Sunday, May 27, 2012


A favorite color scheme: black with turquoise and orange.
Well, only days after my last whiny post, we got an offer on our house! I will never hear the end of it from Jerry, since I didn't want to relist and didn't think we'd ever get an offer we could live with. The offer wasn't acceptable at first, as I predicted, but the buyers love the house enough that they negotiated to a price we could live with. So, the last few weeks have been unreal. The buyers initially asked for a June 27th closing date but now they want to push it forward, so we are packing like mad and repairing all the infinite tiny flaws the inspector found. We were lucky that the inspector didn't find much wrong, mostly things we could fix ourselves, like drippy faucets and slow drains.

Then of course, there is the problem of where we will live. Since the house has been for sale on and off for three years with no offers, we had stopped looking almost entirely. The houses we liked would inevitably sell and ours would not and it was heartbreaking. I still feel a pain when I pass certain roads, remembering a house I would have loved, but which someone else now owns. I had visited and loved a neighborhood during Parade of Homes last year. This is a showcase of new neighborhoods where builders open models across the county. We went back to visit the neighborhood and found it was selling out fast, so on Mother's Day Jerry bought me the best gift ever, a new house! We signed the contract to build and should move in the fall. I asked him how he will top that gift next year and the children offered solutions: "a beach house" and "a helicopter" were among the suggestions!

The crimp in this plan, the pain for the pleasure, is that we will spend the next 4 months living upstairs in my parent's house. We are lucky they have a huge home! It will still be pretty cramped, though. I have spent the better part of the week packing the things we won't take to my parents'. I thought that after everything we had packed when the homestager came there wouldn't be anything left, but I was wrong! I just can't believe the accumulation after a decade of living here. Every corner, every nook, is full of things. Some are useful and others make me wonder what an earth we were thinking to store them at all. Many were just forgotten. It is interesting. I found a bunch of photos from our early marriage and baby pictures of our oldest child. I found my great-grandfather's literature books, either from college or high school. These are interesting enough that I sat and read for a bit before I woke up and remembered the deadline we're under. I even found a book owned by Uncle Walter Voice. The poor man married my great-great Aunt Susanne, but she died almost immediately giving birth to their daughter, Natalie. Later it was found this was due to RH factor, so it would have been prevented today. He never did move on, just hung around in the family as "Uncle Walter". He must not have had a family of his own. We remember him mostly for his mistaken christening of a wonderful salad dressing he discovered: "Merciful Whip". But to find his book, received as a gift in 1921, brings him to life for me.

I paused to take a photo of my father's antique "little library" classics:

 I use these mainly for decorating. It is useful to stack them up in order to display small objects. They were never well-made, and their miniature size makes them irresistible to children, so they have had a lot of abuse. I remember reading the little Ibsen's Ghosts as a child of 9 or so. I found it very disappointing; it isn't a ghost story at all!

Besides all the work to move from our home, we have had to plan for our new home. We already had to pick options for floors and counters, so instead of working on my dolls I have been poring over decorating magazines, haunting Pinterest, and trying to decide what sort of style I want to go with. I am really sick of pretty much everything in our current home. I wanted to re-decorate anyway. But we really aren't going to have any money, so most of the style will have to be injected now through the "bones" of the house.

I know I want a cooler palette this time. Since I wasn't able to find a waterfront home I want to bring those liquid colors in. Our lifestyle prevents a lot of white, and the builder options that were standard or not too pricey didn't offer very light tones. So we went with lots of coffee and espresso colors, as well as slate tones.

The granite is almost the same one I have now, shown with the turquoise bowl above. That's one of the few things I'm not tired of here. From afar the color, "Verde Peacock" looks like it's just black. But when you approach you see it's really a dark, dark green, like the deepest, coldest pool you can imagine. And as you walk by or wipe the counter, flashes of silver, gold, and blue flicker up at you like fish surfacing. I really enjoy that cold, gorgeous stone. It makes even the chore of cleaning the kitchen enjoyable! So we picked "green butterfly" this time. It's almost the same with less browns and golds.

The ebony cabinets are for the kitchen island. The rest of the kitchen will have the nutmeg color. The island will look like a freestanding piece of furniture. Someday I will get rid of the beige carpet. It's a necessary evil right now, as we just can't afford to upgrade to hard floors. But maybe a cool stone or gray wood will do. Hot as it is here, I think some cool colors will make me feel more at home. I plan to do a blue gray on the walls through most of the house, and I have big plans to paint a lot of our existing dark wood furniture in whites, blues, and turquoise.

We can hardly believe our good fortune when we walk through the model home, so I am hesitant to rejoice, or even tell anyone, until we move in. But you have to have faith and hope in this life, and you have to plan, so I am picking my swatches.

I will miss my hydrangeas and gardenias, shown here on my antique sewing machine in the sunroom,
which I will also miss!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The "Wineaux" pocketbook

Today's post is a bit of a departure from the doll-making I usually chronicled here. I know I have also been away from the writing desk in a while and I apologize. The past month has been difficult, and especially the last week. I am STILL sick with "the plague" as my family has named it. I am much better than at first but am still subject to long bouts of uncontrollable coughing, especially if I laugh or exercise at all. As a result of the latter all my shorts are too tight! I have been employing my "wine therapy" to help me sleep at night, since the cough is especially bad when I am lying down, but it has served mostly to expand my gut!

Then, despite having little interest for months, our house has suddenly become very popular. We are getting all kind of requests for showings, usually between 9-11 PM, asking to see the house in the morning. So the cycle goes something like this: 11PM, check email, then run around frantically cleaning up. Throw all various items, essential to daily living but deemed unacceptable to be seen by the homestager, into boxes, drawers, cupboards, etc. Next morning, leave house with children, dogs, and bird in tow and stay away for hours while it is shown. Next afternoon, frantically dig through boxes, drawers, cupboards, etc, looking for an essential item, messing house all up. 11 PM, check email to find another request and frantically start cleaning...

This past Friday Jerry and I put the children in bed, sat down and watched our show on TV. On a whim at 11 PM I checked my email and saw we had a showing request for the next morning. We stayed up until 12 AM cleaning up and carted the whole family off  to my parent's house, only to have the showing cancelled! Someone else wanted to see the house at 4 PM, so we gave the kids lunch and naps, cleaned up, and went back to my parent's. On Sunday we had an open house so we were at my parent's again. On Monday my son's infected toe was much worse and we had to take him back to the doctor, who said the toenail had to be removed that day. The appointment was in the afternoon, and it was the day to turn in class schedules for next year, so I took my son to school to do that and then to the doctor who removed the nail, 25 miles away. Tuesday was my youngest son's therapy and school day, so we were away all day for that. In the evening I got out some dolls and began work, only to check my email at 9:30 PM and find a showing request for Wednesday morning. On Wednesday (yesterday) my oldest had to be at school at 5 AM for a field trip to the beach. Jerry took him, luckily for me, because I was up until 1:30 AM doing laundry. We had been away so much we had laundry spilling from our hamper into the hallway and we couldn't close the closet door! What's really sad is that I only washed enough clothes to fit the rest into the hamper! We are glad to have so many showings, but I do wish someone would actually buy it. So far, everyone complains about the layout.

We have a large open loft at the top of our stairs. We built the house that way because in the spec homes we viewed, the builder had enclosed the loft, which made the stairs very dark. It also made it so you climbed the stairs to run slam into a wall at the top and found yourself in a dark, tiny hall. I just hated it, so we left the loft open. It is a better use of space, as well, because you don't have the wasted little hallway area. But now everyone wants these stupid "man caves" and we don't have one. Of course, if you enclosed it you WOULD have a cave, and I would abhor that, so we aren't doing it! Here is a vignette from my bedroom of the more airy style I prefer:

This is my paternal grandmother's writing desk, which she refinished with an "antiquing" kit in the 1960s. Her whole house was a wonderful blend of Danish modern and French Provincial. She made it work through the use of color. I wish I were half as good at decorating. The blue glass dishes on the desktop are the bowls my paternal grandfather kept on his dresser. He would put his keys and change and stuff in them after work, and he always kept them stocked with peppermints and Chinese firecrackers for us kids! The printing plates on the wall are ad plates used in the newspaper where my maternal grandfather worked as an advertising salesman. His dream was always to have a newspaper of his own. He wanted to set the type and design the ads and stuff himself, but it was never economically feasible with his six children, so he collected the best-designed plates from the ads he sold. Thank you to Instagram and Photoshop for making me look like a good photographer! This little area of our bedroom is one of the last vestiges of the house to escape the homestager and her fusty fake ivy and her stupid beige paint, and it is one of the few areas of the home I still like and which still feel like my home to me.

So besides being sick, sleep-deprived, and stressed out, another project has been causing me to drink a lot of wine Mother's Day present for my mom! Last year on vacation in Michigan my mom saw a pocketbook made of wine corks in a little boutique and asked me to make her one. That purse was just an unfinished wooden jewelry box covered with corks and topped with a purse handle. I don't think it was lined or anything and it was really pricey, like $80! I have been drinking wine and drinking wine and finally discovered Target sells boxes of wine corks as "vase filler". The price is astronomical, but worth it, because Jerry and I were going to have to drink like 30 more bottles of wine before Mother's Day. This is really hurting my efforts to give up wine and coffee (coffee because I am so tired and wine because I am so stressed) so I can become a Mormon! Oh well, maybe next month! Luckily the Latterday Saints will let you participate in everything but the Temple even if you still drink wine.

So anyway, corks gathered, I set out to get a wooden box. I was planning to make the exact purse we saw. But the ready-to-finish jewelry boxes at Michael's were more expensive than the larger wooden trunk I found, and they didn't have any purse handles. The nearest fabric store is a 30 minute drive from here, so I don't like to chance it unless I know they will have what I want. The trunk already had a handle and was already stained and covered in burlap, and it would hold more so I got that instead. The hard part of this project (besides finding real corks, not those plastic ones) is sawing the corks in half. My hand was really hurting after a while so Jerry took over for me. I used a serrated steak knife because I kept almost cutting my fingers when I tried to use a saw. He used a saw with no trouble.

After the cork were cut I arranged them on the box and then glued them on. I alternated plastic and real corks because there just aren't enough brands of wine with real corks anymore, and the box we saw looked cool mostly because of all the different cork designs. I also notice a proclivity for Cupcake Winery in my own wine consumption and I wanted to disguise that! The finished pocketbook has a quirky, vintage look, I think. I hope my mom remembers she wanted one, because it doesn't look a lot like the original, which was very plain and square (and which would have held nothing in real life!).

I lined the inside with this bright retro owl print cotton, which I had leftover from my owl wreath. I thought it gave it a more finished look and would protect the contents from banging into the wood. Plus, I thought the purse could use a shot of color.

So, I hope she Mom likes it. You can never tell with her. After expanding my waistline to this degree I want  her to appreciate it! I should point out that I have been collecting these corks for nearly a year, and they are cut in half, so it's not as much wine as it first appears!

Maybe someday things will settle down around here long enough for me to finish some more dolls! In the meantime, I have been procrastinating by writing this blog. I am supposed to be cooking dinner for the church elders tonight!