Max Finds His Passion

Max was a large teddy bear. He always felt a bit self-conscious about his great size. Many of the other teddy bears who lived in the giant backyard dollhouse called “Much Ado About Nothing” were far smaller than Max. But, Max soon learned that due to his size there were things he could do that the smaller teddy bears could not.


Max could sit at the computer desk and use the computer! The smaller teddy bears certainly couldn’t do that. They couldn’t reach the keyboard. Max’s large arms put him at just the right distance from the computer keys. While Max enjoyed being able to use the computer, he still often felt that something was missing from his life.

One afternoon, Max consulted with two of the smaller teddy bears about how he was feeling about his computer time, and what might be missing from his life. The two smaller teddy bears Max sat on the couch with that day were music bears. Mozart Bear and Strauss Bear both listened politely to Max as he talked about his time at the computer desk, and how he wished to do something more.

“Have you ever considered music?” Mozart Bear asked Max.

“I listen to music on the computer.” Max told him.

“No, no,” Strauss Bear scolded gently. “He means making music!”

“Yes! Have you ever considered making music?” Asked Mozart Bear.

Max felt confused. What were they talking about? “You think I should make music on the computer?” Max asked, doubtfully.

“Not on the computer, on the piano!” Mozart Bear said, grandly.

“Come with us.” Strauss Bear instructed to Max, so he followed the two smaller bears.


Mozart Bear and Strauss Bear climbed up onto the back of the piano, settling themselves in comfortably next to the busts of the great composers, Mozart and Beethoven. Max sat at the piano keyboard, feeling very unsure of himself.

“Now, play.” Mozart Bear commanded. Max stared up at him.

“I don’t know how to play the piano.”

“Are you sure?” Asked Strauss Bear.

“Humans have to take lessons to learn to play piano.” Max told them.

“And, are you a human being?” Mozart asked Max.

“Well, no. I’m a teddy bear.” Max said with a sigh.

“Exactly!” Strauss Bear said. “Just play the keys as if you are typing a letter at the computer. I think you’ll find the results surprisingly pleasant.”

Max stared at Strauss Bear. Could it be that simple? Could teddy bears really play piano without needing lessons?

Max followed the instructions given to him by the two smaller music bears. To his surprise and delight, Max began making music! Max enjoyed playing the piano. He played and played, while Mozart Bear and Strauss Bear looked on, appreciatively listening to the music he made.

After that day Max did not resume his post at the computer keyboard. He stayed at the piano, playing his heart out. Max figured it was alright to not go back to the computer. Max had found what he enjoyed best.

Mozart Bear told Max one day later that perhaps another giant teddy bear would come along eventually who would best love spending time on the computer. So, Max didn’t worry about that any more. He just carried on enjoying making music at the piano. Max had found his passion at last!


Dollhouse Renovations Begin at Winter’s Tale!


The group of dolls who live here in the giant backyard dollhouse known as Much Ado About Nothing are definitely up to something new this month!

Just recently the lovely dollhouse pictured above arrived here for the dolls in residence to fix up. They will all be working together to turn this lovely house into a cozy new home for the tiny porcelain Victorian dollhouse family of dolls who have been living among the larger dolls, but who have been feeling a bit sad and homeless for quite some time. The dollhouse family of dolls are among the tiniest of the all the dolls in residence here at Much Ado About Nothing, and boy are they relieved to finally be getting their own dollhouse to live in!


Before the dollhouse family will be able to begin living in their new home there is plenty of work that will need to be completed. The renovation are going to be run by the butler and the housekeeper, pictured above standing on the balcony of the new dollhouse, who also will be living in the house with the dollhouse family. Once renovations are complete they will begin running the household, and they will make sure that everything runs smoothly for moving day.

When I interviewed them, to learn more about them so I could write this post, I learned that the butler is named John, and the housekeeper is called Carolyn. They explained to me that they took their names from the kind couple who helped this dollhouse make its way into the hands of the perfect new owner. I loved hearing this news, and I told John and Carolyn that by choosing their names in this way they were extending a lovely gesture of gratitude to the kind couple who sold us the dollhouse.  John and Carolyn agreed enthusiastically, and they told me that they are eager to begin overseeing the renovations of the dollhouse, so the house can be given some tender loving care, and so the poor homeless dollhouse family will be able to move in and begin enjoying living in their new home.

Lastly, John and Carolyn informed me that they have spoken with the dollhouse family who will be living in the new dollhouse once renovations are complete. They said the dollhouse family dolls have elected to name their new home “Winter’s Tale” because their lovely new dollhouse home was purchased for them during the the cold season of winter!

Sharing Doesn’t Always Come Easily….

When we are small, we human beings are usually taught by our parents to share with others. Many of us have siblings, and our siblings are usually the first people with whom we learn to share. When it’s first presented to us, many of us aren’t entirely happy about the prospect of learning to share with our siblings, or anyone else either, but in many cases that is where we start learning this important concept.

The dolls who live here in the giant backyard dollhouse known as “Much Ado About Nothing” also have learned to share. Some of them are very skilled at it. Others are less adept at it.

A recent example of sharing among the dolls here happened recently when a new doll came to live here. When the new doll arrived she brought along with her a couple of items which gave the other dolls the impression that she was ready to share, straight out of her shipping box! However, Fran Naomi had other ideas about the items she brought along with her form her previous home.

Compared to many of the other dolls who have joined my doll collection over the years, Fran Naomi arrived with quite a lot of luggage. Fran Naomi is pictured below on the left. She is the doll with the curls in the blue overall dress and the pink. blouse.

The first doll who Fran Naomi met when she arrived here was Portia Genie. Portia Genie is the doll on the left in the photo above, who wears her hair in braids.


Fran Naomi arrived home accompanied by her very own traveling companion. He is the small oatmeal colored teddy bear seated in her lap in the photo below. Upon her arrival, Fran Naomi  explained to Portia Genie that her teddy bear’s name is in fact, “Oatmeal.” She said that she calls him this name because of his color, and also because the texture of his coat reminds her of oatmeal.

When Fran Naomi arrived she also brought with her an extra pair of shoes. In the photo below the extra shoes are still safely stowed away inside the zip lock baggie that they were stored in while Fran Naomi and Oatmeal were traveling here.

When Fran Naomi and Portia Genie first met, Portia Genie was busy, involved in her own imaginative play with two much smaller dolls, and a soft cuddly Classic Winnie the Pooh teddy bear. Portia Genie was wearing boys shoes when Fran Naomi first arrived and the two dolls discussed this when they met.

Fran Naomi saw that Portia Genie had two dolls she was playing with, and she also noticed that Portia Genie was wearing boys shoes. Fran Naomi though to herself that she was very glad she had two pairs of nice girl’s shoes for herself, but she wished she could have a doll to play with along with her teddy bear like Portia Genie had.

Portia Genie is a friendly and good-natured doll. She plays very well with others. And Portia Genie has always had a very generous and giving nature. When Portia Genie and Fran Naomi first met she quickly discovered that unlike herself, Fran Naomi was doll who was not accustomed to sharing with others. Portia Genie hoped this was not due to Fran Naomi being selfish. Portia Genie figured that it likely meant that Fran Naomi came to live in the giant backyard dollhouse from a household where all the dolls had many possessions that were just theirs alone.




I overheard the conversation that Portia Genie and Fran Naomi had that day, and it went like this:

Fran Naomi: Those little dolls you’re playing with look like fun.

Portia Genie: Oh yes, it’s always fun to play with other dolls. We have lots of fun here.

Fran Naomi: I see you also have a teddy bear.

Portia Genie: Yes, he’s Pooh Bear. You know, from the stories?

Fran Naomi: Of course. I have a teddy too. His name is Oatmeal. You know, like the mushy cereal.

Portia Genie: I like oatmeal. Especially with cinnamon and sugar!

Fran Naomi: I prefer Fruit Loops myself, but he looks like oatmeal, so… Why are you wearing boys shoes?

Portia Genie: They’re comfortable. And we don’t have very many pairs of girls shoes for all the girl dolls who are here. I see you have two pairs of girls shoes. That’s really nice.

Fran Naomi: It is. I can wear the shoes that lace up or I can wear the Mary Jane shoes.

Portia Genie: Gosh, it must be nice to have options like that.

Fran Naomi: Yeah, it is.

Portia Genie:  Do you want to play with us? You and Oatmeal?

Fran Naomi: Sure, that would be fun.

Portia Genie: I’ll play with Pooh Bear and Britney. Do you want to play with Oatmeal and Bailey?

Fran Naomi: You’re going to let me play with your doll? Just like that?

Portia Genie: Of course! You’re new and I want you to feel at home. This is your home now too, after all.

Fran Naomi: Gosh. That’s really nice. I didn’t expect anyone here to be so nice to me.

Portia Genie: Well, Britney and Bailey like to play, but they’re both a little bit shy so they often don’t say much when we play.

Fran Naomi: I see. You really don’t have any girls shoes for you to wear?

Portia Genie: No, I don’t. I don’t mind though. These shoes are comfortable. It would be nice to have some pretty Mary Janes like yours someday though. I’m sure I’ll get to wear pretty girls shoes eventually.

Fran Naomi: You’re not going to ask to wear mine?

Portia Genie: Oh, no. Those are yours. I wouldn’t ask to wear your shoes.

Fran Naomi: But you’re going to let me play with Britney.

Portia Genie: Yes, that doesn’t mean I want something from you.

Fran Naomi: Wow. That’s not the way I think at all. You’re a lot nicer than me.

Portia Genie: You can be nice too.

Fran Naomi: You think so?

Portia Genie: Of course. Anybody can be nice if they want to be.

Fran Naomi: Huh. I hadn’t really thought of it like that before.

Portia Genie: What do you want to play together? A game? Make believe?

Fran Naomi: Well, I can’t just sit here and play with you and Britney and Bailey while you’re having to wear boys shoes. So, why don’t you try on my Mary Jane shoes. I bet they’re just as comfy as your boys shoes.

Portia Genie: Are you sure? You said you’re not really nice like that.

Fran Naomi: Well, I haven’t been before, but like you said, I can be nice if I really want to be.

Portia Genie: Wow. Okay. Thanks a lot! They’re really pretty shoes.

Then Fran Naomi and the two littler dolls, Britney and Bailey, all waited for Portia Genie to switch shoes before they began to play. They all seemed happier once I was able to catch them in this last photo. Sharing didn’t come easily to Fran Naomi, but she was happy when she finally did choose to share.


If You Want to Really Be Like Me…

The Shirley Temple Play Pal doll who lives here at the giant dollhouse called Much Ado About Nothing was the first life-size doll who came to live here. When she arrived, she felt a bit out of place due to being so much larger than all the other dolls. So, to boost her self-confidence she told the smaller dolls that her name was Scary Shirley. Shirley hoped this would make her seem brave when she really wasn’t.

After a while, some other Play Pal dolls joined Scary Shirley here. A couple of them were even bigger than Scary Shirley herself, so she began to feel a bit foolish about telling everyone to call her Scary Shirley when she was no longer the largest doll.

Today, Scary Shirley decided she didn’t think it was fair for her to have a grand wardrobe of clothing all to herself while the other Play Pal girls had only one dress each to wear. So, she decided to share!

Scary Shirley and her Mini-Me, Brook Leigh, laid out all of her outfits for the other girls to choose from.  Scary Shirley told the assembled Play Pal girls, “If you want to really be like me, scary like I am, then the first step I suggest is to wear my clothes.”

Brook-Leigh giggled. “Nobody is really scared of you, you know.”

Scary Shirley’s eyes widened. “Well, you don’t have to say that out loud!”

To break up the tension, Saucy Walker picked up the smart yellow hat sitting on top in one of the boxes. “May I wear this, Scary Shirley?” Saucy Walker, asked a little hesitantly. Book-Leigh let out a tiny sigh of relief that somebody had changed the subject.


Scary Shirley turned to Saucy Walker. “Of course you can! You may wear whichever outfit you like. After all, I can’t wear them all myself..” Scary Shirley smiled, and she and Brook-Leigh both encouraged the other girls to choose what they wanted to wear.

Carrot Top and Joanie felt a little bit overwhelmed by all the choices.


“Gosh, this is lots more dresses to choose from than I’m used to,” Carrot Top told Joanie.

Joanie nodded, her curls bobbing to the rhythm of her nods. “As a nurse’s aide, I’ve only ever worn a uniform. This is really nice to be able to choose something new.”

Eventually all three girls selected new outfits and everyone got changed. They all thanked Scary Shirley nicely for letting her share in her wardrobe of beautiful clothes.

Scary Shirley was very pleased with how they all looked, and as they posed for their new group photo, she declared happily, “We’re ALL Shirley Temple now!”



© 2017 Iris Baldwin All Rights Reserved.

Basil Dill’s New Friend


Basil Dill was a lonely little doll. Basil Dill was lonely because, unlike all of the other dolls who lived here in the giant backyard dollhouse called Much Ado About Nothing, Basil Dill was only a head, still growing inside cabbage leaves, nestled inside a plastic flower pot. Basil Dill didn’t have a body, so you could say that Basil Dill was not quite born yet. Basil Dill may not have had a body, but he did know who he was. He knew with absolute certainty that he was definitely a boy doll.

When Basil Dill arrived to live in the dollhouse with the other dolls, Scary Shirley, who had the most intimidating name out of all the dolls, decided to name him Basil Dill because at that time she had recently spied new Basil and Dill plants both growing in pots inside the nearby greenhouse. Scary Shirley and the other dolls wanted Basil Dill to feel just as complete as they all did, so they found him a little baseball cap to wear. Basil Dill enjoyed wearing his baseball cap as he watched the other dolls playing and enjoying having adventures together.

Despite having other dolls to observe having fun all around him every day, Basil Dill felt very alone. Basil Dill was the only doll who could not do the Hokey Pokey when it was music time. He was the only doll who could not hold a book to read books at story time, and he was the only doll who could never go on picnics with the neighborhood teddy bears. Basil Dill so longed to attend a Teddy Bear’s Picnic with the other dolls. Basil Dill liked sitting in his flower pot by the window, where it was warm and sunny, but he wanted more. Basil Dill wanted to run and play with the other dolls. Basil Dill’s loneliness seemed like it would never end.

One day a package was delivered on the porch of the dollhouse. All the dolls gathered around to find out what was in the box. Scary Shirley opened the box. She was able to do this because her name instilled such respect for her in the other dolls that they were more than willing to go along with her assertion that she was the most adept at using full-size scissors safely.

“Is it new uniforms for us?” one of the cheerleader dolls asked Scary Shirley.

“You’ll see what it is once I’ve opened it, won’t you?” Scary Shirley replied.

“Is it a rocking horse for me to ride on while I sing my songs to all of you?” asked the Johnny Cash  cowboy doll.

“Oh no! This box isn’t nearly big enough to hold a rocking horse for you,” Scary Shirley told him with a friendly laugh. The dolls kept on asking what could be in the box, but again and again Scary Shirley’s answers revealed that not one of the assembled dolls had any idea what was in that box.

“Is it my passport, finally here so I can travel again?” asked Hitty, the tiny carved wood doll.

“Your passport won’t be delivered in a box nearly as big as this,” Scary Shirley replied.

From his place by the window Basil Dill could not see what was in the box once Scary Shirley began the process of opening it. The other dolls were all blocking Basil Dill’s view of the box contents.

Finally Scary Shirley had the box open. From inside the newspaper packed in the box, the dolls all heard a little voice calling out, “it’s dark in here!” When he heard that muffled little voice, Basil Dill figured he knew what was in the box. It was another doll. Like all the others. It was probably another doll who would be able to run and play, and have fun in all the ways that he couldn’t.

Scary Shirley opened the newspaper and she held the new doll up high, so everyone could see. Basil Dill gasped when he looked over the heads of the other dolls and saw another doll just like himself! It was a doll head wrapped in fabric green leaves.

“Scary Shirley, who is that!?” Basil Dill asked after Scary Shirley had snapped her scissors menacingly at the other dolls to quiet them down. The other dolls weren’t even a little bit scared of Scary Shirley, and she knew it, but they quieted down just the same.

“Basil Dill, I want you to meet someone very special,” Scary Shirley said with a smile. “This is Heather Fern. she was delivered here today to become your new friend.”

“A new friend, like me?” Basil Dill asked, his painted eyes wide.

“That’s right. A new friend just for you. Go on, you can say hello to her if you want,” Scary Shirley said. Scary Shirley placed a lace headband on Heather Fern’s head, and then she gently placed her inside a flower pot like the one Basil Dill was sitting in by the window. The other dolls exclaimed in an overlapping chorus about how pretty she was, and Heather Fern politely thanked them for their compliments. Basil Dill felt a little envious that he could not talk to Heather Fern right away, like all the other dolls could.

But then, Scary Shirley carried Heather Fern in her flower pot over to the window where Basil Dill sat alone. “Basil Dill, meet Heather Fern. Heather Fern, this is Basil Dill.” Scary Shirley introduced the two little dolls to each other quite formally. Heather Fern spoke first.

“Hello Basil Dill,” Heather Fern said softly. “I didn’t expect there to be another doll like me here. I am so happy that I won’t be alone.” Upon hearing those words, Basil Dill’s little leaf wrapped heart leapt with joy.

“I am happy that you are here too!” Basil Dill cried. I have wanted someone to sit here with me, and talk to me, someone who would know what it feels like to not be able to do all the things the other dolls can do.”

“Well,” Heather Fern said, “Now we have each other. And as long as we live in our flower pots I will talk to you whenever you like, and about anything you want.”

After a moment of consideration, Basil Dill cautiously asked, “Can we talk about what we would do if we ever got to grow bodies? The other dolls never want to talk to me about that, for some reason.”

“Of course we can!” Heather Fern exclaimed to Basil Dill. Scary Shirley agreed that the two of them would certainly find many things to talk about sitting together in their flower pots.

Basil Dill and Heather Fern quickly became very close friends. They would sing little songs together for the other dolls. they made up a song about flowers and other plants and the other dolls all loved to hear their song.

One day, when it was quiet and a lot of the other dolls were either reading or napping, Scary Shirley and the Johnny Cash cowboy doll  came over to the window. “We owe you an apology, Basil Dill,” Scary Shirley stated solemnly.

“Yeah,” the Johnny Cash cowboy doll agreed. “We didn’t realize how lonely you were sitting here alone all that time.”

“Now that Heather Fern is here you seem much happier now. Are you happier, Basil Dill?” Scary Shirley asked somewhat hesitantly.

“Oh, yes!” Basil Dill exclaimed. “I have never been happier. Now I know what it’s like to have a friend just like me, the way the rest of you dolls do.”

“And I’m happy to,” Heather Fern chimed in. “I didn’t expect to find a friend here who would be just like me. When I was traveling here I worried all along the way that I would feel lonely in my new home. But, I’m not lonely at all.”

Scary Shirley and the Johnny Cash cowboy doll smiled at the two little flower pot dolls. “I’m glad that you’re both happy,” Scary Shirley said.

“I’m happy too,” the Johnny Cash cowboy doll said, smiling. “It’s nice to have a friend just like you, isn’t it? In my last home I was the only musician doll. I’ve been here so long now with Elvis, Debbie Reynolds, and the Fabric Four Beatles dolls,  that I’d forgotten how out of place I felt in my other home.  I can’t imagine how lonely you must have felt, all alone by the window all that long time by yourself, Basil Dill.”

“It’s alright,” Basil Dill said happily. “I’m glad to be a flower pot doll now! Having someone who understands me is the best feeling I have ever had.”

“And I will never leave your side,” Heather Fern assured Basil Dill. They smiled at each other, their leafy fabric green leaves, quivering with delight.

“Will you two sing a song for us again today?” Scary Shirley asked the two happy dolls.

“Oh let them spend time together on their own,” the Johnny Cash cowboy doll suggested to Scary Shirley. “I’m sure they still have plenty to talk about being the only two dolls in flower pots. “Besides, I think I remember you said you were finally going to join all of us musicians today to do some singing for the rest of the dolls. Isn’t that right?”

“That’s right! We did plan that for today,” Scary Shirley said. “I hope you’re all ready for me to sing with you. Because I’m always ready to sing.”

“Well now,” said the Johnny Cash cowboy doll, “I guess that’s something we have in common with Heather Fern and Basil Dill, isn’t it?”

“It sure is!” Basil Dill and Heather Fern called out together. And together is how they did everything from then on. They sang together. They daydreamed together of what it would be like to be more like the other dolls. But most importantly, they talked together about how special it was to be dolls just like themselves.


© 2017 Iris Baldwin All Rights Reserved.



Tall Tales to Tell!

17273563_1908875939399498_1588221827_oDespite what the name of their house may suggest, the dolls who live in the giant backyard dollhouse known as “Much Ado About Nothing” are always up to something!

This blog aims to chronicle the adventures of my unique family of highly imaginative dolls in an ongoing series of photo stories. The dolls and, I, their photo storyteller, sincerely hope that you enjoy reading their stories here – whether you are very young, or young at heart.

Thank you so much for visiting! Please do come visit our dollhouse again soon. We’ll be sure to keep a lookout for you!


© 2017 Iris Baldwin All Rights Reserved.