Saturday, January 21, 2023

Tea with Lena: The Rainbow High Doll House

Most of you have probably met my beautiful assistant at this point.  She's the Barbie Signature Looks #1 model from 2021, and she has a face mold called Lina.  I've always assumed that the name Lina is pronounced "Leena," and so I often make the mistake of typing Lina's name with an "e" instead of an "i."  I actually prefer the Lena spelling, and so from now on I'm going to use that.  Lena says she wants to be distinguished from all of the other Linas in some way, too, and I can't blame her.

In any case, Lena works hard around here, offering size comparisons for almost every single review, so a few weeks ago, when she asked me for a favor, I was eager to please.  What Lena wanted was to be more involved with some of the reviews.  She suggested starting a new series called Tea with Lena, where she could address a variety of topics that I might ignore because they don't warrant a full-blown review.  And, she thinks she can bring a unique perspective as someone with a very personal connection to the doll world.

So, today the tables are turned, and I'm gong to be Lena's assistant as she launches this new series.  She'd like to start things off by showing you around her new house, which she purchased in December from a Rainbow High family.  Other topics might come up along the way--something that I suspect will be common with these interludes.  Are you ready for some Tea with Lena?  She tidied up and bought a brand-new tea set just for you:

Lena relaxing in the kitchen of her Rainbow High House ($199.99).

First of all, Lena found her house on sale at Amazon for $60, so the $199.99 suggested retail was not relevant to her, thank goodness.  She also got a decent mortgage before interest rates went up again.

The house came in an absolutely enormous box.  The pieces of the house are made out of compressed wood, so the box was really heavy, too.  Neither Lena nor I were able to lift on our own:

Jett was Lena's real estate agent.
I didn't document any of the construction process for this house, but I built it myself in about three hours. The time went by quickly, and nothing left me wanting to scream or curse.  Lena watched and gave some tips that were helpful...and some comments that were not.  

I didn't run into any real problems while I was building the house, but one piece of advice I'll share, which is something my mom passed on to me when I was a teenager, is this: don't tighten all of the screws completely until all nearby screws and all relevant pieces are in position.  That makes it easier to align everything perfectly before it's locked into place.

The two elements of the house that I don't like are the elevator (it's hard to move) and the front doors.  The doors don't swing smoothly, and they fall off too easily.  Still, Lena insisted on having the doors in place so she could formally welcome you inside!

Come on in!
Immediately inside the front door is the living room.  The elevator access is the door on the left, but we blocked that off:

As you can see, the previous owners had a thing for rainbows.
Lena has several renovations planned for this house, which I'm sure she'll tell you about in future posts, but she did a few quick-and-easy things right away.

The first thing she did was to get me to add lighting.  I found adhesive LED lights on Amazon that we affixed to the ceiling in many of the rooms.  These run on rechargeable batteries and cost $12 for a pack of 5.  The light they produce isn't great for photos, so we might have to tinker with the set-up.

The other thing we did was cover the windows with scenes that are more appealing than my basement:


The house came with several pieces of furniture for each room, like this rainbow chair:


Rainbows are not really Lena's thing, but this chair is comfy, so she might keep it:

It has good lumbar support.
Printed on the wall behind the chair, there's a small sparkly table with some items on display:


On the other side of the room, there's a large couch and a clear plastic chest:


The couch is made mostly out of plastic, but I think the cushions are vinyl.  They are hollow and slightly compressible:


The couch looks pretty sleek, but Lena is eager to replace it:

It's like sitting on a rock.
I think she makes it look pretty comfortable, but what do I know?

I make everything look good, Emily.
Above the couch, there's a drawing of a unicorn made of clouds.  I think it's great, but Lena wants to replace it with something more modern and "cultured:"


There's a bookshelf drawn on the adjacent wall--with lots of fashion books (and another unicorn!):

Don't forget the Poopsie toys!
Right next to the living room, there's a full bathroom:

The rainbows are more subtle in this room.
We covered the bathroom windows with some multicolored stained glass paper.  For privacy.


The shower and the sink are attached to one another, and I found this block of items difficult to assemble.  The clear plastic side on the shower is always falling off, and the sink connection is not secure.  However, the shower and sink are advertised as having a working water feature, which is pretty cool.  Lena and I have not experimented with that yet--in part because Lena is way too tall for the shower:

If I can't wash my hair, what's the point?
It's too short for Rainbow High dolls, too:

I see what you mean, Lena.
The bathtub is way too shallow for soaking, too, so--knowing Lena--I suspect this will have to be replaced at some point.

There's an attractive scene printed on the wall opposite the shower, and there's even a plastic rod with a real terry cloth towel:

That towel is way too small for me, and those aren't my initials.
I think the towel looks good, but I guess that's another thing we might have to upgrade.

Thankfully, the toilet is the right size for Lena:

I like the yellow Pooparoo toilet better, though.
Speaking of yellow, on the second floor, right above the living room, there's a small laundry area:

Isn't the color of this room great?
One of the walls of the laundry room came with a chip in the wood.  This is the only serious damage we noticed on the whole house:


The left laundry room wall is decorated with some shelves and cleaning products:


And the right hand wall has a printed shelf with a pair of three-dimensional plastic hooks:


There's a washer/dryer with little bubbles molded into the clear plastic window:


This unit opens, and has a drum that spins when the silver button is pressed:


I was wondering which was missing, the washer or the dryer?  But Lena scoffed and told me it's possible to have both in one machine.  It's very European, or so she says.

Next to the laundry room is Lena's (and my) favorite space--the kitchen!


This room came with the most furniture and accessories.  There's an island (with a bar stool) and a sink unit on one side:


The wall over the island is decorated with some cartoon art featuring a Poopsie unicorn:


The sink and island are both made out of plastic, but they have countertops that look like marble:


The cupboards under the sink open, but the drawers above them do not:


The cupboard shelves look like they should slide in and out so that they can be removed and rearranged, but they actually don't budge.  The edges of the cupboard doors block their progress:


It would have been great to have the shelves be easily removable.  Maybe if I take the cabinet doors off it'd be possible?

Yeah, because where do I put all of my taller things?
On the opposite side of the kitchen, there's a refrigerator and a stove:


The refrigerator has some scratches on the front:


It also has a fake window, with a sticker showing several drinks:

That sticker looks so fake.
The fridge opens to reveal three shelves and a crisper drawer on top, and a freezer compartment with its own shelf on the bottom:

There's nothing but drinks in here!
The crisper drawer pulls out:


The fridge is good, but the scratches on the front, the unrealistic sticker on the door, and the lightweight plastic construction might inspire me to look for a replacement some day.  There are some cool 1:6 fridges being made these days!

The oven looks nice, too, but it does not have any moving dials:

How do I even turn it on?
It comes with a single frying pan:


Lena can hold the pan, but it's a little awkward:

Hey!  I'm doing my best.
The eggs and bacon Lena is cooking are courtesy of the Li'l Woodzeez Diner.  They didn't come with the house.

The oven door opens:


And the rack pulls out:


Which makes it easier for Lena to slide things in and out of the oven:

Too bad all I have is this frying pan.
There's some storage underneath the oven, too:

...for the frying pan.
Both the stove and the fridge fit into a plastic cabinet that comes complete with an oven hood and a fake marble backsplash.  Here's the cabinet on its own:

I'm just checking the measurements in case I need a new fridge...
Lena really likes the green color on the left wall of the kitchen, and the decorations there are nice, too.  So we might not have to do any painting in this room:


There are a lot of items sitting on the counters in that last group of photos, so Lena and I took those things into the studio for some close-up pictures.

First, there's a silver laptop:


This is supposed to say "sparkle," but the lettering is mostly worn away.

The screen of the computer has a bunch of Rainbow High faces:

Those are the previous owners of the house, checking to see how I'm doing.
The kitchen also comes with a vinyl takeout carton:


This doesn't say anything except "sparkle," so I'm not sure what kind of food it's meant to be:


Maybe no food at all, since it's completely hollow!


There's also a plastic toaster:


The black handle wiggles, but it doesn't do anything:

  

There's no mechanism inside:


The one grocery item in this set is a box of Frostie Sparkle cereal:


There's a molded flap, but the box doesn't open:


Lena is going to have to stock the kitchen.  She can do better than old takeout and sugary cereal.

Once there's food in the house, she'll be able to eat it using the tableware that's provided:

Again...not my initials.
All of the other kitchen accessories are drinks.  The set comes with five different beverages:


Glittorade is the most clever, I think:


For the last part of the tour, Lena took the elevator up to the third floor.  She only got stuck twice:

We should try some WD-40 or something, Emily.
At the top of the house is Lena's bedroom!

Look at how big and bright it is!
This area is dominated by a large plastic/vinyl bed with a bright red blanket and pillows:


Like the living room couch, the bed has a compressible mattress.

The bed isn't very comfortable, but Lena still enjoys laying there and looking up at the big sky lights!

As long as it doesn't rain.
Next to the bed, there's a rickety little plastic bedside table with a drawer that, if you work hard enough, will eventually open:

I don't like this table, Emily.  Add it to the list of things to replace.
That list is getting pretty long, Lena.

Sitting on the table, there's a makeup kit.  Here's a closer look at that:



Lena's biggest complaint with the bedroom is that it has way too much pink, and way too many wall decorations.

On the left wall, there's a table (which looks much nicer than the plastic bedside table), some luggage, a fashion form, and a big neon sign that says Rainbow High:


I love the golden balloon unicorn on the table, but--again--Lena thinks it's tacky:

I like those flowers, though.
One thing I should mention is that the pieces of the house come with little stickers on them, like this one, which I forgot to remove:

I kept telling you to double-check for stickers, Emily!
The letters help assure that you're putting the right pieces together at the right time, so they're nice to have, but they can be difficult to remove.  When I scraped off several of the more stubborn stickers, they left behind some residue.  And then, when I tried to remove the residue with Goo Gone, the pink color on the wall started to rub off, too.  This also happened when I dusted the whole house with a damp rag.  So be careful about cleaning this house; the color is not durable.

The other bedroom wall has an even bigger neon sign that says "dreaming is always in fashion."  There's also a shelving unit with a Jett Dawson doll!

And another Poopsie toy!
To the right of the bedroom, there's a little balcony with an acrylic railing and a hot tub:

I'm gonna need a cute bathing suit, Emily.
The hot tub has a button that activates water jets on all four sides.  We haven't tested this out yet, but we will...once I find Lena a bathing suit.


Lena has been slowly adding in some extra items.  Like this three-dimensional fashion form from Jett Dawson's set:


And some Mini Fashion and other random accessories:


We've added a few things to the kitchen, too--like some better food and a metal mini MacBook:

That Mac is just like yours, Emily!
Lena had a lot of things to add to the laundry room, since that's the best place to store all of her new clothes:


For Christmas this year, I thought it would be nice to (finally!) get Lena a new wardrobe.

She wants to model a few of the pieces for you:

These pants are really tight.
The leggings and top are from Elite Doll World, and the shoes are from Jennifer Sue Dolls.  The shoes are incredible, but the print on the houndstooth leggings is more faint than Lena would have liked.


Here's another combination of pieces from Elite Doll World:


And another!

I love this combination.  Bravo Elite Doll World!
Lena can even pair these pieces with her original outfit:


This beige loungewear is her favorite for hanging around at home:

It's so comfy, but I still look good.

So, that's the tour of the house!  What's next, Lena?

Well, I guess I should probably invite someone over for tea, right?
Yeah, that's a good idea--to get the series really started.

Ok, why don't we call my sister and invite her over?
I called Lena's younger sister, Sela, who recently moved to our neighborhood from Target.  She was happy to stop by!

Hiya everyone!
Emily, why don't you go over Sela's backstory while I pour the tea?
Sure thing, Lena.

Sela is one of the basic Made to Move Barbies from 2021.  She cost $16.99 (the price has gone up $2 since 2015).  The packaging didn't change much in the last six years, though:

Made to Move Barbie, GXF06, $16.99.
There are four dolls in this series, and they're all shown on the back of the box:


I saw the redhead at Target a while ago (she kinda scared me), but she's harder to find now.  The other two dolls were in stock last week:

The poses are so awkward.
I originally thought that the girl in the green outfit would be a great sister for Lena.  She has a similar hair color and skin tone.  But I didn't really like her face in person--it's too generic, and she looks nervous:


Sela seemed like a more unique and interesting doll to me.  And we know Lena's sister is interesting.

She balances well on her own, and comes with a two-piece, purple-themed athletic outfit:


The facial screening on these basic dolls is not as good as it is on the Signature Looks dolls, but I think Sela has a lovely face:


Here she is from the back--the extra bit of elastic sticking up on her shirt is a little distracting:


I took Sela's ponytail down right away.  Her hair feels nice and has a rooted side part.  The color is mostly dark brown, but there are some lighter brown highlights that are very pretty:


The rooting is good, too:


Sela's workout clothing is well-made and looks sturdy:


But you can see why some of that elastic strap was sticking out!  There's a lot of excess:


I totally understand why the basic Made to Move dolls come in workout gear, but I wish some of the releases had everyday clothing.

Sela is a great doll for under twenty bucks, and I really like her.  In general, though, the unique face molds, fashionable outfits, and better facial screening on the Signature Looks dolls (like Lena) easily make them worth the extra $5.

No offense, Sela.
In an effort to give Sela some regular clothing, I purchased this Barbie clothing pack for $10.99:


The fabric on these clothes is made out of recycled plastic, which is pretty cool!


Here's Sela in the dress and belt (the shoes are from a different set):


The dress is fine, but there's a little defect in the zigzag trim in front, and the fit is tight in the back.


The dress is way better than the second outfit, though.  It's pretty ridiculous:


The fit on those pants is so strange!  They're not long enough, and they get super tight at the knee before flaring out.

So this is going to have to be Sela's new look:


The flame glasses are great.  They almost make the outfit pack worth it:


So, that's the scoop with Sela!  

Now let's go back and see how the tea is going:

Oh, Lena!  This tea set is so pretty!
But the cups are, like, impossible for me to hold.
I might have to take some responsibility for the awkward cups. Oops.

Here, do you want an iced tea instead?  It's easier to hold.
Poor Lena had to clear away the tea that she'd worked so hard to prepare!  Now I feel bad.

So, what's the scene in the Barbie section back at Target?
Oh, my gosh.  So, the other day I met two of our cousins, and they're really cute!
I got some pics on my phone, take a look.  They've gotten really into yoga recently.

Oh, she's adorable!
She looks so young.  Emily, you'll like her freckles!
But those buttons on their necks look uncomfortable.
And then, omg, Lena, Kristin from down the aisle got braces...and they do not look good!
Ahhhh!
Seriously!?  Is that even for real??  Who's her orthodontist?
I can't even look at that anymore!  Tell me about something else, quick!
Ok, so you know the Barbie Extra Minis?  Well, there are mini MINIs now!
Three different ones!
Emily, you should review this one.
Oh--and this one, too! I like her skirt.
This one has too many rainbows.
Wait a sec, Sela, who are these girls?
13.5" My First Barbie dolls.
Oh, you don't know them?  You should have one over for tea, but they're really tall! 
Yeah, they won't fit in this house, but I bet Emily will review them.
Too bad she's so slow at writing reviews.
I had the feeling I was being ganged up on at this point, so I suggested that maybe Sela should head home for the night.  I'm sure she'll be back to visit another day.

See you next time, sis!
What's the tea?  Well, I'm not sure exactly what Lena has up her sleeve for this series, but I suspect she'll chat with some different friends, share renovations to her house, and maybe talk about upcoming releases. She doesn't get insecure or intimidated very easily, so I'm sure she'd be open to any suggestions, too.

In the meantime, I can safely say that if you can find it on a good sale (and have somewhere to put it!) the Rainbow High House is a lot of fun.  It's not a simple undertaking to put it together, but once assembled, it feels solid and impressive.  The size is intimidating to look at, but it's great for play.  There's plenty of room to reach in and set up furniture and accessories.  I wish that there were fewer Rainbow High decorations on the walls, to make it more versatile, but Rainbow High fans will probably be thrilled.  One other downside is that I noticed when I tried to wipe away dust and sticker residue, the painted color on the walls and floors rubbed off way too easily.  I'd advise against scrubbing or using chemicals to clean the surfaces of this house.

Some of the included furniture (like the couch and the bed) feel solid and nice, while other pieces (like the bedside table and clothing rack) are flimsy.  I also found the shower/sink unit difficult to assemble, and it does not feel very secure.  The elevator is a pain, too, and does not slide up and down easily.  The water features in the sink, shower, and hot tub are tempting to try, but I don't really want water in the house (it could damage the compressed wood) and I'd worry about mold building up over time.  Overall, though, it's nice to have some furniture included for each room.  The rooms look very inviting, and I can picture kids playing for hours using just what's included with the house.

For the $60 that I paid, I was happy with the smaller accessories that came with this set, but if I'd paid $200, I'd have wished for more items--and a better variety.  Most of the kitchen accessories are random drinks; there's very little food and only one pan.  Nothing is more depressing to me than an empty refrigerator (in real life or in the doll world).  It can be expensive to stock a 1:6 kitchen, but that will probably be Lena's and my first priority.

I can see how this doll house would be a dream come true for kids who love Rainbow High.  But it's also a dream come true for me.  I've always wanted a doll house project, and this one offers a well-designed, solid structure that is a perfect starting point.  I may eventually replace all of the furniture and repaint all of the walls, but in the meantime, the included furniture and accessories give Lena a reasonably comfortable, bright, cheerful place to live.  And she deserves that.

19 comments:

  1. Ha! Getting roasted by your own dolls is something else. But you take your time writing, Emily, don't stress!

    Also, do you have a picture of the entire assembled house? I would love to see the whole thing in one shot if possible.

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  2. Oh my, Lena is such a good assistant, everytime you bring her into a review, she takes the spotlight. She's such a main character. When I was younger, I had the Fashion Fever Barbie's furniture, well, with the exception of the bed. But I had everything else, the vanity, the couch and guitar, the cat house, the laundry basket and dresser thant came with Teresa in pijamas...it was pink alright but the oriental design and the white and all the accessories were so worth it. The quality was incredible and I regret so much when all my doll things where gifted to a cousin, especially the Fashion Fever furniture, which is so expensive on Ebay right now. There was also a living room set with Barbie (Teresa was the bedroom) that came in blue and purple instead of pink and white, but the theme was more of retro "mod" for Barbie instead of asian-rocker for Teresa. Sorry for this super long comment, but this review triggered such a nostalgic memory for me. I hope you'll get a look to those Fashion Fever furniture sets. Can't wait for Lena's redecoration shenanigans!
    Much Love, Luis

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  3. What a wonderful idea!! So nice to catch up with Lena and her new outfits look great! Sela really looks like her sister too. The house is amazing!! I don’t have the space for that but wow I wish I did! I look forward to seeing the renovations! Thanks for showing us what’s new at Target. The Barbie Extra Mini Minis are very tempting.

    This was such a fantastic read. I cracked up laughing several times. Lena is quite the charmer. I have one of her friends, Looks #7 and she’s a big personality too.

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  4. This was an absolute fun read! I love this new series and can't wait to see what's in store. Lena, you're fantastic.

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  5. It's so cool that you got a house for Lena! Can't wait to see how you redecorate. I'd remove the fridge sticker and cover all defects with magnets (tiny puffy stickers or magazine images). The tea segment is awesome! You are so good at posing dolls. And I love Sela. I got one too on an Amazon sale for under $10. She has the June sculpt, one of my new favourites.

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  6. I want one sooooooo badly! Have to figure out a place for it first. I have that green tea set too! I can see your reviews taking off into a completely new direction now and can’t wait for what’s to come! Nice that Lena has some new outfits to wear too; good to see her chillin’ instead of working all the time. I wouldn’t be surprised if her guests try to figure out how to get an assistant gig with you…..
    This is going to be so much fun!—MnGrl

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  7. Aww what a great idea for a new series! I love the new house, it might be the most impressive-looking 1/6 scale dollhouse I have ever seen, although yeah, the stuff printed flatly on the walls is a bit distracting... but I guess it makes sense for playline. Sela is so cute! I always wanted to try a made to move doll body for myself, but the dolls are outrageously expensive where I live (about $30-40) so that's not going to happen anytime soon.

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  8. LOL, I can remember a time when Barbie wasn't your thing! Yikes, poor ol' Barbie with the braces looks uncomfortable!

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  9. What a fun idea! Lena sure has a lot of thoughts. I bet with her wish list the house won't feel like a bargain price anymore... ;)

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  10. What a cute house! Lena is being spoiled! I hope we get to see the house being renovated! And maybe Lena needs a cute puppy or sweet cat to keep her company?

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  11. Splendid, splendid new series! I am very much looking forward to this new series. I had a family member die recently and this review brought a smile to my face. Lena is really the best assistant any reviewer could ask for, only the best for the best! And I absolutely second the opinion another reviewer had of Lena getting a cat 😊

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  12. I love it, Lena is sassy and Sela definitely looks like her sportier sister. She's wrong about the cloud unicorn painting, though - that is very chic and she shouldn't get rid of it. I'm impressed by the hanging plant on the kitchen wall; I kept thinking it was a real accessory and not just a drawing. And that burger and burrito! IDK where you got them, but they look absolutely real. Lena's a very lucky doll.

    (and let's just say I feel your pain with the slow review writing. at least you know you'll never be as slow as me! XD)

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  13. This house, wow! I think it's the most modern looking one I've seen for dolls. Pity about the shower head, though if all ladies involved are on the tall side, I understand that's unfortunately a pretty real issue. (My brother would relate).

    I think that rainbow chair and the washer/drier are my favs. I'd buy that chair!

    Note about the Sparkle logo seen frequently - thats a parody of a brand called Supreme! They're primarily a clothing brand, but are known for selling other, often random items just because, like on one memorable release, a literal brick.

    Covering the windows with privacy screens and a lovely view was a great idea, really kept the immersion going!

    Final note- best of luck to you when the sisters are together, the shade they threw your way! Watch out for Sela, apparently she only looks sweet, lol!

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  14. This was so cute and fun to read! Some of the quality sounds disappointing but as you say, if you get it cheap it could be a good base to customize. I hope to see the future reno! :)

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  15. I love the Rainbow High house, it’s so cute! Unfortunately I don’t have anywhere to put it since I’m tight on space. Shame since $60 is a pretty good price for it.

    If you’re looking for stuff to fill up the kitchen I recommend MGA miniverse make it food. They come disassembled and you have to put it together yourself with UV resin. It’s really a lot of fun, and the individual pieces are so cute. They have two different sets: café for $7ish (which is mostly drinks and pastries) and diner for $10ish (which is mostly breakfast foods and desserts). They’re blind packed (ugh, I know) but there’s a lot of variety so the risk of doubles isn’t too high. I have about 20 unique pieces and only 4 doubles so not too bad. And you can assemble your doubles in different ways than your originals or just collect the individual pieces.

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  16. If you want to add a male friend for Lena, I recommend the wheelchair Barbie ​Ken doll wearing a beachy tee shirt and orange shorts. Articulated Ken dolls are hard to find and this one is still available.

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  17. What a fun new blog series, Emily! I think posts like these are a great way to review and showcase multiple things in one go, and Lena is a wonderful host. I loved the photo story with her sister and all the pictures showing Lena around the house (the "Too bad all I have is this frying pan" one cracked me up). I totally see how this approach to reviews can fuel your creativity.

    The Rainbow High house is waaay too big for me, but it seems perfect for a doll house project. I already adore what you did with the window coverings (especially the stained glass paper in the bathroom) and I can't wait to see the future "renovations".

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  18. When I was a kid, (mid-1980s time frame) my parents made separate doll houses for my sister and I from a kit one year. My mom sewed coverlets with lace for the beds and glued together furniture kits. and they had "pictures" (in wood frames!) on the wall that had photos of me in my house and my sister in her house. (as well I think as a copy of the picture on our house wall in our doll's kitchen. It was the absolute BEST wow gift at Christmas that year. (oh yeah and Santa got no credit at all. These were from the parents)

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  19. Thank You for the tea Lena!(: You house looks fab! looking forward to next one & seeing renovation progress!;) lol p.s I also have these mtm blonde & curvy booth look Much better in regular clothes & hair down!:) Also signature #3 thanks to your review! Hope these minies got mtm body as well!:)

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