Sunday, April 28, 2013

Untimely Demise of Sprinkle Six - That's All I'll Say About It

Now it looks like sprinkle poo.
I shall not name names.  But it wasn't me.  And Tootie Pie is too short to reach the freezer.  That narrows it down to Snowflake, our pet mouse, or...

As I am posting this, the mini spinach quiche bites are baking.  I made six in the shape of hearts, just for fun.  So, I only have left to make:

  • Balloon Hello Kitties
  • Corn dog bites
  • Chicken Taco Cups
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly sushi (just rolled up in a flour tortilla - not as fancy as it sounds)
  • Fruit pops
  • CD favors seems like more when I write it all down like that.  Better get on it!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

A Textural Mini Side Table

My tiny version cost
one jeweler saw blade
and two sprays of
Chrome paint
Post trim, pre
 Another item I covet, and yet do not have the cash nor the space for, is a silvered or gilded tree trunk side table.  You know, the pretentious photo shoots all sport them, along with chevron patterns, metallic poufs, and flokati rugs.  Well, imagine my surprise when, on a recent hike, a unique stick screamed at me from the ground: "Make me an miniature occasional table".  Such a strange thing for a stick to scream!  But, when inanimate objects speak to me, I oblige.  A quick trim with my miter box, and a spray of chrome paint is all it took to turn it into a showstopping decor element.   I will make another, this time gold.  What do you think?  It's pretty much free for the dollhouse, 1K for your house.  I think I'm going to need one of those "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" machines to live in Little Land.  Full-sized land is a rip-off.

Full scale cost: $1K!!!
Just breath-taking
in full scale.  The
ebony floors, peak
of life orchid and
immaculately framed
artwork don't hurt.
Is that a flokati?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Very, Very Modern House

This is my first modern miniature home.  I made it with dowels and foam core.  I may add clear or frosted windows, although I'm not sure.  I love it.  I will most likely sell this.  I just wanted to see how it would come out.  And it came out pretty great!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Goodie Bags, Sprinkle Six, and Prizes Done

Can we guess which one will
be set aside for the birthday girl?
(Hint: it's bigger)
She did a great job coloring these in and

We received the prizes, courtesy of Ebay, for Tootie Pie's birthday party in the mail today.  It fit in nicely with her Earth Day lessons, since it is "Reusing".  No sense in giving away new plastic trinkets encased in plastic, when someone wants to get rid of their old plastic trinkets, right?  The prizes will be selected from our Musical Chairs takeoff, called Musical Dress-Up.  We will pass around boas, tiaras, fairy wings, fur wraps, silly glasses and other goofy items, and when the music stops, the person holding the accessory will put it on.  In the end, the person wearing the least dress-up clothing will pick a Hello! Kitty prize.  We might have someone judge the most ridiculously dressed, as well, who will also pick a prize.  I guess the rest of the prizes will be selected in order from the next least items of clothing to the most.  The goodie bags will be filled by the party-goers from the pinata.  I sketched kitties and cut out the bows, and Tootie Pie colored in the eyes, nose and whiskers and glued on the bows. 

Obviously, the sprinkle six is to the right
on this picture.  The other six was a backup.
We also completed the sprinkle six.  I made rice crispie treats, rolled them into snakes, and formed the number six.  Then, I took white chocolate, melted it (the new microwave has a "melt" option which made this so easy!), drizzled it over the number, and then coated in sprinkles.  It is huge, so, if the party day is at all warm, it should be reduced to a dye-laden blob in under three minutes. 

I feel like we are pretty well on schedule here.  I will save the last week to make the cake, and on the day of the party I will create the flower-fruit-kabobs and make the lemonade, which will either be homemade, or, depending on how overwhelmed I feel, will simply be store bought with some lemon slices, or just juice boxes.  They'll probably prefer the juice boxes in the end.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Face in Hole Minus the Hole

Tootie Pie and her mouse (inside
ball).  She helped with the
glitterification on kitty.
The Face in Hole is completed.  If you are astute, you may have noticed the lack of a hole in the Face in Hole.  I forgot to put the hole into the Face in Hole!  So, now I am planning on having a dress-up area and the girls can have their picture taken with Hello! Kitty.  Maybe midway through the party I'll cut a hole, or maybe that would be like removing the face of a beloved and kind kitten - not the proper tone for a six-year-old's celebration.  Not sure.  I also made one finger food for the party and froze it.  I figure, if I make a few things a week, I'll be able to just reheat everything the day of.  Today's item was the carrot, apple and cheddar cheese puffs.  We split three amongst ourselves today and they were yummy.  And the best part is, when I take them out of the freezer before the party, I will have forgotten what I made, and it will be a surprise again!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Miter Box Makes Me Happy

One item that has been languishing on my Undersized Urbanite To-Do List is trim for the interior doors.  My house has only two doors to frame, which makes four sides to trim, which equals 12 pieces of wood to cut.  Since I teach middle school math and have taught the use of a protractor to hundreds of children, I figured I could eyeball 45 degrees pretty closely by hand.  Turns out, 43or 48.5degrees makes a huge difference when trying to match up pieces of teeny tiny wood.  So, I invested in a miter box.  This little doohickey makes cutting angles a snap.  Now, I just need to learn how to apply wood glue so that it doesn't turn into a complete gloppy mess.  For now, I will turn the glue side inwards, but it should be something I can master.

As for the hanging flashlights that have been placeholders for the awesome lighting fixtures, I am avoiding that task as well.  The mini light bulbs that I ordered stated their size as 2mm, which would have fit inside the holes in my glass beads, but when they arrived they came enclosed in a plastic casing that was wider than 2mm.  I tried filing down the plastic, but I ruined one bulb.  So, I need to sand the glass bead openings wider.  And, of course, one bead broke in the process.  My coping technique for frustration is to avoid the source of frustration.  So, the lights are in danger of not being completed on time unless I start to put things into hyperoverdrive.

I have these grandiose ideas in my head that I will become the preeminent dollhouse modern lighting purveyor, or that I will create heirloom quality mini furniture, or become an artisan creator of little, stylish rugs.  Then, the process becomes hard.  And the end product turns out poorly.  My dream of quitting my day job, with flair á la the flight attendant who told the passengers off and then left via the emergency inflatable slide, are being pushed further and further off into the future.  My aim of creating masterpieces in my home, and then travelling to miniature events in exotic locales will need to wait until I learn how to assembly line quality pieces.  But at least I'm learning the true value of craftmanship.  So, expect my prices to be unreasonable.

Monday, April 15, 2013

I Love You, Boston

I was born in Boston.  Even though I only lived there until I was four years old, when I moved an entire state away to Rhode Island, I visited it, it seems, every weekend, since my entire extended family lived there, until we at last moved to Cleveland when I was eleven.  And even then, we loaded up the Malibu station wagon to visit every summer and, for a while Christmas.  My youngest sister, being four years my junior when we moved from Rhode Island, claims Michigan (where we eventually ended up) as her home, but I always considered Boston mine.  I wanted to move back there when I finally returned East fifteen or sixteen years ago, but in a compromise with my friend, with whom I made the move, we settled on New York City (he wanted to go to San Francisco).  I can't stop thinking about Boston tonight.

It's difficult to process horrible tragedies such as happened today.  It seems so senseless.  Why do innocent people have to suffer?  So many people will be scarred from this, including those of us, like me, who can only sit by their computers trying to understand the incomprehensible.  I love Boston.  I love the spectacle and accomplishment of a marathon.  So many people put in so many hours to do something heroic.  And a few awful, detestable human beings can do so much harm.  It is hard to not be cynical.  I can't help but relive that helpless feeling from 9/11 when all I could do is stand by and feel powerless.  It helps to know that heroes are always in our midst.  Just as I felt in awe of the first responders who ran towards the danger, who knew what to do and did it that horrible Tuesday over eleven years ago, I thank God for the officials who knew what to do today.  While others stumble about in fear and shock, it is their job to react in a crisis. 

Let's not forget to celebrate the champions,
the runners, the heroes, and the whole city.
For me, I will struggle, again, to figure out what to tell my daughter.  I have the luxury of choosing what and how much to tell.  Had we been there, as we have been in the past, I would be forced to try to explain to a young child the reasons these sort of things happen, of which I know none.  How does one explain this?  How does one not startle a child and cause her to have nightmares or live in fear?  How?

Boston, my thoughts are with you.  I am praying for the victims: to the man in a wheelchair without lower legs, to the parents of the eight year old who was killed, to the man knocked down just before the finish line, the masses who trained for this day and who overcame, and to the others that I cannot see tonight from my computer screen.  I want those people to know that most people are good.  Many, many more people rushed to help them, to comfort them, to pray for them, than the group of cowards that did this.  I hope that one day soon their faith in humanity will be restored.  I hope mine will be, too.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Birthday Party Already Out-of-Control

The party is one month from today, and it has spiraled completely off the charts.  The pinata and the menu plan are done.  I am working on goody bags, the songs for the thank you gift CD*, and the stick-your-head-in-a-hole photo doohickey.  If anyone knows what those things are called, please let me know.  If they do not actually have a name, may I suggest "silly photo op sign" or "Holey Wall". 

As my last post mentioned, sometimes web searches take me places I never dreamed.  I never would have known that I needed a "Holey Wall", for instance, had I not looked up "Hello Kitty Party Ideas" and spotted this photo.  Nor, would I have ever known that I needed to make our pet mouse a costume for the party.  What's that?  You'd like to know what key words I typed in to learn about this party requirement?  Why, dress up, of course, and "princess costume" as an google image search.  Here's some pictures that caught my eye.  And, if you think the look on these cats faces says "I hate you" or "why do you torture me so?", imagine that same look on a mouse's face!  Wouldn't that just be hysterical?!  And, this would not be completely unchartered territory, as this Gary (of Sponge Bob fame) costume attests.  I know, just because someone else did it doesn't make it any less crazy.  But, we already ordered a pink exercise ball for Snowflake.  Doesn't it make sense that she dress for the occasion?

Now aren't you glad I didn't call BounceU?

*  To the parents of the attendees: yes, I do realize the language in the songs that Tootie Pie selected are not for young girls.  Not for the radio, either, for that matter, but there you are.  But, since she still sings "You, be a mess" instead of "You PMS" in Hot n' Cold (and, again, I realize that this is the second time we've placed this very song on our thank you CD) because PMS is just nonsense to her, just remember that I thought that a song was actually refering to skyrockets in flight on a certain afternoon.  "Like a bitch" is sung quite clearly, though, because, honestly, she's not stupid.  I apologize.


Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Dingo Really Did Take Her Baby, Political Correctness, Motherhood and the Media

This is how things happen in The Hard Way land.  I watched a great program on PBS called Australia: First 4 Billion Years, which was a terrific show about the beginnings of our planet, its atmosphere, and its life forms.  Right up my alley.  I've always wondered why creationists oppose evolution, but not the fact that the universe is 6 billion years old, but that's a different subject.  Towards the end of the first segment, the host visited "one of Australia's most famous rocks", to which I responded, "Ayers Rock".  But, no, the host said "Uluru Rocks".  So I asked my husband to look up Ayer's rock and whether it had been renamed.  He didn't oblige, so I took to my computer, and indeed, it was renamed, first in 1993 to "Ayers Rock / Uluru",  an Aboriginal word specific to the rock, and again in 2004 to "Uluru / Ayers Rock".  So, I learned something.  But my searching didn't stop there.

I was curious about the scale of Ayers Rock, sorry, Uluru rock.  One of the pictures was entitled "area where matinee jacket found".  I had stumbled upon a crucial piece of evidence that had exonerated Lindy Chamberlain, of "A dingo took my baby" fame, the mother of Azaria, the unfortunate nine week old baby who died almost 33 years ago.  That led me to an interview with this amazing woman who finally secured legal documentation that, indeed, a dingo did take her baby.

See where curiosity will get you?  All over
the map, actually. 
Now, I was too young at the time to form an opinion about this case as it unfolded, but from the things that I've read, the media played up all sorts of unsavory ideas about the Chamberlains, and Lindy was sentenced to life in prison.  I started to think about the cases that I have formed opinions about, though.  Mainly, Trayvon Martin.  I have very, very clear ideas about what I think happened that night, that I won't share with you, because that is not the focus of this blog.  I will say, however, that case has grown strangely silent lately; and I have theories about why that is so, also, of course.  Most cases that have struck chords with the American public I have not formed opinions on, though, as I tend to detest sensationalism.  Specifically, Casey Anthony.  She is a mother.  Lindy Chamberlain is a mother.  I am a mother.  Could a mother kill her own baby?  I don't know.  I wish I could say for a fact that it would never be possible.  I wish it were never possible.  I do know in my heart of hearts that Lindy Chamberlain did not kill her baby, and I am pleased that she now, very belatedly, has legal proof that this is so.  My own insider view of a murder and the coverage of it has shown me that the media doesn't just get things wrong, it gets things very, very wrong.  That case did not see justice at all.  I have not had the same faith in media since that episode.  But, as Lindy says in her interview, those people are not dead yet, and you can't speak the truth until a person is dead.  That is sad, isn't it?  She's right.  Unless that person is Margaret Thatcher! 

Oh my goodness, I should see lots of comments on this one.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

A DIY Hello Kitty Piñata Tutorial - A Metaphor for Motherhood

This turned out better than I had
The mini making is going to taper off again in the coming month.  I have to get ready for Tootie Pie's sixth birthday.  We are having it in our backyard.  Tootie Pie wanted to go to Bounce U or Kids N' Shape, but I want to hold onto the backyard bash as long as possible.  Sure, it's harder than making a reservation and letting a business handle everything, but where's the fun in that?  This blog ain't called "The Hard Way" for nothin. So, I started the preliminary planning around a month and a half before the big day.  If you'd like to see where it may be headed, check out my Kitty Cakes and birthday ideas board on Pinterest.  But one item is already completed: the piñata.  Yes, once again I spent hours building something that children will beat, take the good stuff out, and throw the rest in the trash, all in a matter of minutes.  It's a metaphor for motherhood!

Next, I'll try my hand at the goodie bags (which don't need to be filled, because, hello? piñata!).  Then, I'll need a week off to construct the cake, cook the food, and clean the house so that kids can come in and trash it (See?  There's that metaphor again.)  I'm planning on NOT involving my husband in any aspect, since five birthday parties past have taught me it is easier to do everything myself than dare ask him to spearhead anything, including cleaning up the pee from the rim of the toilet.  That really can only come from him, right?  No, I'll just have to do it.  Much easier.

So, for the instructions on how to make this:

  • One large ball
  • newspapers, cut into strips
  • flour and water in 1:2 ratio
  • cardboard
  • Xacto knife
  • white paper
  • crepe paper
  • Elmer's glue
  • hot glue
  • hole punch
  • fabric, ribbon or tulle for the bow
  • black and yellow construction paper
  • Make a mixture of 1 part flour to two parts water, heat in mic
    The completed crown
    rowave for 20-30 seconds.  Stir to an even consistency
  • Take your newspaper strips, cover in flour paste, and cover the ball.  Cover the ball with three layers, allowing the paste to dry completely in between the layers.
  • Meanwhile, cut a pattern for the ears and crown.  You'll need four copies of the ears and two for the crown.  Cut from cardboard.  Then, cut strips of cardboard around 1" thick.  With an Xacto knife, score around 1/8" along both edges of the cardboard strips and fold over.  Along the folded edge, cut V-shaped notches so that the strips will bend.
  • Kitty's bow made from large
    floral ribbon, secured with
    a "knot" of the same rolled
  • Hot glue the strips of cardboard along the edges of the ears and crown.  Cover with either crepe paper, or tissue paper.  Cover the edges with strips of plain white paper.
    The width of the
    ears and crown look
    better with a strip of
    paper covering the
    crepe paper
  • When the papier mache is completely dry, cut a hole with a knife.  Remove the deflated ball.  This will be the top of the piñata.
  • Cover the ball with crepe paper using the Elmer's glue.  I cut my crepe paper by cutting through many layers with scissors while it was stilled rolled.  Then, spin the ball rather than spinning the crepe paper, which will get twisted.
  • Punch holes around 1" from the opening at the top and attach a ribbon for hanging.
  • Meanwhile, fashion a bow for her head.  I used large floral ribbon that I folded like an accordian, and stapled in the middle.  Then, I rolled a section of matching ribbon and tied this around the stapled middle.  
  • Hot glue the ears and crown on.
  • Cut out black eyes and whiskers, and a yellow nose.  I put glued faces on both sides of the
Fill the bugger with candy, plastic junk, or slime.  Your choice!  Give the kids a baseball bat and teach them the glory and beauty of violence and destruction.  Have fun!

    Saturday, April 6, 2013

    Make Your Own Miniature Asian Three Dimensional Wall Art

    Dining room chinoiserie
    plaster cast
    I really ought to come up with a catchier name for this "art".  "Asian Three Dimensional Wall Art" just isn't snazzy or concise enough.  In any case, I wanted to recreate the effect of plaster, so my sakura blossom branch designed to conjure up images of plaster chinoiserie.  Rather than paint a version on the wall, I wanted mine to have dimension. 
    The inspiration, and the means

    I was inspired by some texture on an inherited plastic folding house.  Not being an expert on resin casts, I figured I would make a mold from the plastic house, and then cast it.  Easy, right?  Of course not.  The molding went well; the casting not so much.  I do not recall if I used my mold release or not (I'm going to guess not), the detail was too fine, and the branches and flowers came off in bits and pieces.  So, I painstakingly removed just the blossoms, and then created a vine from hot glue. 
    Demolded and grafted back
    to its hot glue branches

    After this dried, I sprayed it white.  I think it adds interest in the dining space without it being just another picture.  In my own house, I've been straying from framed art to dimensional work.  Of course, my little home should follow my lead.

    Thursday, April 4, 2013

    Windows Done!

    The white flowers don't exactly "pop" against
    the white windows, but I think the front view
    looks nice.  Now, to fix that front door!

    Another more boring job is finished; cross it off that to do list!  As I mentioned in an earlier post, I had tried and tried to cast a copy of the one large original window that I had for my dollhouse, but after three or four failed attempts, and three or four maddening chiseling of the original from the latex, I had enough.  My replacement windows were made from a plastic basket for the panes, and polymer clay for the frame.  It is nowhere near the professional quality of Brae's work, but I'm just happy to finally have windows for the great room.  I put my "flower boxes" up, since the original 40+ year old fabric flowers were showing their age.  These new flowers are cut from a plastic stem of flowers and hot glued to a polymer clay strip.  I am getting closer and closer to being "finished".

    Monday, April 1, 2013

    Hello, Everybodeeeee!

    I'm back.  My family just returned from vacation to New Mexico.  We were gone for five days.  I had such a wonderful time.  I really had no idea what there was to see, and my husband and I sort of just picked it out of a hat without researching anything (weather, sights, presence of deadly animals), but it turned out to be just the thing I needed.  There were wonderfully bizarre shaped rock formations and a whole different architecture than we get in Manhattan. 

    I now have one month in which to finish the Undersized Urbanite contest and plan a sixth birthday party.  And, I have three months until the end of the school year, which is always a countdown I cherish.  So, back to work for me!

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