A Porch with a View


Welcome to my little slice of the Kenyan savanna. I’ll give as much detail as I can about where everything came from. If I leave anything out feel free to ask.

I wanted the tent to be lived in, but not too messy, warm, and welcoming. All of the rugs in the tent are from miniatures.com. They were each faded and worn using paint and the sanding bit on my Dremel.


The chairs and the folding stool were designed by me using pictures from the internet as my models. I wasn’t happy with the “leather” seat on the stool, so I replaced it with a canvas one. The chairs are made using the thinnest dowels I could find at the craft store, glue, some black card stock, some paint, and faux leather vinyl. The vinyl had a fuzzy backing on it making it too thick. Using that handy sanding bit on the Dremel I was able to sand the fuzz of the back. That made it much thinner and it ended up looking like the back side of a hide. Win, win! After some paint, stain, and a few thin black lines, I ended up with a seat material that looked pretty convincing.

The little cup was a birthday present to myself. I bought it and the little journal at a local dollhouse store called The Toy Box. The journal was aged using sandpaper and given labels using tiny pieces of masking tape. For the papers, I found images of old antique naturalist journals on google, resized the images to be roughly 8×11, and then printed them using my computer. They were just crumpled a little to make them well used.


The little black mamba started out life as a tiny bright orange snake with black stripes. It was surprisingly easy to paint him the right colors. He means no harm. He’s just looking for a snack.


The Moroccan inspired lantern was made using a pair of earrings I had bought weeks before I even received my kit. I added some jewelry findings and beads, chain, paint and a tiny little LED light. The battery is hidden under the rain tarp and can be turned on by applying pressure in just the right spot.


The bottles for the butterfly jars were purchased from the craft store or miniatures.com. The table was made from a slice of closet dowel. I had received the little Coleman lamp last year for my birthday. With a little thinking outside of the box, I was able to electrify it.

The flooring was made with placemats that were found at a local thrift store.


The little black pot was another Toy Box purchase. The fire grate was made using toothpicks and pieces of wire. The basket is a piece of woven cotton webbing (used for belts) glued together in a tube and painted. It’s filled with tiny little pieces of wood from my yard.

The yellow grasses (there are 2 different textures) are from decorative brooms that I picked up at thrift stores. The yellow flowers and patches of greener short grass are also thrift store finds. The rocks around the fire pit are from my driveway. I also used very old potpourri, that was easy to crumble, as dirt and debris.


I’ll give details about the inside when I share more pictures of the inside.


I loved how this picture turned out, until I realized I had left the piece of card board that I was using as a reflector in the picture. Doh. Oh, well.


The wood beams are dowels that I sanded with the Dremel, stained, and painted. The roping is jute string and the fabric is simple cotton muslin in 2 different colors that I sewed together in panels.

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Not a bad view.


Under African Skies

Amelia met her husband while studying anthropology in New York. They dreamt of a life of adventure and travel – exploring the dark corners of the world – but he enlisted the day after Pearl Harbor. When he died, Amelia was devastated but slowly she picked herself up and in the spring of 1949 – and against her family’s wishes – Amelia packed her clothes and her determination into a steamer trunk then headed across the Atlantic.

She spent a year living in Liberia among the Toma tribe and earned their friendship as well as an ornate horned mask – a token usually only earned by tribal boys who became of age. She recruited a group of locals to trek into the Belgian Congo. During the expedition across the continent, some encounters were peaceful like when she was bestowed a handsome wooden doll and a splendid woven shield from the Zande tribe in the Congo. Other adventures were harrowing – including the day she came face-to-face with cannibals but quick-witted Amelia tamed them by sharing her expansive collection of butterfly specimens.

Her experiences strengthen her childhood convictions that every corner of the world is beautiful and worth preserving. Now, living alongside the Massai in the grasslands in Kenya, Amelia studies the flora, fauna, and people of the region. The Massai have gifted her various weapons, and a large Korhogo mud cloth painting that she hangs over her bed. In the afternoons, she writes manuscripts and textbooks about the local culture and wildlife to tell the world about the vulnerability and majesty from deep within the African continent; and the evenings, she sips tea and watches a new family of Fennec foxes play and hunt around her tent.





I have a ton of detail shots that I’ll be sharing in batches. I wish we could submit more than 4 pictures. There are so many pictures that capture the essence of the tent, but don’t show much of the detail. Oh, well. I’m proud of it.

Thank you everyone for all of your kind words and words of encouragement. It’s wonderful being part of such a supportive community. Thank you all!

It is done…

I just pushed the “register” button for my entry.

After I come down off of the “oh my goodness, what have I done, were those the right pictures?” high, I’ll over share my final pictures.

eeep…what have I done….

Breathing Room

I’ll probably regret this tomorrow, but I’m going to say I think I can breathe. Just tiny, tiny breaths, but breaths all the same. 

The landscaping is done (except attaching the 2 last ropes) and I’ve gotten pretty far in furnishing. The rugs are stuck down, the shelves are stuck down, the trunks are stuck in place. I had to stop when I started accessorizing the work table. My brain is fried. Maybe a good night sleep and I can wrap it up in the morning. 

I think I’ve found a good spot for photos. I was looking for a big field, with longish grass, and no signs of modern life. There are some open fields across the street from the air force base. Now, I just have to get over the fear of looking like a crazy person setting up a dollhouse photo shoot on the side of a busy road. 

Time for a nice quiet night so I can knock out the rest of this tomorrow. My goal is to be done and submitted by tomorrow night. Then I can officially consider it done early. 

Tick, tick, tick…

Just a quick update- today was pretty productive. The rain tarp and the ropes to hold it on are all in place! Well, mostly. I left 2 of the ropes loose to make reaching my big hands into the tent a tad bit easier. 

I’ll be adding landscaping around the edges of the tent and the path. Similar to the front. 

So far, so good. Until tomorrow. 


There were 2 lessons I thought I learned last year. First, don’t wait until the end to figure out where the lights are going. And second, don’t wait until the end in general. Well, it’s official, I didn’t learn either lesson. 

The lights are the easier of the 2 problems to fix. I was able to hide batteries in and behind furniture. There are 3 lights I ended up not using. I don’t think they really added anything. 

Now, the “don’t wait until the end part”, yeah, I don’t think I’ll ever learn that lesson. 

The list doesn’t look long. However, add in all of my normal “adult” responsibilities, holiday responsibilities, and my husband being out of town 2 days this week (making me sole taxi driver, chef, and game warden to my 3 kids). 

This is the state of things right now. This is the last side that needs landscaping. Not a lot more to do, it just takes a long time. It can end up feeling like your planting a lawn one blade of grass at a time. 

The rug on the front porch is secured down and I know where I want to put the chairs. If you look carefully you’ll see the black mamba who’s come for a visit. 

Everything is attached to the walls on the inside. I’m waiting until the landscaping is done before I secure down much more. I tend to make a mess when I garden. 

The list of things to do flips back and forth between feeling oppressive and not feeling likes it’s really that bad. I’m sure it will come together quickly, fingers crossed. 

28 days…

Where has the year gone?

Twenty eight days left until this little tent has to be done.

Please excuse me while I go freak out.

Here’s a lovely, calming picture of a sunflower as a thank you for stopping by today. I’ll be chained to my craft table for the rest of the day. 

Quick Progress Update

My neighbors probably think I’m crazy. I spent a portion of the morning burning small sticks and kindling. Sitting on my front porch, holding tiny sticks with tweezers, lighting them on fire, and then placing them in a bowl to catch the ash. Totally normal neighbor behavior. The newest neighbor on the block did a double take when she drove by this morning. Im not sure explaining to her what I was doing will help any…

“Well, you see, I’m creating a dollhouse sized wall tent set in 1950’s Africa and I needed realistic looking ash and burned sticks for the fire pit. The tweezers were so I didn’t burn myself, obviously.” – see totally normal. 

Before I had even started this built I had bought the little black pot. I was planning on hanging it above the fire pit, but it doesn’t hang level. I wouldn’t want any food to spill out on the fire. I don’t like being wasteful when I camp.  I built a little over the campfire grill grate thing (technical term). Now my little adventurer can make something in the pot and something on the grill. It’s made out of thin wire, toothpicks, super glue, a few choice words, and paint. 

Obviously from reading my story above you already know that I had decided that the best way to get authentic looking ash and burned logs was to use authentic ash and burned sticks. Ash was brushed onto the rock ring and around the campfire as well. And I’m calling it done. Another item crossed off the list. Unless I decide something needs to go into the pot. 

I worked on some lighting this week too, but haven’t gotten pictures yet. I’ll take some when I’m done with that part. I also decided I needed a fourth rug for the porch area. Of course it’s the one that gave me the hardest time. Using the dremel to sand the rug caused the threads to pull through making the whole rug bunch up. Then I had to do extra trimming on the front and back to get it to flatten out. I ended up dousing it with starch and ironing it. It’s nice and flat now, it just looks extra well worn. 

After the lighting is installed, the roof goes on, decor goes in, and then I finish landscaping the open side of the tent, then I think I might be done. Crazy. 

Easter Eggs

I like to hide Easter eggs in my dollhouses. I mentioned the tiki, that represents where my husband and I got married, in a previous post. I also use butterflies and bees in my builds (my flower shop was Butterfly Flowers and there was a mural of a bee on the side). I’ll use names of family members and dates if I need numbers or names. I even used artwork my kids had made for a tiny little art gallery. They are just little ways to capture memories. 

When I was about 4, my dad was hired by the State Department. Our first tour abroad was in Monrovia, Liberia in West Africa. We lived there for about 3.5 years.

To me, our home was paradise. I could play outside all day. I would climb trees and  create forts in bushes in the yard. I’d capture grasshoppers, tadpoles, and snails to keep in jars in my room. I even remember finding what I thought were cockroach eggs and I tried hatching them. I was a weird kid. I loved the rain storms. I loved the flowers. It’s the first home I really remember. 

I decided that I needed to have a small tribute to Liberia in this tent. 

I found this mask on Pinterest. It spoke to me and it turns out it’s a mask from the Toma Tribe in Northern Liberia. Perfect.

I decided to work on it today while I waited for the glue I used for the trim wood around the base of the landscaping to dry. 

Here’s my replica. It’s made with balsa wood, toothpicks, cheesecloth, a couple of seed beads, some red thread, and a tiny bit of masking tape. The basic shapes were cut out and glued together, painted, sanded, dusted with chalk, stained, and painted some more. The fibers were glued to the mask after they were painted. The tips of the horns got a coat of clear nail polish to give them a tiny bit of shine. 

I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. 

Here they are side by side. Isn’t he cute? 

Now all of my diversion projects are done. I’m still waiting for my lighting supplies to get here, so I can’t work on any more lights (I still need to find the right drill bit though, so maybe it’s good they aren’t here yet). The only projects that leaves me with are landscaping and finishing up the trip wood around the base. Oh,  I also need to weather the canvas for the roof. 

As I get closer to done I keep getting this strange emotion that’s a combination of giddy and scared, maybe. It’s hard to explain. Anyway, I’ll stop rambling for the night. I’ll check in again soon when after I get some of my landscaping done.  

As a bonus for reading my ramblings, here’s the trunk I made to hide the battery for one of my lights. It was supposed to be a suitcase, but it just looked too big. I used fabric from an old tie, masking tape for the “leather” parts, and black card stock with gold rub’n buff for the metal accents. The base kit was purchased from Alpha Stamps


Things are being crossed off my list slowly. The smaller green shelves had been put aside, waiting for some bottle blanks to arrive. 

This is what the shelves looked like the last time I shared them. I had ordered some bottle blanks in both 1:12 and 1:24th scale from Alpha Stamps and just needed to wait for them to arrive. The shelves did get a coat of teal paint. The bright green just wasn’t doing it for me.

The tiny bottles came in the mail yesterday. The labels were images I had found in google. After printing them, cutting them out and glueing them on, I gave the label a light coat of nail polish top coat. Some of the bottles are made from larger plastic wine bottles that I had picked up at a local dollhouse shop. I cut them down, sanded them to smooth out the rough edges, and then glued tops on to make them look more like bottles and jars (the orang and green bottles on the top right, the green bottle and small silver capped bottle on the middle left, and the clear bottle with the gold top on the middle right were all made from the wine bottles). 

I’m calling the shelves done. They are officially crossed off the list. 

I’m working on how to hide the batteries for a couple of lights that I’ve made. One will be hid in a suitcase I’m working on right now. Another will be hid behind the shelves. That one won’t take too much fussing. The rest of the lights will be using a battery hid in the ceiling of the tent. I just have to wait for the rest of the light kits to get here.

 One thing I thought I had learned from my last build was not to wait until the end to install the lights. I guess what I really learned is that I have commitment issues with furniture and lighting. I now know where I want everything to be set up. However, at the beginning of this process I had completely different ideas. I’m glad I didn’t wire for where I thought I’d want the lights. I’d be going back and changing everything. This approach gives me more chances to practice my creative problem solving. I seem to get a chance to practice that almost daily.