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The Modernist dolls' house

I've just come across this brilliantly bizarre blog, Call of the Small, to - how great is this? - modernist dolls' houses.

It's the creation of Christine Ferrara, an American public affairs director from Princeton, who is part of a burgeoning mini modernist scene - the list of links on her blog is long, and there's a whole Flickr community devoted to the same passion.

The idea is bonkers but utterly brilliant. Just look at the place (above): it's the perfect solution to having the house of one's dreams at a fraction of the cost, surely? (Apart from the slight catch of having to live next to it rather than in it).

Ferrara's husband bought her the house as a present, secondhand (it was made in 1966) and, like a real house, she lovingly restored it - repairing the staircase, gluing the wallpaper back on...

I can hardly tear myself away from the photos, which are so perfect they look like a normal-sized house, shot tilt-shift style (that freaky camera setting that makes everything look tiny). It's strangely addictive. Check it all out for yourself on Call of the Small's Flickr page.

You can also read an interview with its inventor in this New York Times feature.

Cool packaging and other collectibles

What do you collect?

I have a canny friend with a knack of collecting gorgeous art for not very much money (I'll be featuring her soon), while my stylish but freaky neighbour is obsessed with Victorian vibrators.

Collecting things (or, as my father likes to call it, when talking to my mother, "Oh no, not more rubbish we don't have any room for...") runs in my family. On my mother's side, clearly. My brother has been through unmanageable configurations of antique tins, obscure old beer bottles and vintage lighters, my mum - hard to know where to start -long cherished her ancient teddy bear collections, and has a glorious arrangment of mismatched, elderly plates.

Me, I've got far too many versions of most things, but always find it hard to resist a nice bit of packaging (like this lot, which lives on a kitchen shelf). Can't leave a secondhand bookshop without a new/old paperback with a sexy cover, either...

But never mind all that - what do you collect? I'm compiling a series of themed reader galleries. Send me some snaps and details of what you can't resist... kate_burt at

Oxfam's best bits - online

Wow. Can't believe I've only just discovered the brilliant idea that is Oxfam's online homewares store, introduced to me by my very stylish friend, Abi.

Regular readers may remember a recent visit to a rather disappointing car-boot sale, which involved an epic journey across the capital, early on a Saturday morning, and not much to show for it (apart from thedazzlingly good/bad 1970s photographic coasters, featuring technicolour images of ye olde rural Spain, for a mere £2). A fleetingly fun outing, but nearly fruitless - unlike, I promise you, a visit to the above-mentioned Oxfam outlet.

Like all good charity shops, there's a lot of tat to wade through - it'll comfortably fill a quiet hour at work (there's some truly wonderful rubbish, such as a box of Archers-themed notelets, a genuine 1980s Cabbage Patch Doll - can't believe they actually marketed these to kids - a porcelain pipe rest, complete with technicolour, textured alsatian, and - ta-da! - a Kriss Akabusi signed photograph and signed biography (for £19.99!!). just me - you might be down with the Akabusi paraphernalia, but slightly more sexy offerings are featured in the pictures above. Simply click on each of them to go to the site for full details and to buy. I've got my eye on the 1950s biscuit barrel, £12.99 (bottom right, above).

Abi's favourite buried treasure includes this rather cute Royal Worcester Palissy sauce jug (bottom, centre), featuring its splendid, trademark, bull motif - for just £8.99. Good birthday present for a Taurean with good taste (that is a hint, by the way, friends). She also shared a green, floral Jonnson Brothers coffee pot (top, centre, just £9.99, but get in quick, as Abi collects them and has her eye on this one). The 1920s Underwood typewriter (top right), which comes complete with a matching case, is gorgeous – it's £50, but a swish gift for the budding writer in your circle (one with room for a bulky ornament); while this sweet, vintage History of the Motor Car (top left) book, dismantled and assembled into plain, black Ikea frames, would make unique wall decoration for a small boy's bedroom (that font is great), and the old-school Marlboro ashtray, £3.99.

Oops - was that an hour? Get browsing yourselves, I've got work to do...