Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Dirty Water

So this isn't a dollhouse post. Fair warning those of you who think of this as a fun blog. 

And the reason for the post title is about to become apparent. Mahatma Gandhi said:
"You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty."
He was right.  Absolutely.  And remembering that from day to day is one of the hardest things I've ever done.  I try not to listen to the news, and I avoid talk radio except for a few shows.  Everything is overwhelmingly negative.

And I feel like I'm surrounded by dirty water.  I know that I'm not but what I know and how I feel are two entirely different things.

It's a beautiful day, not too hot, not too cold and I'm furious with the world.  For many unreasonable reasons like forgetting my wedding rings because I didn't want to snag my tights, to the Bill Cosby rape scandals, to the events in Ferguson last night.

And then I read this blog post by the incomparable Bloggess. Go ahead and read it now. I'll wait. Because she's a lot classier than I am.  And she's also completely right.

I seem to have lost most of my own words today.  And maybe that's a good thing because Mom always said if you can't say something nice don't say anything.  I tend to forget that when I get on a roll of sarcastic complaints and jibes at the various things that annoy me.

And then someone like Jenny blogs and I remember that there are people in the world who have much tougher life than me and while I might complain, good humoredly but still complaining, there are folks who have a lot more to complain about and they're going about their business.  So let's all take a deep breath and remember what we're thankful for.

I've got a great husband who loves me in spite of my miniature/writing/reading/shopping addictions, or maybe because of them (who knows why but he does and that's the point).  I've got five cats now and they're all getting along reasonably well even if the kitten is a needy little attention sponge. (I think that's a default setting for kittens so yeah that one's my own fault for rescuing him.) I've got a job that shows no signs of firing me even when I zone out becasue I'm ill and want to do nothing but sleep.  And it pays me very decently so I can afford the aforementioned addictions.

I've also got people around me.  And they're pretty damn cool.  So yeah, I think I'll count my blessings and put a check in the win column for today.  Because I made it out of bed this morning after a lousy night and nothing bad happened on the way to work.  I've got half an hour to trowel on my make up so I don't scare my coworkers and I'm awake enough to write when I haven't had caffiene yet.  (Okay, true miracle folks!)

We've all got problems.  But a lot of times we're our own problem. Bright side is we're usually our own solution.  And if we look hard enough there are people out there who are happy to offer a hand, a smile or even a story that will make you laugh and cry at the same time.  No man is an island after all, even if it feels like it. 

Because Gandhi said this too:
"Before the throne of the Almighty, man will be judged not by his acts but by his intentions. For God alone reads our hearts.... The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.
So maybe the trick is to deal with my own problems and trust that somehow other people will deal with theirs.  And forgive myself when I get so wound up that I end up writing posts like these. 

And because they always cheer me up, here's a cat picture. Okay a few...including the new kitten who is...totes adorable!  BTW he's been christened Cap'n Jack Sparrow because he walks just like the character.  You he knows why the rum is gone.

Watcha doin'?

There's a joke here about letting the cat out of the bag, but Tali's too young to understand.  And Helo just likes the camera.
Yeah we're on your bed, taking over your blankets.  What are you gonna do about it?  We're adorable and we won't be moved.
Hi! We were sleeping when Mommy took this picture... Can we go back to sleep?
I love my sissies.  They're the awesomest!

 On that cheerful note, I'm going to put on my face, for the sake of my poor coworkers who deserve a lot better than my bitch face this morning. 

And one last quote for the road.  Same guy.
"Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one's weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart."

Saturday, November 22, 2014

So Little To Do, So Much Time... Strike That, Reverse It

Well... here I am again... long absence...but plenty accomplished.  Not so much lately but before my blogging routine went to hell in a hand basket (where does that saying come from?) I actually got a lot done.

I was feeling fairly pleased.

And then I got tired, and lazy, and sick.  But mostly tired and lazy.  I usually seem to hit a spot in the build where I've worked so hard that I don't want to touch it for a while.  In this case...yeah I got a lot done. more excuses... Pictures!

The chimney with some cardboard to pad it out.
Last time I blogged I was telling you about the electrical issues.  I'm sad to say they're ongoing, but I think I just need some new bulbs.  None of the wiring seems to have broken at least.

So the chimney is going to cover my cheats and wiring mess.  Cool huh?

So I needed to build it up a bit. Wrapped some cardboard around it. and made sure it would move.

Different angle with my cardboard taped on.
And of course the top needed cardboard too.  So a little more...

Here we are testing the look and fit.
And then I glued it onto the side of the house...

It actually worked pretty well...I was worried it wouldn't stick.
And then I started to put on my stone paper... It didn't go too badly actually.  I was kinda worried about this part.

It looked pretty good...even the angled part. 
Of course...then I got to the roof line... And after I wrapped the rooftop chimney in paper I really wasn't so sure about the whole thing.  Take a look. 

Yeah I'm suddenly not so sure about this.
Soo... the issue is that I need to have the chimney narrowed a bit more on the side to make the transition between the rooftop chimney and the wall chimney feel less...sudden.

It involved a lot of cursing.  And some maneuvering and regluing the worked. I think.  See what you guys think.

Shown here when I added the trim to the house.
Oh yes, the trim.  Yeah that was part of why I needed the narrow the chimney top. 

So I started with the porch...

There was one little issue with the front porch. (Only one since Tali was supervising.)
Remember how I put the boards on the roof of the porch?  I did it under the eaves of the porch too.  And that narrowed the space for the little pieces of wood to slide into.  So one by one, I sanded down a side, painted them, and glued them in place.

Teeny tiny little pieces...OMG it seemed like there were tons!

There was also this little issue of the roof coming up and requiring that it be reglued.  That was a fun little diversion.  Not!
But eventually I got them all up there.  And then started on the sides of the house and the eaves there.  All of the supports had to be added before I could add the trim.

Doesn't look too bad does it?

The results were pretty good though, even if I do say so myself.

Painstaking!  More like pain in the butt...or know from the leaning.
Figuring out where to place them on the sides was a bit harder.  They had to make sense structurally but be even if possible with the ones on the other side.  Eventually I kinda fudged it because it was making me crazy.

And then I added the trim to the sides of the roof and under the eaves.  By the way, these did not come precut with the angles.  That was all me.  Again, not my favorite pastime!

And you can see below my extremely sophisticated method of making sure everything stays in place while the glue sets.

If you were surprised I referred to binder clips as sophisticated you clearly don't know me that well.
The next step was to paint everything completely.  Yeah... I couldn't think of anyway to get out of it either.  But I went and got another couple bottles of white paint and there we go.  I did however wait until I finished the roof to do it.  I figured the roof was going to be in a darker color and why mess up any white trim with dark paint. 

So here are a few more shots with all the trim on the house.  The angles were tough!  But I got 'em done.

A little blurry but there are two pieces of angled trim.  One under the roof edge and one on the roof edge.
Here's the other side.

Not too bad right?
And the front dormer window.

This is without the side dormer trim but you get the idea right? Please say you do. Please?
One last pic of everything taped up while the glue sets for the trim.  Very glamorous right?
But it looks real pretty too. I love the front door.  Nice little pop!
Moving on from trim at last...minus the painting but we'll wait on that like I said.

The roof.  Remember how I was agonizing about the roof?  And how much I wanted to avoid shingles again?  I mean seriously, maybe it wouldn't have been so bad but I just really didn't wanna. You know?  Laziness was taking over whenever I thought about dying and then gluing and sanding shingles. 

I was thinking of doing a roof like this...its fairly common in Texas actually.  I usually see them in blue or tan.

And once I read how Otterine had done it I decided that I really liked the idea.  Soo...I ordered strips of basswood from Hobby Lobby.  Four packages I think, of the one eighth by one sixteenth strips.

And I got started.

I was still waiting for the trim to set on the dormer but I got started anyway.

And I decided that since the porch supports were a certain measurement apart (it escapes me at the moment) that I'd just match the roof lines up to them.  I used plain old Elmer's Glue and wiped off the excess with water.  I had to hold the wood down until it stuck but there wasn't any need for tape to keep it in place.  The back was a different story but it worked out eventually.

It seemed to work pretty well.

Not too bad right? You can just see my color strip where I'm debating my shades of brown for the roof.

I managed to get everything lined up nice and neat, front and back and get the center rail on nicely.  That was a little tricky but finally I managed to get it done.
Lines up with the porch that's kinda cool.
And then I had to paint.  There was a lot of very careful edgework to do. But between Husband and I, we had figured out a color.  Which I forgot to write down.  Yeah I'm real bright that way.

Still...the painting didn't come out too badly. See?

It looks good with the brick and the white/blue of the house.
I really liked it. Don't get me wrong.  Really liked it.  But the house looked  I mean like brand new no one has ever lived here we've got a spanking bright and shiny roof new.  And that's totally at odds for what I pictured with the house.  Soo...

I did a little...aging. 

I took black paint, watered it down with some dark brown with yet more water and used a sponge brush to drip it down the eaves and get it all over the bright pretty brown.

Here are a few detail shots.

See?  It looks like an old roof with the dark stuff getting washed down the slopes. 
I think the sponge brush was definitely the way to go.  Of course the minute I washed it and set it up to dry a cat stole it and decided it made an excellent chew toy. 

But here's a picture of the back... I couldn't just ignore it could I?

I think it looks pretty good.  Had to be careful to not drip the aging wash onto the pretty floors.
And then of course there was painting the trim.

Which was again...painstaking and laborious... yeesh.  My back was so glad when I was done.

Nice clean white trim...
And so I was happy with the outside and turned to the inside of the house.

I'd been wanting to work on a backsplash for the stove.  So I messed around with that for a bit.  I made a template and started to fool around with some of the beads I wanted to use for tiles.

Not too bad looking I think.
But I didn't want the arch at the top, it was way too much.  So I cut off the arch and redid my beads.

I used Sticky Tacky glue to hold them to the cardboard.
I also put some blue citrine in the empty spaces between the circle beads. It fills them up nicely. And the glue dries clear so it won't show.

I also did some work on some furniture... I wanted some simple things, one end table for the living room downstairs and also a bedside table to set one of the lamps on in the bedroom.

So I had some wooden cubes from Joann's and I cut a square hole in the side of one of them.  By the way, don't try to use your fingers to hold a saw blade.  If they're sharp enough to poke and saw through wood they're sharp enough to slice your fingers, even if you aren't holding the jagged side.

But I triumphed and voila!

It needs a little touching up but I like it. 
And I really wanted a tile topped side table for the living room.  Just a nice little accent piece.  So I painted all but one side of another cube dark brown, and made a frame for the top out of popsickle sticks.  Then I used more beads for my tiles to echo the backsplash I'll put up in the kitchen.

It looks a little too dark to me so I may have to fiddle with it some more.
I might have to pry up the beads and put some white paint down to make the colors pop a bit more.  It just looks a little too dark on top for me.  So we'll see.  Or I could turn it upside down and make another frame.  It might look a bit more finished that way.  We'll see.

But we also got a few more friends.  Some of them might move into the Gothic Victorian.  But some will stay here.  They're having a lot of fun playing around the big room.

A few too many critters for this house.  It's not big enough for so many cats!
Someone wants up but there isn't enough room.
And the bedside table is the perfect hiding place for a nap.
Uh oh, someone had better not get ideas about that lamp!
Why are cats always fascinated by the bathroom?  Especially the tub?
But so far everything seems to be going fine.  I'm working on finishing the bathroom next.  I just need to find some mini curtain rod holders...or something made to hold conduits in place so I can get the shower held in place along with the shower curtain.  I've got some thick metal jewelers wire that'll serve as the curtain rod nicely.  Just nothing to hold it up to the walls.  Wish me luck!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Finishing Touches...But We're Still Not Done

Hi!  This'll be a longer post to make up for the no post last weekend.  And let me start by saying...

Sorry I missed you guys last week.  The dollhouse had a small electrical problem.  Makes me wondery why I'm bothering with the wire tape.

Don't get me wrong.  I love the concept.  But I'm still kind of a newbie at the whole dollhouse building thing.  And that leads to problems now and then.  Like when I go to add outlets and the tape wire breaks.  So I did some more work.

And then I said the heck with it and cheated.

Drilling holes in the side of the house is cheating.
But the bright side?  Yeah it worked!

See?  Lots of light in the upstairs.  And the little outlets under the window work too.
I'm really happy the outlets under the window work.  I want to have a lamp on either side of the bed.

Like so.
For some reason I don't have a picture with those lamps lit up.  Don't ask me why. I really am not sure.

I did figure something out that had been bothering me for a while.  See I knew I needed a railing for the hole in the floor where the stairs come up.  But I couldn't figure out how to do it.  And then it hit me.

I'd already stained the newel posts and spindles.  So I got some of my little eyelets.  You know, the kind that have a screw end to them so you can screw them into the wall and have a nice little loop sticking out?  I'm sure there's a neat technical term for them but I've got no clue what it is.

And I carefully drilled a little hole in the top of the spindles and the sides of the newel posts.  And then (equally carefully) screwed the tiny loops in.

Glueing them into place wasn't easy. They like to fall over. Swoops was trying to help.
I had to let everything dry or I would have ended up knocking them over when I put the railing through.  But half a day (it really felt that long) later I got the railing in.  See?

And it matches the railing for the stairs.  Which I like a lot. 
Once again, Swoops tried to help but he kept bumping his head on the ceiling.  Poor dear.

See?  He didn't get any glue on his feathers though so he's happy about that.
Getting that finished was a relief.  But I still wasn't thrilled with how the room looked.  There are other things that could be done.  Little touches that I think help finish a room.  Like crown molding.

I'm a little odd (read OCD) in that I like things to match.  I really wanted something to trim the walls and the built-ins.  As you can see, I added trim to the storage bench.

I think it gives it a more polished look.
I wanted something similar for the eaves and top of the walls.  But anything too wide would look clunky.  So I did what I swore to never do.

I went out and shopped on Tax Free Weekend!

Yeah.  It was horrifying. Even if it was only the Hobby Lobby.

But I got some strips of basswood 1/8 by 1/8 and stained them the same summer oak as the baseboards.  And with a little bit of judicious sanding I got them angled to match the roofline.  That's always fun. (Not)

The fun part was making sure the cabinets worked.
I'm not sure about adding trim to the wall along the bottom of the eaves.  I might find a small piece and tape it up to see how I like it. 

But here's the other side...

It doesn't look bad.  I don't think I want any trim in the dormer though. At least now now. 
And here's the bathroom.  Complete with its drop ceiling.

See?  I like how the lower ceiling looks.  And it'll keep the heat in since I doubt the house is well insulated.
The other side.  This also gives you a chance to see the lights.

I think it came out nicely. Again, not sure about trim under the eaves.  Still thinking.

So I mentioned the drop ceiling in the bathroom.  For the bedroom I did something a little different.  I wanted to echo the ceiling on the first floor.

I sanded down the curved ends of my popsicle sticks and glued them to the exposed wood of the ceiling.  Then I painted everything white.  The little box hides the cord and plug of the chandelier.  It also lowers the light some which I like.

I did some work on the tub.  I don't like brass fixtures in a bathroom, at least not for the faucets so I got some different ones.  And I painted the drain and metal disk.

I like these better.

I also started work on the shower fixture.

Can you guess what it's made out of?
If you said a wooden dowel and an old earbud piece you'd be right.

The rubber end just fits around the dowel.  So I painted it silver.  It's drying now so pictures for that will be next week.  I was afraid to move it because I didn't want to mess up the paint.

I had one more big project.  Well big in the sense that it was not easy and it took a while.  This is mostly what I did last weekend when the electrical was frustrating me.

I won a kit in an auction.  So I decided to build it.

I decided not to use the handles that came with the kit.
What I like best is that it works.

Perfect for a lap top right?
Instead of the regular handles I used beads with brass nails clipped off on the ends.  The heads give it that perfect bright touch on the end of the beads. 

The bungalow also has some new residents.  I managed to get some good pictures of them. It wasn't easy.  One of them wouldn't stay still!

Someone had better not be scratching the bench!
 No scratching!  We don't want claw marks!

Or is she just curious about her sissy? 

Hey Sissy!  C'mon...let's play.
It's time to play!
Don' care... I'm sleepin'.  Go play with Swoops.

No Sissy!  He's too big.  I wanna play with you!

I'm bored Sissy!
I've done a few other things (purchased some things really) but they're for the Gothic Victorian.  I'll put pictures of those up in a few days. 

And hopefully I'll have a decision made about the trim under the eaves by then.  I really can't decide.

What do you guys think?