DIY Dollhouse

The finished doll house.

When I saw this dollhouse at IKEA I knew that it would be so much fun to personalize it. I did a lot of looking online at different doll houses people had made to figure out what I liked. I loved this one and got a lot of inspiration from it. I wanted a doll house that my little girl could play with and that would survive some abuse from little hands, so I didn’t want a lot of little pieces.

I liked a clean look with enough patterns to liven things up and make it seem homey. We (my husband) painted everything white, except for the roof which we painted pink (and the chimney, which we left green). All of the paint we used was left over from other interior paint jobs.

The living room.

I used Mod Podge and scrapbook paper to decoupage the floors and walls. I did this before assembling the dollhouse and I think it made it easier. I spent quite a bit of time finding the right scrapbook paper, but I think this is the fun part. Scrapbook paper is much better than wrapping paper for this application since it doesn’t warp from the Mod Podge.

The trick to selecting floors and wallpaper is to choose prints that are the right scale for the dollhouse. If you look at the paper I used in the living room, the floral pattern is just a little too large and doesn’t look quite right, whereas the other patterns are smaller and look right for the space.

The kitchen.

For the floors I tried to choose patterns that I thought would look like a real floor. The kitchen and bathroom look like tile floors and the living room and bedroom look like rugs.

For the walls I chose to just decoupage the back wall leaving the sides of the walls white. I felt this gave the house a cleaner look. I tried to find wall colors that would look good together and complement the furniture I had chosen, again choosing patterns that would be the right scale for the house and dolls. In some cases I had to splice together two sheets of scrapbook paper, which was easier than I thought it would be. I laid out all of the papers with the furniture to make sure they would look good together.

The bedroom.

I love how the house turned out, but if I had to do it again I would choose a different paper for the living room wall. The paper I used is wrapping paper and was hard to work with and warped. As I mentioned previously I also think the print is too big and doesn’t look quite right.

The bathroom.

This was such a fun project and I can’t wait for my daughter to play with it!


DIY diaper packs

Here is a trick our family uses to make diaper changes easier when we are away from home. We create diaper packs that include a diaper, a pee pad (these are designed for pets but are perfect for using as a surface to change baby on), and wipes in a  plastic bag. Everything is neatly contained in a poop bag (also designed for pets). When it’s time for a diaper change everything is easy to get to, and everything can be put in the poop bag and thrown away after the diaper change is done. These are so nice for quick trips out, and for those really messy diaper changes.

Why Heritage Brands?

The heritage brands series on this blog resulted from my years-long search for beautiful stuff that would last. When you walk into most stores these days, much of what you find is uninspiring and cheaply made. A lot of it is plastic and made to last just a few years at most, and much of this is not only ugly but also a disaster in the making for our environment. Further, much of this is also made in places where there are questionable standards for labor and construction.

The heritage brands in this series are brands that still make at least some of their goods in their home country. These companies have generally been around for a long time- some longer than others. Most important, they make things that are both useful and beautiful, things that you will get many years of use out of and be able to pass on to the next generation.

There is a Japanese concept of wabi- sabi which describes the beauty of things that are simple and well maintained but also well-worn. The things I discuss in this series have this quality. A le creuset Dutch oven may acquire a few dings and scratches over the years, but will still function well and may be even more beautiful for its years of service.

Most of these brands are easily found online, a world in itself that changes from day-to-day, so I leave it to the reader to use search engines to find where to buy the things in this book. This book is meant to serve as a guide to help you find things that will last a lifetime or longer.

How to make shrink film wine charms


When my sister got married I was looking for an inexpensive but classy way to mark guest’s wine glasses. I came up with the following design using printable shrink film paper.
First, I scanned in the part of their wedding invitation that I wanted to include on the tags. Then I created a PowerPoint file with some test tags with different fonts and image sizes to see what I liked best. The dimensions I ended up using were: tag size 2″ x 4″, image size 1.5″ x 1.5″, font: 40 point Edwardian Script.
Once I had selected the right parameters for the tag I created a template with 10 tags per sheet and then used the template to make the final tags. I entered each guest’s name on a tag and printed them out, then used scissors to cut out each tag, and cut the corners off the tops of the tag. I used a hole punch to punch a hole in the top of the tag, then baked them for a few minutes, and Voila! Wine charms!
I used two pairs of needlenose pliers to attach a jump ring thru the hole and then put a wine charm ring through the jump ring to attach the tag to the glass.
These were relatively easy to make and were a hit at the wedding. They were a fun little keepsake for guests and they made it easy for people to keep track of their glass.

PM me for extra tips!

Heritage Brand: Pillyvuit


When I was fresh out of school in my late twenties, after having to watch every dime throughout ten years of higher education, I was finally making a pretty good living. I went shopping downtown one day and found a sugar bowl that was a thing of beauty- white, with a petite little knob on the lid, that made a soft little “ding!” When the lid was put on the pot. It didn’t fit with anything in my hand-me-down kitchen in my dingy apartment, but I loved it. Over ten years later I turned the little bowl over and saw the Pillyvuit marking on it. I hadn’t known what Pillyvuit was when I bought the sugar bowl, but it was love at first sight.
Years after I bought that sugar bowl I learned about white French porcelain, of which Pillyvuit is king. It’s durable, timeless, and beautiful.
In Seattle there is a small French restaurant that makes a dish called “oefs plats”. It’s a relatively simple dish, with two eggs cracked onto ham and cheese over the top. The whole thing is baked in a small dish. One day, when my husband and I were browsing the Pillyvuit dishes at our favorite kitchen store, I picked up a dish and told him, “these are the dishes that oefs plats are made in”. “Let’s get them,” he said without hesitation. Since then we have had many delicious breakfasts made in those dishes. The beauty of them is that they are oven-to-table (and apparently even fireproof, although I haven’t tried this). They clean up easily and after many uses they are as beautiful and as white as the day we bought them.
We have added to our collection since then- beautiful teacups that we drink out of on weekends, and a few serving dishes. They all mix and match beautifully and are as elegant as they are practical.
Pillyvuit dishes are made in France.

Heritage Brand: Longaberger


My first Longaberger basket was gifted to me by my mother when I was a teenager. It was a small lidded basket with a handle, and it made me feel important. Over the years it has moved with me many times and housed various things, finally establishing itself as my sewing basket (really, more of a mending basket since I don’t know how to sew). 25+ years later, it is still as beautiful as the day I got it, maybe even more so.
One of my more recent Longaberger purchases was a picnic basket. I wanted a picnic basket that was always packed with the essentials for trips big and small. Someone on Craigslist was selling a whole room full of Longaberger baskets (I kick myself now for not getting more!), and she had three large picnic baskets. I chose the one in the best condition and have filled it with all of the essentials. With this basket my husband and I (and now our daughter) can have civilized meals pretty much anywhere.
Our next basket will be an Easter basket for our daughter.
Because people tend to collect them, used Longaberger baskets can be found in very good condition. If you’re looking for used baskets, the larger ones are best bought locally since shipping can be quite expensive.
These baskets can come with a wide range of plastic protectors, cloth liners, risers, and tags. I tend to prefer a plain, stained wood basket with few add-ons, although in some cases these can be nice. For my sewing basket I use the plastic protector that came with it, and for my picnic basket I use a cloth liner with brightly-colored stripes (the Sunny Day liner).
Longaberger baskets are hand made in the USA.