Wednesday, October 31, 2012


It's been a crazy few days with Hurricane Sandy here on the east coast, and my home state of New Jersey got hit pretty hard. We consider ourselves very lucky, because we only had a downed tree (and many lost branches), and lost power for a day. Many are still without power, and the temperatures are now going down, so folks are scrambling to stay warm, fed, and entertained.

All schools have been closed this week (and my work is as well), so it has been an unusual time at home -- the kids have been helping to clean up the leaves and stay civil with each other, but when there is this much idle time, fights and other unappealing sibling behavior is bound to happen.

Of course, Halloween is today, and while NJ Governor Christie has officially postponed it until Monday (!), we plan to carve a pumpkin and do some baking. Here's a little scene that I brewed up, too...enigmatic and creepy. My Artply Higland is an ideal environment for such a scene, with its plentiful broken plexi, dust, and cobwebs. No cleaning was done in this room, to ensure it was a moody as possible!


See the curtains? I cut two swaths from a Chilewich place mat and hung them with a metal crafting sticker that looks like a curtain rod.

They work quite well!

The hanging lantern is also a crafting find from Jolee's Boutique-- fun!

I also wanted to share a few new items I found that might come in handy for your doll houses: LED-lit trees by Philips, purchased for $5.99 each from Target (I might get rid of the large star topper), and "Tangle" finials from west elm, on clearance for $6.99 per box (these could work as industrial light fixtures with a little Deco tape wrapping -- still experimenting).

I also picked up some minimal white napkin holders, also on clearance from west elm ($1.99/each), which show some promise for modern shelving.

I also have my eye on a lantern ornament from Pottery Barn (at left, without the monogramming!) that could have a second life as an outdoor fireplace. Speaking of ornaments, each year, Hallmark comes out with new Keepsake Ornaments...I haven't fully checked them out, but it's worth a look at those too. Make sure you check the dimensions before you buy, and let me know if you find any good ones!

A last tip: refrigerator magnets from Acme International. I bought up a few this week, including a cappuccino maker and wine rack, a copy machine, and an arcade-style video game. Worth a look!

Photo courtesy of Acme International
Photo courtesy of Acme International

Hope your Halloween is still happening, and you get lots of candy!

A quick update on the Call of the Small/Cubebot Challenge: the first entry is in: Nick James of the UK shows his Micro Cubebot wreaking havoc in his daughter's dollhouse! Naughty bot! Hope you are working on yours, too! Submit your entries (No more than five images, ideally 1 MB or under each), to minibotchallenge(at)gmail(dot) com for your chance to win $200 from AREAWARE. Full contest details are here.

Credits: Table is ELF Miniatures; male doll is Jasper from Twilight, and I got him at a $5 store; the female doll is from DHE; chairs are eBay finds; trees are from; table runner is from the Paper Source. Accessories are lots of Re-ment, Manor House Miniatures, and eBay finds.

The time it took me: 1 hour, 53 minutes, over three days 

Sunday, October 21, 2012


This scene evolved over a series of days. Inspiration came in spurts, rather than in one fell swoop, which often does happen. I think the scene made its way to completion gradually because I kept adding to it, and also challenged myself on this layout.

I knew I wanted to use these great new kitchen components from the lovely Pepper of MitchyMoo Miniatures (received as part of our fall swap; you can see some of the other treasures I received in this post).  The black glossy top provides such a nice surface for accessories and color, so I employed Asian-themed food items with reds, greens, yellows, and oranges.

Once the food started coming into the scene, I knew I wanted a small dining area with a round table and a dramatic lighting accent. I decided to use a brass metal spray paint for one of my silver arc lamps, bought on eBay some time ago; I have two, so decided to sacrifice one to bronze :) I also impulsively spray painted two orbs with slits, purchased on clearance from Crate & Barrel. These are intended as place card holders, but now they hold magazines!

The area with the couch was the more difficult part of the scene, given its placement in the room...I added a couch facing the kitchen area, and then put in a makeshift coffee table made with a clear vintage Petite Princess table placed inside a brass napkin ring. Gold Japanese origami paper under a "fish scales" stencil paper from the Paper Source animated the space and visually tied in with the arc lamp.

Every time I create a scene in my Citadel, I am reminded how much I love the house (I drove from New Jersey to Chicago and back for it!), and how much I've neglected its renovation! More than 60% of the house still needs work, including the wraparound balcony, main stairwell, front doorway, kitchen, the list goes on...any projects holding you up lately???

And please don't feel badly about your projects. The Citadel is one of four houses that are in active renovation for me:


Betsy McCall

Artply Highland

Perhaps as you are considering your latest challenges, you'll consider entering mine: the Call of the Small/Cubebot Challenge! It ends on December 1, and the winner will get $200 to spend on the AREAWARE website. I am anxiously awaiting your entries -- show me what you've got! All the details are here. Good luck!!

Credits: Kitchen island, counter, and stools made by Pepper of MitchyMoo Miniatures; couch is by Annina; dining table is by abm.models on eBay; chairs are CB2 "Reed" ornaments; shelving unit is by ELF Miniatures; plant is vintage TOMY; side table is Re-ment; coffee table is Petite Princess with a napkin holder; Eames elephant is Reac; flooring under island is a floor sample from Amtico; dining table mat is origami paper; cowhide rug is handmade by Oese. Accessories are lots of Re-ment, Manor House Miniatures, ELF Miniatures, Mighty World, Lilu Shop on Etsy, and random eBay and dollhouse store finds.

The time it took me: 1 hour, 43 minutes, over a period of three days

Saturday, October 13, 2012


As soon as I saw this fireplace in a dollhouse store in Denver this summer, I knew I had to have it. It surprised me that I wanted it, actually, since it is more traditional--I have been dreaming about a retro/modern brick one for my Doll Domiciles Contemporary house, which is under construction--but I just liked it. And the price was good too: $19.99!

I have not used it until now, but it has been on my mind. I then realized why: it strongly reminded me of the stone fireplace in our summer house when I was growing up. That one was a darker grey stone, but the profile was similar, and it even had a wooden mantle. This room is arranged in a completely different way than our cabin, which had dark wooden panels and country plaids, but it managed to make so many good memories come flooding back.

Let me know if you've done some creative fireplace work lately -- would love to see your ideas, especially as inspiration for the Doll Domiciles home. Here's a picture of the house in progress as a refresher!

A bit tricky, eh? I hope to go visit the house again soon to check its progress!

I hope lots of you out there are busily working on your scenes for the Call of the Small/Cubebot Challenge! There were 10 lucky international readers who were the first to respond on my post, and free Micro Cubebots are on their way to Canada, UK, The Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Finland, Spain, and Italy! Can't wait to see what they do! Remember, the winner gets a $200 gift certificate to the amazing design store AREAWARE! Submissions are due on December 1 to minibotchallenge(at)gmail(dot)com. If you don't already have a Cubebot, AREAWARE is now offering a 20% discount on their site; use the promotional code MINIBOT upon checkout and have fun shopping!

Credits: Fireplace is from Norm's Dollhouse store in Denver; couch is minimodernistas; side table is from; rug is handmade by The Shopping Sherpa; cat tower is Re-ment; light fixture is vintage German; flooring and wallpaper are all from the Paper Source. Accessories are beads, Playmobil, Michaels, and vintage eBay finds.

The time it took me: 1 hour, five minutes