Monday, March 02, 2015

Tale of the Tiny (Great) Grandfather Clock

I am incredibly blessed to have found some very talented, generous, loving, imaginative, creative friends. I'm completely spoiled by them, and I love it!! Over the years, they've continued to knock my socks off with fun presents that arrive in the mail with impeccable timing. Like I'm having a horrible day, and then something magical shows up via the U.S. postal service. For Christmas this year, I received one of these gifts.

It all started a long time ago -- like maybe a year ago? I was emailing back and forth with some friends. I took a picture of myself with the camera on my iMac to show something -- a miniature, a zit, a cat, a hair style? I dunno. So I sent the picture to my friends, and then April asked me about the clock that was behind me in the photo. It was sitting on the bookshelf in my home office, and she wanted to see it more closely. I quickly cleaned all of the dust off the clock and took some photos of it from a few different angles. This clock was my Great Grandpa Blonderson's. It's a Seth Thomas clock, and it's a real beauty.

So time went on, and I forgot all about it. Perhaps I mentioned that I wanted to make the clock in mini for the Heritage Room in the Beacon Hill? Or perhaps I just thought that in my mind and didn't write it or say it aloud. I don't remember. I just know that time passed.

Imagine my shock when I opened a Christmas package from April and saw The Clock. In 1:12 scale. PERFECT MATCH. Whattttt??? Are you kidding me???? I boinged up and down and squealed quite a bit and immediately had to call my father, "OH MY GOD, APRIL MADE ME GREAT GRANDPA'S CLOCK IN MINI!!!!!"

There really aren't words to describe how perfect this clock is. I may have peed a little:

Here is the real clock with the wee clock. See it sitting right there at the bottom of the photo?

The lion handles are a perfect match:

Even the back is perfect:

You can see that on the real clock, the sticker or label or whatever is coming off:

April even recreated that part:

After the initial adrenaline rush/bouncing around the house wore off, I thanked April and told her how grateful I was that she'd made me this beauty. She sent me some photos of the clock-making process and gave me permission to post them on my blog (many thanks, girlfriend!):

Hello, tiny columns:

And a perfect hole front and center:

The faceplate type thing going in:

A fresh coat of paint on a crisp, fall day:

This photo shows the marble detailing on the top. LOVE IT:

I seriously have no idea how she found such perfect lion heads, but she did -- and added her own rings to make the handles:

There's that amazing label again:

I'm still stunned that April made this clock for me. Looking at all of these photos right now is putting me back in the wwwwwooooooWWWWW phase:

This is the mini version, but I swear it could be the big version:

I will treasure this clock so much. I can't wait to finish the Heritage Room and place it in its rightful spot:

For now, it's in a hanging shelf on the wall in the dollhouse room so I can see it every single day:

Thank you, April. A million times, thank you.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Invasion of the Wee Things

Ollie is very pleased that I've finally returned to working on Luna Lair. It's been FAR too long! The really great thing about this little house (Greenleaf 1:24 Buttercup) is that I can carry it around the Real Life house on a tray -- and straight to the couch. I've been catching up on DVR shows while steadily shingling. And if I need to keep the contents of the tray safe from the kitties, I can easily pop it into the dollhouse room and SHUT THE DOOR.

*sighs with relief*

One of my very clever mini friends told me the key to working with the Greenleaf half scale speed shingles (I'm using the Hex kind) is to use E6000, which is a type of glue I usually just use with metal or mirrors or something like that. I used regular Aleene's tacky with the speed shingles on the Rosedale, but apparently these smaller, thinner ones like to curl a lot with water-based glue. I had no problem at all with the E6000 -- except becoming slightly high if I used it for too long. Hey man, you gotta do what you gotta do for your hobby.

I loooove the look of speed shingles. I'll never go back to regular, individual shingles, which is a shame because I have a TON of them. I'll find a use for them at some point. The speed shingles just look so crisp and lovely:

As a reminder, the back story for Ollie is that he's a crotchety, old widower who lives alone in the house he built with his deceased wife. There's going to be a lot of moon decor with Luna Lair, but I wanted to have one bird-specific item on the exterior of the house. I got this fabulous 1:24 dovecote kit from Petite Properties. Then I sat it on top of the Buttercup kit chimney base to see how it would look:

The chimney base is a bit wider than the dovecote, but that's OK. I still think the roof is the best place to put it:

I decided to stick this all on top of the house to see how it would look. In the center, the dovecote looks odd to me. Kind of like a church steeple:

On the smaller roof over the door, the dovecote looks like a school bell tower:

Off to the side, I think it looks just right -- except TOO TALL:

Luckily, my awesome friend April is really good with Photoshop. She cut down the length of the chimney for me and sent me this photo as an example. I'm a very visual person, so this helps a lot. I think the dovecote looks great now! So cute:

However, I stupidly already glued together that chimney base, so now I have to get it back apart so I can cut it down. But now that I know where the dovecote will be, I can figure out how to deal with the very top row of shingles. Right now, they need either another finishing row of shingles right at the top or some kind of trim. I'm thinking on it. 

Ollie wanted to check on construction, so I had him pose for a shot:

He still just looks really mad, doesn't he? It's probably because the house is still so far from completion:

Meanwhile, I've also been working on my Briarwood kit. The kit came with a whole slew of itty bitty book stacks. Last night, I cut them out of their sheets, sanded off the laser cut connector things, and painted the page end parts with a gold permanent marker. Next up will be painting all of the spines of these bad boys, which will take 3 billion years. I can do it! Slowly:

The bunny art has been glued to the bunny! WHOOT! I also gave the back of the bunny a few coats of ivory paint and have been working on some furniture for inside the box as well. Ollie would be much happier if I would stop working on the bunny and focus on HIM, but I like to work on more than one project at a time. I'm also working on another third wee kit right now, but it's not ready for pictures yet:

I'm a much more content person now that I've been able to work on my hobby again. It's so relaxing, fun, and interesting to me. I've also learned how to be a little less impatient and a little more careful while working on my kits, which makes them prettier overall. I tend to be a sloppy painter and a sloppy gluer, so I'm working on taking my time and not rushing. NO RUSH.

Slow and easy wins the race, right?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Buying the Wedding Registry: If Not Now, When?

It all started with some silverware.

Well, let me go back. It started before the silverware. Back in 2012, my parents came over to dinner at Farmhouse Villa, and I freaked out at my lack of "real people stuff." It was a bad time. Soon thereafter, a lovely box arrived in the mail from Sassymonkey. Above, you can see what was inside. Girlfriend had bought me my very own beautiful set of silverware. It touched my crusty, black heart. It was such a sweet present and was so needed at that very moment in time. (Thank you again, Sassy!!) I finally had good flatware, and I was pleased.

What I didn't mention in that original post is that I haven't gone my WHOLE adult life without any silverware. I did have some pretty nice stuff at one point. But when you move all the way across the country multiple times, you learn that things like plates and cups and coffee cups break easily, are SUPER HEAVY, and are a complete pain in the a$$ to move. You can always get new ones. Also? When everything you own reminds you of your ex-boyfriend who broke your heart, you toss it all in the trash or give it away before you leave Chicago. So that's how I ended up in Farmhouse Villa in 2007 without any real grown-up things. And then I didn't bother buying really nice stuff because I was still convinced that I would soon find The One and get engaged and go do that fun rite of passage which is the Wedding Registry.


Flash forward to the present. I'm in the process of moving into Briarpatch when Auntie (who is also my godmother/landmother) pops in to give me a housewarming gift. OH BOY A GIFT!!!!! It was three super awesome poppy lids that go on bowls. I've seen these in the stores and have always admired them. Auntie swears by these things, and she'd bought me red ones because I'd told her my kitchen colors were yellow and red. I LOVE THEM. Especially because POPPIES:

There was only one problem.

I didn't have any bowls.

*more crickets*

Before, my excuses for not having grown-up things mostly revolved around the lack of appliances. No dishwasher, no washer/dryer, no garbage disposal, no cupboards, no storage, no nothing... Farmhouse Villa was VERY small. But now? HOLY STORAGE. I have more kitchen than I know what to do with. So as I eyeballed Grandma's kitchen one afternoon, I realized the truth of the situation: It was time to purchase everything that would have been on my wedding registry if I had ever gotten married.

F*ck. This sh*t is expensive.

The one thing that really helped me was that I moved during the Christmas season, which meant everything was on sale. I was able to get an adorable cookie jar (Grandma always had a full cookie jar, so I will carry on the tradition for my guests):

And new curtains for my bedroom and bathroom:

And a bunch of pillows to go with my real couch, the donated couch, and the chairs I got at the thrift store:

Then I had to get curtains for the living room (WHY ARE CURTAINS SO FREAKING EXPENSIVE??!!) and the kitchen and the dining area. Sigh. I spent a lot of time looking at curtains.

Then I realized my credit card has rewards points. Luckily for me, the rewards points site had good kitchen stuff. I got these awesome bowls AND some Spoonulas (my drawer of nasty, cheap, kitchen utensils upended itself into the garbage):

After exploring Grandma's kitchen further, I realized there were pot drawers built in! WHOA! But, um... I only had like two pots, and they were crappy, cheap ones. NO MORE! Girlfriend bought herself a whole big set of brand new Bobby Flay pots (on MAJOR holiday sale THANK GAWD):

I even cook with them on my brand new stove, yes I do:

Having new pots made me realize I needed a new dishrack for next to the sink and a new silverware holder for my pretty silverware and new towels and a good potholder to match all of my pretty new things. My old, nasty, hole-y kitchen towels just did NOT look right with all of the nice stuff.

Then I realized my beloved "Pippy throw-up" comforter looked quite childish in my new, grown-up bedroom, so I went with my mother to the Dillard's clearance store and bought a mega-expensive duvet cover/dust ruffle set for super cheap. Love it:

While I was there, I picked up placemats and cloth napkins. WHOA. I'm REALLY fancy now:

Kira and Chicago Cousin came over during the holidays and brought some wine. That's when I realized I only have four glasses. Tall ones. And when a couple of them are dirty and people come over, you either have to stop and wash them or use Solo cups. It's embarrassing. So I got enough wine glasses for all of the cousins:

And during Christmastime at Kohl's? I had enough discounts and Kohl's Cash to get this $350 4.5 quart KitchenAid mixer for $187. YES I DID! Um, I have NOT been paying attention throughout my 37 years. Why are KitchenAid mixers so expensive? I dunno. But now that I have one, I'll be using it a LOT to make up for the cost:

With the Kohl's Cash I earned from the KitchenAid purchase, I was able to get this Cuisinart chopper thing for FREE:

And then Ma gave me a red crockpot to match the rest of the kitchen as her housewarming present. Grandma's cupboards are getting full now!

When I first moved in, I found a bag of Grandma and Grandpa's GREEN dishes in the basement. This was good for me because I only had six plates, which my sister gave to me after the whole breakdown about the forks back in 2012 (Thank you, Sis Big!). You can see the plates below -- the square, white ones. They're very purty. The green plates are useful (on the top shelf), but they're also... ugly... and super old... and half of them are chipped. Let's face it, I'm only holding onto them for sentimental reasons. I decided if I was going to buy all of this other new crap, I had might as well get myself some good dishes. Below, you can see my new yellow and red dishes that I got at Target the other night. They only had FIVE yellow bowls, so I had to split into red/yellow because I wanted enough to use when my sister's family and my parents are all here at the same time. I also got coffee mugs and bowls that match. You can also see the new Pyrex snack bowls I got with credit card rewards points. The little ceramic cute bowls were a gift from Ma about five years ago. I've only used them once because... no one ever eats with me. But they will NOW. YES, THEY WILL. I also just ordered a whole bunch of glasses in two sizes that will show up soon:

I decided to cheat on the coffeemaker. I don't drink coffee anymore because of heartburn issues, but I know everyone else does. After reading horrible reviews of a bunch of modern coffeemakers, I gave up and bought this superfly old one at the thrift store for $3.99. There are even directions from the previous owner about how to make the perfect cup AND how to clean the thing properly. SCORE:

And finally, we come to the vacuum. Every few years, I have to buy a new one because I buy really cheap vacuums. They fill up with cat hair -- or my hair -- and eventually start smoking and die. The End. Before I moved into this house, I paid to have all of the carpets cleaned, which is not a cheap endeavor. Sigh. It was worth it though, and now that they're clean, I want to keep them that way. I HATED my carpet at the Villa. No amount of vacuuming could make it look nice, so I was really lazy about it. But here? I want to be proud of my carpet, despite its many and obvious flaws. Enter the Shark Navigator Lift-Away Deluxe, which I just got at Target a few nights ago on SALE -- YAY! Purty vacuum. I will love you and treat you right and use your handy under-appliance wand over and over and over. I will also use your extensions to suck up all of these crazy boxelder bugs that have somehow taken over Briarpatch:

There, that should do it.

But no, I realize I'll need more things with time. I'm only figuring out what I need as I go. By trying to use my brand-new pots, I realized I needed spatulas and spoons that won't scratch them. Check! By cooking so much, I realized I needed a bunch of non-disposable plastic containers. Check! And trivets. Check! By baking cupcakes with my new KitchenAid, I realized I needed new measuring cups. Check! Am I done shopping yet???!!!

I've been buying a lot of doodads and useful things when I go thrifting, which helps with my sanity and my pocketbook. I am VERY lucky that my parents have loaned me money for many of these purchases (which I will pay back in full soon), but I have found myself getting a little pity-party-ish from time to time.

Wasn't I supposed to get married? Wasn't I supposed walk around a bunch of stores with a scanner gun dripping with gooey love with my perfect man to register for all of these things and get them from my loved ones all at once wrapped in pretty paper while everyone celebrated me and my fantastic hubbie? 

Yes, the Depression Voice pops up when you start hemorrhaging money on home goods. But if you're lucky, another voice will pop in at some point.

I get to pick all of this stuff myself and get exactly what I want without having to compromise on any of it. 

That will have to do for now.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentine's Day Mini Project: Portland Sign

(This adorable bear and pile of chocolate came in the mail yesterday from my sister. SO SWEET. Thank you, Sissy!!)

Each year, no matter how much I try to not have this happen, I become quite crusty and bitter and boo hiss right around Valentine's Day. Many of my coupled/married friends have been together so long that they're over it, and they don't exchange cards anymore, and they assure me it's not that great, but I still get jealous, lonely, and sad. Most of the time when I know a holiday is coming that will bother me, I buy myself a present or make fun plans for that day. This time I went with the gift.

For a while now, I've been eyeballing the Architectural Model Kit of Portland Oregon Sign 3D Laser Cut from ThomasHouhaDesigns on Etsy. Before, during, and after I lived in Portland, I was in love with this sign. I mean, who wouldn't be? It's gorgeous. Even though I left Portland long ago, I still miss that city and all of my friends who live there, especially my cousin Kira. I originally thought about putting the sign in the Beacon Hill Heritage Room because the room actually is big enough to fit the sign. We'll see. For now: Happy Valentine's Day to me!

First, I had to get the sign kit away from Gretchen. She's obsessed with all things cardboard. Here, you can see her rolling around on the box:

And stopping for some minor ear scratching:

Even the box is cool. Seriously. I had to hide this box in the Dollhouse Room for weeks so I wouldn't be tempted to put it together early:

I deeply inhaled the nummy scent of laser cut wood:

Then I gently cut the pieces from the motherboards and did some light sanding of the nubs that were left behind. Fun fact: There was a little piece of wood holding the reindeer butt to the OLD TOWN sign, so it kind of looks like it's pooping if you leave the nub there. Just sayin'. Once it was all apart, it was time to glue:

I was EXTREMELY nervous about the gluing because the kit is SO perfect and beautiful. I stared at it for a long time, afraid I would mess it up. Then I told myself to f*ck it and just go for it:

Originally, I thought about painting the sign to look more like the real one, but then I would lose all of this beautiful detail etched into the wood. The sign will stay just as it is:

There's even a fun design on the reindeer (hmmm, I might need to go back and sand the butt again methinks):

All finished! As a miniaturist, I still have a wild urge to at least stain the wood or something, but I'm not going to do it. I don't want to mess up perfection. I haz a control mahself:

This sign may find its way into the Beacon Hill one day, but for now, it will sit in the bookshelf next to my home office so I can see it each day while I'm working. It will remind me of Kira, who is a wonderful person to be reminded of often:

Now I'm going to go take a looksee at all of the other mini projects I have lying around. There's plenty of time left in the day to work on more...

Happy Valentine's Day!!