DIYs · House Remodels · Town Center

Farmer’s Market Reno

I wasn’t long in the Sylvanian Families world before I realized my budget could not keep up with my dreams for their little world in my home. Most of my DIYs are for the creative outlet and the desire to improve or add my own unique touch to the assembly line sameness any line of toys will invariably have. But there are also a few that I’ve turned to in order to expand my Little’s world at less cost. The Li’l Woodzeez line of toys are a cheaper knock off of Sylvanian, but also have some nice features of their own beyond the lower cost. Their biggest draw back is that their coloring is a bit more… vibrant and more plastic-looking than Sylvanian products. Painting them in calmer tones is a fairly ‘simple’ fix – simple to do, yes, but it can also mean a much bigger paint job than needed to just add your own touch to a Sylvanian house.

I’d been eyeing the Li’l Woodzeez Farmer’s Market for months before I finally got it for myself for Christmas. It would be my biggest paint job at that point. I was nervous and asked around on social media for some advice before starting – it felt more daunting somehow than just window trim. I got encouraging advice and felt good about continuing in the same style I had with my windows and house trim. So I scrubbed it all down with the rough side of a kitchen sponge, wiped it off with a damp cloth, and began painting with acrylic craft paints.

I do want to try using spray paint one of these days, as up close you do see the paint brush strokes when using brushes. I’m also about to experiment with a sponge brush on indoor window frames, as I don’t want any splatter but am also thinking it could cut down on brush strokes – I’ll let you know how that goes.

I chose a soft yellow and light blue color combo, and painted it all the yellow first, going back over and adding the light blue after. I did two coats of the yellow, the blue then being a third coat for those sections.

Besides their cheaper cost, my other favorite aspect of Li’l Woodzeez sets is that they really do include a ton of details, usually just raised up but not painted, so the same color as everything else on the wall. But that means that when you paint you can easily bring out SO many little details. It’s super rewarding for a renovation project.

I really debated on the sign, and finally went with a more classic dark green and white combo. It was my first time using a dark green acrylic paint marker, or any paint marker for that matter. They’re awesome! I do admit to needing a bit of touch up and painting white back over some mistakes, and then doing the green again – but hey, that’s what’s great about painting! The marker I bought is thicker in size than my tiny paint brush, and it was too big for some letter edges. So I did my touch-ups with my trusty tiny brush, getting the paint off the marker actually, LOL.

Besides just on the walls I also took my tiny paint brush to some of the accessories and again, bringing out simple details makes things feel so much more real and less like cheap toys. This is especially helpful with these sets that aren’t as high quality as Sylvanian are known to be. Some of the details I pulled out were on the can of fish, the scale, the blue waves on the fish trays, the blue wheel on the cart, the details on the honey jar, the trim on the egg box, etc… And these pictures only include the accessories that originally came with the set, to give you an idea of Li’l Woodzeez sets.

I’m getting close to sharing my Faunavale Town Center,and this Farmer’s Market holds a key focal point. It had once been planned as almost the very heart of that center, as a Farmer’s Market would hold in a small community. But a rare find of a used Applewood Department Store sort of altered my original plans, and have delayed my showing it off too – as I needed to re-arrange and change plans to fit everything in. Stay tuned for that reveal, coming soon – but here is the finished Li’l Woodzeez Farmer’s Market, now very much at home in Faunavale.

Little Adventures

Littles at Szeged Days Festival

The Southern Hungarian city of Szeged celebrates it’s ‘birthday’ each May 21st and the surrounding weekends and week between are called Szeged Days. There’s a wine festival for the entire week, starting the weekend before. Everything culminates on the second weekend with a Hidi Vasar, or Bridge Market, where a major downtown street and the main bridge close to traffic and are lined with booths selling Hungarian artisan crafts and festival foods. Several large squares in the downtown area are set up with concerts, fun play areas for children, plus roaming performers on more streets closed to traffic. It’s really a city-wide party, including fireworks on Saturday. This year we brought Frasier and Teri Chocolate along for the fun, their first experience of Szeged Days.

Teri brought her camera so she could take lots of pictures. Thankfully it had a handy strap so she could also do some shopping! The pottery was her favorite, mine too. There were so many booths with beautiful hand-painted items. Most were not quite Littles’ size, but a few booths had tiny pitchers and some thimbles, and one even had tiny good-luck pigs.

Frasier got adventurous and tried riding several exotic animals – including a dragon…. and a… cow? Okay, just slightly exotic. He also got really excited about the wooden vehicles and just had to climb in and investigate up close.

There were of course lots of yummy treats!

We made sure they experienced a classic and beloved Hungarian festival dessert, the kürtőskalács. Before eating it they got to watch the dough be rolled onto cylinders and cooked over hot coals while spinning. It’s then taken off the cylinder and rolled through various topping options. For their first taste we stuck with the classic cinnamon and sugar, but Frasier wants to try crushed walnuts next time.

One booth particularly startled and scared both Frasier and Teri! But once we explained that the scary looking Busó is basically a Hungarian boogie man connected to an end of winter festival they relaxed. And it helped even more to explain that they’re usually just masks that are worn, not actual creatures themselves – this info gave Frasier the courage to stand next to one so Teri could take a picture. Though he may omit the mask part when showing his friends the photos.

We arrived in the famous Dóm Tér (Dóm Square) in the evening to enjoy an Hungarian celebrity singer, Bródi János, give a fun concert. The Chocolates enjoyed the music and the fun atmosphere.

We hung out right where we were for the coming fireworks, which were timed to begin just after the concert. I was a little worried, with rabbits having such, well, big ears, that the noise of the fireworks would be too loud and hurt the Chocolate’s ears. But they assured me they’d be just fine. There was some laughing too about their daughter Freya’s lungs and her excessive crying as a newborn plus son Coco’s temporary interest in playing the saxophone that both cured them of noise sensitivities. We were directly underneath the fireworks, set off behind the Dóm Cathedral. The fireworks show lasted almost ten minutes and was truly phenomenal. Teri and Frasier were both so impressed and in awe. It was a wonderful ending to their first Szeged Days experience.

For extra fun with this story, you can also view a video on YouTube – our first one! Catch Frasier and Teri in live action, plus some street performers dancing, an artist creating, plus the boom of the fireworks! It may be my first video, but more are planned, so subscribe to know about future videos.


Paint is like Magic!

I’ve had many questions about where I find my plastic flowers that I’ve used in my Littles’ garden creations. It is honestly hard to find tiny flowers. But, once you find some that work you can get out your paint brush and create an impression of many flowers from just a couple. Here is how I did it, with much help from Crystal Babblebrook, Lisa Marguerite, and Minnie Applewood. Imagine the scene from Alice in Wonderland, as they painted the roses red, except we used any colors we wanted! And don’t miss a favorite cheap flower pot hack shared later in this post!

This is a pretty good example of the bulk of what I used to create my most recent Littles gardening arrangements. Besides the flowers being mostly salmon-y pink or white, some of the leaves were more white than green, or just a very light translucent green. I’ve been collecting quite a collection of color options in just a simple acrylic craft paint. I also finally found a nice dark green nail polish. I used the nail polish to darken some of the leaves and stems. Dark green paint can work too of course. It’s just easier sometimes to use that instant nail polish brush and it gives a nice shine that my matt finish paints did not. I also used a lighter green nail polish for many of the stems, nail polish is stickier than paint and works great to cover all sides of a stem in mostly one stroke.

In the first picture the leaves and ‘flower buds’ on the right are original and untouched, while on the left the leaves have been given one coat from the green nail polish, and the little buds painted blue. The second picture shows the many colors I turned those salmon-y pink flowers into. The original, untouched flowers are in the glass vase in front of Lisa Marguerite. The rest have all been painted in some way, including adding more green to some of the white or pink stems.

The next pictures also show how adding a simple touch like a teeny dab of paint in the center of each flower can make an impactful difference:

Favorite Flower Pot Hack!

Used tealights!

Simply paint the outside, insert your filler (I used floral foam), your ‘tea dirt’ and your flowers – simple, easy! The old used wick even helps hold the floral foam in place.

Used tealights!

Favorite Flower Pot Hack!

With paint, or nail polish, and a snip here and there, you can also take one single leaf shape that you started with and alter it for different plants. I love roses and was able to find a few tiny miniature bunches on a rare trip to our big city and a larger craft store there. But they needed leaves. They were also made on white wires instead of green for some reason. I trimmed the larger leaves I’ve used for many of my plants, used the nail polish to make them darker plus painted their wires. They got pride of place in one of my better ‘brick’ raised beds (click here for that DIY) and we’re all happy with them.

We worked hard, the girls and I, on our flowers. My work space was covered with miniature gardening for the bulk of March and April, ending in time for me to move to my full size, outdoor garden. We welcomed the additional help from Katie Hawthorn, plus babies Maisie and Remy. I hope this has encouraged you that even if you can only find a few bunches of flowers that work, size-wise for our Littles, with some paint your options for gardening are actually limitless!

Chocolate Rabbit's Beechwood Hall · DIYs · House Remodels

Curtains and the Chocolate Rabbit Parent’s Room

This post is going to sort of combine two topics – unveiling the finished Chocolate Rabbit Parents’ Bedroom, and giving some helpful tips on making curtains for your houses. Teri & Fraser Chocolate are also going to assist me in showing how to hang up those curtains. Fraser was especially helpful.

So, first things first. We’re moving over to the other side of Beechwood Hall finally. I picked the larger upstairs room for their master bedroom. Now, in this case, ‘larger’ is used very lightly – it is the bigger of the two upstairs rooms that can be divided by the swinging wall, or left as one with the wall folded out. But as I’ve pointed out before, sometimes the rooms in Sylvanian homes are rather tiny. I really had a hard time with furniture layout, and maybe you have too? I gave up trying to use one of my actual double beds, and instead decided they like to really snuggle close and made new bedding for a single bed. If I can fit two pillows on it, we can pretend they can both sleep on there comfortably, right?

There was a time gap of several months between my working on the two halves of this house – mostly due to the wallpaper for this bedroom. I just couldn’t find anything I liked in my existing scrapbook paper hoard, or in the couple craft stores I have access to in our town in Hungary. And then we had a trip to the US to see our adult kids, and it included moving items from one storage unit to another – during which I was able to snag my boxes of my old childhood dollhouse items. I basically filled an entire suitcase with the old plastic shoebox bins that had been packed away for over twenty years. I had a dollhouse when I was in High School, and in those bins was a roll of maybe ten old dollhouse wallpapers from the 1990’s, with just a bit of yellowing and some bending on the edges – but still totally usable. And it included a paper that jumped out at me and inspired me to get back to work and finish the Chocolate Rabbit home!

Teri Fraser totally agreed that the paper I found perfectly fit her vision of the room, and matched her chosen curtains and bedding fabric perfectly. So without further ado – Teri and I present their bedroom.

Oh, I thought we were doing a ta-da! presentation. My mistake. Still, here you can see our combined design efforts with the wallpaper and curtains together. And Teri was so appreciative of Fraser’s help in hanging up the curtains. She knows he’s not a fan of heights, but he still climbed up that ladder for his sweetie.

Fraser grabbed a well-deserved rest on his new bed – and see, two pillows totally fit! Teri was thrilled to get to set up her dressing table again and loved hanging up the new photo of her sweet baby twins. The tiny room next to their bedroom – that’s where the twins sleep and we’ll see that room next time.

Let’s Make Curtains!

Now that you’ve seen their finished room, maybe you’d like a peek at how I made the curtains? And a few other examples too. First, an admission – I do know how to sew and have made curtains for my own home – so I’ve sort of taken those principles and well, shrunk them for miniatures. But, second admission – if I can find a shortcut or avoid extra unseen work that won’t mess up the finished product – I’ll do that. Plus, sometimes in miniature sewing too much folding and layers can just look too bulky – so I’ve not done all the edge trim I’d do on full size curtains. And, well, sometimes glue can work just as well, if not better, than needle and thread – and it can be much quicker. Or double-sided tape. So yes, I think you can totally make curtains without any sewing. Also yes, you can sew your little heart out and create lovely curtains for your dollhouse. That choice is yours. I’ll show you some versions of both sewing and just cutting and glue or taping. Or sometimes a mixture of the two. And while I love my sewing machine, I have yet to use it for miniature sewing. I’ve done all my dollhouse sewing by hand, it’s such little amounts it seemed silly to drag my machine out and get it all up and running for the little bits.

For these curtains I hemmed the sides in and sewed them with a simple straight stitch. Mostly because this style of lace can fray easily and I felt if I’d not hemmed it, or not folded in and sewn, they’d end up looking messy quickly, as the tiny threads would unravel along the edges where it was cut. For most of my early curtains I simply used various size popsicle/ craft sticks for the rods. I cut double-sided tape to the same width as the stick, and then attached the curtain in a gathered way for the fold and ruffles. A good general rule of thumb for a ruffled look is to make the curtain double the length of the curtain rod. You can obviously not need to gather it, but just attach it flat as well. I like the ruffled look. Totally a personal preference. On top I sewed the bit of green floral ribbon, attaching it with just a few stitches. Here’s how it looks attached along the window with a couple small balls of sticky tack.

The above were my very first dollhouse curtains, and in the Grandparent’s Courtyard House I used a few variations of similar methods. In their kitchen, my next curtains, I wrapped a fun trim around the lace and attached it all as one to the tape on the craft stick. But by the time I made their bedroom curtains, I had realized wrapping the trim around the entire craft stick gave a much cleaner, more realistic look. You can see the difference here.

The bedroom curtains above were made without any sewing. I cut the fabric very carefully along a straight line to limit any fraying, and then sort of made sure they fold in a bit. I attached them to the craft stick with the double-sided tape again. And this time, for the ribbon I wrapped it behind the stick and attached it to double-sided tape on the back. Pictures from the Chocolate Rabbit bedroom from above show the folded over ribbon trim well. For those I also added another layer, just as we have in full-size homes: with this same sheer fabric underneath, and pulled back double curtains on top.

In the Chocolate Rabbit House I also branched out and experimented with other forms of curtain ‘rods’, besides the trusty craft sticks. I wanted to see the curtain on the rod, such as with cafe curtains. I don’t have a solution for larger windows, but for ones small enough – a toothpick worked great! As I briefly described in the post on the living room, I glued beads onto the ends of the toothpicks to hold everything in place and serve as the tiny attachments – though, shhh, technically they’re held up, again, with some sticky tack. You can also get a preview of the coming baby’s room and kitchen in the Chocolate Rabbit’s Beechwood Hall remodel.

For the bottom curtains that were strung onto the toothpicks in all the above examples, I did fold it in on each side and sew it to hem it – again, because of the type of lace I used and how easily it would fray. But the top short curtains are just ribbons cut to size and taped, no sewing used or needed.

Which brings me to a final point – picking the fabric or lace and ribbons to use. I don’t have a huge collection of such items, my sewing until this past year of creating for my Littles has mostly involved making curtains for my full-size house and some other simple, straight edged items such as pillow cases and table cloths and runners. I’ve never sewn clothes of any sort and while I have spent years scrapbooking and so have lots of paper craft odds and ends, my sewing collection is not very extensive. But I’ve had lots of fun shopping for it! I kept my eyes open for lace that could work just as it was for cafe curtains or valances above windows. And ribbons – oh so useful! I’m rather picky about patterns being the right size and fitting into my Littles’ world properly, so that has often been the hardest part, especially for fabrics. I hunted and hunted for a sheer fabric that could work as ‘sheers’. It was also tricky in that I was buying new items but didn’t need tons of fabric and a few stores would not sell me fabric in swatches smaller than a meter. This is where I wish I lived in a country that had more and better second hand/ thrift shops, it’s just not part of Hungarian culture. My advice is to keep your eyes open and start building that collection of ribbons and fabric bits and pieces. Here are a few of my favorite finds, to inspire you. I’d love to see some of your window treatments! What have you done to attach your curtains? They add so much to a room, often so simply. Happy creating and decorating!

Chocolate Rabbit's Beechwood Hall · House Remodels

A Space for Family Gatherings

Continuing our tour of the Chocolate Rabbit home, Beechwood Hall, we move directly below Coco and Freya’s bedroom to the largest room in the house. I debated, and this was almost the kitchen, but settled on it being the family Living Room. I chose the furnishing layout first, and thus also the color pallet, as I aimed to work with the colors on the couch and chair set. I have a large collection of scrap booking paper and it has so far served me well in wall-papering my Sylvanian homes.

I think the finished room came out well. I love the curved windows, and it’s also Frasier Chocolate’s favorite afternoon spot, when the sun streams in just so.

A bit about some of the additions to this room. The bottom curtains are strung onto toothpicks with beads glued to the ends. The top ‘blinds’ are bits cut off a bamboo place-mat. The two smaller house plants are glued into beads. And the collection of family photos on the wall are all cut out of catalogs that came with various sets, and inserted into jewellery making parts from a craft store with double-sided tape keeping them in place. I hang most decorative bits with sticky tack, and also use minuscule bits of it to keep some nick-knacks in place.

The family enjoy having a room for gathering and fun events with friends. The Chocolate and Buckley children recently had a fun movie night. Their dads had not planned to intrude, but when they realized the movie chosen, and that there was popcorn and pizza, well….