Thursday, May 21, 2015
Today is my 38th birthday. Happy birthday to me! OK, now let's move on.
But for reals, birthdays are less important as we age, right? Half the battle is even knowing how old I am when people ask. I *think* I'm 37. Wait! Wait! I'm 38. And trying to do the maths doesn't help because I'm Stupid at the maths. Oh well. I'm a year older than I was last year. Hoorah!
A few years back, I started making really elaborate plans for my future. I was going to buy a house and be completely financially stable and find a freakin' husband/life partner already and all of these lovely things and THIS WAS ALL GOING TO MAGICALLY HAPPEN BY THE TIME I WAS 40 DAMMIT! Um, that's only two years away, Self.
What am I going to do about that?
Well, I'm going to let myself off the hook. I don't need my life to be perfect anymore. As I continue to age, my goals become more and more simple. Yes, I want to have a roof over my head and money in my pocket, but more than anything else I really just want to be happy/content. I want to have more good days than bad days. I want to reasons to smile. I want to feel loved.
My parents knew I was going to the Chicago miniature shows, so they gave me some cash to buy my own birthday present from them while I was there. I walked around the rooms many, many times looking for something that would represent my phenomenal parents and their love for me. Then I saw this lovely swing toy from Cinderella Miniaturen (Germany). I fell in love with it the instant I saw it:
Even the back is cute:
When you push on the swing, all of the little boat people move back and forth. They swing and swing and are incredibly pleasing to the eye and are just plain fun. FUN!
After I got back home, I went to look up the swinging toy to see if I could learn more about it since there is no maker's mark. I learned that this is a kind of toy that was produced in the Erzgebirge region of Germany. To see an original of this type of swinging toy, click here. Germany still pumps out many amazing and beautiful miniatures today. I'm SO happy I got one. It's such a treasure.
THANK YOU, MA AND PA!!!!!!
Yes, I am an adult. But childlike joy is the most fun kind. There's too many crazy things going on in this world and not enough fun, little treasures. My swing set will eventually go in the Backyard Bliss house, which will be a dollhouse filled with blissfully fun things.
Like any build, it will take a while for Backyard Bliss to really get cranking, so for now, the swing mini is in my Gran's glass bookcase in my kitchen. Every time I walk past it, the swingers start swinging. I always stop for a moment to watch them. No matter how bad my day is going, they never fail to calm me and make me smile.
Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.
Sometimes together, sometimes at three different speeds. It's hypnotic. And cheerful. And wonderful.
I'm so glad I found the joy of miniatures. They've brought wonder and excitement back into my life right when I needed it the most. And they give me all of the things I wanted: more good days than bad days, reasons to smile, and feeling loved.
Thank you to all of my wonderful mini friends who understand my world and make it so much better. And thank you Parents for the perfect gift!
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
I'm using this picture above as a "me in a birthday hat" photo. In fact, it's a Kentucky Derby hat made by my beloved niece. Works for me!
I haven't been writing on my blog much lately because I've been going through some hard times. Some classic Stupid Things have been happening on and near me in rapid succession. I've found I'm becoming more private as I age, so I haven't felt like writing about it publicly. Don't worry -- it's nothing I can't survive. Life just totally sucks sometimes, and you have to roll with the punches.
But after dealing with many Carpet Ripped Out From Under Me moments through the years and working on my mental health long enough, I've started to figure out something very important. In these tough times, no matter how hard life gets, there really ARE people out there who love me and care about my life and happiness. I've been blessed to find some really amazing friends, and they are always there when I need them the most.
*pauses to happily reflect on friends*
Back when I was visiting Chicago for the 2015 Tom Bishop Chicago International and Three Blind Mice shows, I got a very special treat. It turns out Brae, April, and Debora had gotten together to buy me an early birthday present. Now of course these lovely ladies have given me amazing gifts in the past, but I had no clue what these sneaky girls were up to. Debora wasn't there, but Brae and April had looks on their faces like they might have swallowed 10 canaries each. Not even mini ones. Like the full-sized kind. Since Debora wasn't at our little gathering, Brae was going to take some pictures of the gifting. Game on.
(photos c/o Brae)
Here I am thinking WTF are these girls up to??????
And now I'm all WHOA OMG NO YOU DIDN'T!!! REALLY YOU DID????!!!!!! I CAN'T BELIEVE IT I'M SO EXCITED SOMEONE HOLD ME!!!
But then I decided to hold my gift instead. I was SO happy:
I even felt the need to hug to my precious baby:
What is it??!! you are asking.
I'll tell you: It's the most wonderful, little dollhouse kit I've ever gotten. Hands down favorite. It's a Backyard Bliss dollhouse kit:
I love antique dollhouses. Like reaaaaally love them. I have a whole shelf of books showing pictures of them and explaining who made them and when they were made and all of their good history nuggets. I also have a deep love of the deceased Flora Gill Jacobs. She wrote multiple history books about dollhousing and miniatures from all over the world. She also had a whole museum of antique houses (that sadly was shut down and then almost all of her minis were auctioned off for prices so high that I could never even daydream about buying one). One of the houses Jacobs had that I drooled over endlessly was what is known as a Bliss Keyhole house.
Here are some examples of the true Bliss Keyholes. Click here. And here. And here. And, sadly, here is Flora Gill Jacobs's Keyhole house on the auction block. Sigh. That auction made me very sad, but life goes on.
So because I could obviously NEVER afford one of these beauties in real life, I bought a 1:144 kit version from Cynthia Howe and put it together. It's very tiny, and I lurve it:
It even has wallpaper and things on the inside:
I was pretty sure that the tiny 1:144 version was the end of my Keyhole Bliss story until my dear mini friends surprised me with my new kit. It's not a real Bliss, but it's actually even better because I get to put it together and decorate it and drool all over it without worrying about ruining a real antique. I get to Blondify it without fretting about its historical, museum-worthy value. SCORE.
So how in the world did my miniaturing wizard ladies make this birthday surprise happen? It turns out that a company called Betty's Wooden Miniatures made a version of the Keyhole house back in the 1980s. The company made three little house kits that hang together as a mini village. There was the Backyard Bliss, which I now own. There was also the Storybook Playhouse and the Tulip Cottage. Every so often, one of these rare kits shows up somewhere for sale, but they're very hard to locate. The odds of finding one are kind of like the odds of finding Bigfoot making pancakes in your kitchen one morning. You're very lucky if you find one. And you're even MORE lucky if your friends buy it for you to celebrate your 38th year on this planet.
*beams with happy*
Even the Building Inspector likes it:
The girls lovingly sprung the gift on me early specifically so I could shop for a few doodads for it at the shows, which I did! This little friend will live there for sure:
I haven't opened the dollhouse kit yet though because I was trying to be patient and wait for my actual birthday -- which is tomorrow. So soon enough, I'll be popping open this factory-sealed (!!!! no pieces missing !!!) Backyard Bliss kit and filling my Real Life home up with another wee house that represents friendship, support, encouragement, and love.
Thank you, dear friends. Thank you SO much!
Thursday, May 07, 2015
Ollie's wish has finally come true -- I'm back to working on Luna Lair. When we last left off, I had shingled the roof. Then I gave it a couple of coats of dark gray paint. It looked like so:
However, Luna Lair is an old house for an old owl. It needed the shingles to be beat up a little bit. I'm still somewhat kinda sorta trying to copy this house, but because I don't have the dormer windows, Luna Lair wouldn't have that specific kind of shingle streaking over time. So I just let it be random:
I got this effect from dry brushing white paint over the gray in an extremely fast/haphazard way:
Hence the oopsie spots where I got paint on the house:
But it always seems like no matter how careful I am, I ALWAYS have to do touch-ups to the body paint at the end. Whatevs. I can easily go over the house exterior again later when I'm further along. Meanwhile, the change in the roof paint made me do a double-take this morning. I was SO used to the roof being dark gray. But I was also used to the shingles being wood colored, and the gray looked weird at first, so I need to just get over it. Change is good:
Meanwhile, I popped the chimney base into the microwave to get it back apart since I had already glued it together. Then I cut it down a bit and reglued it. Much better height for a dovecote stand! Now I just have to paint the dovecote and like 8 billion pieces of trim:
After mini-ing long enough, I've figured out that I stall for three specific reasons:
1. I'm afraid I'm going to mess up something really badly.
2. I'm enjoying the project so much that I don't want to finish it.
3. I'm too busy to work on minis.
These three reasons are Stupid.
1. If I mess something up, I can fix it.
2. If I finish one project, I can start another one.
3. I CAN find time in each day to do "just one thing" on my mini list. I really can.
It's silly to buy a whole bunch of beautiful minis and then tuck them away and never look at them or have somewhere to display them. So I'm going to try to be better about Making Time for Minis. I mean, come on. I started Luna Lair over a year ago. That's an incredibly long time to be working on an incredibly small house.
*smacks self across face*
SNAP OUT OF IT, SELF! GET GOING!
OK, OK, Luna Lair needs a deadline. I'll look at a calendar and figure that out. Soon.
Saturday, April 25, 2015
I'm very happy to announce that I finally finished my Briarwood kit (which has now been retired or I would link to it) from Robin Betterley's Miniatures. I'm completely cracked up at the name Robin and Shawn chose for the bunny. Briarwood is "home of Professor Barnaby Warren the bibliophile bunny." Yes, he is quite the bibliophile. His kit came with a LOT of books:
The main part of the structure has three different parts: a base, a box, and a bunny front. You might recall the Green Paint Incident that delayed the beginning of this project for quite some time. That was my fault though. Professor Warren is off the hook for that one:
Here is a (really bad) photo of the fireplace and the table. I also put together the itty bitty books. The one in the front row center is my favorite because it's the art from the Teeny Weeny Birds Secret Book that I also have from the Betterleys:
Painting all of Barnaby's books took quite a long time and taught me many lessons on patience:
I got the art, bookshelves, and books in, and then I stalled for a long time:
I basically stalled because it was so fun to work on the kit that I didn't want the experience to be over. But all good things must come to an end. And I can just buy more Betterley kits.
*rubs hands together*
The bunny art front blocks the view of the entire room, so I took some pictures before putting it all together:
Here you can see the wee candlesticks on the back shelves:
I love the adorable bunny art on the walls:
This is seriously the coolest kit I've worked on so far. I lurve it:
Here's an overhead shot before the acrylic top went on:
Ollie? Not impressed, as usual:
Last night, I finally put the whole shebang together. I put some more books outside along with the grass material that came with the kit:
You can still see inside the box if you turn it different ways to peek in there:
Can you see Professor Warren's gold reading glasses on the table? They're veeeeery tiny in Real Life:
The back of the bunny is painted white, so it looks nice from the flip side, too:
Here's an overhead shot with the acrylic in place:
And here's the bunny next to the TeenieTow to give you an idea of the scale. Eventually, I will move Briarwood into the glass case in my living room, but I left it here to dry out in the open:
Next up? Finishing Ollie's Luna Lair house.
I swear, Ollie. I swear!
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Last weekend, I went to Chicago for the Tom Bishop Chicago International Show and the Three Blind Mice Show. It was FABOOSH! I saw Brae and April and Keli and Mini Dork and Mad for Mod and Greg and a bazillion vendors and other miniaturists and OH IT WAS HEAVEN!!!! It was a whirlwind of people and shopping and food and sleeping and amazing artisans from all over the world. But first I had to get there.
I went and got a last-minute (yay for someone else's cancellation) back epidural two days before I left. Without anesthesia. In my doctor's office. He's very professional and awesome and all, but BIG SHOT with NO DRUGS plus Anxiety Disorder. Hmmm. It wasn't fun. However, I survived, and I was able to go to Chicago BECAUSE of my back doctor, so I praise him. THANK YOU, BACK DOCTOR!
Then I was THISCLOSE to my destination when BAM, I blew a flat on I-88, which for those of you unfamiliar with the Chicagoland area, is a tollway right outside of the city proper. I was internally b*tching about the $3.60 (each) tolls UNTIL I blew this flat, and a nice man came and put on my spare for free:
It was a HUGE hole. Like the kind of hole that you can't patch. The guy changing the tire said he thought it was probably a screw. OH JOY. And yes, the tread on that tire looks great because it was less than a year old. Sigh. I drove on the original Corolla tires for TEN YEARS, bought all new tires finallllly, and then blow a flat like 10 months later:
So then I could only drive 55 mph with the spare because the #999 HELP guy -- who I didn't even have to call because he saw me on a camera somewhere and showed up in under 5 minutes (THANK YOU, CREEPY BIG BROTHER CAMERAS) -- told me I could blow a flat in the little fake tire if I drove too fast. He said, "They run HOT." Ever try driving really slowly in Chicago traffic? Yeah, it doesn't work so well.
Stupid things happen on or near me. A lot.
I wasn't ON Clark Street, but I was damn close. Just sayin.'
Anyway, after all of the chaos leading up to the trip, I was ecstatic when I finally met up with Brae at Three Blind Mice. And then the shopping began...
Um. I spent a lot of money. And it was totally worth it. I've been stuffing away dollars since last fall for this experience. No regrets!
(No particular order, and these are from both of the shows.)
I've been eyeballing this scythe from Sir Thomas Thumb for a really long time. It looks perfect propped up in the Beacon Hill Crime Museum, where it will live from now on:
I found this tiny painted metal owl cane in a bargain basket for $1.00. Ollie is SO HAPPY to have a cane, even though you can't tell with that grumpy, little face:
Pots from The Enchanted Garden. They're so purty:
This little duck is my favorite one. It has shiny, glittery glaze. I find it's hard to stop staring at it:
I got the strawberry plant pot above for the Jeanetta Kendall strawberry plant kit. I also got some flower kits from Mostly Paper Miniatures. There are wee toy kits from Volker Arnold who was SO nice and personable. I love a good German accent, so it was fun to chat with him while we shopped:
I also loved meeting Kathryn and Alan from Templewood Miniatures in person. I have many of their 1:144 kits that I need to actually put together/finish *cough* which I will do very soon. I got some 1:48 clock kits from them and a bunch of fun box kits from Lisa's Little Things:
I got this little petit point pig pillow kit (say that 5x fast) from Lucy Iducovich. Sadly, I forgot to take a photo of the real pillow in color to have something to work from since I'm so visual. If any of you have the finished pig pillow or know someone who does, I'd love a photo. I only have Lucy's snail mail address, so I might have to write to her for a picture in the future:
Jane Graber honey pot. Jane was also SO sweet and wonderful in person. I would have loved to talk with her, but instead I just handed her this pot with The Shakiest Hand Ever because I was so intimidated by all of her beautiful things, and she told me to reach into the pottery display to choose which one I wanted. It was quite funny because the more I thought about my hand shaking, the more it shook, of course. I found the perfect, little honey dipper for it at Hartland Miniatures:
I saw these scissors early on, but then two days later, I couldn't remember where I'd seen them. On our last go round, I found them again and was so happy! They're from Tiny Ter Miniatures. Wee scissors from Spain! WHEEEEE:
I saw this wasp nest when I went to the 2013 Quad Cities Mini Makers Show. It's from A Pocket Full of Wishes. I emailed them in advance to see if they still had the wasp nests I'd been thinking about for the last two whole years? Yes, yes they did! Lesson learned: If you really like something, buy it right then and there:
A kitty vase that reminded me of Webster (The Enchanted Garden) and a ridiculously adorable friend from 64tnt miniatures:
April and I had a fantastic conversation about Lutheran Fluff, which is what I call the wide variety of fluffs and jellos that can be found at Lutheran gatherings, so I HAD to have these jellos when I saw them -- and yes, they DO jiggle. The best part is that April had also spied them on her own and bought one, too. Lutheran Jello FOR ALL! OK, so it's probably not really Lutheran jello. Whatevs:
I got a bunch of half scale kits for Ollie and Svetlana from Tiny Textiles & More:
An itty bitty bright orange hand blown glass perfume bottle from Gerd Felka:
Pig toy from Taller Targioni and a Toblerone bar A FREAKIN' AWESOME TOBLERONE BAR from Franzy's Paradies:
April and I both went on quite the goose chase for those Toblerone bars. We both separately saw them on Friday and then spent some time hemming and hawing and realized we needed them and went on a hunt for them on Saturday and couldn't find them and WHERE ARE THEY?! and then PRESTO MAGIC! April found them again. Thank GAWDS because we really needed them. I see that Keli also needed one. I totally understand.
I got this little drum-playing bunny from the talented and lovely Veronique Lux of France:
Some wonderful, little minis from Wright Guide Miniatures -- love these people. They're so nice and fun:
The very first table I went to was Miyuki Kobayashi from Japan. I'm obsessed with her fish bowls. I've been wanting one forEVER, so I was SO happy to find the perfect one. I want ALL of her bowls, but I settled for this one with three fishies inside. It's sitting on a penny, which tells you how teeeeeeny those fishies are. It's perfect. Miyuki was so sweet. I hope to see her again one day:
The necessities from T&D Miniatures, who always have everything you could possibly need at fantastic prices:
OMG I'm still dying of cute over my little platypus from Franzy's. Isn't she so adorable? Photos don't really do her justice. Her little beak is open. I want to pet her all day long. I see a theme here. I got a lot of toys. After you mini long enough, you learn that you can get plates and cups anywhere, but these little artisan beauties are the really special minis. Purr:
Tweezers and tapes from The Little Dollhouse Company. I saw these in Brae's post and had her take me directly to where she found them because I had a major jealous and needed them. Thank you, Brae! So itty bitty:
Whenever I see Barbara Meyer from mini-gems, I buy up some more birdies. Her birdies are the BEST:
Goodies from Patricia M. Wehmeier:
An itty bitty needlework from Moe Miniatures. Can you believe this only cost $4.50? Neither can I:
And then I got a HUGE surprise when Keli gave me a whole bunch of farmie goodies. Look at the details in these canned goods!! I love them. They're extra special to me because right now at this very moment in my basement is a whole closet filled with my grandmother's canning supplies. I love knowing they're down there because it makes me have fond memories of Grandma canning applesauce each summer when I was a kid:
Keli made goodies for me, April, and Brae, and you can see them all here. I'm so blessed to have such thoughtful, generous friends. THANK YOU, KELI!!!!!
And then I drove home in a Wrath of God thunderstorm that would NOT let up for almost three hours. Good times. At least the new tire worked just fine.
I usually get a snow globe when I travel, right? Well, I have a bazillion Chicago/Illinois snow globes from when I lived there already, so I picked up this little $2.99 ring holder at a gas station. It's to keep my jewelry safe from Gretchen. It's now high up on the bathroom wall, where she can't... um... stalk it...
I can't decide if I should send this to my back doctor as a thank you for helping me go to the shows or if I should selfishly hoard it. This might make him think I'm even weirder than he already thinks I am. Hmmm. I'll think on it:
Whew! That was a lot of links and minis. I'm exhausted. Are you?
And just like every BlogHer conference that I've been to, I was super anxious and nervous and worried ahead of time, and then I got there and remembered it's all about The People and The Friends, and everything was fine. I was fine. I was really, really happy. I had a great time. The memories of this weekend will sustain me for a long time to come. Thank you SO MUCH to all of my friends for helping to make it happen and to all of the vendors who came so far and worked so hard to bring childlike joy to all those miniaturists.
Thank you. A million times thank you.