Birthday Doll!

I had so much fun with this custom order, that I thought I would share a few pics with y’all.  This was an order for a birthday girl, and she wanted an “ocean princess”.  Her stipulations were blue eyes, a friendly face, and extra long, Rapunzel-esque, blond hair.  She also wanted a dress in different hues of blue to represent the ocean.  I did my best.

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I did a few things differently with this doll.  The biggest change was using bead work instead of plain stitching and buttons.  She is royalty after all.

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And instead of plain ruffles, I scalloped the edges of the skirt layers, to give a more ‘wave like’ effect.

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I also replaced the buttons on the shoes with tiny pearl beads.

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Coming up with crown was also a lot of fun.  It makes me want to experiment more with beads.  They are a bit more time consuming, but I really like the effect.

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And here is a back view of the extra long hair.  The extra length makes it easier to style in different ways.

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So fun!

I’ve also been debating whether or not I should keep my shop open these next few months, with the new baby and all.  I think I will try to keep it open for now, since the orders have been so slow.  And we will just have to see how I handle a newborn and an Etsy shop!

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The Challenge Continues

I am sure you all have been on pins and needles, waiting to see if I managed to solve the puzzle of the ‘too small house’, so here is an update of the boys room.  After much thinking, I decided to keep the boys room as the boys room.  They really do need the space, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to manage nap and bedtimes with the girly in there.  So she will be in with us.  But more on that later.

If you recall my last post on the subject, here are the before pics of the four corners of the boys room.

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It was one of those projects that, once I began it, I wondered if it were worth it.  Things got pretty hectic in there for a while.

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My first idea was to get as much excess furniture out as I could.  So the white shelving unit found a home in a corner of the kitchen, where I like it much better.

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And then there were the dressers.  We have had those two stackable dressers/shelves since my oldest was born, and even though they are old and beat up, they are incredibly sturdy, so I wanted to keep them.  But I wanted to clear out the closet if possible, so out they came.

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Remember the deep freezer I had in this corner?  I measured it and thought it might just fit in the closet, so I unstacked the dressers and put them where the freezer was.  I also put up some little curtains over  the shelves, since they really aren’t very pretty.

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I had hoped the freezer would squeeze into the back of the closet, but I failed to calculate the baseboards into my measurements, so it didn’t fit as well as I had hoped.  I had to make a decision.  Which space did I value most- the boys room or my pantry? The pantry had a corner where I figured I could fit it just as well.  I decided it would make more sense in the pantry, so the boys helped me move it.  It does make my pantry a bit crowded, but it is so nice not to have a freezer in the boys room anymore!

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The ugly cot went into storage, and a toy chest got repurposed to my room.  But I still wanted more space.

I wanted a place that I could dedicate solely to the storage of legos, which, as you can see, have slowly been taking over the house.  So I came up with a crazy idea that I wasn’t sure would work, but I wanted to try anyway.

Here is the final outcome, for now.

Corner # 1 –

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I tried to fit all shelves and dressers here, and just managed it.  There are shoes and toys in the dresser drawers instead of clothes.  I got each boy a box for their clothes, that hopefully will help them put their own clothes away and keep them somewhat organized, instead of stuffed pell mell into a drawer.

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Corner # 2-

There really was no where else to move the piano, so this corner just got a good spruce up.  I put a lot of the music and books into storage, and hid other toys neatly in boxes on top. And what piano is complete without a pirate ship?

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Corner # 3-

Here is where things started to get a little crazy.  I decided to get rid of the bottom bunk of the bed, keep the top bunk as a loft bed and use the space underneath as the “lego room.”

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The boys love the new space, since with enough blankets tucked around the edges it easily turns into a fort.  And I am trying to implement the rule that all legos must stay within the confines of the bed/fort.  We shall see if that works. Ha!

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“Umm, but where are the boys sleeping?,” you might be asking. Good question.  No, I am not making all four of them sleep on the top bunk.

Just follow me to corner # 4, and I will reveal my hair-brained scheme.

This is the school room/closet.  The boys nice clothes are hanging on the left, my clothes are hanging on the right. (that’s part of my room rearrangement).  But what are those blue things hanging in the corners?

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I’m sure the suspense is killing you.

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Hammocks of course!

I found the hammock idea online, but didn’t want to spend a bunch of money on a project that I wasn’t sure would work.  So I went to the Goodwill and lo and behold, found a huge piece of sturdy blue canvas for ten bucks.  I cut it in half, added a loop of extra fabric from the armoire project to string some rope through, and had the hubby install some heavy duty rings into the wood frame of the closet.  The other side hooks underneath the top bunk for sleeping, and they store neatly away in the corners during the day.

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The boys have gone nuts over them.  They have been sleeping in them for about a week now, taking turns on who gets to sleep on the top bunk and who gets a coveted hammock. So far it is working.

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I was worried of course that letting the boys sleep in swings would get out of control very quickly, but it is actually working much better than having three or four of them piled together on the bottom bunk. They seem to sleep well and comfortably, and putting the hammocks away in the morning is much easier than making a bed.  So far so good!

So that is probably as much as I am going to do for the time being.  It freed up a considerable amount of space, got rid of a bunch of clutter, and gave the boys a few exciting new features to their room.  Now I just need to finish a few things for little girlie’s space.  So until next time!

 

A fun request

Just a quick little post, since I haven’t blogged about dolls in quite a while.

One of the things I love about my little shop is the ability to do custom jobs for people.  My doll business has been slow, but I do have the occasional order trickling in, and this one was creative.  It was from a lady who is expecting her second daughter.  She asked me to make a big doll and a little doll, as a fun way to announce to her oldest daughter that she was going to be a big sister.

She wanted them to match, but not be identical, and she wanted autumn themed dresses, since both the girl’s birthdays will be in the fall.

This was the first 18 inch doll I have sold.  Exciting!

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And her little sister.

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I love it when people give me a lot of freedom to design the dresses.  I had fun with these leafy, ruffly ones.

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She also requested that I stitch their names on the dresses.  I think she has awfully good taste in names, eh Domekia?

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Yay for sisters!

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Planting Time

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We planted corn in our garden this afternoon.  Since we moved to the south, I don’t usually plant corn in the garden because bugs seem to enjoy it more than we do. But the boys begged to plant some this year and I was feeling sentimental, so I went ahead.  

“Why would you feel sentimental about planting corn?” you might ask.  

Well, for the same reason that listening to Paul Simon,  making fresh salsa, eating huge bowls of ice cream and laying out in the sun for way too long makes me feel sentimental.  Because of my dad.

My dad taught all of his daughters how to plant corn.  The majority of our childhood gardens were devoted to corn, since it seemed to grow so well in my home state. I have so many fond memories of preparing the ground with a rented rototiller, and racing my sisters down the long rows with hands full of seed to see who could plant the most.  Dad taught us about fertilizing with ‘chicken shit’- the only time it was permissible to use that word. He taught us about, weeding, watering, thinning the rows and pulling the ‘suckers’  off when they started to get bigger.  If we wanted to go to summer camp, we had to weed so many rows per week. And if the corn wasn’t “knee high by the fourth of July” we would begin to worry. But we always seemed to have a good harvest either way.

I always seem to think a lot about dad at this time of year, and I realize more and more that it is because he always seems to come alive when the weather grows warm.  Summer and dad go together hand in hand. He is a California boy, transplanted to the gray and rainy Pacific northwest and I know the winters there are always hard on him.  I think of him even more now as his memory fails him, and he begins to fade from this life.  I shed tears when a song comes on that I know he loves, or even when I see that tiny little golden kernel of corn in my hand.  I get panicky that I will start to forget all the good memories of my dad, and so I rush to the computer to write things down.  So don’t mind me if I get a little rambly as I wander down memory lane.

When I was sixteen, there was a bit of a crisis in my family.  My dad was experiencing incredible strain and stress at work- so much so that we were praying for a new job for him.  Things got worse and worse as we progressed through one of the rainiest winters of my childhood, (which is saying something,) and it felt like we hadn’t seen the sun in weeks. (which we probably hadn’t.)   My mom was working full time as well, trying to help keep all six of us in private school. We as a family, also worked as the janitors for our high school to try and keep tuition down.  If dad lost his job, we weren’t sure what we would do.  The days of that winter seemed particularly long, cold, rainy and dark- off to school before sunrise, so mom could get to work on time. And since the sun set around 4 PM, it was usually dark when we got home and threw some dinner together. Then it was studying ’til bed time and do the whole thing again the next day.

The aura of stress around dad that winter was so palpable that when he finally quit his job, we were relieved for his sake.  But then came the hunt for a knew job- the indeterminate amount of time where dad was without a pay check and things were very uncertain.  My mother never worried out loud, but we all new things were tough.  And then we got in a car wreck on the way home from school one night. (it was dark and rainy, if you can believe it)  None of us were hurt, but our damaged car and an injury to the other party added to the strain.   I distinctly remember that it was the first time I really began to feel how heavy a thing life can be.

But it was a good time too.  There seemed to be an understanding between us girls that we should all be on our best behavior and make as light of things as we could.  One afternoon, we got home from school and since we knew mom and dad would be home late, we decided to try and come up with something good for dinner.  To our dismay- there was next to nothing to eat in the house.  It had been a long time since dad had been paid.  But instead of despairing, we all got the giggles and started reaching into the dustiest corners of the cupboards and hunting in the long forgotten recesses of the freezer.  When mom and dad got home, the table was covered by many small sauce pans and skillets, all containing the oddest variety of warmed up canned goods and freezer burned vegetables. It was such a pathetic, and somewhat disgusting dinner that we all just laughed and laughed and carried on.

Dad had had several interviews, but nothing that seemed like a good fit, except for one job- and he was sure he would never get it.  It was a position as a manager of a private business club very close to home.  It was such a good position, and paid so much more than he had ever been paid, that he wouldn’t let himself hope.

“There were several other men applying who had much better credentials”, he would say, as if he didn’t really care.  
But we all knew he really wanted that job, and we prayed hard for it. He went in for a second interview, and a third, and in the end, he got the job. Perhaps he didn’t have the best resume, but I am convinced to this day that he got the job based mostly on his vibrantly wonderful personality.  No one can help loving dad.

The good thing about hard times is that they make even the little things of life so much better.  I’ll never forget the joy of seeing my smiling mother stumbling through the kitchen door, arms overloaded with groceries, after dad got his first paycheck. Had there ever been such joy over a full fridge?  And that year, the new job and the new prosperity combined beautifully with the Spring.  The rain stopped, the sun shone and for Easter that year, we got to do something we had never done before.  Instead of homemade or hand me down dresses, we all went to the mall to buy a new Easter dress.   All of us, not just dad, seemed to come alive again that spring.

And soon it was time to plant corn again.  But dad was busy settling into a new job.  He didn’t think he would be able to plant a garden that year.  We sisters were disappointed at first, but I think we had all learned a little something about stepping up to the plate through that long winter.  We talked about doing it ourselves. Hadn’t dad shown us how? But when I pointed out that we couldn’t rent a rototiller, my oldest sister (whom I have always admired for her strength) simply grabbed a shovel and started tilling the garden by hand.  Inspired by her determination, we all jumped in and did what we could.  We dug the rows, we spread the ‘chicken shit’, we dropped the little golden kernels, covered them up and watered them.

And when dad got home that night with a smile on his face (when had he last come home from work smiling?) we got to show him what we had done.
It is a sweet memory, and it was a time of life lessons only beginning to be learned. Not only the lesson of learning how to plant a garden, but seeing for myself that-
“Weeping may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”
And
“Lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth and the time of singing has come.”

We have had many nights of weeping since then, and many long winters. But every spring since then, if possible, I have tried to plant a garden.  Not just for the sake of memories, but for the lesson I need to learn new every year. And even now in this season, when I am too pregnant to wield a shovel, my heart swells to see my own children learning- digging the soil for me and handing me the seeds.

Caroline’s Closet

Well, the journey continues as I try to reorganize this little house of mine.  Thanks for all of the input from my last post on this topic.   I think, after hours of walking around with a tape measurer, calculating every square inch ( no, I am not exaggerating)  that I am going to try and fit her in my room after all.   We have two smallish closets in our bedroom, and I am planning on emptying one of them if I can, and letting the boys keep their space for now.  But more on that later.

If I am going to try and fit her in my room, I wanted to find a piece of furniture to keep all of her things in.  I looked at different kinds of shelving options and dressers, but what I have always really wanted was an old fashioned armoire.  I love the look of a nice armoire, neatly organized inside, with room both for shelves and a hanging bar for dresses.  Problem is, I hate spending money on furniture, and everything that I liked was way out of my price range and way too big for my space.  That sent me to Craigs List, where the notice

“Old armoire for anyone in need of a Pinterest project”

caught my eye.  The pictures were terrible, and it was hard to tell exactly what I was looking at, but the price was definitely in my range- 25 bucks.  I thought it was worth a gander.

When I got to the ladies house, her garage was a sight to behold.  It was packed, floor to ceiling, with old furniture.  She assured me again and again that she was not a hoarder, and told me, as she dug the armoire out, that three old aunties and a grandmother had died in the last few years and left all of their stuff with her.

When I finally saw the piece, I wasn’t overly impressed.  The doors were half off, some of the wood on the sides was buckling, and the ugly blue paint covering it was all gloppy and peeling off.  But it had character, it was the right size, and I figured I was only out 25 dollars if it didn’t work out.  She loaded it up.

Now the hubby and I have differing views (ahem) on what constitutes a worthwhile project.  He took one look at my decrepit armoire as he helped me unload it, and just gave me one of his looks.  Some of you know those looks.  Let’s just say there are serious eyebrows involved.  But I am afraid the look only stiffened my resolve to make something of it, and I told him I would do all the work myself.  He never said a word.

The first thing to do was to get the awful paint off and see what we were dealing with.  Thankfully, the boys were more than willing to help with this job and had great fun peeling big long strips of blue paint off the old wood.  There were several layers, but they came off quite easily.  At my son’s birthday party, some of his friends even joined in the fun.

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See the character emerging?

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But the deeper we got, the more worried I became. The side and back panels were flimsier than I realized and there was a lot of water damage.  Some of the wood started peeling off with the paint, and the back was totally warped.

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I almost gave up, but I told myself to keep going since the frame was still nice and sturdy.  I removed the doors, which were worth keeping, got a hammer and just started tearing out all the flimsy warped wood.  I was left with an armoire skeleton and a big splintery mess.

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The skeleton needed some patch work as well, but nothing that a little wood glue and filler couldn’t fix.  But I was puzzled what to do next since I was very determined not to spend more money on this project, and I didn’t want to ask the hubby to go buy me new wood panels and cut and install them.  I guess I’m stubborn that way, or I am more intimidated by his eyebrows than I care to admit.  So I took my SOS to Pinterest and found one last idea that I thought might work.

I found an old gift certificate I had forgotten about (don’t you hate it when that happens) and placed an order.  Then I found half a can of old paint and started painting since the wood was not really worth refinishing.

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A few days later, my order arrived- A nice sturdy, brightly flowered fabric.  I just prayed the idea would work.

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Since I had pulled out all the old paneling, there were nice little grooves all around the edges of the armoire frame.

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I started with the back panel.  I cut the fabric with some extra length, so I could fold it over several times and sew it into a nice thick edge.  Then I took my putty knife and wedged the thick edge tightly into the grooves.

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It worked!  The fabric was nice and taut, and gave a very nice, smooth look when it was all tucked in.

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Emboldened, I did the side panels as well, making it double sided so the fabric showed inside and out.

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I love the overall effect!  Even the hubby was impressed.  The sides may not be terribly sturdy, but the frame is solid, and the fabric isn’t going anywhere.

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All that was left was to reattach the doors and bring it inside.

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Oh, and get some clothes to put in it!