30 October 2010

crunchy leaves and blue blue skies

I took these pictures near Boone, NC. Twin and I drove up onto the Parkway for a late afternoon hike, and all the colors were so beautiful. I'm a summer girl, but autumn can be awfully nice too.

We're in full Halloween mode this weekend. Twin and her boyfriend are visiting, and although today is devoted to football, tomorrow afternoon is all about the pumpkin carving. I saw an electric pumpkin-carving tool at Lowe's. Have you seen this? It looked like an electric screwdriver and it came with all kinds of different tips to carve various effects. I almost bought it, but decided we'd do it the old-fashioned way. It seems a bit excessive to use a power tool to carve a pumpkin.

These Halloween shirts are a gift that recently went to two of my best friends, who now live in Texas. This summer, they became foster parents to three little boys (5 mos, 2 yrs, and 10 yrs). Almost overnight, they became a family of five. I can't even really imagine the challenges and joys of this experience, but I am so proud of my friends.

The t-shirts were freezer-paper stenciled. The little boys got cute monsters and their older brother got a zombie. Because who doesn't love a zombie?

Hope everyone has a most spooky and merry weekend!

20 October 2010

a dollhouse for two both

Twin and I made a dollhouse. Eeee! It's the Coventry Cottage from Greenleaf. I have been contemplating these dollhouse kits for the past couple years, thinking it would be really fun, but also worried people would think I am a little crazy. Seeing as I already play with dolls and am a grown woman with no children. However, when I mentioned it to Twin she just said "That sounds fun!" as I knew, of course, she would. Because she's cool like that.

We spent two weekends on the house. The first weekend, we stained, primed, and assembled the main parts of the house. We also painted both interior and exterior. These kits are not for the faint-hearted. Luckily Twin and I have great attention to detail (aka nitpicking perfectionism), so this was great fun for us. I can see how some people get really into miniatures. And there are people who are really into miniatures. I browsed a few dollhouse forums online and these people are serious. I could totally see myself being one of those people.

The second weekend, we shingled the house, put together the furniture, and made all the interior furnishings.

The Coventry Cottage is one of Greenleaf's smaller kits, just two rooms downstairs and an attic. We made the upstairs a bedroom. You can see here that we never got around to shingling the back sections of the roof. We ran out of time, you see. But we'll get to it.

In the living room, we wallpapered one wall with some William Morris wrapping paper that I have had forever. We didn't really know what we were doing, so we just slapped it on with Mod Podge. Is there anything that Mod Podge can't do?

Almost all of the furniture was included in the kit, though we did pick up a few little pieces from a local craft shop. The cuckoo clock is one of my favorite details. I want a cuckoo clock in my real house one day.

The kitchen got red gingham curtains and a cheerful tablecloth. The men in our lives have been very supportive of our dollhouse efforts, good men. Matt even found the Shaker cabinet at the craft store and brought it home to us. I love it.

Twin made the teeny tiny cushions for the easy chairs. She concluded that sewing tiny cushions is challenging, and sewing tiny, perfectly round cushions is nearly impossible. And yet they look perfect. We ruminated on the best method of hanging curtains for quite a while and then ended up just hot-gluing them straight to the wall. Seemed to work just fine.

And below is a slideshow with a bunch of in-progress pictures. We aren't crazy, are we? Or maybe we're just crazy in a good way. I'm gonna go with that.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

14 October 2010

one year of gardening down

Now that we have been in our house for a full year, it's exciting to see how our efforts have altered the overall look of the house, and also to daydream about all things we'd like to do in the future. Of course it's a little daunting this time of year, seeing aaaaaaall those leaves fluttering down. (Really? We have to deal with those leaves again? Already?)

Matt and I might just be the perfect yard maintenance team. I get to fuss around with the flowers and pretend I am the master gardener, while he does all the real work. It's a very good deal for me. He keeps the grass just so, trims all the edges just so, deals with our mountains of leaves, and whistles while he's at it. I've never really thought about it, but gardening is like any work of art. The shapes and colors and balance are important, but it will all look like crap if everything runs together willy-nilly.

Monday, Matt was home from work (he got the day off, the stinker) and when I came home, I saw that he had worked his magic. You see, he apparently has a magic wand that blows away the leaves, trims away the weeds, and neatens all the edges. Who am I to question his magical ways, or discover the source of his power? It is best left to the imagination, I think.

He even took down the two spindly cedar trees that had been choked by neighboring trees into a brown, half-living state, and which I have been eyeing unsympathetically for the past year. I can't tell you how happy this makes me.

I have so many plans. We need ferns, hostas, solomon's seal, bluebells, and muscari in our shade bed. We need azaleas, rhododendron, asarum, and arum in our wooded border. We definitely need more vines on our fence -- carolina jessamine and star jasmine. We're planning a new sun perennial bed in the front yard. (I haven't even explored sun-loving perennials yet.) I dream of japanese maples and cherry trees.

All in good time. For now, I am learning to care for what is here. I divided my first perennial this past weekend, and I think it went well. I want to raise some succulents indoors this winter. We're researching vegetable gardening.

I do love our patch of earth. Even more than I thought I would.

P.S. The new season of This Old House started this weekend on PBS. I love that show SO DARN MUCH. They are working on this odd-duck of a house from the 1940s on the Charles River. In the first show, they busted up the old boiler and discussed asbestos abatement and river conservation. Among other things. It is all so fascinating. You should check it out.

12 October 2010

mandy gets new togs

Lately I have been wanting to sew some clothes. But I couldn't figure out what to sew, or what fabric to use. I pulled out all my patterns and sat in front of the fabric stash and waited for inspiration to strike. And it just didn't. I'm still not so good at sewing garments that it doesn't seem an Endeavor (with a capital E) each time I start one. I couldn't muster the creative energy.

But then I remembered Mandy. She has been sitting patiently in the corner of the craft room ever since I bought her. (Was that really two years ago? egads.) I had promised her a whole new wardrobe and I hadn't produced so much as a stitch. But dolls are very forgiving. She is still just smiling away at me, so prettily.

I sewed pants! I've never made pants before. Turns out it is not so hard after all, particularly when they are sized for a 16" doll. I have some corduroy pants just like this that I cherish to an extent that is rather excessive. But they are the perfect pants, so Mandy needed some as well. The shirt was fun to sew, especially all the little details, like the tiny buttons that cover snaps underneath.

Her second outfit. She is obviously ready for prep school here. I had some issues with the collar that I covered up with trim. Matt laughed because I styled her hair differently for each outfit photo. Well, of course I did.

She needs a nightgown. The Mandy doll that I had growing up had a flannel nightgown with pink rosebuds that my Grandma sewed. I also have a scrap of baby blue wool houndstooth that is just asking to be made into a jacket of some kind. If I can figure that out. Wait for it.

07 October 2010

fall wreath

I saved a bunch of hydrangea blossoms from the wedding and hung them upside down in the attic. The blue ones didn't dry so well, but the enormous white ones dried beautifully. In fact they are just as beautiful dried as they were fresh I think. I pulled them all down from the attic this weekend and put together a new wreath for the front door.

I love the way it all looks rather fall-y, with the browns and whites and just a touch of green. It was very easy to put together, though some of the lovely, small brown leaves were very delicate and kept falling off the stems the moment I touched them.

I picked up the brown dried flower/seed pod things at Michaels. I went in thinking I would get fake berries for a bit of color, but dried flowers are expensive! Even the ones at Michaels. So I contented myself with the three brown flowers and thought that would be enough of an accent.

Here they are close-up. And those are the very delicate brown leaves which will probably be blowing away off my wreath very soon. I need to spray the whole thing with some kind of fixative (hairspray?) to help it last.

It has all of a sudden turned to autumn here. We've had some cold nights, and we've turned on the heat. Planning to decorate for Halloween this weekend. The pups and Matt have been enjoying the football. The dogs are rapt, can't you tell? To them it's just pack nap time, and they love it.