The Bobs:"

Tom Defends His Job 
(From the movie, "Office Space" 2oth Century Fox, 1999)

I've always believed John C. McGinley should get some kind of Comedy Achievement Award for his delivery of the line, "What would you say...ya DO here?"

I didn't have an exit interview quite so brutal, but I did find myself unemployed, for the first time since I was 15 years old. While this was a revolting development, it freed up all kinds of time and explains how I was able to purchase, build, paint, shingle, and almost completely furnish Ange's Dollhouse in a little more than month, and start this blog about it. (Note to potential employers:  See, this is the kind of results-oriented hard work, enthusiasm, time-management skills, and attention to detail that I bring to the table!)

Wonderful Things

So getting back to my lunch with Kara. She is the person who inspired me to blog a few months ago, when we had another lunch with some of our current and former [COMPANY] coworkers. That's when I found out that Kara writes a beautiful and very popular blog about crocheting, Petals to Picots, which I have been following ever since. I am in awe of her talent. She creates her own patterns - including one for the dolls below. I think they are absolutely gorgeous! The pattern is available at her Etsy shop:  Petals to Picot - Crocheted Doll Pattern

 Adorable Crocheted Dolls - pattern from Petals to Picots

After our delicious lunch, we were chatting over a cup of tea about what we've been doing, and I told her about my new hobby and the blog. Kara asked, "Ooh, do you want some stuff for the house?" and I was like, "Is the Pope Catholic?" (Stuff for the mini house is pretty much ALL I want these days. I'm hoping at some point I will regain an interest in buying other things, like maybe clothes and books and accessories for the house I actually live in. But for now, not so much.)  She disappeared into some part of her house that must be way more organized than mine, and produced this little tub full of tiny things, telling me to take my pick!

Now besides the fact that they are wonderful unto themselves, I'll tell you what makes these things so amazingly special. All of the items below came from a dollhouse that Kara's grandfather built for her when she was a child. The house is long gone, but it was much played with and loved by Kara in its day. The fact that she would share these with me is so sweet and generous that it brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it. I will always treasure them.

Beautiful blue enamelware dishes

Pots and bowls

Hip bath and pitcher

Miscellaneous kitchen accessories

An embarrassment of riches!

When you look around your house, it's the things that remind you of family and friends that touch your heart and make you the happiest. And now when I look into the Mini House and see these things, I will always think of my friend and smile.  Thank you again, Kara!!

Monday, January 28, 2013

See my new Mini House swag - with bonus memes!

I feel almost guilty posting about dollhouse stuff, after the developments of last night's Downton Abbey. I won't spoil it in case any other dollhouse/Downton crossover fans should happen to be reading this. Suffice it to say that I am verklempt. However, when wise old Carson the Butler is asked by the distraught below-stairs staff what they should do in the face of such a tragedy, his reply is "Carry on, Daisy. As we all must."

And so I shall, Carson.

In a departure from my usual MO, I cannot make today's musical selection, by even the farthest stretch of the imagination, relate to anything going on with my dollhouse. My choice is a direct result of the fact that I happened to be flipping through People magazine a few minutes ago, and realized that I am probably the last person on the planet to be aware of  "Gangnam Style." Of course I had to Google it, and I found this clip, which I don't think that I will ever get tired of watching:

Adorable, no? Gangnam style, says People magazine, was one of the trends of 2012. But it wasn't a meme. In case you don't know, "an Internet meme is a concept that spreads from person to person via the Internet." My meme network needs some serious tweaking, because of the eight other "Memes of the Year" I was only familiar with one, Angelina Jolie's leg, although I was not previously aware that it had its own twitter feed. 

Two items on this list caught my fancy, and I will share them with you here because, as you may be starting to suspect, I don't really have too much to say about Ange's Dollhouse today.

Ange's Favorite 2012 Internet Meme #1

Ridiculously Photogenic GuyRidiculously Photogenic Guy (RPG) is a photoshop meme ... featuring a photo of a smiling man called Zeddie Little running in the 2012 Cooper River Bridge Run. The photo gained notoriety online after being posted to the social news website Reddit where users found the man to be exceptionally handsome. (Source:

Here's the original picture of the RPG:

And here's an example of his meme-ification:

If, like me, you were unaware that Zeddie Little existed until today, you can find lots more like the above by clicking here:  Ridiculously-photogenic-guy

Ange's Favorite 2012 Internet Meme #2

Dancing Prince Charles -  a ... meme based on a photograph of the British royal Prince Charles doing a jig during a round of Parachute game at the Diamond Jubilee celebration of Queen Elizabeth II held on July 19th, 2012. (Source:

I don't know about you, but I've always had a soft spot for the hapless Prince of Wales, and I am just tickled pink by this original picture, all by itself:

But His Royal Meme-ification really made me giggle. Here are two of my favorites:
This is NOT Honey Boo Boo!

I would like to think that Charles himself finds all of this to be jolly good fun. You can find more, if you are so inclined, here: Dancing Charles

And Now, Back to the Mini House

Before I got all distracted (note to self, no more reading People magazine before blogging) today's post was intended to show the big box of delightful mini swag that I found on my doorstep this afternoon, courtesy of my generous hubby and his Christmas gift certificate for The Dollhouse Emporium:

Even though this was shipped from England, it came very quickly and was all in beautiful shape. I can't wait to arrange it all in the Mini House. But that is on hold for now, as the MH is currently undergoing - I don't think you can call them renovations, since the house is only a few months old - so let's say improvements. These will hopefully be completed before too long and described in future, meme-free posts. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

How Did I Get Here - Part II, with Paintings

Today's post is dedicated to my talented and generous cousin, Ronnie.

The song "Thank You for Being a Friend" is of course the opening theme from The Golden Girls, one of the best TV shows ever. (When I took the Facebook quiz, "Which Golden Girl Are You?" I was Dorothy). Searching YouTube for this song, I enjoyed some great clips from the show, including one of my all time favorites - the one where Rose throws Dorothy a birthday party at Mr. Ha Ha's House of Hot Dogs. "I'll punch your heart out, Ha Ha!"

Love it!!

Back in September when the Mini House bug first got me, I wrote this post: How Did I Get Here? where I wondered if there had been a dollhouse in my past, something that I forgot about but that still lurked in my subconscious, waiting for a chance to burst forth into my current obsession. I asked everyone I could think of but forgot to ask Ronnie, until a recent email exchange. She sent me the following reply:

Okay, let's set the record straight...I don't think you ever had a doll house, I'm sorry but someone had to tell you. On the bright side, neither did I but I always wanted one, SO, I made my own!! My mom had purchased something in a big cardboard box approximately two feet long, 18 inches wide and about 6 inches high. I had little dolls and little pieces of furniture in it that I may have borrowed from my barbie doll set. I even remember using these little metal squares that I got from my parakeet, Tweety. It originally had a bird treat in it and when Tweety was done, I recycled it and used it as a bed for my cardboard dollhouse. I even cut out little doors and windows. I have no doubt that we both played with this makeshift dollhouse together.

Now, THAT triggered a memory, and not just of Tweety the parakeet.

In that earlier post, I mentioned that when we were children, I used to follow Ronnie around like an adoring puppy, and anything she did, I also wanted to do. So now I remember that similar to what she describes above, I made sort of room boxes for my dolls. I had the boxes laying flat on their backs, not standing up on one side, dollhouse fashion. I used my old wooden blocks and stuff for the furniture.

This also reminded me of something else I haven't thought of in years and years and years - the dolls that I made the boxes for - my Dawn dolls! I was never big on Barbie. I think even as a child, Barbie's physique made me feel insecure. I loved Dawn, she was smaller and cuter and not as centerfold-y.

Sadly, Dawn did not have the longevity of Barbie. I found this description from Wikipedia, and a picture:

Dawn dolls are small fashion dolls that were made by Topper between 1970 and 1973. They measure 6.5 inches in height and have painted eyes and lips. The girl dolls feature rooted hair and eyelashes. The boy dolls have molded hair.

Dawn dolls 
Wow! I remember now like it was yesterday. In what looks like a police lineup above, my Dawn was the one in the blue and white dress with the snazzy gold belt - it kind of reminds me of the dress that Carrie wears in the "Sex and the City" opening credits. But I had tons of other clothes for her, too. (I wonder what the heck ever happened to all that stuff? My mother insisted that my siblings and I clean up the attic a few years ago, and it wasn't there. I know I never took it. I suspect mom threw it away while I was at college, apparently to make room in the attic for important things, like every water bill she's ever paid since 1950.)

Anyway, thanks for that walk down memory lane, Ron!

But wait, there's more. After opening up this door to the past for me, Ronnie went on to enhance my present as well! I wrote about how she loves to paint, and I posted pictures of the beautiful glass items she decorated with flowers and vines. She has since moved on to painting on canvas, and here is what she had to say on that subject:

I have no idea what your taste in art is but if there's anything here that speaks to you, please let me know and I'll get it in the mail framed and ready to hang.

She attached the pictures below - aren't they all beautiful?!!

I love them all! My taste in art runs to a deep appreciation of anything beautiful and handmade by a friend, so this was a really tough choice to make. I love birds, so this was the painting I ultimately chose, Chickadees in the Snow:

And sure enough, it arrived on my doorstep - faster than Amazon Prime. I don't know how to thank her enough, but I will always treasure this generous gift from the heart!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Making a Draped Tablecloth

For your listening pleasure!

I read that in Victorian times, the table was usually set with a white tablecloth, and I thought that would look nice in the Mini House. The only thing I wasn't psyched about was prying off all the little dishes and silverware that I had already stuck on the table. Museum wax. I have a love/hate relationship with that stuff.  

In one book or another, there were instructions for making a draped tablecloth by dipping the fabric in a mixture of glue and water. I remember thinking at the time, why would you want to go through all that trouble? I had an old tablecloth so I found a nice clean section, cut it out and put it on the table. And then I realized why this doesn't work - there's not enough weight to this little piece of fabric, so instead of draping into soft folds, it stood straight out from the table like a shelf. 

Okay, so now I got it. Glue and water it is!  It was a quick and easy project.  When the glue dried, which happened fairly quickly, I practically didn't need the table anymore, the cloth was so stiff.

Cut up an old tablecloth - make sure there are no stains!

Leave a two inch border

Make a mix of 1/2 wood glue and half water

Protect the table with plastic wrap

Thoroughly saturate the cloth, then pick it up and smooth
out with your fingers to remove the excess liquid
Drape over the table,  pinch and shape till you like the way it falls,
then let it dry thoroughly - this doesn't take long

Table:  Naked

Table:  Draped

I really like the tablecloth - it even makes me hate the red velvet chairs a little bit less, but I'm still itching to try reupholstering them. I think I will make little place mats as well, once I decide what the color scheme is going to be in here.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Book Review: Miniatures: How to Make them, Use Them, Sell Them

I'm surely dating myself with today's song - I remember this show! It came out after "Saturday Night Fever" hit it big. Of course, I was very, very young then. An infant, practically.

Anyway... this book, Miniatures: How to Make them, Use them, Sell them, is also a relic from the days of disco. It was published in 1976.

In spite of it's age, this is a book full of clever ideas that could be used today - including simple things like a description of how to make your own miniature hand-dipped candles; more detailed plans and patterns for building your own wooden furniture; and even instructions for fabricating accessories out of metal, for the more ambitious.  The author covers a wide range of other items including lamps and chandeliers, household gadgets, food, decorative items, rugs, picture frames, flowers, and more.

I got the impression from reading this book that in the '70's purchased miniatures were much harder to come by - well, I guess before the internet everything was much harder to come by - and that hobbyists tended to be at a high income level. For example, in a chapter titled, "Soft Goods," the author notes how easily a bearskin rug could be created:

"When your fur goes to the furrier for remodeling, ask for scraps and cut them into bearskin shapes or whatever you like."

I was amused by this matter-of-fact assumption on the author's part that her audience would be able to relate to and implement this idea. (Or maybe I'm just not living right, I certainly don't know anyone who has an ongoing relationship with a furrier.) But there were many, many more down-to-earth suggestions, including a section on using natural materials to imitate food - cherry pits painted to resemble peaches, lentils painted to look like cookies, etc.

The only gripe I have is that all the pictures in the book - and there are a generous number of them - are in black and white. I borrowed this one from the library, and I will almost certainly buy it to have on hand as a source of ideas - it can be had for next to nothing on Amazon. I recommend this as an addition to the library of anyone who is interested in miniatures.

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Fireplace - from drab to fab

Today's theme music:

Yesterday as I stared into the Mini House, which I do with alarming frequency, the thought occurred to me, "There is too much wood. The fireplace needs to be white."

The little fireplace was the very first thing I bought, before the Mini House was even built.  It is clearly a fireplace, but that's about the best thing I can say about it.  Although I bought it an antique store, it was less than $5.00 so I wasn't concerned about depriving the world of a priceless artifact should this project go horribly wrong, as they sometimes do.  (See my post "The Sofa Debacle.")

First I sanded it down. 

Then I painted the whole thing white.  It was a big improvement, but I felt that more could be done. 

Somewhere in my dollhouse travels, I picked up a furniture kit - I think it was to build a shaker dry sink - that didn't have any instructions, but I thought I could figure it out.  Wrong!  But I'm not sorry, because now I have dozens of tiny pieces of wood that keep coming in handy.  I played around with some of them until I got an arrangement that I liked...

...and then threw another couple of coats of white paint over the whole thing, and I'm now much happier with it. 

Easiest project ever!
Fireplace:  Drab
Fireplace:  Fab

I added the gold fireplace thingies and some cinnamon sticks for logs.  I think it will look good in the bedroom, instead of the parlor where it has been up until now.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Sofa Debacle - or "Knowing Your Limitations"

I never heard this song before, but now I can't get it out of my head:

I think I've mentioned before that I can't get enough of the Let's Build a Dollhouse site. One of the ideas floating around in my head based on information from the site was that I could, whenever I chose, make my own dollhouse sofa out of fabric and cardboard.

Since I had already spent about 20 times more than I expected to build and furnish the Mini House, and the library looked empty and needed a sofa,  I especially liked the idea of making one from stuff I already had around the house.

"Oh, that," I would say to people who commented on the adorable little sofa in the library, "I just threw that together with some fabric and glue.  It was easy peasy!"

The library, in dire need of a sofa

So I printed out the directions from here:  Let's Build a Dollhouse Sofa.  The instructions seemed clear and totally doable. The owner of the site provides many pictures of the finished product she has made in all different fabrics and sizes.

Image is from
The site gives instructions on how to make the little sofa above.
It turned out that I didn't like any of the fabric I had on hand, so I bought some. The instructions called for craft foam which I didn't have so I bought some of that as well. I confidently gathered these items, along with some cardboard and my trusty Tacky Glue, and set about to create my sofa!

To say that it did not go well is to wallow in understatement.

I'm not sure why, but from the first cut I made in the fabric, I could just sense that the Crafting Gods were not with me. Things just spiraled out of control from there.  By the time I finally raised the white flag, I was exhausted, and frustrated. There were little pieces of cardboard, fabric and foam spread as far as the eye could see, but nothing remotely resembling a sofa. I got glue all over everything, including myself and the cats, who had gathered close to enjoy the spectacle and help out wherever possible, for example by biting the fabric or swatting pieces of foam off the counter.

I didn't take any pictures because I was just so annoyed with myself. Plus I was all sticky. I'm sure that the instructions are great, and I know that if I try again another day I might get better results. But  making tiny upholstered furniture might also just be beyond my abilities.

In the meantime, I found the sofa below for $6.00 at AC Moore. (They aren't going to sell dollhouse furniture anymore, so they had lots of stuff on clearance.)  I bought it even though it is much too modern for my Mini House. I thought I could probably make it look a little more Victorian.

I did NOT make this sofa.  I got it
on clearance at AC Moore.
My first attempt, below, used a little bit of lace from a pillowcase that I had already cut up to make the bed. (See this post:  Bed Makeover). The pillows are just little circles of fabric that I gathered together with a cotton ball inside and then glued the roses to cover the rough opening. I put some ribbon around the bottom of the couch and the fringe is the frayed edge of the satin I used to make the bedspread.

Version 1 - added some stuff to make the couch seem less modern

I was happy with it, but the other day, I found some fringe on a lampshade my mom was throwing out, and it gave me the idea to try jazzing up the sofa again.

Here's how the second attempt turned out, with fringe and a fancier piece of lace. (The fringe doesn't look as yellow in real life, it blends in a little better.)

Version 2 - added some different stuff to make the couch seem less modern

I'm not sure which version I like better. A third attempt is always possible!