Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Invasion of the Wee Things

Ollie is very pleased that I've finally returned to working on Luna Lair. It's been FAR too long! The really great thing about this little house (Greenleaf 1:24 Buttercup) is that I can carry it around the Real Life house on a tray -- and straight to the couch. I've been catching up on DVR shows while steadily shingling. And if I need to keep the contents of the tray safe from the kitties, I can easily pop it into the dollhouse room and SHUT THE DOOR.

*sighs with relief*

One of my very clever mini friends told me the key to working with the Greenleaf half scale speed shingles (I'm using the Hex kind) is to use E6000, which is a type of glue I usually just use with metal or mirrors or something like that. I used regular Aleene's tacky with the speed shingles on the Rosedale, but apparently these smaller, thinner ones like to curl a lot with water-based glue. I had no problem at all with the E6000 -- except becoming slightly high if I used it for too long. Hey man, you gotta do what you gotta do for your hobby.

I loooove the look of speed shingles. I'll never go back to regular, individual shingles, which is a shame because I have a TON of them. I'll find a use for them at some point. The speed shingles just look so crisp and lovely:

As a reminder, the back story for Ollie is that he's a crotchety, old widower who lives alone in the house he built with his deceased wife. There's going to be a lot of moon decor with Luna Lair, but I wanted to have one bird-specific item on the exterior of the house. I got this fabulous 1:24 dovecote kit from Petite Properties. Then I sat it on top of the Buttercup kit chimney base to see how it would look:

The chimney base is a bit wider than the dovecote, but that's OK. I still think the roof is the best place to put it:

I decided to stick this all on top of the house to see how it would look. In the center, the dovecote looks odd to me. Kind of like a church steeple:

On the smaller roof over the door, the dovecote looks like a school bell tower:

Off to the side, I think it looks just right -- except TOO TALL:

Luckily, my awesome friend April is really good with Photoshop. She cut down the length of the chimney for me and sent me this photo as an example. I'm a very visual person, so this helps a lot. I think the dovecote looks great now! So cute:

However, I stupidly already glued together that chimney base, so now I have to get it back apart so I can cut it down. But now that I know where the dovecote will be, I can figure out how to deal with the very top row of shingles. Right now, they need either another finishing row of shingles right at the top or some kind of trim. I'm thinking on it. 

Ollie wanted to check on construction, so I had him pose for a shot:

He still just looks really mad, doesn't he? It's probably because the house is still so far from completion:

Meanwhile, I've also been working on my Briarwood kit. The kit came with a whole slew of itty bitty book stacks. Last night, I cut them out of their sheets, sanded off the laser cut connector things, and painted the page end parts with a gold permanent marker. Next up will be painting all of the spines of these bad boys, which will take 3 billion years. I can do it! Slowly:

The bunny art has been glued to the bunny! WHOOT! I also gave the back of the bunny a few coats of ivory paint and have been working on some furniture for inside the box as well. Ollie would be much happier if I would stop working on the bunny and focus on HIM, but I like to work on more than one project at a time. I'm also working on another third wee kit right now, but it's not ready for pictures yet:

I'm a much more content person now that I've been able to work on my hobby again. It's so relaxing, fun, and interesting to me. I've also learned how to be a little less impatient and a little more careful while working on my kits, which makes them prettier overall. I tend to be a sloppy painter and a sloppy gluer, so I'm working on taking my time and not rushing. NO RUSH.

Slow and easy wins the race, right?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Buying the Wedding Registry: If Not Now, When?

It all started with some silverware.

Well, let me go back. It started before the silverware. Back in 2012, my parents came over to dinner at Farmhouse Villa, and I freaked out at my lack of "real people stuff." It was a bad time. Soon thereafter, a lovely box arrived in the mail from Sassymonkey. Above, you can see what was inside. Girlfriend had bought me my very own beautiful set of silverware. It touched my crusty, black heart. It was such a sweet present and was so needed at that very moment in time. (Thank you again, Sassy!!) I finally had good flatware, and I was pleased.

What I didn't mention in that original post is that I haven't gone my WHOLE adult life without any silverware. I did have some pretty nice stuff at one point. But when you move all the way across the country multiple times, you learn that things like plates and cups and coffee cups break easily, are SUPER HEAVY, and are a complete pain in the a$$ to move. You can always get new ones. Also? When everything you own reminds you of your ex-boyfriend who broke your heart, you toss it all in the trash or give it away before you leave Chicago. So that's how I ended up in Farmhouse Villa in 2007 without any real grown-up things. And then I didn't bother buying really nice stuff because I was still convinced that I would soon find The One and get engaged and go do that fun rite of passage which is the Wedding Registry.


Flash forward to the present. I'm in the process of moving into Briarpatch when Auntie (who is also my godmother/landmother) pops in to give me a housewarming gift. OH BOY A GIFT!!!!! It was three super awesome poppy lids that go on bowls. I've seen these in the stores and have always admired them. Auntie swears by these things, and she'd bought me red ones because I'd told her my kitchen colors were yellow and red. I LOVE THEM. Especially because POPPIES:

There was only one problem.

I didn't have any bowls.

*more crickets*

Before, my excuses for not having grown-up things mostly revolved around the lack of appliances. No dishwasher, no washer/dryer, no garbage disposal, no cupboards, no storage, no nothing... Farmhouse Villa was VERY small. But now? HOLY STORAGE. I have more kitchen than I know what to do with. So as I eyeballed Grandma's kitchen one afternoon, I realized the truth of the situation: It was time to purchase everything that would have been on my wedding registry if I had ever gotten married.

F*ck. This sh*t is expensive.

The one thing that really helped me was that I moved during the Christmas season, which meant everything was on sale. I was able to get an adorable cookie jar (Grandma always had a full cookie jar, so I will carry on the tradition for my guests):

And new curtains for my bedroom and bathroom:

And a bunch of pillows to go with my real couch, the donated couch, and the chairs I got at the thrift store:

Then I had to get curtains for the living room (WHY ARE CURTAINS SO FREAKING EXPENSIVE??!!) and the kitchen and the dining area. Sigh. I spent a lot of time looking at curtains.

Then I realized my credit card has rewards points. Luckily for me, the rewards points site had good kitchen stuff. I got these awesome bowls AND some Spoonulas (my drawer of nasty, cheap, kitchen utensils upended itself into the garbage):

After exploring Grandma's kitchen further, I realized there were pot drawers built in! WHOA! But, um... I only had like two pots, and they were crappy, cheap ones. NO MORE! Girlfriend bought herself a whole big set of brand new Bobby Flay pots (on MAJOR holiday sale THANK GAWD):

I even cook with them on my brand new stove, yes I do:

Having new pots made me realize I needed a new dishrack for next to the sink and a new silverware holder for my pretty silverware and new towels and a good potholder to match all of my pretty new things. My old, nasty, hole-y kitchen towels just did NOT look right with all of the nice stuff.

Then I realized my beloved "Pippy throw-up" comforter looked quite childish in my new, grown-up bedroom, so I went with my mother to the Dillard's clearance store and bought a mega-expensive duvet cover/dust ruffle set for super cheap. Love it:

While I was there, I picked up placemats and cloth napkins. WHOA. I'm REALLY fancy now:

Kira and Chicago Cousin came over during the holidays and brought some wine. That's when I realized I only have four glasses. Tall ones. And when a couple of them are dirty and people come over, you either have to stop and wash them or use Solo cups. It's embarrassing. So I got enough wine glasses for all of the cousins:

And during Christmastime at Kohl's? I had enough discounts and Kohl's Cash to get this $350 4.5 quart KitchenAid mixer for $187. YES I DID! Um, I have NOT been paying attention throughout my 37 years. Why are KitchenAid mixers so expensive? I dunno. But now that I have one, I'll be using it a LOT to make up for the cost:

With the Kohl's Cash I earned from the KitchenAid purchase, I was able to get this Cuisinart chopper thing for FREE:

And then Ma gave me a red crockpot to match the rest of the kitchen as her housewarming present. Grandma's cupboards are getting full now!

When I first moved in, I found a bag of Grandma and Grandpa's GREEN dishes in the basement. This was good for me because I only had six plates, which my sister gave to me after the whole breakdown about the forks back in 2012 (Thank you, Sis Big!). You can see the plates below -- the square, white ones. They're very purty. The green plates are useful (on the top shelf), but they're also... ugly... and super old... and half of them are chipped. Let's face it, I'm only holding onto them for sentimental reasons. I decided if I was going to buy all of this other new crap, I had might as well get myself some good dishes. Below, you can see my new yellow and red dishes that I got at Target the other night. They only had FIVE yellow bowls, so I had to split into red/yellow because I wanted enough to use when my sister's family and my parents are all here at the same time. I also got coffee mugs and bowls that match. You can also see the new Pyrex snack bowls I got with credit card rewards points. The little ceramic cute bowls were a gift from Ma about five years ago. I've only used them once because... no one ever eats with me. But they will NOW. YES, THEY WILL. I also just ordered a whole bunch of glasses in two sizes that will show up soon:

I decided to cheat on the coffeemaker. I don't drink coffee anymore because of heartburn issues, but I know everyone else does. After reading horrible reviews of a bunch of modern coffeemakers, I gave up and bought this superfly old one at the thrift store for $3.99. There are even directions from the previous owner about how to make the perfect cup AND how to clean the thing properly. SCORE:

And finally, we come to the vacuum. Every few years, I have to buy a new one because I buy really cheap vacuums. They fill up with cat hair -- or my hair -- and eventually start smoking and die. The End. Before I moved into this house, I paid to have all of the carpets cleaned, which is not a cheap endeavor. Sigh. It was worth it though, and now that they're clean, I want to keep them that way. I HATED my carpet at the Villa. No amount of vacuuming could make it look nice, so I was really lazy about it. But here? I want to be proud of my carpet, despite its many and obvious flaws. Enter the Shark Navigator Lift-Away Deluxe, which I just got at Target a few nights ago on SALE -- YAY! Purty vacuum. I will love you and treat you right and use your handy under-appliance wand over and over and over. I will also use your extensions to suck up all of these crazy boxelder bugs that have somehow taken over Briarpatch:

There, that should do it.

But no, I realize I'll need more things with time. I'm only figuring out what I need as I go. By trying to use my brand-new pots, I realized I needed spatulas and spoons that won't scratch them. Check! By cooking so much, I realized I needed a bunch of non-disposable plastic containers. Check! And trivets. Check! By baking cupcakes with my new KitchenAid, I realized I needed new measuring cups. Check! Am I done shopping yet???!!!

I've been buying a lot of doodads and useful things when I go thrifting, which helps with my sanity and my pocketbook. I am VERY lucky that my parents have loaned me money for many of these purchases (which I will pay back in full soon), but I have found myself getting a little pity-party-ish from time to time.

Wasn't I supposed to get married? Wasn't I supposed walk around a bunch of stores with a scanner gun dripping with gooey love with my perfect man to register for all of these things and get them from my loved ones all at once wrapped in pretty paper while everyone celebrated me and my fantastic hubbie? 

Yes, the Depression Voice pops up when you start hemorrhaging money on home goods. But if you're lucky, another voice will pop in at some point.

I get to pick all of this stuff myself and get exactly what I want without having to compromise on any of it. 

That will have to do for now.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentine's Day Mini Project: Portland Sign

(This adorable bear and pile of chocolate came in the mail yesterday from my sister. SO SWEET. Thank you, Sissy!!)

Each year, no matter how much I try to not have this happen, I become quite crusty and bitter and boo hiss right around Valentine's Day. Many of my coupled/married friends have been together so long that they're over it, and they don't exchange cards anymore, and they assure me it's not that great, but I still get jealous, lonely, and sad. Most of the time when I know a holiday is coming that will bother me, I buy myself a present or make fun plans for that day. This time I went with the gift.

For a while now, I've been eyeballing the Architectural Model Kit of Portland Oregon Sign 3D Laser Cut from ThomasHouhaDesigns on Etsy. Before, during, and after I lived in Portland, I was in love with this sign. I mean, who wouldn't be? It's gorgeous. Even though I left Portland long ago, I still miss that city and all of my friends who live there, especially my cousin Kira. I originally thought about putting the sign in the Beacon Hill Heritage Room because the room actually is big enough to fit the sign. We'll see. For now: Happy Valentine's Day to me!

First, I had to get the sign kit away from Gretchen. She's obsessed with all things cardboard. Here, you can see her rolling around on the box:

And stopping for some minor ear scratching:

Even the box is cool. Seriously. I had to hide this box in the Dollhouse Room for weeks so I wouldn't be tempted to put it together early:

I deeply inhaled the nummy scent of laser cut wood:

Then I gently cut the pieces from the motherboards and did some light sanding of the nubs that were left behind. Fun fact: There was a little piece of wood holding the reindeer butt to the OLD TOWN sign, so it kind of looks like it's pooping if you leave the nub there. Just sayin'. Once it was all apart, it was time to glue:

I was EXTREMELY nervous about the gluing because the kit is SO perfect and beautiful. I stared at it for a long time, afraid I would mess it up. Then I told myself to f*ck it and just go for it:

Originally, I thought about painting the sign to look more like the real one, but then I would lose all of this beautiful detail etched into the wood. The sign will stay just as it is:

There's even a fun design on the reindeer (hmmm, I might need to go back and sand the butt again methinks):

All finished! As a miniaturist, I still have a wild urge to at least stain the wood or something, but I'm not going to do it. I don't want to mess up perfection. I haz a control mahself:

This sign may find its way into the Beacon Hill one day, but for now, it will sit in the bookshelf next to my home office so I can see it each day while I'm working. It will remind me of Kira, who is a wonderful person to be reminded of often:

Now I'm going to go take a looksee at all of the other mini projects I have lying around. There's plenty of time left in the day to work on more...

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Monday, February 09, 2015

Tale of the Green Paint

Last summer, I went to the NAME convention in St. Louis and met Robin Betterley in person and gushed all over her and went totally fangirl and made her take pictures with me. It ruled. Since then, the Briarwood kit has been patiently waiting for me to work on it. That whole "moving from one house to another" thing and the holidays and the chaos of Real Life has kept me away from miniatures for far too long. I packed them all up in November and haven't touched any of them since. It's depressing.

But even before all that, I've had multiple failed attempts at working on Briarwood. The first hurdle was finding "sanding sealer." I've never heard of it. It's listed on the materials list for the kit, so I looked for it at the hobby stores whenever I was in one. Finally, I drug my cousin Kira into Menard's when she was visiting last summer and we found this ONE can of sanding sealer. Huh? Is it really that rare? Were we looking in the wrong spot? I. Don't. Know. But I finally had the right stuff, so I was ready to go:


So time went on, and then I packed everything I own. Somehow, I lost ONE bottle of paint. I have no idea how this is even possible because every single other bottle of paint (and trust me, I have a LOT of paint) is accounted for. I knew I had a bottle of Ceramcoat Peridot Pearl because I had photographic evidence. I bought it for Maison McColl back in January 2014. Well, I might have even bought the paint in December 2013 if I think about it. WHERE DOES THE TIME GO? So yeah, I had the paint. It's right there on the far right end in the top row:

I have ALL of those other paint colors all in the same place. Too bad I don't need any of them right now.

Now, as we all know, paint colors included in kits are only suggestions, and Robin always encourages people to use whatever colors they like and be creative and all of those good things. Her suggestion for the bunny base is a celery type of green (which looks like cream in the photo), but I knew I had this gorgeous metallic green that would look beautiful with the bunny art. But where was it?


So I looked and looked and looked and looked. For weeks. For reals. I got stuck on the idea that I had this paint and it would be perfect. I went through every single box, drawer, nook, and cranny in the dollhouse room. I upended box after box after box of belongings. I re-looked through drawers and closets and cupboards and containers that I KNEW didn't have the green paint in them, but I just had to look AGAIN. I spent whole days and nights looking for the green paint, but it was nowhere to be found. My parents offered to pick up some new paint for me when they were uptown one day, BUT NO -- I HAD THE PAINT! This went on for a long time. EVERYONE heard about the paint. Incessantly.

Ma mentioned that I had mentioned throwing away a few of my paints before I left Farmhouse Villa. Well, those were bottles that were ALMOST empty of paints I'd used on other builds. I would have never thrown away the pretty green paint because I hadn't even opened it yet.

And then in the process of looking for the green paint, I had to actually keep unpacking and organizing my new home and working on Real House projects and things like that. And then I went through all of my kits to reorganize the mini room and had a breakdown because I'M A KIT HOARDER and I have a ton of half-built projects and I feel guilty because I haven't worked on my beloved Beacon Hill in SO LONG. I confessed my sins to my parents when they were visiting one day, and Pa reminded me that this is my hobby and hobby people need lots of things to work on, and Ma said it would only be a problem if I kept buying kits and never actually worked on them, which hasn't happened because I've built many, many mini projects, and then I felt all better.



So then I had this fancy idea that I could drive to Hobby Lobby and buy a new bottle of the green paint. You would think I would have figured this out earlier, but no. So then Ma and I went to Hobby Lobby one day and stared down the wall of paints and THE GREEN PAINT WASN'T THERE! I stood in stunned HORROR. But then Ma asked if it was in the bottom row? And I looked down there and noticed a duplicate of a green paint that was a few rows above it and PRESTO MAGIC! The green paint I needed (the elusive Peridot Pearl) was hiding behind a bottle someone had put back in the wrong place.

*shakes fists at sky*


But then I got sick and couldn't work on anything, even Real Life work. Until yesterday.

The directions for Briarwood have the box being painted a brown color, but after all of this drama with the green paint, I decided to do the box in that color as well. It's such a beautiful color. Seriously, I'm so happy I decided to be really stubborn about using it and not get impatient and use some other color. The photos do NOT do it any justice at all. It's green with some yellow and shiny metallic luster. SO PRETTY!! This is is the first coat:

You can kind of see how the color changes from this angle:

Now I need to sand the pieces and paint them again, and then I can finally move on to using the sanding sealer on the bunny.

There. That only took like half a year:

And yes, that IS Ollie's house sitting next to the bunny bits because the poor old owl has been waiting SO LONG for me to work on his house again that I decided to unpack the Ollie box and figure out what to do next. But I'm not going to shame myself about not working on my own hobby because that's ridiculous and unnecessary (she types but doesn't fully believe -- old habits die hard). I'm just going to do my best to pick up where I left off and get going again. I can do it!

And yes, I totally thought I would magically find my bottle of green paint once I bought a new one, but it hasn't happened. Yet.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

The Sick Person Book Club

So then I got sick. Like really REALLY SICK. Nothing knocks the momentum out of you quite like a major illness. After four days of over-the-counters did absolutely nothing to make me feel better, I went to an urgent care. I have infections in both ears, a sinus infection, and bronchitis. Basically, everything about me has The Sick.

It's been a long time since I've been beaten down so badly by an illness. I naively thought it would take a few days to bounce back. Wrong. I've been on meds for six days, but it feels like two. I still can't really hear out of my ears. I would give ANYTHING for a decongestant, but the nurse I called yesterday told me you shouldn't take decongestants while you're on steroids because it will jack up your heart rate really bad. OK, fine. I wait. I've been doing nothing but waiting to get better for what seems like a bazillion years.

Ma: How are you feeling?

Me: Like death.

Ma: How are you feeling?

Me: Horrible.

Ma: How are you feeling?

Me: F*CKING SICK. [cries like small child]

I used to be one of those people who would work through the illness -- do everything I could to pretend I wasn't sick and Just Deal. I would go the office red-nosed and bleary and huff my way through conference calls. Being sick at work was like a badge of honor. I'm so tough and dedicated that HERE I AM even though I'm dying. I hate that part of American culture so much. Why is anyone proud of their ability to hit a deadline when they can't keep down a bowl of broth?

I'm not that way anymore. This time, I decided to go ahead and let myself be sick. I just started a new contract, and I felt horrible about emailing my boss to tell her I couldn't work because of my illness. Luckily, I've worked with her before AND she actually values health, so she told me to tuck in and not worry about work. Thank GAWD. No unnecessary guilt. SCORE. Then began the endless cycle of reading and sleeping.

I don't have a lot of time to read these days, so I was grateful to have a stack of books waiting for me to not be able to physically move or hear the television. I drifted in and out of consciousness with the following:

  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr: Excellent book. I totally felt like I was in a fairy tale land, which was mesmerizing and interesting and cozy and scary all at the same time. I liked the whole book until I got to the very end. I didn't like the end. But it was still worth reading because the rest of it was that good.
  • Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident by Donnie Eichar: You know I love a good odd nonfiction tale. And mysteries. And weird deaths. This has all three, and nine Russian hikers. I first heard of this group last year when I watched a special on TV claiming that Bigfoot killed the hikers. Um, no. I won't ruin it for you by sharing the author's theory of why/how the hikers died, but I will say that he sold me. I totally believe him.
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: I kept wondering why I recognized the story until I opened up my Nook app and realized I'd bought the book and read about 50 pages some time last year. I don't like reading on my iPad or my Nook, so this explains why I never finished it. I did enjoy the book, but then I watched the movie immediately after and did NOT like the movie. It just didn't work for me. The book was very entertaining in an I'm Sick and Will Believe Anything kind of way. Perfect distraction and fast-paced enough to keep me awake more than usual. 
  • The Bees: A Novel by Laline Paull: I'm not finished with this one yet. I have about 50 pages to go. The book moves so fast that I really do feel like I'm inside a beehive watching the secretive inner workings of these fascinating creatures. I love the characters, the story, the ideas, the imagination. It's really good. I'm hoping the ending doesn't disappoint. As soon as I get finished writing this post, I plan on hitting the couch and wrapping it up. I also now have a burning desire to become a beekeeper.

Next up in my stack is Night Comes to the Cumberlands: A Biography of a Depressed Area by Harry M. Caudill: I can't remember at ALL why Ma and I started talking about this book, but she mentioned it, and I got interested. Ma lived in many different states because of her father's job, but she spent from 2nd to 12th grade in Kentucky. At some point, her father took her out to see the devastation of the coal mines -- the horrifying poverty and chewed up land. Ma's childhood has always been a bit of a mystery to me (compared to the overwhelming amount of information I know about the Blonderson side), so I thought it would be a good read.

Ma found me her old copy of the book, which turned out to be inscribed to my grandparents from the author in 1967. They'd gone together to see a talk Caudill was giving -- Gran clipped the notice from the newspaper and stapled it into the book. Ma was raised in an upper-middle-class family, so this book doesn't tell about her history per se, but it will help me learn more about Kentucky. I'm excited to get started on it -- despite the fact that I know it will at some point make me want to shake my weary fists at the sky.

I'm hoping that BEFORE I finish the book about the Cumberlands, I will be All Better Yay Healthy Blondie!!!!

*crosses fingers tight*

But if not, there are plenty of other books where these came from. Now, where is my blankie and a cat...

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Following Your Dreams Blondie-Style

A beautifully perfect 1:12 Glinda from my amazing friend, Brae

This morning, I read a post on Tiny Buddha called "The Value of Following Your Dreams When They Don't Make Money" by Kym Wilson. It was a really good post with fantastic advice about getting out there and doing what you want instead of festering about money all the time. Feeling fulfilled. Truly living your dreams instead of just fantasizing about them. Wilson's personal dreams involved world travel and long-distance adventures. Girlfriend went for it and had a blast. It was exciting to read about her journey and self-discovery. She also had some really great advice:

“Your net worth is not your life’s worth—don’t confuse the two."

Your net worth is not your life’s worth. There was instant relief in those words.

My choices may have "cost" me a million, and my net worth may be a small fraction of that, but the real value of my experiences over the last five years transcends physical currency. The sights I have seen. The blessings I have received. The moments I have witnessed.

I love that.

Reading Wilson's post made me tip back in my home office chair, stare out the window at the bird feeder and its guests, and close my eyes for a deep, refreshing breath. The thing is, I feel fulfilled right here at home, and there's nothing wrong with that. In fact, I'm proud of it.

Because I'm single and childless, other people are constantly shoving their dreams down my throat. If they were me, they would travel the world, move from state to state each year, pick up and GO GO GO!!! The weight of their marriages or kids or mortgages weigh on them, so they create elaborate, fictional worlds where being single and childless means you have no anchors, no responsibilities, and no reasons to stay in one place. FLY FREE, BLONDIE! What are you doing here??? Well, I'm living. I'm really, truly living.

I have moved away. I have lived in multiple states. I have gone on a mini vacation by myself. No, I haven't traveled internationally, but I don't want to do that alone. Traveling alone is great for some people, and that's fine. But for me? Staying in a sterile, strange hotel room is not my cup of tea. Hotel rooms actually make me more lonely than anything else. They're fun if someone else is staying in there with me, sure. But solo? I usually end up crying at some point. For reals. Or else I'm on a business trip, and I'm so exhausted that I crash and burn and don't enjoy it one bit.

To be clear, I'm NOT bashing people's choices to go do all of things alone, but I'm self-aware enough to know that I would not likie. And that's OK. There's nothing wrong with being me, just as I am. The only part that sucks about it is when other people try to force me to chase their dreams for them so they can vicariously live through me. Um, no. Not gonna happen. I don't mean to criticize the free-spirits of the world who want to travel and be free -- that's not what I'm trying to say. I'm just finally realizing that being different is OK. My dreams and my kind of happiness are OK.

For a long time, I thought something was wrong with me. Why don't I go and "be free"? Why don't I save and travel the world? Am I missing out on something? I should be more fabulous instead of so boring. I should really take advantage of all of this alone time. I should I should I should... It was awful. Constantly beating myself down took its toll, and I went through a lot of my Dark Times. Depression crept up on me and clamped me into its grip over and over and over again. I found it nearly impossible to love myself. And many years went by.

After working on my mental health long enough, I know that I can find peace, happiness, love, and joy without Doing All of the Things. There is no need to Be Fabulous. I can be ridiculously happy sitting on the carpet with a wee 1:12 scale rocking chair kit. I can feel the wonder of the Universe by sitting outside at night and seeing all of the stars that I could never see in all of those cities I've lived in or visited. I've felt the peace that comes from being around my nuclear and extended families. And after working SO HARD to STOP giving myself such a hard time, I've started to really enjoy my own company. As I get older, it becomes more clear: I can do what I want and not do what I don't want and I don't have to feel guilty about any of it so there.

One of my big dreams for most of my life was buying my own home. I think I leaned on this dream so much because it would mean I was a grown-up or that I was financially stable or probably that I was married. And rentals? No matter how nice the place is, it's still a rental. You don't really get to make it yours, and the paint, appliances, and carpet are always "rental" quality. It can be hard to feel really good about yourself when you want to pay cheap-as-possible rent because you get what you pay for. Moving into my grandparents' home and being able to paint the walls and change the decor and really take ownership of this house has been so amazing. I don't "need" to own it to feel fulfilled. I just need to take care of it as if I do. It feels wonderful to care for my little new-old farmhouse. I feel like big kid now.

In Wilson's blog post, she says:

Often misconceived as selfishness, honoring and doing what transforms our inner selves is a way of being of service too; everyone who comes into contact with your ripples will benefit from that change, directly or indirectly, known or unknown.

In this way, the return on investment from following your dreams is infinite, larger than you can ever quantify or know while you are in human form.

Even though Wilson's post is talking about the exact opposite of what I'm talking about, I can still relate. We both took our dreams by the horns and just went for it. I gave up my fancy schmancy Chicago job, moved home, and made a life here in Farmsville. And you know what? I have no regrets. Especially now, in this new house out in the country where it's so quiet, peaceful, and filled with the farmland of my family. I have some serious roots here, and I love them.

I can tell that following my dream -- my Simple Life dream that everyone is always poo poo-ing me about-- has had some positive ripples. I see the joy in my father's eyes when he's having a fond memory of growing up in this house or being with his own nuclear family. I can see the excitement in my mother's eyes when I show her how I've organized the kitchen or decorated my bedroom. I feel the peace in my sister and my cousins and aunts and uncles when they walk through the house and remember the good ole days of Blonderson family get-togethers.

My uncle (the one who ones this house) has said multiple times that "it was meant to be," and I believe him. All of that wandering and all of that renting and all of those hard times and disappointments and other journeys have led me here, where I feel safe, loved, and content. I've always wondered why why why did life randomly skew off in this or that direction, but now I know. The Universe was leading me to this moment in time when I can stop beating the crap out of myself every day and just stop to smell the f*cking roses already. OK, I will.

So yes yes yes, whatever your dream is, go and follow it. Leap fearlessly! My only advice would be to make sure that the dream is yours -- authentically yours alone. Your gut will tell you what you should do and where you should be. Listen to it. I'm so glad I did.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The New Dollhouse Room

One of the best parts of moving into Briarpatch is having my own dedicated dollhouse room. HOORAY!!!! At Farmhouse Villa, I was constantly having to leave things on top of my stove and refrigerator to hide them from Gretchen. I amassed a huge collection of trays to store things on. I stacked trays everywhere up high, but even then, Gretchen could still get to them and mess them up and steal things if she really wanted to. Luckily for me, she usually left the stove top alone unless there was food up there. Here's evidence of what my stove usually looked like at all times. Well, actually this is very tame. Usually there were way more trays and way more projects. This is a well-organized/ clean shot of TeenieTow progress:

Using my stove top in this way led to never cooking or baking. Like ever. Hey man. You do what you gotta do for your hobbies. Now I can SHUT THE DOOR. Such relief!!! I do allow the kitties in there because they're extremely curious and fussy about any closed doors, but they can only go in the room if I'm in there with them. I don't trust Gretchen to behave herself at ALL. Letting them go in a few times has calmed their curiosity about the room. I've been able to leave the door open and go somewhere else and come back without them invading, so we're getting there. I'd like to be able to leave the door open more often because it's COLD in there. There's some issue with the heat vent in that room, and the windows need new frames on the outside where they're rotting. So it's not all perfect, but it's perfect enough for ME.

*does happy dance*

Anyway, I don't have good photos of the "before" dollhouse room because it was pretty boring in there. White walls, white ceiling, white carpet. Also, the monster bushes from outside block both of the windows entirely. That light you see coming in in the photo is misleading. It's more like a true briarpatch right outside those windows. Next spring, they'll be gone, and I'll have MUCH more light, but for now, it's a dark room. Also, there is no overhead light in there. It was time to go thrifting for standing lamps! So here is the only picture I have that shows the "before" stage through a doorway. Good enough:

Then my wonderful mother washed the walls, and my wonderful father painted them the dark grey color I picked out while I stayed over at Farmhouse Villa working. THANK YOU, PARENTS!! I'm loving the grey. It's so pretty and makes the Art Deco-ish ceiling really pop. This picture shows the booty from my first thrift-lamping trip. The one on the left has space for four total bulbs, which is great. Since I took this photo, I've put brighter bulbs in the lamps, which helps a lot. Also, all of the upper plug-in things in the room are wired to the light switch, so all of the lamps come on right away when I flip the switch. Very handy, indeed:

Right after painting:

I asked Pa to paint the dollhouse room first specifically so I could pile tons of crap in there until I was able to unpack and sort it. It was full for quite a while:

It's a big room (much bigger than I remember it being), so it can hold a LOT of stuff:

Now I've had time to really clean it up. This was my grandparents' "TV Room," so all of my relatives (and even me sometimes) are having a hard time calling it anything but that. With time, we'll all learn that it's now the "Dollhouse Room." I also no longer have an art closet, so I put all of my painting and crafting supplies in here, too:

The wardrobe that used to be in my living room (along with everything else) is now in the corner. I still haven't figured out the lighting situation on this side of the room. The standing lamp gets moved around a lot. I'm planning on storing away the card table and putting the toy box there (it's currently sitting in the red porch) to hold all of the stuff that's piled on the floor. The toy box is too heavy for me to move by myself, so Pa will help me when he has time. For now, the shop and Ollie's house are packed in those boxes on top of the table waiting to be unpacked and worked on:

I found this little wall hanging while I was out thrifting and decided it was the perfect thing to hold special minis or minis that don't have homes yet. That's red velvet in the back. I was going to immediately take that out and put some kind of pretty paper in the back, but now it's starting to oddly grow on me:

I found the two peach shelves at the thrift store, too. They were probably in a kitchen because they both have knife holders on the sides. They're holding spare minis for now. They have hooks on the bottoms to hang tools and other fun things. Love it:

And where did that TeenieTow go? Well, it found a new home out in the dining area. It's at a good eye level, so you can see inside now where you couldn't really before (it formerly lived on top of the wardrobe in my Villa living room):

And Ollie? Let's just say that he's NOT HAPPY about STILL being in a box in the dollhouse room. He's been listening to the real owls outside that hoot at night (there are multiple kinds of owls out here in the country, and I LURVE listening to them after the sun goes down). He's completely jealous that they certainly have nice nests while he's just lying there in perpetual construction. I'm so sorry, dear Ollie. I'll pull you out and get back to work pronto:

Ahhhh, minis. Of course, now I want to work on them and play with them and plan new projects and and and and... Alas, I have to do Real Life Work. Like the kind that pays the bills. Sigh. Luckily, I got a really fun, new contract, so it will be interesting and entertaining. You can't beat that! But as soon as I have time, Ollie's coming out to play... WHEE!