Sunday, December 23, 2012

That's Not a Stamp, it's a Christmas Print, or Christmas Decorating, 1/12 Scale

One of the things that makes the Christmas Season such a fun and festive time is the decorating. Sometimes I drag my feet a bit when it comes to putting up lights and the tree and Christmasy knick-knacks, mostly because it means I need to get my house cleaned up first. And I am always the one who still hasn't taken the tree down by March. It can be just as much fun, however, to decorate you dollhouse for Christmas WITHOUT all the fuss. 

Although I had hoped for a White Christmas, looks like the icicles
and snow didn't arrive. Also the yard is full of crap and the house could
use a new paint job, but it's cozy and festive inside.
 
What's that peeking through the window? Why it's a Christmas tree with
lights and decorations.
Please wipe your feet on the doormat on your way in. We haven't lived here for long, so the walls are still mostly white, but we've begun to make it our own.

The first room you get to is the kitchen. We have a linoleum floor made of
self-adhesive shelf-liner, unpainted walls, and light wood appliances. What
color do you think they should paint the walls?

Please excuse the dirty dishes in the sink. The Mrs. has been cooking. She
hasn't spent much time decorating this room, but she did add a little Christmas
tree with a red bow on top of the fridge. Like me, she shops at the Dollar
Tree for small seasonal decor.

Here's a festive spray of tinsel in the milk jug. The Mrs. likes to keep seasonal
flowers here, but is considering adding a large candy cane to the arrangement.
 Why don't you come on into the living room and sit down for a few minutes? You look like you could use a cup of tea.

Here, have a seat and enjoy a cup of tea. It's cozy in here by the Christmas
tree. You like the wallpaper? It's vintage, homemade. The wainscoting,
however, is new, as is the window treatment and floral painting (which were
salvaged from a  greeting card).

Red battery-powered lights, pipe-cleaner tinsel, and resin ornaments
decorate the tree. These ornaments have been in the family for
about 20 years.

Looks like Santa has already been here! Brightly colored packages (from
Dollar Tree), toy soldiers, a wooden train, and a teddy bear. Do you like
the tea set? It has also been in the family for about 20 years. 
This is my favorite chair to just relax in front of the tree. It will be
the perfect place to watch the kids unwrap their presents. 

Since this is your first visit to the house, why don't we take you on the grand tour? It isn't much, but we like it. Let's go upstairs to the den.

This room is also in need of a coat of paint, but we do have new felt carpet! This
room has a door leading out to a balcony, but we don't spend much time there
because there's no railing. We've only got a desk in here now, but that's okay.

Even though we haven't lived here long, we have received a few Christmas cards!
(Made from holiday address labels on card stock.) We've hung up some festive
prints on the wall and put a small tree in this room.
The bedroom is right through this doorway. After you.

We've recently re-floored this room too (with blue note cards) but haven't
found just the right wallpaper for the walls. We like the blond wood and
a few touches of red and green add some pop to the room. When we saw these
life-size nutcrackers (at the Dollar Tree), we couldn't pass them up. 

A giant Christmas bulb (earring) and a red table runner (felt) decorate the
dresser. 

Our little suitcase (matchbox) has been well-traveled. This has also been
in the family for year, and who knows how long it was around before we
acquired it.

A snowman print and small holiday plant add a nice touch. Do you like my
seashell (button) tray? It's a great place for my jewelry.
You have to use the bathroom, you say? Where are my manners. Right this way. Watch your step, these stairs are steep.

Watch your head, the ceiling's rather low in here. We just pulled up the
carpet and laid down this marble (shelf liner) tile. Do you like the wallpaper?
We thought it gave the bathroom a primitive charm.

We had the red felt rugs custom made for this room. I see you are admiring
the trash receptacle (ceramic thimble). It matched the style of the sink, tub,
and toilet so well we just had to have it.

Thank you! We love the floral print hanging above the tub. (It was
a bead from a bracelet.)

Well, that's the grand tour. I hope you enjoyed your visit! If you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments or on the Facebook page :)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Love and the Placebo Effect: I'm Done Teasing.

If you have been a long-time reader of the blog, or if you've gotten bored waiting for a new post and looked back through the blog archives, you are probably aware that I recently discovered that I love to write. I decided to write a romance novel and I ended up with a full manuscript in about 6 weeks. That was the first draft. Since then, I went back through I don't know how many times "editing." It was excruciating. I sent it off to a few friends for feedback and got a positive response, so I decided to try to get this sucker published.

I initially followed the traditional route: write a query letter and synopsis, send off to multiple agents, pray. Then, as life goes, things changed. I joined the ranks of the employed and my writing and querying time melted away. In the year an a half since I've had a regular 40-hour-a-week grown-up job, I think I've written one and a half chapters. That's a far cry from full draft manuscript in 6 weeks. I stopped querying. I began to accept the fact that it would likely be years before I could make any strides toward my new dream of becoming a writer.

Because of work, I traded in romance writing for grant writing, querying for ad sales, daydreaming for project planning. I'm sure I'm making more money right now than a year and a half of writing would have earned, but I'm not completely convinced it is worth it.

Something happened recently, however. I was asked to help a friend of our organization with a specific project. A book project. I felt a little spark which had been missing in my life, a little hope. Part of this project involved doing some research on self-publishing, something I had heard of but had discounted. For the purposes of my work project, however, self-publishing was the logical choice. And as I researched the topic, an idea started to form.

I'm sure you can guess what happened next. It seemed to me that before I advise someone else on the logistics of getting his book online, I should try it for myself. After all, I DID have a manuscript lying around gathering dust...

"Who is this Chloe Craft person?" you
ask... Well, that's a nom de plume for
The Cardboard Crafter... Okay, Cardboard
Crafter isn't my real name either, but hey,
there are sex scenes and curse words in that
book! I had to change my name in case
my mom reads it someday... 

And, as they say, the rest is history. Love and the Placebo Effect is now available on amazon.com for Kindle. I've priced it at $2.99, which I think is fair -- but who am I to judge? You'll have to make that call after you read the book **winks**.

Not sure you want to invest almost three dollars of your hard-earned cash on someone's first novel? I don't blame you. If it helps you decide whether to commit such a large sum of money for a cause with dubious returns, I posted a few teasers to the blog back when I was working on the book and reading them will give you a feel for the writing style. No, I won't make you search for them in the archives. I know you are a busy person and don't have time for all that. The links are below; if you like what you read, you can get the whole thing on Amazon!

Love and the Placebo Effect, Teaser #1

Love and the Placebo Effect, Teaser #2

Love and the Placebo Effect, Teaser #3

Love and the Placebo Effect, Teaser #4

Love and the Placebo Effect, Teaser #5

If you like the book, please recommend it to other folks who might enjoy. Also, "like" my new Chloe Craft Facebook page and share it with your friends!

**shameless self-promotion concluded**

Monday, December 3, 2012

OOAK Take 2 - Purple Barbie Repaint

This was attempt number 1 at a doll repaint. This doll had kind of a grubby
purple face that was darker than the rest of her skin, so I brightened up her
face with some pink paint. This was not a perfect solution because it left
brush strokes. I wasn't really happy with this attempt, so I decided to paint
over it.

This was attempt 2. I decided to make her into a purple and pink alien so
that some texture in the paint would make sense :)  It's still not perfect,
but I think it's definitely better than attempt # 1. It bothers me that the eyebrows
are not quite symmetrical (but then again, it also bothers me that MY eyebrows
aren't symmetrical, so maybe that makes it more realistic.) 

So my plan is to eventually come up with some awesome one-of-a-kind dolls and put them on eBay. I have tons of fun making them, but don't really end up playing with them, so I figure that's a good way to deal with the clutter while at the same time sharing them (and gauging  people's interest). I thought about selling my cardboard dollhouses, but I can't imagine what would be involved in trying to ship them, so I haven't gone that route. A doll, however, is easier to package.

I'll post updates as I make progress. Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

OOAK - Take One.

I've been working on a few projects recently, but I haven't taken the time to take pictures or share. You may have guessed at the direction of some of these projects if you have been following my Facebook page (although the links I shared on my page are missing, so I guess I should just tell you...) I've been working on Barbie doll makeovers (also known as 'repaints' or OOAK [one of a kind] dolls).

This isn't actually a new thing for me. My sisters can tell you, I was known to give a Barbie doll a haircut or dye job from time to time in my youth. I loved sewing new clothes or finding accessories for them. So it's no surprise that when I saw dolls that looked like this on eBay, I had got inspired:

Isn't this doll gorgeous? Click HERE to see how to make
your own. HERE's another tutorial that I thought was
pretty good.

I have a few 50 cent Barbies that I picked up at my local Goodwill store to play with, including a purple fairy doll (sans wings) who had some hideous purple lipstick on her purple face. So I took some nail polish and washed it off, along with the rest of the paint on her face. After locating my tiniest paint brushes, I tried my hand at a "repaint."

She looks kind of like my 10-year-old niece did her make-up, but at least
her lips look better.

I brightened up her face with some pink paint, re-did her eyes and lips. My first attempt doesn't compare to a practiced hand, but I think it's promising enough to warrant further practice. I didn't really take my time and mix the correct paint colors, I just wanted to do a run-through to learn the process. I'll probably erase this with some nail polish remover in a few days and try again, hopefully with a little better outcome.

I think I did a little better than Cecilia JimĂ©nez, at least.

I also had a doll who had very little hair - and an idea to fix it. Remember Raggedy Ann? Well, this is Raggedy Barbie. I unraveled some red yarn, sewed it into shape, and glued it down to her head. I repainted her eyebrows to match and sewed a cap and dress for her. I'm not completely satisfied with the dress, but that's something that can always be fixed.

She looks like she got her dress at a prison sale or made
it while she was a member of a cult, but I'm pretty pleased
with the hair.

I spent a few hours with the hot glue gun today working on a craft project that was a little less fun. My sweet son is going to be a red candy cane in his school play this week. I have been procrastinating about making his costume, because I couldn't really come up with a good way to make it... so my husband says HE will make the costume. Well, it turns out that means he was going to put together a wire frame and turn the project back over to me to finish. It's not so easy to make a flat piece of poster board into a three-dimensional candy cane, even if you do have a coat-hanger frame to bend it around. And the final product does NOT look like hours worth of work, but I'm not going to redo it after all that work, so I've resigned myself to being satisfied with this one.

Maybe there is some charm to an obviously homemade costume?

I have another super cool project in the works, but I want to get a little further along with it before I post pictures. I'll give you some clues: this one is NOT made out of cardboard, although I typically prefer it as my building material. It's 1/12 scale and decorated for the holidays :) I'm sure you can guess. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

It's Pink!

Before you say anything, I know. These pictures suck - they are grainy, the lighting is all weird, and well... maybe composition could use some work as well. The camera on my phone works well--in the bright sunlight, outdoors--but for some reason when I upload pics using the Blogger app, they are always grainy and yucky. <end of disclaimer>

Anyhow, yesterday was a landmark day. I FINALLY painted the girls's bedroom. I have only had the paint can waiting around in my utility room for about a year and a half... I have been waiting until I could have someone  watch the girls or help me paint or whatever, but that plan never came together. It was never the right moment.

Well, in the last year and a half, my two-year-olds have become three-year-olds and no longer require constant supervision. So I put on a Disney movie and settled the kids in to watch while I gathered up painting supplies and got to work all by me onesie.

From plain white to bubble gum pink. Not generally MY color, but the
girls like it.

I did it (almost) all by myself. I did have a little help getting the top edge below the molding. If you've ever met me, you know why. (I'm 4'9" tall. Incidentally, I had no trouble getting the bottom edge by the floorboards by myself...)

Goes well with their pink and white polka dot pillows.
I had planned to do their room in a "fairy tale forest" theme, but have really only gotten about halfway there. I bought a bunch of butterflies and bugs from the garden section in the dollar store and hung them around the room, like on the mirror below. Also, the girls fabulous great aunt made them each an embroidered and quilted wall hanging with pictures of them and all kinds of glitter for their 2nd birthday, and each square has a scene from a fairy tale. So, to recap: bugs for the "forest" part, wall hangings for the "fairy tale" part. As of yet no trees or toadstools or magic.

I left the two wood panel walls brown. I think maybe I'll move the wall hangings
over to the brown walls above their beds, because they kinda blend into the
walls now.

See what I mean?
Even though it's still not finished, the girls are pretty excited and I think they are satisfied. The most important part is that they like their room and are comfortable in there (even if there are still some suspect shadows in there when it comes close to bedtime... every fairy tale has to have a bad guy, right?).

"Once upon a time there was a Princess... make that two."

Oh, yeah. I made new curtains too. You can't really tell
in this picture, but they are really cute. The top fabric is
pink with brown flowers, birds, and keys. The middle band
is brown and the bottom band is pink with white polka
dots (the same fabric the pillow cases were made from.)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Ho Ho Halloween...

Craft project of the day: Wizard Beard. I shaped some floral wire into a mustache shape with ear hooks, sewed some white fabric to it, and sewed pieces of Halloween spider web to the cloth. Added beads and bells, and voila. I'm told we can use it again at Christmas...


We've also made a cape and other accessories for his Halloween costume. Will post more pics soon!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Flower Girl Dresses, Take 3--No, wait... Princess Dresses, Take 2.

Halloween is my favorite holiday. Big surprise, I know. I love the decorations, I love the food, I love the trick-or-treating... but most of all, I love the costumes. Ever since my son was born, I have made my kids costumes for Halloween every year. (Okay, I admit... there was that one year when my son was a penguin and I bought his costume... off year, I guess).

This was his second Halloween costume... I set the bar
pretty high ;)

With three kids, it takes a little more time to put costumes together, so I asked each one at the beginning of September what they wanted to be. Well, in typical child fashion, the answer changed each time I asked them. First it was Phineas and Ferb, then it was He-Man, then they wanted to be skeletons and vampires... Each of these costumes are very different, so I couldn't really buy supplies until we had officially decided. So Mommy made an executive decision: the girls would be princesses and my son would be a knight. (Generic, I know... but for a working mama who is short on time, it will have to do.) All three have decided that they will also wield magic -- sorceress princesses and a war wizard -- but that's okay. Just a few accessories different and those costumes work.

My first effort at finding costume supplies was a trip to Goodwill. Usually I can find some good stuff there, but I kinda struck out. I found a couple big shirts and some pretty scarves and did my best to turn them into dresses--not an easy prospect when you have two little chatty gargoyles sitting at your elbow watching you sew. My girls ended up looking more like Gypsies than princesses.

Princess Dresses... or not. Big brother is in his "war wizard" costume in
the back. 

Soooo.... we tried again, this time using their flower girl dresses as the base. I figured since these dresses have served them well in two different weddings, it's okay for them to enter the realm of costumes. 

Ta-da! One sewing project, completed. (Check)

Lady Katie is in yellow and Fair Claire is in pink. We recycled the yellow sashes from wedding number two (same link as above--you really should check it out!) and added a piece of yellow fabric we bought on clearance at JoAnns. For the pink dress, the overskirt is made from a piece of sparkly pink fabric (also a clearance purchase) and the gauzy pink over her shoulders is from my fabric stash (thanks Grandma!).

These dancing princesses could go all night. 

It is ridiculously hard to get my little princesses to stand still for photos, so we tried some pictures while hugging... Not only did I get a few shots without motion blurs, it's kinda cute as well.

How sweet!

The back of Fair Claire's dress.

"You're my best friend!"

 The back of Lady Katie's dress.

Lovely ladies.

We picked up some sparkly fabric paint and jewels at the Dollar Tree which I'll probably use to fancy these up a tad more. After all, these are magic wielding princesses, not mere ladies in waiting. They need to look fancy and powerful.

"I know I'm pretty."

 They may be identical twins, but both girls prefer to have their own look. These dresses are different enough that no one will get my little princesses mixed up, but similar enough that neither one should get jealous of the other's dress.

"It's okay, you're pretty too..."

Good thing we have this brave knight... I mean, archaeologist, to protect us.

I may have to find some turtle necks or leotards for the girls to wear under their dresses. Sleeveless might not work all that well for October, and they are a bit young to be sacrificing comfort in the name of fashion. They also have star wands that will need further decoration. But we've got a decent start! And that war wizard masquerading as an archaeologist already has his magic staff, so I'm feeling pretty good about our costuming progress.

How is your costume coming? Post pictures on my Facebook page. I'd LOVE to see them!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Blankie for the Baby

When I found out my sister was having a baby, I was
soooo excited--so excited, in fact, that I immediately put
my nervous energy to use at the sewing machine.

I decided to make a baby quilt. This was my first attempt at making a quilt,
so it was by no means perfect, but I was pretty proud of the result.

I used lots of different patterns. The small blue squares have pictures of girls
and boys holding balloons and ABC's. I used the black and white fabric because
babies are supposed to be able to see black and white patterns clearly first.
The pirate boarder was for daddy, the more "sophisticated" patterns were for
mommy.

For all the thought I put into it, however, there was one
problem... there is a lot of PINK in this blanket, and the
ultrasound came back BLUE. That's right, I'm having a
nephew.

Take two: boy's blankie. For this blanket, I actually went
to the fabric store and bought fabric specifically for this
project. (All fabric from the previous blanket came from
my stash -- the only thing I had purchased for blanket 1
was some embroidery floss to pull through and knot -- my
solution to the "quilting" problem.)

The pattern of fabric blocks is a lot simpler on this one, but I did actually
machine quilt it instead of just knotting it. I used all flannel fabric (bought on
clearance!) and a satiny green fabric (recycled) for the border. The bug?
$1 at the dollar store. Attached to the blanket for chewing purposes.

The backing fabric on this one is BLUE with stars. I made a little "leaf" in the
corner for baby to chew on or in case mama wants to hang the blanket on a
hook or something. Whatevs.

I think the cuteness factor is somewhat amplified here...

So, maybe if one of my other sisters gets pregnant, I'll have a taker for
blankie number 1. ;)