• Tamara S. Graham

Once Upon a Dollhouse

Updated: Jan 31

It's never too late to love your inner child...



Although my body is 59 years old, my inner child is about 7 or 8 years old and during a childhood traumatic experience I was promised a dollhouse but never received one. This blog is about healing that emotional wound through finding my joy.


As it turns out, I have discovered that my inner child is also my higher self. A few years ago during an amazing life coach session I was having after my father died, I had an ah-ha moment that my core issue was that my life was lacking joy. Most of my life my inner child was safely locked away in a miniature cozy place in my heart and she was finally feeling safe enough to come out. While contemplating how to experience more joy, my lifelong goal to write children’s book began bubbling up again. The character, stories and ideas that I had protected for so long came bursting out. I never realized I had been protecting my inner child with all of her wisdom until she emerged as if from a 50 year slumber - like a little Rip Van Winkle.


I’ve always loved miniatures, but my passion got reunited once I published my first children’s book, Sunshine and The Power of Words. It allowed my inner child to come out and play. I began to gather my randomly collected mini items to create scenes and take photos of them. Oh how I loved doing that!

As I allowed my inner child, higher self to create and play it was as if she had years of time to make up for and my heart and creative brain were now on overdrive. The passion I felt was life changing and the determination I had to build a world around Sunshine and my writing was intense!


Of Mice and Miniatures...

I began to write articles for parent magazines and personal blogs while I developed my children’s book series, and I felt fully alive - perhaps for the first time since birth. It was about 3 years into my adult writing journey when my first book was published and I rediscovered my love of miniatures and mice. As a child I had always doodled and sketched mice so I asked my illustrator to include a small mouse to travel throughout the story that was never actually mentioned within the text. It was a sort of invisible companion of nurturing strength - like a guardian angel mouse that the reader could secretly find at their own pace. He has his hand posed in the American Sign Language symbol for "I love you" offering love as Sunshine takes us through the story. (see my other blog for more about my love of mice)

I had started to promote my book when I realized I adored these little felted wool mice that I had been seeing on Instagram. To honor and celebrate my first published book I bought my first special mouse from a creator in Winchester, England. Once he arrived I named him Chester and began to create some amateur stop motion videos. Here is a silly practice example:

I had so much fun using this new medium to promote my book that I decided that I would collect the other characters of the book series. I set out to find someone that made custom felted dolls. To my delight, there were many options on Etsy. I found a blond storybook character I liked and was going to purchase her and pretend it was Sunshine, but thought I would just ask if this artist could create one in the likeness of the characters of the book. Well, it pays to ask! This wonderful artist, Julia from WoolDecoration in Bulgaria, crafted beautiful look alike characters for me!


Home sweet home...


While spending way too much time on social media I noticed in the Facebook Marketplace they had this adorable dollhouse curio cabinet, but it was 90 miles away! I couldn't sleep that night thinking about it and set off the next day to take a 3 hour round trip adventure to go buy it!

It was so unique and I thought it would be the perfect home for the felties to keep them away from my cat. I had unpacked my grown daughter's old Playmobil house and it's 1:24 scale accessories to indulge in my rediscovered love of miniatures, and some of that was a pretty good size for this little house. It has hinges down the center because it can close into a small 360 degree box to be enjoyed from all sides. I had never seen anything like it! But I didn't really consider it a dollhouse, it was more of a display case.


In the meantime, I still needed that miniature suitcase for the next stop motion video I was working on to celebrate International Children’s Book Day. I wanted to create a short video of Chester traveling around the world with a miniature version of my Sunshine book. (You can read more about this journey here)


While searching for a miniature suitcase, I discovered more adorable mice made by Maileg, a Danish designed toy company. I was instantly smitten and my life hasn’t been the same since! I’ve never been so creativity activated, and frankly obsessed, with any collection or hobby this passionately.

After collecting and photographing mouse after mouse after mouse, I began to yearn for the dollhouse I never had as a child. It was like an old wound that came up to get healed. I had to once again face the childhood traumas and I knew that they had come up for a reason. I had run out of room in that tiny display case and wanted more. It was time to celebrate my survival with my very own safe little dollhouse to play with.

I’ve always loved rearranging furniture and now in my late 50's I could finally do it without breaking my back! It seemed like a perfect way to combine all of the things I loved and cherished; imaginative play, miniatures, quality toys, writing, creativity, photography, set design, Feng Shui and videography - recently to include stop motion.


Sometimes you have to think outside the box...


I had owned a set of nesting/stacking boxes for years but never really knew what to do with them. While reorganizing and trying to make room for my growing Maileg mouse collection, I decided to use the stacked boxes to sort the mice clothing and accessories. When one of those boxes tipped over onto it's side, something in my creative mind clicked. I now saw them as "room" boxes and oh what fun I had creating a mouse nest actually use nesting boxes. This would be perfect for my mice! So, I gathered together all of the miniature things that I had ever collected, and I created my own little nesting house for my Maileg mice and had great fun doing it. I went to resale shops and dollar stores and loved all the tiny details. I even added stick-on puck lights to the larger rooms. I used a porcelain cup for a bathtub since this was how mice in real life would set it up.

Here is a rough video of the rooms...


I joined many Facebook Maileg groups and really loved all the creative posts I saw. Although I should say at this point, it did make me want to buy even more! Thanks, Facebook! Lol. I began to post many of my own images on social media and this room box idea was a huge hit! The idea of creating a nesting box house while we were all nesting during Covid quarantine was a charming and endearing one. All kidding aside, I absolutely adored setting up scenes to photograph and post. I am addicted. The feelings these images evoke speak deeply to my heart.


It wasn't long until my collection outgrew the display table my nesting house was on. I bought some Maileg furniture and many more mice so I needed to move the nesting house. I also wanted to create a camping scene and lakeside retreat with my new themed Maileg mice. I used my breakfast nook, with it's background of vines and twinkle lights and created this wonderful set and posted this all over social media. I was having fun adding music that would evoke feelings to offer a multi-sensory view into the Maileg world that I now live and thrive in.


So many dollhouses...


It was a month or two before my 59th birthday when I decided that it wouId finally be the time for my first dollhouse! I had to find one that wouId satisfy my limited home space and my budget as a single mature woman with grown children and no grandchildren (yet). My dream dollhouse would be a Victorian, similar to the one I had my illustrator draw in The Sunshine Book series, but they are usually a smaller scale than I needed. I really adored the Maileg dollhouse but it was quite expensive. I began to admire posts on social media of a type of dollhouse I never realized was out there - a bookcase style. They looked to be the perfect size for the many scales of Maileg furniture and toys. They have shallow rooms that make it easier to photograph and rearrange scenes.


I found a really nice, affordable one at Home Depot and had it delivered for free right to my home. A few hours of building and wallpapering with wrapping paper and it was ready to furnish! The mice loved it! Sold! And with a little help from a friend, the mice celebrated moving day!


At age 59, now with my first dollhouse, my inner child is giddy and my higher self is proud. I adore all of my miniatures and I rearrange the rooms and scenes often as I add more to my collection. I was very proud of this birthday house as you can see by my beaming joyful face. I did it on a budget and although I drool over the Maileg houses on social media chock full of Maileg furniture and accessories, I am extremely grateful for what I have. I know this will NOT be my last dollhouse since I have a creative mind and will be making more promotional set ups to launch each of my children's books as the series continues to get published. I still may find a large Victorian house for the feltie book characters to create more promotional scenes one day. There is something very appealing to me about a 360 degree play space to showcase indoor and outdoor scenes, but I do not have the space for that at the moment. I can dream about it though, and I will!



I hope to have grandchildren to share all of this with someday, although I don't expect that to happen anytime soon. In the meantime, my collection is for me - my inner child and creative self. I am having a blast and love sharing it on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Join me on this joyful journey for more creative adventures! The fun is contagious!



About Tamara S. Graham

Tami is a creative writer with a passion for children, animals and emotional intelligence. Being a mother has been her hardest and most rewarding job since her unique and sensitive children have been her greatest inspiration and teachers. She is currently writing a series of children’s books called The Sunshine Books which are about a young girl named Sunshine who is an old soul with a big heart.


Follow this Maileg Mom blog for more of her musings about mice and all things Maileg. She is busy creating more content and you can also find Maileg Mom on Instagram and YouTube channel.



{Copyright 2021-2022 - All photos are the property of Tamara S. Graham unless noted otherwise}

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