Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Be Our Guest...

After our son moved out in July, we decided to give some of the upstairs rooms a little refresh. We took out the old carpeting, replaced it with laminate flooring, repainted the walls, and did some repairs. It took us a while (and is still ongoing), because Russ had been working out of town, coming home for weekends, for several months. As luck would have it, other important things (like replacing the Jeep's clutch) came up and took precedence, too. We really only had the weekends together to get things done, and a lot of the work was a two person job. Our scope of work included two bedrooms, the guest bath, the hallway and (almost finished) the landing. We are also replacing the carpeting on the stairs for wood treads and beadboard risers, though that work is still ongoing. It's been a lot of physical work, and in spite of our "Reuse, Recycle, Restore and Repurpose" commitment, the $$ have been flying out of the checking account. But like most necessary things, we are glad to have (nearly) gotten it done.

For now, we only furnished and decorated one guest room. Our usual visitors live close enough to go home after gatherings, so one room seemed appropriate. To make it a comfortable place for our guests, we bought a few things, refreshed and repaired a few things, and I made a few things. I have a lot of bold colors throughout the rest of my home, so I wanted the guest rooms to feel light and airy. I tried several samples on the walls, and because of it's warm and neutral feel, went with Behr Cream Puff. I like it, and it gives off a nice feeling in person. It also looks crisp and clean with the freshly repainted white trim.

I made the wall art piece thingy using wood, trim, knobs, ribbon and paint I already had. The frames are 12" x 12" purchased on sale from Hobby Lobby online. The price was great ($4.99 half price sale), and the frames are good quality, but boy did they take a long time to get here! 10 days! If only Hobby Lobby knew how impatient I am, and could get my stuff to me in 3 to 4 days instead, they'd get A LOT more of my money! I used the Cricut Design Space to create the lettering and mats for the frames. The letters for HOME were also purchased from Hobby Lobby.

The coat rack/hanger was under $8, having only to buy the chipboard "welcome" and two fancy metal hooks. I had the scrap wood and trim, black chalk paint and bronze guilder's paste.

The dresser has been a hand me down in our family for a number of years. My grandparents had it in their guest bedroom, then when grandpa passed, it lived at my parents house. They gave it to my son who used it until he moved out, and then it became ours. Originally, it had a very orange-ish toned stain. Not really my style, but the original hardware was unique and rustic enough to fit in with the new decor. After a coat of black spray paint and then a dusting of aged bronze, they're even better. I gave the dresser a good cleaning to remove accumulated and invisible oils and furniture polish collected on it throughout the years, then primed and spray painted it satin black to match the rest of the furniture. It works really well in the room.


The platform bed frame is nothing special, just a ship flat IKEA type piece. They wanted an arm AND a leg for the matching headboard, so I made my own. Having some experience making fabric covered cornices for the kitchen and family room windows, I had a little confidence that I could make the fabric covered headboard. Nothing fancy, just interesting and nice. Russ cut the 3/4" plywood for me, then I stapled on a 1" foam slab. I wrapped batting over that, and then the fabric. I got the upholstery fabric and the foam slab from Joanne's online when they went on sale for 50% off. I paid $5.99/yd. for the fabric (bought 4 yards so I'd have extra) and $16 for the 24" x 90" roll of 1" thick foam. I had leftover batting stored from the cornices, and finally put it to good use! The fabric is pretty and pulls in the yellow, black and creams from the rest of the decor. I also made runners for the dresser and the nightstand with the fabric.

I bought the chair, mattress, bedding with window covering set, candles, rug and clock at various online retailers after much price comparing and review reading. Did I mention how much I avoid shopping in stores? Fierce traffic to get anywhere, long lines, out of stocks, can't find what you need, having to drive all over to several stores just to strike out. Nope. Not doing it. I'm an online shopper, and even get my groceries delivered!

The lamp is an extra from the set I have in the family room. It just needed a simple rewiring. The nightstand is an extra piece I've used in various rooms over the years.

The bathroom didn't get a lot of attention. I found just scrubbing the walls, repainting the over-the-toilet cupboard and a fresh coat of trim paint did the trick.  I replaced the previous art work in the frames with another quick and easy Cricut project. Russ and I had already replaced the light fixture and added the countertop tile years ago. So, a guest bath ready for guests or overflow (oops! probably shouldn't use that adjective when referencing a bathroom!) from family gatherings.

And that's it for now, though at some point we'd like to replace the flooring in the last three upstairs rooms. Maybe next spring, though - we're pooped and looking forward to some lazy days!! I'll leave you with a lovely foggy fall morning view from the guest room's window.

Mt. Rainier
Hopefully, next week I'll be back with continued progress on the Storybook Cottage landscape.

xo xo,

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Growing A Cottage Garden Part 5

With family coming in for a visit on the 19th, I knew this week would be my last chance to work on minis for a while. So, I pushed hard, worked late, and really every spare moment (and moments I should have been doing other things) were focused to get as much of the garden finished as possible. I'll apologize now for not taking any "in process" photos. I'll just explain some of the processes with the photos.

*One quick note for Chrome users: If you want to view the images as large as possible, even larger than the Blogger photo viewer, right click on the photo and select Open In New Window.

I finally committed to attaching the flower boxes

I installed gutters and teacup rain chains which empty into rain barrels. I installed the battery powered porch light (after the brass was made copper), the teacup address plate, topiary and strawberry pot to the porch area. I have yet to make the strawberry plant. I also need to make a door mat.

Here's the bee skep and the bee smoker. I have the bee skep tutorial somewhere on the blog. Search skep and it should come up. I still need to make lots of tiny bees. The ones I made for the Three Pigs were a little large and cartoonish, which was fine for that build, but I'd like to try for smaller ones at some point.

Here's the corner planter filled with flowers that bees love. And another teacup rain chain to utilize nature's water. You may also notice the stone path has been weathered and aged.

The light switch and battery pack for the stairwell lights have been turned into the electric meter. The space below it is reserved for the big clay pot which will be the home of the Camellia tree, once I get around to making it.

The kitchen's bay window ledge was always slated for pots of herbs and flowers, and I finally got to make that dream come true! The area below the bay window got a layer of gravel - it still needs to be aged. A water heater and gas meter are planned for the small space to the left of the window.

Here's a photo of this side of the cottage. It looks a little bare now without the rose arbor and fences.

The right side of the cottage was the home of the potting bench, which finally got outfitted for planting.

In order for our homeowner to reach the high window boxes for watering, I made a watering wand from roughly bent brass rod. I added beads and metal pieces to replicate the fittings, and to make it look adjustable.

To make the cheap, clear green hose look more authentic, I painted it with green paint marker, then aged with brown washes. I attached it to a fairy garden wall sink (painted copper) and added the hose holder to the front. This area still needs some accessorizing in good time.

Here's the whole side together.

The next step in the process will be to add flowers to the fence planters, then install the fences to the landscape board. Then the arbor, then the gate etc.

For the next week, I'll be turning my attention to getting life ready for company. I hope to share the guest room photos during that time.

One last note before I leave you... Our talented, creative and funny friend Keli, in the midst of her own life challenges, has taken the time and care to send some of Charlene's treasures to me for display in the cottage. I'll share photos in my next post. They are perfect, and I love that through Keli's heart, Charlene's passion for minis will continue to delight others. Thank you, Keli! ūüíó

xo xo,

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Growing A Cottage Garden Part 4

It's been nearly a week since my last garden update, so I thought I'd share some little accomplishments. It doesn't look like a lot in terms of the overall completeness of the garden, but when I remember that I colored, cut, shaped, glued, planted and arranged each tiny leaf and petal, I feel good about my progress. Alas, there is still so, so much more to go...

First up is the tea blend planter. Last week I had determined that I was going to have to come up with reasonable versions of the real life plants using the supplies and skills available to me. Let's face it - I do not posses the talents of Ilona or Betsy when it comes to plant and flower making, so please set your expectations accordingly. :O)

You saw my version of Chamomile, and in addition to that I made eight other common plants/flowers used for making tea blends.

I had SDK kits for the Peppermint and Spearmint...

And used Polka Dot plant leaves from SDK to make the Lemon Balm.

Real Life Lemon Balm Plant

For the Bee Balm, I could have spent days to achieve a replica...

Bee Balm Flower

Instead, I painted parts from an old fir tree in my stash, added petals and calyx from punches, and SDK Dogwood leaves. Close enough, though if I was making a single pot I would have tried harder. :O)

Rugosa roses produce great hips for tea, but don't look a lot like traditional roses. For these, I used a Wild Rose kit by Bonnie Lavish. They have a single petal rather than five to seven layers of petals, and a yellow center.

Rugosa Roses
For the St. John's Wart I used the Punch Bunch flower and leaf punches, and more of the floral foam for the centers. These were easy and fun to make.

St. John's Wart
For the Lavender, I followed the tutorial by We Love Minis.

The Lemongrass was the easiest one to make, as it is just tips from some silk flower grass I had in a drawer. You could also use painted masking tape, folded over wire to make each blade.

Here's where it sits in the garden...

I made Cosmos from kits by Moonflower Mini Garden on Etsy. These will get planted randomly where needed. I have Sweet Pea kits from this vendor, too, but they look really complicated and time consuming, so I won't make them for the cottage unless I need to.

The majority of time was spent making sixty-six roses from Bonnie Lavish kits. I had six kits, some petals in white paper, some pink, and three different green colored leaf  papers that I had to make look very similar. I played with ProMarkers for the petals, and alcohol ink colors for the leaves to bring them into the same color range.

The roses were going to cover the arbor, so first I had to come up with the structure. I used wood from an old Darice wreath I had stashed away to create the rose trees. The idea is that a tree will be planted on each side of the arbor and grow together to cover it.

Here it is from all angles. I think sixty-six gave just enough coverage without completely hiding the arbor. The trunks won't get planted until it's time for permanent installation onto the landscape base.

And here's a little peek with the cottage...

I have another week before I have to switch my free time back to final touches on the house and guest room. Russ was sick (poor guy!) one weekend, then had to make priority Jeep repairs during two more weekends, so my work was ahead and waiting for him. This week, I hope to start planting some planters and filling some pots. There's gutters and watering systems to do, too, so this garden will likely continue through fall.

One final note for the week. In early summer, I was contacted by the editor of Dolls House & Miniature Scene, a UK dolls house magazine, and asked if they could feature my blog in October. Of course I was honored to be considered and said yes, please! The Sweet Christmas Cottage will also make an appearance in the December issue.

I was sent a copy, and really enjoyed it. It's large, full of photos and tutorials, and really upbeat. They do a great job with it, so if you haven't yet had the pleasure, you can check it out here.

Hope you're all getting lots of creative mini time - it's so good for the soul! ūüíó

xo xo,