Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Food Glorious Food!

I couldn't blog about an Enid Blyton styled cottage without mentioning food. Her books are full of mouthwatering descriptions of food, which is always fresh from the farm and plentiful, even ordinary tinned foods are made to sound exotic and adventurous. Sardines at a midnight feast! Dick's eyes gleam when they raid Aunt Fanny's store cupboard in Five Run Away Together "Soup -tins of meat - tins of fruit - tinned milk - sardines - tinned butter - biscuits - tinned vegetables! There's everything we want here!" 
In between meals there are icecreams, lemonade, ginger beer and macaroons to be eaten on the beach or in teashops as well as bars of chocolate in back pockets with bags of sweets. Truly a child's heaven.

poke me for more detail

So with all these things in mind I knew that food would be plentiful in Hollyhock Cottage... until I began to research and learned about strict war time rationing. Before the war 70% of Britain's food was imported, mostly by shipping which immediately made it vulnerable to attack. Labour was down as men went to fight for their country and soldiers had to be fed so rationing was introduced to ensure that all would have food. This continued for years becoming stricter after the war with foods such as bread and potatoes being added to the rationed list. Publishing was down too, due to paper restrictions, yet, like the food in her stories, Enid Blyton seemed unaffected, publishing nearly 100 books during the war years. 


My main goal was to get some more building done this week, but alas, to go further I have to finish the larder which will be impossible to reach once the walls go up, so with food in mind I pulled out the Sculpey and set to. Fortunately I had made a number of items such as carrots, potatoes and honey pot a while ago plus tinned goods from some of the free printable sites found online and jars using the resin and pencil eraser method. Sorry, I didn't know to save links then. 

Even more fortunately given my limited Sculpey skills, a lot of my food won't be very visible, but I like to know it is there. 

There are always sausages in the stories, the dog usually under suspicion when they disappear, so they were a must. A meat pie and a tart were necessary too as well as the jug of creamy cold milk. As I haven't been able to source liquid Sculpey I had to improvise, so waterbased varnish mixed with paint made nice gravy and cherries were once sago, coloured with food colouring and soaked in cochineal tinted varnish. I loved the chalk artists pastels for colouring and they made the 6 Sculpey colours I have - green, translucent, white, yellow, black and red  more flexible, although my swedes have a definite peach look about them. My first 2 loaves of bread would have fed the 5000 with no problem so these were the second attempt - I have to keep scale in mind! Actually bread is a problem with me - my very first loaves using the flour/salt recipe were casualties of my 'flood' and my breadbin, made using the same method as my bucket, ran when I applied the nail varnish - obviously permanent marker isn't nail polish proof!

I have cannisters and odds and ends waiting to go onto the shelves when they are installed and think a ham hanging from a ceiling hook might be nice too...and maybe a pudding in a bowl... 

We'll see!

 In time for the feasting are my 2 new followers!

Carey at Chicory Nits who is preparing for Christmas (in pink!) both in her real house and in mini - scroll back to admire her gorgeous little Christmas house.
and Dee who I can't find a blog for yet, so please contact me Dee with a link.

Every now and then the numbers go up but no new pictures are added, so I sometimes wonder if people are following privately and would prefer not to be introduced to the rest of the gathering?  I love seeing you here and love visiting in return. It is amazing how much talent and imagination is out there!

Once again, thank you all for calling by.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Giveaway Draw

Thank you to all who entered my first giveaway. It was lovely to see old faces who have been with me from the beginning as well as newer faces and so many of my favourite people.

So with help from 2 of my sewing room dollies here we go!
All the names: folded, mixed and inspected ...

...and the winner is...

 If you can contact me with your address Janice, I will be thrilled to send the Phoenix farm set to you and I hope that you will be pleased with it.

Thank you again to all who entered. 


Welcome to my newest follower, Sandra, a fellow Australian! Sandra has 2 blogs Snippets from my studio where she is working on a gorgeous small scale village - the most recent building being a half-timbered Dickensian bookshop. She manages to build these houses and keep up with other crafts while touring Australia in a caravan. (Sandra from Sydney)

PS did anyone notice that I cleaned my desk up from several posts ago! That was worth a photo shoot in itself because it may not happen again for a while...

Friday, November 12, 2010


Sometimes when I am writing a blog post, especially about toys and dollshouses, it seems as if I went around as a child envying every other child their toys! While there would have been the occasional pang, generally it was accepted that they had that and I had this (in my case books) and I think most people my age and definitely those older would remember times when it wasn't expected that you would have everything you wanted. Maybe that is why so many of us are enjoying a second childhood and catching up :~D.

Meccano wasn't a part of my childhood, although I can remember being shown the pride and joy Meccano set of the son of friends of my parents. The Meccano was nice, but the box it came in...Wow! Drawers and compartments galore - that was something to covet - every piece arranged in it's own section. I love order even though I have trouble practising it myself.

Meccano was however part of my husband's life so naturally our sons had Meccano sets as well and it became a part of my adulthood. As I think my boy in the 40s would have had a basic Meccano set, the research started. There is so much information and nostalgia about Meccano (introduced in 1901) out there in cyberspace! I could picture hundreds of men pouring carefully over catalogues and old advertisements sharing what they had found in sites and blogs and reliving their boyhoods with enthusiasm and delight. It touched me.

 I was pleased that post war the classic red and green was correct as the colours changed periodically and even the shades of those colours varied. Slotted bolts went to hex bolts, plastic came in and models were updated with space travel and the changes in technology. Even with the company changing ownership and computer games threatening to wipe out classic toys, Meccano moved with the times!

I won't bore you with the vast amount I now know about Meccano (although I hope I can use it at a trivia night before it all slips from memory) however I will share this site which contains full editions of Meccano magazines dating back to 1916 when Meccano technology was helping with the war effort. Meccano magazine

Plus I have 2 new followers! 

Welcome to Keli at iseecerulean  Her house is alive and busy. I love the bits she shows which look so loved and lived in and am staggered at the speed with which she posts and works but still with such great results.

Also welcome to minisdecris I would love to visit you in return but your settings are showing up as private! 

 Meanwhile there are a couple of days left to enter my first giveaway for a boxed farm set as shown below this post. Leave a comment on the  giveaway post  to enter. 

I'm sorry about any confusion when I tucked the giveaway offer on the end of a post, as I think some have found it vague what the gift was. I now know that giveaways are better as a post by themselves  and (I hope) will be more expert next time! (I was a bit nervous about having a giveaway but wanted to as I really enjoy the support and camaraderie in blogland)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Phoenix kits, boy's toys and a giveaway

After all last month's work came playtime, both in the dollshouse and in real life. With the exchange rate so good for Australia at the moment, the time was right for some internet shopping...

So off to Phoenix model developments  which I had been introduced to early in my mini journey by an online friend. I love the detail in their kits and being made of metal, they have a solid charm reminiscent of vintage toys . My first Phoenix kits were easy kitchen pieces bought from this Australian seller, Eastwick Dollhouse,  (have a look at her crochet patterns and doileys as well) and I progressed to the gramophone which sat for months half painted after the cat decided it would be a nice thing to bat around while the paint was still wet. The records were a gift from my Phoenix loving friend who knew I had bought the gramophone. 

The farm came next. It is one of the things which has thrilled me most. I loved my plastic farm animals as a child and was besotted with another friend's vintage Britain's farm set as an adult. This set fills the longing at half the cost of one Britains animal. 

In Enid Blyton stories, trains are an essential for boys, preferably a big set that can spread through the house...which means extra pieces such as a station and points ... and maybe one day more track...  Meanwhile I have been happily making boxes for the sets which are becoming authentically scuffed as I get them out to play trains.

With the paintbrush still soaking I turned to the Monopoly set and the racecar caught a coat of paint in gay yellow and green, along with some charms, phoenix opera glasses, golf clubs and ball and a gorgeous little London bus. The battleship was waiting in turn until I saw a lead toy battleship from this era on ebay. Maybe it will stay metal.

Cricket is quintessentially post war English, so a cricket bat and ball was a must along with paper boats and planes. I considered a slingshot, but decided the nicer characters in Enid Blyton books wouldn't have one. 

Most necessary of all were marbles and the indescribably gorgeous glass ones from marble monkey were perfect. 

Finishing this collection was the tadpole jar from this online tutorial, miniatureprojects tadpole jar now with authentically rusty wire handle from my wetting and a billycart also authentically aged and battered. 

Hello to my new followers! It is lovely to see new faces and visit your blogs.

Kim at  my fairytale cottage is a painter and creator and refurbisher. She does it all and with lovely results. She likes antiques and thrift stores too. Don't you sometimes wish we could all get together in real life and chat and share and chat some more! 

 Irene popped over from the DHE. I have been following her 3  properties for a while now over there and can say they are truly inspirational, a point Miniaturias must have agreed with when they featured her Hambleton Hall recently.

Carolienbooms, Mandy and Annie aren't showing up with blogs, so please leave a comment so I can find you.

Gillian I discovered today while 'blog surfing. Oh my goodness, I was speechless when I saw her tiny patchwork with real patchwork fabric rather than hankies. I can't imagine how she does it and the other miniature bits she makes. Inspirational and cheerful if you can have such a mix.

My newest follower is another double blogger, cambiosentuvida to make you think and miniaturista-minis for frivolous dolls housing, except  that there is nothing frivolous about this dolls houser's minis. They are exquisitely made and perfectly scaled. 

Now for the giveaway! I had intended to have a giveaway at 100 followers, but that magic number slipped by, then 120 but oops again, so I will celebrate my 21st post and my coming of blogging age! Thank you to all those who have been following and encouraging me and if you would like to be included in the draw and are among the first 125 followers, please leave a comment on this post and I will draw a name on the 16th November.

The gift is a Phoenix farm set painted and boxed by myself, with enjoyment and enthusiasm, which will fit nicely into any nursery setting. 

 Thank you for making it to the bottom of the page!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Cleaning ...

Hip hip, Hurrah! I now have 3 full plus 2 half days on either side off!!!!

Two relief jobs coincided unplanned (why can't babies arrive when they are told?) so my month has been leaving one job to go to the other, snatching some sleep and back again. Of course there have been nice chances to do little bits of mini-ing in odd hours not long enough to do any real house work, so to ease my conscience while closing my eyes to my real life dust and cobwebs, I have been concentrating on cleaning. Anyone who reads Enid Blyton will know that her characters love cleaning. Soapy water and big sponges and polishing cloths feature highly in many stories so my little thatched cottage needed those items.

A couple of bits were made a while ago - the carpet sweeper from Jane Harrops excellent book  'Thirties and Forties: miniatures in 1:12 scale', the laundry trolley from an Australian doll magazine. The ironing board and laundry tub were bought years ago when dollshousing was still a fantasy then 'aged' when it became a reality and the Chrysnbon items (I love the soap holder!) came out to be painted along with the Dollshouse Emporium dustpan.   

  The enamel washbasin was easily made by trimming down a deodorant lid with scissors, glueing a piece of paper covered wire around the rim, then painting and the feather duster made use of the broken bits from my real life moth eaten ostrich-feather duster. The mop is from string tied to a stick and swished around in my dirty paint water and the bluebags from fabric covered dowel and a pic snagged from google images (How big is a blue bag? Does anyone know?) The Brasso label came the same way and is on a tin made from paper wrapped around a cocktail stick but my favorite items were the brooms. I spent an evening trying to insert hairs into neatly drilled holes and decided it wasn't worth the time or gluey fingers. Scratching through my wood box for something else, I noticed how bristle-like balsa is when cut with not too fine a saw and bits cut to size became the perfect broom heads!

I was pleased with the mop bucket too, which is cardboard rolled to a rough oval with small handle bits added and based with 4 thicknesses of card glued into the bottom, the wringer part being made from one of the peaks in an egg carton and set into a half oval piece of egg carton cut to fit the top. Paint the 2 separate halves, then glue and add a wire handle.
The rug beater, which started this cleaning fit, came from the September issue of 'The Dolls House Magazine'

Now that all the equipment is assembled, we will see how much fun cleaning really is!

 to my new followers. I am sorry to have ignored you for so long. 

Lauren Lau is a miniature maker and collector who also loves music, but doesn't seem to have a blog...yet. 

Antique Daisy  is one for all you shabby chic lovers ...and dollshouse lovers...and those who love tutorials and tips...everyone actually. I want a proper read of her blog but have to get over my envy at her  find of such wonderful coffee stirrers first!

Lia E Alma also appears blogless but she could be viliaminiature looking at links on other blogs?

Lisette has two blogs to visit and some gorgeous toys and other treasures to drool over.

I thought I knew who Sarah was but my detective work this time has failed me, so if you have a blog, please drop a line. I can't find a blog for Sophie Appleton or gshoney either.

Vicky is a DHE friend, constantly on the go and constantly creative. I hadn't realised she had a more personal blog (click on Vicky) but did know she has started to blog about her dollshouses - plural! Vickys houses Head over and be inspired by her Christmas room box.

Jean Tuthill is another blogger who needs 2 blogs with so much going on in her life to share! Not only does she mini, garden, quilt, cook and generally create, but she shares a chocolate shop with her daughter! How close to paradise can one be! Visit her at A Sweet Boutique as well.

Angelrib  won't google translate for me but her pictures are gorgeous. She has the sort of minis that bring delight and make you want to pick them up with exclamations of pleasure.

Another inspiring blog is at Lorraine Miniatures. I can't believe the amount of detail some people manage to get into some items and Lorraine is one of those very talented people. 

I was delighted when I opened  macrupe 's blog - it is so pretty and I love the rose cursor!She is another mini quilter and has lots of printable links to share.

Ilonka  is building a library. What a treat! She has a  blog dedicated to her cards and papercrafts to call in and see too.

Thank you all for being interested enough to follow.