now browsing by tag


We’re Going on a TREASURE HUNT!

Pin It

Every now and then you need an adventure. Last Friday was our latest.

The front.

My wee sister Julie and I are very similar, but with a little twist on each similarity. I like crunchy peanut butter, she likes creamy, I like Crest, she likes Colgate, I like estate sales where I know the price and can “hem” and “haw” to my heart’s content. Julie likes the fast moving thrill of an auction.

Also the front. This store takes up several storefronts and there’s more stuff around the side.

At a recent auction – and the auctions in Iowa are huge and every bit as wonderful as you could imagine – she didn’t see a dollhouse until it had already sold. Later, when she told me about it, I asked her if she could contact the guy that bought it to see if he would sell it to me. He has a store, and that’s what he does. We offered $30, and he accepted!

So last Friday we set out to the little town of Peterson, Iowa, a scant hour away, to pick up the dollhouse and see what other treasures we could find at the man’s store. It’s called “ThriftnPick.” Here’s the WEBSITE, and here’s the FACEBOOK page.

We had SO MUCH FUN. The store was endless, with row after row, and cranny after cranny filled with treasures, many of which were .25! Wanna see some of the treasures I found?

Linens. A quarter a piece! Good, crisp cotton, or some are 100% linen, all with beautiful embroidery. I use them to make petticoats and underclothes for dolls.

<<<Speaking of embroidery, I got this stand because Julie and I have decided to take up needlepoint as a hobby. True to form, she’s picked crewel embroidery, I’ve chosen cross stitch. This one’s mine from Ebay. I love it! So Steampunk-y. >>>

Speaking of Steampunk, not many would get excited about a bag full of zippers, but this girl would! They have so many uses!

I also found this piece of metal. Another .25! I didn’t know what I would do with it, but it was something you don’t see everyday, so I had to have it. Dollhouse patio furniture, perhaps?

Some more odds and ends:

And now for the piece de la resistance, the dollhouse! It needs some work before I can actually start decorating it.

The front. I can work with this! There were extra pieces of wood inside, including tall, carved wood spindles that would be good for a porch that wraps towards the right. I think I’m going to channel the house in Mary Poppins, complete with a gated square on top.

The back. Here’s where it goes all wonky. There are some rooms only accessible from the inside. I’d like to have the whole back open with two pieces of wood, like a book. But this is good wood, and with a little modification, this will be a great dollhouse.

I also found this beautiful sign.

All in all, it was a glorious day! Including the $30 for the dollhouse, I spent just under $45. Not shown are the kitchen stool, the wooden dollhouse window, a jar of wood findings and a few other odds and ends. THIS STORE HAS NOT SEEN THE LAST OF US! It was like Disneyland. You couldn’t do the whole thing in one day. We’re going back for Julie’s birthday in a week and a half!

If you’re in the area, and love a good treasure hunt, you should go!

And with that, I leave you! Know what? Even with all these fun finds, you’re my favorite treasure!

Next up: RAGBRAI. What is Ragbrai, you may ask? You’ll soon find out!

Pin It

Leisl’s Fall-y

Le BirthA

Photo courtesy of Lois Shimon. Note the bat.

As you may or may not know, Thursday is usually doll day here at the ol’ cork board. And it is! It will be! But first! My debut!

It went very well! I got to talk about my love for Iowa, how this journey began and bats. It was very therapeutic. I am not alone in my fear although I think I can safely say I am still the scardiest cat.

Then I read – out loud and in public! – the prologue and first chapter of my book. No one left or started reading other books (and being in the library, there were hundreds if not thousands around) or fell asleep so…success!

I was a teensy bit disappointed that Colin Firth wasn’t there, but other than that it was perfect.


“Leisl” rhymes with “easel.” You may also recognize the name from The Sound of Music’s “16 going on 17 girl,” – right?

So now we just have a little space and I’ve decided to therefore introduce a little doll to fill it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis poor wee thing! Take note: when you hear a tiny knock at your door make sure you look all around before s-l-o-w-l-y opening it. This diminutive darling was knocked off her pins when my screen door was opened as I simultaneously asked out loud who was there. Thank goodness I happened to look down before stepping out onto the porch, it could have been disastrous!

To make up for it, I made a more than usual elaborate gown with lots of hand beading. She was completely bald, so I made a tiny wig for her with a hank of mohair that I curled with toothpicks and I sewed seed pearls into that too.


In my defense, she was tiny!

Her entire outfit is linen and silk, but she deserved it after the knocking down she’d received when arriving on my doorstep for help! You wouldn’t think it to look at her, but she only spoke German so we never learned what her actual name was. Therefore we called her “Leisl.”

She wasn’t here for long, even with the hand beading. Love is love, and I’m sure that she’s a happy member of someone’s dollhouse somewhere.

ASIGNNow a little plaque hangs on my door, the instructions opposite of what you might find for gifts under a tree:

The Nanny Diary


I had to recover her body. Poor thing was falling apart (I can relate!). I’m going to make a little black and white maid’s uniform for her.

Look at that face. How could you not love that face?! I can hear my sister and probably many of your own voices in my head (a nice break from the usual noise) saying, “Oh. Hmm…yes, of course, Ruth. That doll is very…nice.”

I found this little woman with her wooden hands and her chipped black boots in a baggie on a random shelf in the place I affectionately call “The Crazy Lady’s Store.” For $2!

“Help! Can’t breeve!” she said.

The tone of our relationship was instant. “Hmm?” I replied, looking through the books and knick-knacks on the shelf beside her.

“Can’t breeve!” she called out again.

“Well, yes. But you’re $2! And it’s not even half price day!”


Her hair is a sight. And her head beneath is a funny shape. But those eyes! Those expressive brows! Love.

“Please!” she cried.

“Well, all right.”

In truth, my hands were nearly shaking with excitement. A 100 plus (probably closer to 150) year old glass-eyed, papier-mache-headed doll, and nobody had snatched her up already? That only happens to other people! In books!

I nonchalantly paid and carried her along with my other purchases in a large paper sack out to the car. Once inside with the door closed I reached into the bag where she lay amongst the vintage fabric scraps and other treasures I’d found, and I finally opened her little baggie.

“Thank you,” she said, her large eyes squinting in the sunlight as she looked around.

“You’re quite welcome,” I replied. “But if you’re going to come live with me, you’ll have to earn your keep.”

“Of course! Of course I will!”


This is the house pre-Gertie while it was still under construction (from an old house. Some of the walls were made of cardboard and needed to be replaced, along with the roof). There were only the triplets then. See that usurper in the bedroom above, as far away from the triplets as possible? That was one of the previous nannies. There were several, poor things.

And she has. She’s kept up her end of the bargain and I’ve no complaints, because I certainly couldn’t do what she does. Remember those triplets from yesterday? Well, they aren’t the half of it! She is nanny to eight little orphans. And counting! And she does it all in this two bedroom crooked little dollhouse. Not only that, she does it with love.


Gertie’s pride and joy (next to her charges, of course), the kitchen. Best tip of the day – from Casey’s minis, I’m sure: clear fingernail polish on sheet plastic makes GREAT wavy glass windows. You HAVE to have wavy glass!




I’ve written countless stories about her and I could write countless more. Alas, she was cut from the first book in the series due to space, but there is no way I could keep her and her charges out entirely! Not possible! Gertie – for that is her name, she told me – has a very important and pivotal role to play in the books to come.

Bless her heart.

SofaR, So Good


This orange sofa I made is being helpfully displayed by the triplets. It’s unusual to find three alike all-bisque’s that managed to stay together for so many decades, but they have! Some day I will repaint their features, but they’re rambunctious enough, even without their mouths!

There are many other blogs that I love. Blogs that I find useful. Blogs that I aspire to emulate some day. For today’s mini post, I point to my favorite blog on Minis: Casey’s Minis. She is AMAZING and it’s hard not to be intimidated. How many hours are there in the day again?

Clearly she has many more hours than me! So charming! So many pictures! Everything so perfectly done! Fer cryin’ 0ut loud, she weaves her own dollhouse wicker!

Ahem. Well, all’s I can do is all’s I can do. I made this sofa based on the one she made in her December 9, 2011 post.

Hers is a nice beige. Mine’s a furry orange from an old piano scarf that I found in crazy lady’s store. Looks like something Hagrid would sit on if he were a dollhouse man instead of a half giant (Harry Potter reference, of course!).


That’s some pretty wild wallpaper we’ve got going there…YEP!

It’s a piece in my much adored dollhouse given to me by a much adored woman here in town. The dollhouse itself, as well as the many characters who inhabit it, will be featured in a future “Hazel Twigg & the Hollyhock Hideaway” book series.

If I’m writing a book, there MUST be a dollhouse! Mine’s slightly crooked, and clearly “Good Enough Construction Company” (of which I am the sole owner/operator) got ahold of it. Witness the lopsided walls! But it’s sturdy! It’ll stand! It chock full of love if not skill!



In other news, Sweet Sophie did well by me last night. It was the first night of bats! I’m sure of it! Thankfully, none came to visit me INSIDE my house. That I know of. Of course, my eyes had to close for at least part of the night, so…