Miniaturist of the Month – Carole Risteen

Friday, November 28th, 2014
Carole Risteen- Miniaturist of the Month

Carole Risteen- Miniaturist of the Month

Carole just loves cats!

Carole just loves cats!

Real Good Toys‘ Miniaturist of the Month is Carole Risteen of Deltona, FL. Carole is someone every miniaturist wants to know.  For starters, she has been involved with dollhouses and miniatures for over 35 years. Over time, Carole has worked in three different miniature shops, and has built over 300 dollhouses. When Carole was working for Through the Keyhole in Texas, she taught classes and built dollhouses as a Santa’s helper.  She said, “Our double garage never had a car in it, but often had half a dozen or more houses under construction”. Carole has participated in four years of IGMA Guild School classes.  What is IGMA? IGMA stands for International Guild of Miniature Artisans and was founded to promote fine miniatures as an art form.  This organization holds a series of intensive training classes every year at their campus in Castine, Maine.  Carole said she has made many wonderful friends over the years. She considers this hobby her obsession.  She tells us, “There has always been some new technique or skill to learn and many old skills to share with others”. Carole confides, “It has never failed me – lifting me up in sad times and allowing me to help others along the way”.

Carole started in miniatures by making House of Miniature furniture kits. She was a buyer for a retail department store in Tucson, AZ and building the furniture kits was her way to relax.  Carole says she bought her first dollhouse in 1979 from The Doll House, Inc. in Scottsdale, AZ. Over the last 12 years, she has been able to share her love of dollhouses and miniatures with her special needs students through Morning Star School fundraisers. She hopes to continue building dollhouses for Morning Star School fundraisers, with the help of her students and her grandchildren.

Carole's Bossy Bungalow

Carole’s Bossy Bungalow

Carole and Susan with the house  they built!

Carole and Susan with the house they built!


Carol is an active fan of Real Good Toys Dollhouses on Facebook.  She has participated in our Build Along projects and was recently chosen as one of our finalists in our “What’s in Your Attic Contest”. She continually fascinates us with her ability to transform and customize our dollhouses in a way that makes them one of a kind.  One project she has shared with us throughout the building process is her Real Good Toys Classic Bungalow.  Carole nicknamed this dollhouse “Bossy”.  She was re-creating a dollhouse she grew up in and throughout the building process the dollhouse seemed to tell her which direction she should take with the customization. She customized the dollhouse with an extra floor and many other special touches.  Her abilities are remarkable and her work is exquisite. Now can you see why every miniaturist would love to know Carole? Not only does she love dollhouses and miniatures, she gets immense joy from sharing that love. Carole says, “…my addiction is complete and part of my retirement is minis, supplies and kits I have stock piled”.


Thank you, Carole, for letting us have a glimpse into your mini world and allowing us to get to know a little bit about you.

Would you like to be our next Miniaturist of the Month?  It’s really easy. Just email your information with a few pictures attached to [email protected] 

I’m looking forward to letting YOUR talents shine!!sunshine 


Real Good Toys helps Vermont Foodbank

Monday, November 4th, 2013
Facebook Build Along Projects for sale in the Real Good Toys Factory Outlet Store

Facebook Build Along Projects for sale in the Real Good Toys Factory Outlet Store

Is it any wonder that dollhouses can play an important part in helping those less fortunate?  For three years Real Good Toys Facebook fans have participated with us in our annual Build Along.  Each year, as the Build Along winds down, Jennifer and I put our Build Along projects up for sale in our Factory Outlet Store.  We decided that the proceeds of the sale of these Build Along projects would be donated to the Vermont Foodbank.  Just recently a very excited customer bought one of these special, one-of-a-kind projects, and she was equally excited to know that she was helping the Vermont Foodbank at the same time. 

Real Good Toys donates to the Vermont Foodbank.

Real Good Toys donates to the Vermont Foodbank.

Today I met with Stephani Kononan of the Vermont Foodbank to present these proceeds to that very worthy organization.  Stephani said our donation would help them provide 525 meals to our neighbors in need.  The Vermont FoodBank helps to feed as many as 86,000 Vermonters who need food assistance.  They provide assistance to 270 food shelves, meal sites, senior centers, shelters and after school programs throughout the state. The Vermont Foodbank is Vermont’s largest hunger relief organization. As we approach the holiday season when many Vermonters may find it difficult to provide meals for their families, Real Good Toys is happy to help through this donation to the Vermont Foodbank.

What’s New In Miniatures

Friday, April 15th, 2011

News Flash…Suzanne Schwab from Suzannes Dollhouses & Miniatures in O’Fallon, MO is designing and manufacturing her own firehouse furnishings!

Firehouse Furniture by Suzannes Dollhouses & Miniatures

Over the years Suzanne has been very successful at building and donating the Real Good Toys QuickBuild™ Firehouse to organizations in her area. She has helped raise thousands of dollars for some great causes. Suzanne found that there just wasn’t a good source for furniture that fit with the firehouse theme. What to do? She made it herself, of course!

Suzanne started this creative venture with a dalmation themed bed, a coat rack and lamps that range in price from $6.99 to $29.99.  They are all adorable and perfect for our Quickbuild™ Firehouse as well as a boys’ room in any dollhouse. So far, Suzanne says sales have been brisk. Best of all…they are made in the USA. For more information, give Suzanne a call at 636-978-6501 or check her website at

Kudos to Suzanne for her hard work and ingenuity.  Keep it up. You’re an inspiration to all miniaturists!


The Firehouse Raffle Drawing

Monday, December 20th, 2010

Barre City Fire Cadets draw the winning ticket

Barre City Fire Cadets

Once again, we were visited by the Barre City Fire Cadets…but this time they came to draw the winning ticket for the Assembled QuickBuild™ Firehouse. The drawing was held on December 16th at the Real Good Toys Factory Outlet Store. The lucky winner was Geoff Sather from Montpelier. Captain Russell Ashe said they plan to use the $520 raised towards gear and training for the Fire Cadet Program. He said the Cadets usually use hand-me-down fire gear that sometimes gets commandeered by on call firemen, depending on the situation. Also, Captain Ashe said that one complete fire suit can cost anywhere between $2000-$3000. Any funds the program receives is through fundraising such as this raffle drawing. Real Good Toys is very happy to help them raise $520 to benefit their program.When the cadets found out how much they raised, they just said…WOW! Way to go Barre City Fire Cadets!

How one Dollhouse Merchant gives back to her Community

Monday, October 11th, 2010

There is a great full service dollhouse and miniature shop located in O’Fallon,Missouri, just outside of St. Louis. Why is it so great? Well, mostly because of the efforts of one of the most generous, energetic and community minded shop owners I have ever met. I am referring to Suzanne Schwab of Suzanne’s Dollhouses & Miniatures. While she runs a wonderful shop full of amazing dollhouses and miniatures, catering to miniaturists of all ages and abilities, Suzanne works very hard to give back to her community. She donates finished dollhouses to many organizations throughout her community for their fundraising projects. (more…)

Dollhouse Donation brings good things to the Phoenix Children’s Hospital

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

Larry Fleming from Arizona needed a little help from his friends at Real Good Toys in early April.  He was building the Painted Lady dollhouse for a very special auction.  He realized, at some point, that he painted the interior window frames the wrong color and it just wouldn’t do.  He needed to order some more frames so he could correct his color scheme.  Time was of the utmost importance because there was a deadline for the auction donations to be submitted.

We got Larry the parts he needed in plenty of time for him to correct and finish the Painted Lady dollhouse.  This beauty was donated to the Phoenix Children’s Hospital for their Spring Auction, which is one of their biggest fundraisers.

The Painted Lady dollhouse by Larry FlemingThe Painted Lady dollhouse by Larry Fleming

Larry wished he had enough time to electrify the house but didn’t want to risk missing the deadline for submission.  They were able to purchase the wallpaper, textured ceiling paper and miscellaneous dollhouse building supplies from a couple of stores in the Phoenix area that have a very nice selection of miniatures and supplies.

Larry used Dutch Boy paint: Willy Willow for the housebody, Duncan’s Delight for the dark trim, Nectar Fizzle on the orange accents, Satin Brilliant White on the white accents and Kilz paint Golden Corn for the yellow accents.

Larry you did an amazing job and I’m sure the Phoenix Children’s Hospital was very grateful for your kind generosity!  Thank you so much for sharing with all of us!

Mini wishes – Jennifer

Ruminations on Life and Dollhouses.

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Bob DeOrsey of The Dollhouse Builder in Port St. Lucie, Florida will soon be turning 80, and he wrote us recently, sharing his thoughts and his story.

He’s not quite sure why, but at this stage in his life, Bob has begun to reflect on things that have influenced him.  It is these ruminations that make him realize how much the dollhouse industry, especially Real Good Toys, has affected his life and the turns it has taken.

Bob, formerly of Maryland, has been building things for over 30 years.  He has spent his life building model boats, airplanes and trains and at the prompting of his wife Anne, he built his first dollhouse. When his son was born, he built a firehouse from some plans he found in an ad…and so it goes…he jumped right into the miniature industry.  He tells us he’s built at least one Real Good Toys dollhouse a year for over 25 years.  Bob has visited our factory and enjoyed seeing our Assembly Department and visiting with some of our employees.  His enthusiasm is refreshing.

Bob and his wife Anne retired in 2004 and moved to Florida to enjoy golf and to be closer to their son, Matt and his family.  Bob and Anne were enjoying life with their family, when tragedy struck.  Their son suddenly and unexpectedly died during a seizure just short of his 31st birthday in January 2008.  Bob and his family are learning to live with unthinkable sorrow and grief.

Bob DeOrsey and his custom finished Hawthorne dollhouse by Real Good Toys

Matt was a star soccer player, advancing to a semi-pro team before moving to Florida.  A group of Matt’s friends and teammates wanted to rasie funds for the Epilepsy Foundation of the Chesapeake Region.  They put together an incredible event called DeOFest.  This event has raised over $20,000 for the foundation.  Bob built and donated a Real Good Toys dollhouse and raised the most money of any item in their silent auction.  Matt’s widow has become very active with the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida and for their fundraiser for Epilepy Awareness Month, Bob built a Real Good Toys Dollhouse for the silent auction, and once again, it was the best moneymaker.  (more…)