Tuesday, January 26, 2016

DIY Dollhouse Furniture::A Tutorial

Over the holidays, my grandfather dropped off a dollhouse that was once mine (and before that, I believe it was my mothers). He made it himself, which only makes it more special. When it arrived I realized I didn't have any furniture to go with it. I collected a few miniatures but I needed something for A's dolls. Woodworking isn't my craft and J was too busy to make some things right now so I looked around for some materials I could make into furniture. I'm pretty happy with the results so I thought I'd share this tutorial in case anyone else needs a quick project for a dollhouse.

You will need:
1 cork coaster
1 2-3 inch terracotta pot
2 corks
1 tongue depressor (I found these colored ones at the dollar store)
2 buttons (the size of the cork top)
hot glue gun

I started by making the table. It really couldn't be simpler.  I just added a ring of hot glue to the bottom of the pot and stuck the coaster to it. I held it tight until the glue dried. That's it!

For the chairs, I started by cutting the tongue depressor in half. If you are using wine corks, make sure the bottom is flat. If there are any little bits sticking out, use the scissors to trim them. If it's very uneven, you can use a serrated knife to cut a small slice off the bottom to level it. Once that is done use the hot glue gun to stick the buttons to the top (you don't need a lot of glue here). Finally, squirt a line of glue down one side of the cork and attach the depressor stick.

You are done!

I added a little banner to the room. I used twine, origami paper, glue and scissors. You can use fabric, cardboard, anything you want. Here is a little photo tutorial if you'd like to make one of your own.

Now you have a dining room fit for a queen. If you make one of your own, I'd love to see what you make!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Flora and Fauna

For Christmas we got this wonderful window hummingbird feeder. It's been so amazing watching the hummingbirds that over winter here come by for a drink. We love watching their little tongues in the syrup. The other day I sat down at our table to pour over our West Coast Seeds catalog and make plans for my yard when I was blessed with the company of this lovely Anna's hummingbird. He sat there for a good 15 minutes while I contemplated the environment behind my house.

While I've been putting a lot of thought into the garden for our benefit, I was reminded by my little friend that many more things benefit from what's in our yard than just us. I do have a few bushes that the hummingbirds love and they often nest in our yard. However, the mason bees have been struggling. The mild weather throughout the winter with bursts of cold doesn't suit them well. I think this year I would like to add another mason bee house as well as purchase some mason bee cocoons.

Last summer I didn't notice many butterflies in our yard. Maybe it was the fact that the heat made for short or absent blooms on most of our flowers. I was thinking that I might buy a package of butterfly specific flowers and toss them in the bare patches around the yard. A is very much into the natural world so I thought she might really enjoy raising some butterfly larvae. I would like to research this more but I think it would be a wonderful learning experience and help the biological diversity in our yard.

Of course we can't have the beneficial without the problematic. I'm still trying to formulate a plan to keep the urban deer out of our yard. Last year they came and ate my tulips as well as my cabbage. I think the problem is going to be worse this year as I've noticed more of them in my area. I would like to find a way to keep both the deer and the starlings from causing chaos in my yard. So far, I think raised beds covered with netting will help protect my greens. We are also talking about raising the fence around our property to keep the deer out of the yard entirely, not just out of the garden.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

New Projects

With a new year I don't make resolutions, I make plans. I plan to start new projects. The grey and cold of the island winter makes for great project planning. My notebook is full of ideas. I've even been able to get started on some.

I think we all know how important probiotics and healthy gut bacteria are. I try to include something fermented in our meals every day. I've always been nervous to ferment in my own home. I tried sauerkraut years ago but the mold got it. I've been sticking with Bubbies brand sauerkraut and fermented pickles (which luckily both my children love). We also drink kefir and kombucha. It's definitely adding to our grocery bill as we go through all these ferments so quickly. One of my new projects is the ferment for our health. I've already started a batch of kombucha and I have a sour bread start going. I have so many recipes to try!

Of course I have a long (very long) list of knits I was to get onto my needles. I've already finished this horse for A's upcoming birthday and I'm casting on this sweater for F's birthday. I'd love to find the time to finish the Tea Leaves sweater I started for myself years ago (yep, years). As I collect ideas for knitting I'm also keeping finger knitting ideas in mind for A when she asks to knit with me. If you have any to share please let me know.

I have already started prepping my garden for spring. I have so many plans. I want to build raised beds, potato barrels, more patio containers, just anything to get even more from our garden. The price of vegetables has been baffling. We haven't had cauliflower in months because it's out of our budget. So we will grow and preserve as much as possible. I'd love to find a way to grow year round. One step at a time though. I've started turning the garden so I can get a handle on the weeds early and add some soil amendments in a few months time. In the meantime, I've started growing sprouts in the house because I need to cultivate something.

A only has a few months left of preschool. Forest preschool has been such a wonderful environment for her, she just loves it. I'm at a bit of a loss as to where to go from here. She's so social I'm not sure homeschool would suit her but our public school system is so flawed I can't but feel it's more damaging than anything else. What I wouldn't give for a Waldorf school in the area! So research and pro/con lists about this issue are ongoing.

I have more plans and projects to share but I will share them another time. I'd love to hear what you are planning for and what projects are going for you.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Made by Little Hands

This year A got involved with the making of Christmas gifts for some very special people. It really took some perseverance on her part (and on mine too) but her heart was full as she gave those gifts.

For her grandparents she painted a ceramic mug (even did a silk-screen leaf on it!) and she finger knit a lovely wool ear warmer. She chose the yarn (purple of course) and while I read to her she knit 3 strands. I then stitched them together and added the button and elastic. For her aunt she painted a special soap dish (again in purple) which I finished off with a few bars of my own homemade citrus soap. I simply love that she made her gift for her brother. For F she made a finger knit snake. I attached the tongue and eyes, with A's supervision of course.

Everything was loved and cherished. It's how gift giving should be. You should feel moved to show your feelings through thoughtfulness and time. It should warm your own heart as much as it does the receiver.  I plan to look back on this post often as it always puts a smile on my face.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Christmas Catch-up

I'm play catch up here on the blog. Around New Years we installed a new operating system on our computer. Once the new system was running, my SD card was no longer recognized by my computer. We spent the last week trouble shooting the new system until we finally got the pictures uploaded. It's such a relief that my Christmas photos are no longer trapped on that little one inch card.

Our holidays were wonderful. We spent our time with family, giving gifts from the heart, eating good food and enjoying all the special Christmas moments. I treasure the details. We attended the live nativity pageant in our town for the first time this year and it was very well done. It was so cold but F got to pet a real alpaca and donkey so he was very excited. My aunt, who I haven't seen in five years, spent Christmas day with us. A and I baked these delicious (but not at all healthy) cookies for Santa. My children were blessed with lovely handmade gifts and gave handmade gifts as well (I will post about their crafts soon). J had the whole week off over Christmas so we soaked up all that family time.

I hope each of you had a magical holiday. No matter how or what you celebrate I hope it was peaceful and joyful.