Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Decorating the Dollhouse

 My French Dollhouse, The Petite Maison, is a work in progress. 
The exterior is looking so much more French now!
This is the dollhouse how I found it at the consignment shop. 
It was nicely built from plywood, with the exterior painted, but not much else.
When I saw it, I thought the roofline looked very French, and I could modify the
house to give it that Frenchy look. I also knew I needed to replace the railing system
that was on the little roof deck area.  
( Inspiration: a real French Chateau)
Notice the roofline, which is similar to my dollhouse.
A big part is accessorizing the dollhouse interior to give it the French flavor
 with  rustic yet fancy, shabby and cottage, 
and of course luxe elements that I dream up in my head.
 The more I add to a room, the better it looks, yet dollhouse decorating (for me)
runs a fine line of being cluttered and too much if one overdoes it.
The salon (living room) is feeling quite nice now, with the lived in details
of a tote bag with magazines, some flowers on the table, a candelabra with pretty 
little shades that give the room extra dose of personality. 
 An old piece of lace, trimmed to be a mantel scarf over the marble,
some flowers and a vase, magazines on tabletops, these are the little
details that make a mini house a real looking home.
 This brass candelabra is a common one that many miniaturists buy, as it
is affordable. I darkened mine up to look tarnished, then I made some shades
to turn it into a lamp. This is the pattern I created to make shades. I add the glue to the tab
section when I attach it.  
Curling the shade pattern around a pencil helps to give it a rounded
dispostion which is helpful too. I cut up a gift bag that had pretty patterns and used the 
checkered part to make the gingham look I wanted. Then I stuffed a little piece of 
packing peanut foam inside the shade so it could sit on top of the candle and not fall.
 It looked so charming on the vintage bombe chest I found on Etsy.
 After I made the shades, I tried to make hatboxes using the same gift bag paper.
These little things are hard for me to make, and I imagine it will get easier.  
They add the old fashioned details I want for the bedrooms, and I will be making more.
 There is much to do, and the house is evolving.  I found some pieces at
a thrift shop, and added them to the "music room".  A very nice white 
overstuffed sofa, and some mahogany pieces, that will be customized to
fit my style.  I am obsessed with working on the house, and am getting much
pleasure creating and finding things for my Petite Maison.
Winter has finally arrived with an arctic blast and snow and ice....
The nice thing about dollhouse decorating is one can stay inside and 
survive the long winter quite happily!
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Friday, January 18, 2019

Grand French Curtains for the Dollhouse Salon

Dollhouse decor includes dressing the windows sometimes.
Window Treatments can make a room, especially if you are aiming for the palace look.
You need luxurious draperies with all kinds of details, and once again, I found inspiration
Lea has a DIY section for making lots of French things, and one is her salon curtains,
that are even fancier than those that I made.  But I followed her instructions for the gilded 
cornice board, and it certainly added the French panache I was looking for.
The cornice has a gilded crown trim, and a gilded cameo in the center
that features an "antique" fabric.  I print up the old looking French florals
on my printer. ( One day I will do a post about the printer I use, as I did a lot
of research on what type of printer to use for the dollhouse fabrics and rugs,
and the type of ink your printer should use for best results. ) 
 The pale blue silk fabric was taken from a pair of draperies I had in my own house, and from which a remnant was made into a table runner, that I no longer use.  I had laundered the silk runner in the washing machine and it made it gather up in these tight wrinkles that are perfect for the rumpled gathers of a floor length curtain in an old manoir. The Cornice itself is a piece of heavy paper, and then a piece of wood is glued inside it to help keep its shape. To the outside the wooden crown molding pieces are glued, and finally the cameo is glued on top of that.  Lea has a different instruction, but essentially it is the same, and this was easier for me to achieve.  After building the 
cornice, I glued the silk curtains onto the inside of the cornice after measuring and trimming the length of the curtains so they would hit the floor.
I am very happy with the results, and I am grateful for the inspiration I 
found to create something special, that has my own twist and not an exact copy.
Creating a dollhouse is satisfying because by collecting and creating pieces, 
you make it a one of a kind, with your personal stamp.
 The other thing I had been trying to make from Lea's book were paper flowers.
These are not easy to make, and I am not quite satisfied with how they came out.
But I am happy enough to not keep trying!! These will just have to do!
 The process requires patience and that is a new skill I am learning.
Step after step and I finally had enough flowers completed to add to the
Mini Maison.  They bring the house to life I think, and are much better 
than the cheap ready made flowers for sale on miniature sites.
This is a random shot of the flowers placed on table tops, before the 
furniture had  been placed where I want it...but it gives you the idea of how
pretty a room looks with flowers, just like in real life!!

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Monday, January 14, 2019

Serene Gustavian Style

 After all the excess from holiday decorating is put away, things look
almost bare. It takes a few days to adjust to the way it used to be, and then I
find myself loving the less is more look for the winter.  
 I love the simplicity in our dining room. It follows the principles of Gustavian decor.
Recently after a dinner party, the room had a quiet sparkle.
The mix was enchanting to me. 
Comprised of gilded ballroom chairs for extra seating with the silver leaf cane back
chairs and lots of antique candlesticks, sconces and a big chandelier.

Gustavian style comes from King Gustav III of Sweden, who copied elements
from France's Versailles for his palace after being blown away by the beauty.  
This style is very French but with some distinctions.
On the Gustavian Style must have list:
Color palette to include pastel blue, grey, white, cream, 
beautiful chandeliers and sconces,
 and French style painted furniture with touches of gilt and silver leaf.
This palace sized dining room was designed by King Gustav III. 
I hope to one day visit this beautiful pavilion in Sweden. 
 Since the winter months are long in Sweden,
their color palette of grey and creamy whites serves to keep interiors bright.
The elegant light fixtures added sparkle and drama.
 Grey, white and pastels with a touch of gilt surround the star
of this room, my old Gustavian settee, set in our guest room,
and where I work on my current obsession, the French Dollhouse.
 Lots of Swedish touches are found around our home, starting with the paint colors.
To me they are equally wonderful in both spring and winter months.
Its a style I love, and its easy to obtain.  
 The addition of rustic accessories and furniture pieces 
make it more of a Swedish Country look.
Either way, I am a big fan of the French and Swedish decorating style.
How about you?

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Saturday, January 12, 2019

A Yummy Lo Carb Spaghetti Recipe

Looking for some comfort food while on your low carb weight loss journey?
This morning I stepped on the scale and was rewarded with another 1.5 pound weight loss.
That brings my total to 12 pounds now! So what I am doing is working and it  just makes 
my resolve stronger.  However I still want to eat certain things, like spaghetti and meat sauce!
 The key difference will be making your own spaghetti using Spaghetti Squash.
This is the football shaped squash at the grocery store. 
Cut it in half lengthwise,
scoop out the seeds, then place in a pan with an inch of water 
and cover with foil. Bake for 50 minutes at 375 degrees.
 As a fastidious carb counting nut, 
I am always trying to find the lowest carb 
foods that taste good.  Red sauce has been one of those, 
and until now the lowest
carb red sauce I could find was about 6 carbs.  
 With only 4 carbs in a half cup, this sauce is amazingly delicious!
I added Italian sausage* (cut the meat from the casings and saute until cooked through).
Some chopped green pepper was added to the sausage and then I added the RAOS.
*(you can use ground beef or turkey or shredded chicken)
The cooked spaghetti squash was removed from its shell using a fork to create
long pieces of spaghetti looking squash. Pour the meat sauce over the squash,
top with mozzarella cheese and bake until cheese melts. For extra flavor I 
added ribbons of sliced fresh parmesan cheese. 
For my husband and son, I poured the sauce over
cooked ziti, so they had real pasta, and I had the squash.
It breaks up the plain roasted meats and chicken...
These mini potatoes are awesome for feeding the rest of the family.
Easy as pie to roast with the chicken or roast beef, and the hubs and kids
have their starch, at very little extra effort. 
Keep counting your carbs and you will be rewarded by your scale!

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Friday, January 11, 2019

Creating French Miniatures

 Creating my own miniature pieces for the dollhouse is exciting.  
There is a big learning curve, as miniature making is fiddly work, 
and requires patience and precision. 
 Behold the French Dressing Screen! 
 Sitting at my desk, I created this screen out of paper and paint, with the 
exception of the legs, which are made from dollhouse staircase balusters.
Bristol Paper, which is heavy card stock, is cut according to a pattern
found in my favorite book on miniatures:  The Big Book of a Miniature House, by
French author and miniaturist Christine Lea Frisoni.  She also writes a blog,
which is linked on my blogroll on my right hand sidebar. If 
you are reading this on a mobile phone vs a laptop or desktop,
you can scroll to bottom of blogpost and 
click on "view web version" to view the sidebar. 
 Her book has many DIY projects and this one was the one I decided to try.
 It required Bristol or heavy paper, and acetate paper for the mirrored area,
as well as a printed paper in a pretty  French vintage inspired design.
 The screen gets assembled as if a sandwich, with back solid sections 
layered over with the mirror paper. Then I glued the printed paper to the 
bottom of the mirror, to line up with the top framework of the screen.
 The book says to insert the decorative paper at the end, but I found it 
easier to glue the pink floral paper to the mirror first.
 The finishing touches are the wooden legs, 
and the ribboned bows at the top, which are made of thin paper strips.
Lea shows how to do this in the book.
Its a charming addition to my French dollhouse.
I have much work to do on the house, but finding or making pieces 
that fit my esthetic are ongoing as I complete the interior rooms. 
 Making flowers out of paper is another project in the book.
Lea (the author ) makes them from crepe paper streamers, that she paints 
in a water color way so the colors of the petals are soft and realistic.
I used a coffee filter as I did not have streamers on hand.
 The result was ok, but not as great as the flowers Lea makes....
I will be making more once I buy some streamers. 
One other neat thing I discovered was three dimensional paint!
I used gold 3D paint to add some details to my pastry table and
I loved the result.  These little projects will add nice personal touches to 
the house.  I have a special Vintage piece of furniture coming....
excited to share when it arrives!

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Sunday, January 6, 2019

Basic Easy Lo Carb Meals and Rules for Results

So much conversation about my last post on my lo Carb diet! 
I thank all who left me notes and wanted to hear more on what I have 
been doing.  It seems a lot of us are in the same boat, and that gives me comfort
to think we are, and that maybe I can help you drop some weight.

Let me start by saying I have lost another 1.5 pounds since I last posted
and it just makes me thrilled that it is finally coming off!
The basics of what I do are trying to stay around 20 net grams of carbs a day 
for the first two or three weeks.  After that you can add a few more, but if you
want quick results, stay at 20 carbs and then add more when you are in the mood
to eat something generally forbidden.  I lost the first nine pounds during Christmas holiday.
I had a small cannoli and some tiramisu but the next day I went right back to 20 grams.
That is the point. 

 If you go off with a cheat item, don't use it as an excuse to go off 
even further.  Get right back on track and you will be fine if this is a very occasional thing.
My meals go as follows:

  • One or two eggs. fried, scrambled, poached, hardboiled or omelet.
  • Omelets are a great way to keep it interesting.
  • You can add cheese or a bit of onion and green vegetable. 
  • Top with a teaspoon full of fresh salsa found at the grocery store.
  • Salsa adds a lot of flavor and keeps it interesting.
  • Sometimes I have a slice of bacon, but not daily.
  • Coffee with half and half or light cream.  No SUGAR.
  • Fruit can be a morning snack if it is strawberry, blueberry or melon,
  • Add it to a half cup of cottage cheese if you don't like eggs.

Read your carb counting guide 
(find one online or get the Atkins Carb Tracker App 
on your phone.)
  • Salads with various toppings are great lunch options. You can add various meats and vegetables that are low carb to the salad. Use last nights leftover vegetables and meats in your salad.
  • Oscar Meyer Family Size packages of Roast Turkey or Ham make lunch meals quick and easy.
  • Home roasted meat and chicken are zero carbs, so roast a chicken or turkey if you can.
  • Dressings must be under 2 grams per Tablespoon.
  • My Pita sandwiches are the Josephs brand, which are Net 4 grams of carbs.  
  • Egg salad, Chicken salad, Tuna salad are also rotated into my lunch time meals and are served on a salad or in a pita pocket. Mayonnaise has zero carbs.  

 Learn to read Carb labels.  Everything has what you need to know except produce and meats at the supermarket.  The total carb per serving of turkey is 2 grams.  That is what you add to your daily total when tallying carbs.
On the Josephs Pita pockets it shows one serving is 1 pita.
The pita has 7 grams of carbs, but it also has 3 grams of Fiber.
You subtract the fiber from the carbs to get your Carb total, which would be 4 carbs.
Always subtract fiber from carbs to get the NET CARBS,
 which is what you want to be adding up.  
WRITE IT DOWN.  I keep it in my phone under notes, when I first begin my
low carb diet so I can retrain myself to not overeat my allotment of 20 carbs.
I had gotten in the habit of popping things in my mouth around the house.
NO NO NO!! It will be an adjustment but its fun to KNOW the scale
will be rewarding you in just a few days right away if you do this properly.
 Salads are going to become a part of your meals.  Always have some lettuce in the fridge,
and Romaine is best.  Caesar Cardini's dressing is the BEST tasting MOST delicious dressing!
I serve a big casear salad twice a week and shaved fresh chunks of parmesan cheese with fresh ground cracked pepper and this delicious dressing!! 
I add a bit of flavor to a green salad by adding a bit of green onion and some sliced strawberry with
a low carb dressing. Usually Ranch, Blue Cheese and Caesar are the low carb dressings. But some brands add sugar and that raises the carb count.  Read your labels.  
Make your own dressing too, using red wine vinegar, olive or avocado oil with a bit of mustard and garlic powder. Yum, and its almost 0 carbs.
Once you start reading labels, you will see how easy it is to count your carbs.


 I make a meat or chicken or fish (that is not in a sauce), 
and then I make some starch like potato, rice or pasta for everyone else but me. 
 Accompany the main meat with one green vegetable, and a salad and and you are good to go!  
I eat everything but the starch item. If I am not really hungry I don't make a salad.
 I just eat my meat and vegetables. 
If you so have leftover salad it can be tomorrow's lunch.  
When I shop I always buy two large things of green vegetables, lettuces, and my diet faves:
Josephs Pitas, Eggs, Cardinis dressing, Lunch meats from Oscar Meyer.
I recommend FORGET ABOUT BAKING low carb treats as well
as not keeping sweets in the house if you have no willpower. 
It is best to not try to be eating bread and sweets, instead of 
doing what you have always done and figuring out a way to keep doing 
those bad habits of eating foods that aren't very good for you.
At least in the beginning. 
 Its hard to eat a cookie if there are none, right?

When I decide to go on this diet, I give myself a pep talk.
I want to lose weight, and I know I can do it, if I follow the rules.
Your reward comes when you step on the scale and there is NOTHING
better than seeing the numbers go down.  It is very satisfying.
If the scale doesn't go down, or even goes up, don't worry.
It WILL go down, and I hate those days when it doesn't drop,
trust me, but it keeps you on your best  behavior knowing you have to weigh in.
Soon your clothes will fit better and be a little loose.
Those fat pants will no longer be your go to choice!
Make a commitment to yourself, and you will be rewarded.
Start now, and the springtime will have you wearing the clothes you like,
Not covering up with untucked shirts and yoga pants.
Write down your daily weight in your app on Atkins Carb Tracker
or your food journal notebook.  It is so much fun to see the numbers drop
after all the dedicated carb counting you have done.

The first week is hard, and then it gets easier.  For those of you who eat
a lot of sugar, it will be harder, as the cravings will be stronger,
but it will eventually subside, and you will feel great!

And lastly, the white wine thing that I talked about on the last post
seemed to resonate with many of you as well.
I miss the taste of my Savignon Blanc, but I have adjusted and now
haven't had white wine in 6 weeks.  Today when I stepped on the 
scale I lost another 1.5 pounds.  
Last night's dinner was a delicious strip steak with green beans on the side.
The guys had mashed potatoes, but I did not, of course!
Buy a better cut of steak if you are feeling a little deprived.

Shrimp cocktail with just a dab of cocktail sauce.
Cheese and Pepperoni, yes please!
Deviled Eggs
Keep snacks on hand that are low carb, like macadamia nuts, pepperoni,
green veggies for dipping in ranch sauce, celery stick with spreadable
low carb cheese or natural peanut butter. 
Read labels to see if it works for you.

Alcohol will slow the weight loss, but if you want a drink, just keep it 
to the zero carb variety and you will lose.  Diet Coke with Rum,
Silver Tequila with Fresca, or Vodka with flavored seltzer.
Your choice.  Life should still be fun, and when you drop a few
pounds its even better!!

Take a daily multi vitamin, as many will get leg cramps, and this vitamin
will prevent this from occurring.  Also drink plenty of water.
It will keep the hunger at bay and is a good thing when you cut your carbs.
I always have a glass of water with me in the house, and a bottle outside.

Hope everyone has success on this journey with me. Remember I am 
just telling you what works for me. If you have questions, speak to your
doctor before you start a low carb weight plan.

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