Friday, February 22, 2019

Reeve's Cottage Dollhouse

 Dollhouse Number 2!  
This is going to be for my granddaughter Reeve, who is
not exactly dollhouse ready, but I had no choice.  You see, I got a call from an old
friend who was in the antiques picking and selling business.  I met her when I had my shop,
she would come to get some paint for some of the vintage furniture, and we always loved
chatting.  Well she knew my latest obsession is dollhouse stuff, and she ran across a
big pile of dollhouse 6 house kits and boxes of furniture and building materials.
 Did I want it, my friend asked? 
If the price was right...and boy was it ever! 
 This is the kit I decided to build for Reeve. A cute little gingerbread cottage with hearts 
on the shutters and rounded doors and windows.  I personally LOVE rounded doors.
Some of the things included this cute coo-koo clock and a crib with Cinderella on it...
all perfect for Reeves tiny dollhouse.
 Although I have never built a dollhouse, I jumped right in.  
As soon as I opened the box
I got nervous. OMG look at this pile of wood and all those shingles. 
 But I just followed the instructions and started snapping out the parts and pieces.
Often one must cut with an exacto knife or box cutter along the precut lines so the wood does
not splinter.  Then lightly sand the edges to make it smooth without splinters.
 This is all one needs to build a dollhouse kit.  Exacto knife and/or box cutter, pencil, screw driver to help poke out the smaller pieces through the wood, ruler, masking or painters tape and a cutting board or a cutting matt, like I have above.  The yellow miter box is optional and I only used it to cut a few pieces I could have cut otherwise with the exacto knife, but it was easier.
 By the way, look at the stuff that came with the 6 dollhouse....all these things!
I personally do NOT like the look of people in a dollhouse, but I knew that for a little girl,
that is essential to the play of the dollhouse.  There was a village of people haha.
 After two days I got the house mostly assembled and was working on painting most of it white
so that it would be a blank slate for Reeve to do with whatever she wants when she is older.
Also, a lot of the furniture came in red check and yellow and lots of bright colors, so I think a white
interior is the way to go for now.
 Yesterday I set it down on an ottoman in the living room so she could have a crack at it.
The roof still needs to be put on permanently and lots of other things done.
But she ran right over to it.
 She played for a good FIVE MINUTES. Lol. 
Then threw some of the furniture on the ground and walked away.
 Today I have begun adding the shutters with the Swedish blue paint and white hearts.
It is so darling. I will add some flowers to the window boxes too.
The masking tape (or painters tape) comes in handy for helping things stay in place while the glue dries.  In the meantime, I am still losing weight on my diet, today marks 18 pounds lighter since Thanksgiving!  That is just totally amazing, and it has not been all that hard.  The hardest part was deciding to do it, and not giving up.  And I do cheat, I am human after all.  But try not to cheat for the first two or three weeks.  Now I can have a grilled cheese sandwich, or a slice of pizza and then the next day I just go back to low carb rules.  Hope you can get in the mindset and "just do it" if you have been thinking about it, or your weight has been making you unhappy with yourself, like it was for me.  I will return with the finished dollhouse soon, I hope!
Read more »

Sunday, February 17, 2019

A miniature French harpsichord for my birthday

A miniature French harpsichord made from following plans in a miniature furniture making plan book, was how I spent my big 6-0 birthday.  That wasn't the original plan, but then hubs and I got sick with some kind of strange bug and my birthday plans were dashed.  It felt kind of odd not to have anything fun or exciting or special to do that day I woke up, so I decided, sick or not, I would make it memorable and do something I truly enjoy~so I looked through a book of plans and decided to make this elegant looking harpsichord for my dollhouse.  
 The plans are in a book called the Mott's Miniature Furniture Workshop,
and it has black and white schematic drawings of all kinds of furniture to make.
 The Mott's were a family that built miniatures in California, and they were the first people ever to have a miniature shop.  They put all their miniatures in a museum in the Knotts Berry Farm and it was there from 1958 until the 1990s.  Sadly they had to pull out, and all their miniatures were eventually sold off at a Beverly Hills auction. I myself went to Knotts Berry Farm in the late 60s as a child but have no recollection of going into the miniature museum there.  
 Anyway, this book has difficult and easy projects to build, 
and the author said this was not a difficult one, and because it was French,
 I decided to make it.  The other thing I liked was that it included the art work
 inside the book that is used for doing the decoupage on the tiny harpsichord 
to look like it is handpainted. It was a bit trying, but not terribly hard,
made from two pieces of wood and the rest mostly cardboard, and store bought legs.
I didn't follow it exactly, and some of the details I left out, thinking it was good enough.
After painting it with Annie Sloan Olive Chalk Paint, I pasted the appliqués on the piece.
After it dried, I applied some French gilding wax 
in Venetian Gold to the piece to jazz it up. 
 As with a real house, anytime you get a new piece of furniture you must make room for it.
So I did some rearranging but am not sure this is going to stay like it is now.  
 My pretty balloon shaped Porters chair used to sit by the window,  
and it looked quite nice there.  But since the harpsichord had no place to go,
 the chair got moved upstairs to the informal living room.  
The downstairs living room is the formal room, where 
visitors to the Maison are entertained.  
The upstairs living room is just for the family, just like they do in the White House, 
and I suppose all the palaces and fancy chateaus in France.
This informal living room is taking some time to get itself together.
Mostly because it is turning into a room with castoffs and bargains,
much like one could possibly have in real life.  These neat little vintage pieces
of miniature furniture have been finding me by way of antique shops and thrift
shops, and I can't pass them up.  For example the drop down desk.  It is 
a very nice dignified piece, as is the corner bookcase.  Still in a dark wood finish,
I have yet to decide if they will remain or get switched out when something better comes along.
 My sister Ellen has been finding lots of vintage miniatures at vintage shops for me!  
Its been unbelievable how lucky she has been running across such treasures.
Look at these handcrafted electrified chandeliers at $5 each!
 And then she found a bunch more for me....
and that is great because I am about to start making another dollhouse for baby Reeve.  
Reeve's dollhouse will be  a Marthas Vineyard gingerbread cottage that has furniture painted as if Peter Hunt, the Cape Cod artist, painted it all himself!
She loves my dollhouse, so its time for her to have her own sturdy little cottage
where her little hands can get busy rearranging the tiny things to her hearts content.
In the meantime I am making miniatures and making way for the recent
vintage finds in my Maison.  As usual, I find myself way 
more interested in the decorating part than the wood trim, flooring 
and all that carpentry stuff, that I still must do.
It will get done, but until then I will keep decorating of course.
And as far as my big 60th birthday goes, my kids had taken me and hubs
out to a lovely place, Eastern Standard in Boston the weekend before as we had planned to be away.
I am so thankful for that night, it was very special. 
Between that wonderful experience and crafting the 
harpsichord, I will remember turning 60 for sure!

Read more »

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Low Carb Dieting Pays Off

 After two months of following a carb restricted diet, I have practically reached
goals!  My total weight loss now is 15 pounds and it is now evident in my appearance and 
the clothing I wear. I went for a mammogram and before I put on my smock,
I noticed, hey I am looking pretty good now!  So I snapped a pic and will show 
you a few uncomplimentary photos of how I looked in recent months.

 This is a cropped photo showing me at Nora Murphy's book signing party.  
That is a full figured Amy, 15 pounds heavier than the first photo.
This photo which I particularly dislike was taken when I visited
my mom and dad in September.  I remember being pretty shocked at
how "big" I looked.  Photos don't lie, and maybe they can help us get motivated
enough to do something about it.  Finally after Thanksgiving day, I decided to do "something about it". I had always had luck with cutting carbohydrates, and for me it didn't seem to be as effective as 
it was when I was in my 40s and early 50s.  I realized I was overlooking some carbs, in the form of 
white wine, and after swearing the wine off, I started seeing results!
(I posted this in Instagram, which you can follow at amymaisondecor)
 Day after day of following my dietary rules, I am hoping I can offer inspiration 
to those of you who may have felt like I did when the pounds started to creep up.
 This photo above was taken this past week, after waking up and hopping on the scale.
No makeup, still in pjs, and I was feeling proud of myself for sticking with it.
There is nothing better than seeing the numbers continue to drop.  
I started at 156 pounds and now weigh 141 pounds.
 I have a few left to go, and know that by staying on course it will happen.
 There are times when you just want to eat something with carbs, and when 
that happens, go ahead, but get right back on the diet the next day.

I miss bread the most!
I found a brand of Scali bread, Fantini, at my grocery store
that has 10 carbs a slice.  Scali is a thin sliced Italian bread with seeds on it, shaped
in a long oval.  I cut it in half and then my carb allotment is only 5 carbs.  
Note first that the serving size is 2 slices.  And there is 1g of fiber, so it
is 19 carbs for 2 slices. Less than 10g carbs for one slice. In the loaf, there are 
little slices at the ends, so have one of those, or cut the big center slices in half
to enjoy only 5 carbs for a piece of bread or toast. 
My point is to say, figure a way to have what you want at times you "need" it.
I have a poached egg on a small piece of scali bread for breakfast and I enjoy it so much.
 Earlier I posted about a great spaghetti sauce, called RAOS homemade sauce.
Since then I have discovered another awesome red sauce, with 5 "net" carbs and
it is absolutely delicious.  This sauce was found at always I am busing 
reading labels to see if I can eat it and stay on track.
Love that it is organic too!  To calculate "net carbs" you simply look at the 
carbs per serving, which is 7g, then subtract the dietary fiber, which is 2g,
which means you are taking in 5g of carbs at a meal.  I use it with Costco's Italian meatballs
which are 5 grams for 4 meatballs, or I make a meatsauce, which is no additional carbs,
and then serve it over Spaghetti squash, or simply put it in a bowl and chow down.
Hope this encourages any of you wanting to drop a few pounds.
In the meantime, I am working on the dollhouse, 
and watching baby Reeve two days a week.  
Here she is in the kitchen washing the tiny potatoes.
Her dad just opened another restaurant in Boston and I 
sent him this snap chat of Reeve being very efficient in the kitchen.
This dinner menu was a roasted chicken and broccoli.
  This is the easiest way to include potatoes for dinner, so he 
can still have his potatoes, and  
 I just avoid them and have extra broccoli.
Dieting low carb is now just a way of life for me and its not
that hard to do.  I wish you luck and remember to just count your carbs and 
look up recipes if you want to get creative.
It has me feeling a lot happier these days, that is for sure!

Read more »