Deutschland Goodies (Part I)

Yes, I’ve been an absolutely terrible blog writer. I was hoping 2016 would give me a break after enduring the various fiascos that peppered 2015. But apparently, that wasn’t in the cards at all. Work was demanding more of my time, which meant whatever free time I had, I really had to choose between spending quality time with BK, family and friends.

In short, adulting just freaking sucks. Granted, being an adult has its perks. But man, what does it take to win the lotto so we can do what really makes happy right?

Anyhoo, I refuse to stay in the ranting/venting/gnashing of teeth. This is a miniature blog, and I know you (my dear reader), want to peruse the goodies. And in the case of the title, I DO want to share my victorious finds in the most unlikely of places.

While I love dabbling with modern miniatures, around October 2015 I started to look into the more vintage mid-century miniatures. I started checking out the site Dolls’ Houses Past & Present to get an idea of what was in the market during the 1950s-70s. I had heard of companies like Bodo Hennig (which I recalled took alot of begging to my parents to purchase a metal cook stove for my first house. I still have that stove under lock and key). But soon, I found that there were manufacturers like Crailsheimer, Qualitats, and Modella that produced mid-century style dollhouse furniture.

Curious as hell, I started doing random online searches. And lucky me, BK took German in high school and college, so he gave me some terms to use like “puppenhaus” or what I found out later, “puppenstube”.  And yes, I will confess, I used Google translate ALOT.

Eventually, I found (and after much negotiation with BK) and bought a couple of miniatures from eBay. And after almost three weeks of waiting…the package arrived. And holy crap, was it a huge box!

Uh, this was unexpected...

Uh, this was unexpected…

Apparently it required BK and our local postal delivery dude (thanks Mr. B!) to bring it inside the house. The freaking box was almost up to my neck when I saw it after coming home from the office.

Later that night, BK helped me open the top of the box….and quickly stepped back as I almost pounced inside to start pulling out contents. All of these items I got from the same seller, and the descriptions did warn me that the packages were gonna be in poor/crappy condition. But hey, that’s a fair trade so long as the contents inside are in great condition.

First item!

First item!

The first item – yeah, the seller wasn’t kidding about the package. I think the box was being held together by a single rubber band (and probably a bunch of prayers).

However, once I removed the band and lifted the lid, I gave the first (of many) happy squeals.

Woot! Crappy condition of box + awesome contents inside = totally worth it.

Woot! Crappy condition of box + awesome contents inside = totally worth it.

The first box (by Modella) contained what the listing described as a “sitting room set” – a credenza with sliding doors, a pair of side tables, a coffee table, a sideboard with a yellow “glass” sliding upper cabinet, and four arm chairs.

GermanGoodies-04

The pieces I was most concerned about were the armchairs. Given that all the pieces in the set are made of plastic, I was worried if the chair frames had snapped during shipment. To my relief, each one was perfectly intact. Sadly, the “seating” components were long since gone or intentionally removed. But I guess this just means I have to work on putting new cushions and fabric right? 🙂

GermanGoodies-05

Because the box contents weren’t exactly in place, I seriously got surprised to find accessories hidden under the tables when I pulled them out of the box. The radio and alarm clock were in perfect (albeit dusty) condition. BK and I however got a good giggle when we saw the rotary phone….and mused how we probably would be clueless on how to use them.

GermanGoodies-06

The storage pieces of the living room set. And yeap, that’s ARC III in the back!

The final two pieces (the credenza and the sideboard/upper cabinet set) are gorgeous. Despite being dusty inside and out, everything was intact and working. The handles were a little loose, but hopefully a pair of tweezers and some glue might help reinforce things.

Oh man…one set down, two more to unopen. Stay tuned for Part II – I need to go back to the big box o’ mystery goodies and pull out the next vintage miniature goodie from Germany!

Sunday Lazing

With the ARC II completed, figured something quick and different might be in order for my Sunday. Especially since today, I have some things I need to complete for work. 😦

Given that it’s the height of summer….perhaps something of the outdoor kind is in order. So I decided to turn something that I haven’t touched since my wedding day.

 Photos courtesy of Sarah Culver Photography. All Rights Reserved.

View of the entrance way at the Mount Vernon Inn. Photos courtesy of Sarah Culver Photography. All Rights Reserved.

Photo of the arbor. Photos courtesy of Sarah Culver Photography. All Rights Reserved.

Photo of the arbor. Photos courtesy of Sarah Culver Photography. All Rights Reserved.

Closer view of the vines and bunting.  Photos courtesy of Sarah Culver Photography. All Rights Reserved.

Closer view of the vines and bunting.
Photos courtesy of Sarah Culver Photography. All Rights Reserved.

Another view of the bunting.  Photos courtesy of Sarah Culver Photography. All Rights Reserved.

Another view of the bunting.
Photos courtesy of Sarah Culver Photography. All Rights Reserved.

When BK and I got married in 2011, we wanted to get married at the Mount Vernon Inn just outside George Washington’s famous estate (we are both history nerds…and 18th century history are one of the eras we can agree upon). Because of the location…and the fact we came from huge families….and that we were paying the bulk of the wedding ourselves….we had to be creative in terms of stretching our funds. Of course, that meant doing alot of smart purchases and DIY’ing as much as possible. Including the decorations.

The arbor was actually a kit I found on eBay years ago…and which I had almost forgotten I had until I was scouring my bins looking for glue (was in the middle of another wedding DIY project). When I saw the kit, I knew immediately where I wanted to display this. At this point, my DIY funds was getting low, so I really had to make do with what I had on hand. I couldn’t even drive to Michaels to get a tube of acrylic paint or a glue stick.

But in the end, I made a white arbor with oak planking, while autumn vines wrapped around the posts (since we were getting married in October). The bride and groom figures I actually got as a wedding topper kit someone was selling at the OffBeat Bride forum (I got the topper kit in exchange for some invitation supplies I had that I didn’t need anymore). If you know someone who’s getting married, definitely recommend this site for inspiration — saw AMAZING and creative ideas that brides and their SOs made for their day.

I thought the finished product looked okay, but photographer extraordinaire Sarah Culver (and her husband Zeb) of Sarah Culver photography made the arbor look beautiful. Heck, it’s been almost three years now, and the wedding photos Sarah took still make me cry. So Sarah, in case you see this, please know that you’re one of the few people on the planet who can make me cry on the spot. All you have to do is put one of your photos in front me and watch the waterworks. 🙂

But I guess that’s enough of living the past. Onto the present, my fellow readers!

It took some finagling (aka, removing the vines), some regluing (a few side posts fell off), and alot of patience (aka, dusting the crap out of whole arbor). But after digging around my bins o’ crap, and waking up BK’s & my 1:12 scale counterparts…..the arbor now has a new purpose. What used to mark our wedding….now has become a favorite outdoor spot for the now married couple. 🙂

The Arbor Revamped.

The Arbor Revamped.

Another view.

Another view.

I was going to take the pics in my dining room/crafting station. But with the sun out and the humidity still reasonable (the Washington DC metro area is ATROCIOUS for its summer humidity. Thanks founding fathers for choosing a former swamp to become our nation’s capital!) – figured I’d better take the whole setting and take the pics right on our patio.

Close up of the "worn" patio chairs.

Close up of the “worn” patio chairs.

The vines (used both the insta-fern and small leaves kind) were an impulse purchase from Kitz Miniatures (this is a must to-go place for most miniature supplies). Most of the plants were things I bought on clearance from miniature shops, or via eBay. The worn out patio table was purchased from a nearby miniature shop. The patio chairs were actually part of a unfinished patio set I got from one of Manor House Miniatures‘ weekly sales deals. I really only wanted the chairs, so the table that came with it got stored away for a future use.

For the chairs, I sanded them first to remove any rough spots before painting them with red craft acrylic paint. Sanded it again to smooth it out, then repainted another layer. Once that dried, I took sandpaper and cheap nail file and started scuffing it to make it look like it was all worn out from years of use. Then the while thing was sealed using my now favorite wood sealer.

The chairs prepped and painted.

The chairs prepped and painted. You can see the one of the left I started the scuffing process….

I ended up resealing the whole arbor with more of the beeswax polish…just to protect for years to come. Then I got started on decorating it.

Right side view.

Right side view.

Left side view.

Left side view.

On the photo above, I used an empty planter from Manor house miniatures and filled it with extra leaves from the vines I used. The flowers were actually these tiny paper flowers from MulberryCrafts (an eBay seller).

Once the decorating was done, I had to rouse BK and my 1:12 scale counterparts to model the new arbor for me. They were a little cranky getting waken up early on a Sunday morning. But they agreed after I promised to get them some mocha lattes and croissants at the local coffee shop down the street…

Daphne & Bryan enjoying their new outdoor space.

Daphne & Bryan enjoying their new outdoor space.

Garden-00375If you noticed, I still kept the bunting from the wedding decorations. I wanted to keep that there so BK and I will always remember that special day three years ago….

Garden-00379Garden-00380

Garden-00381

Guess they decided to switch seats....

Guess they decided to switch seats….

Thanks for checking this out! Maybe if I get the coffees quickly enough in all of us, I will try to post an update on another miniature item from my wedding day…

Want a hint? I actually wrote about this in July 2011….

Cardbox-1

Apologies (Yet Again) and Some Updates

…am really sorry folks for yet another late post. I did promise to be better at writing my chronicles. But the last couple of weeks have been pretty taxing here in the real world. For starters, two weeks after I completed the Prototype Kit, my work world was turned upside down when a close coworker in my department suddenly passed away. It was devastating for all of us who worked with her — we all basically interacted with her that day.  But I think it was even worse for my bosses, who were with her when she had the heart attack, and watched her be taken away to the hospital. Only to find out the next morning that she sadly didn’t pull through.

I was working remotely on the day the news broke out.  Another coworker called my cell and tearfully told me the news.  Oddly, I don’t remember much of that day — think most of the time I just did what I could at home.  But it wasn’t until I returned to the office the following day, and seeing her cube did it finally hit me.  And it pretty much was a struggle after that until the day of the funeral.

Not gonna lie – it’s still difficult coming to work. I always have to walk past her cube to get to mine, and while her station has been recently cleared and prepped for a temp, think many of us are still expecting her to come in from perhaps her recent trip to Jamaica or North Carolina.  And probably raising a fuss as to why her stuff got moved around. Heck, there are times I sit at my desk and expect to smell the cinnamon tea she always brews for her breakfast and afternoon snack. So yes, it will pass…but right now, guess it’s one step at a time.

I know most folks will say that it will take time. But it’s funny how odd that sounds when you’re in a position of needing to grieve while needing to move on. Especially at work. And while the organization as a whole have been kind in holding back projects while my department gets back on its feet, it’s obvious that we need to keep going.

So again, thank you everyone who have been patient and provided support in the last couple of weeks. Most of you tend to roll your eyes and say it’s nothing. But seriously, thank you for everything.

In terms of minis, I did managed (and often forced) to do some work .  After the prototype, I wanted to try my hand at kitbashing the Primrose dollhouse kit. But with what happened at work, I knew I wouldn’t be in the right state of mind to tackle such a task. So to help me pass the time, I shuttled between just prepping the pieces for the kitbash, decorating some of my existing houses/displays, and purchasing some new items (sssh, don’t tell BK).  I’ll get the posts about them soon.

Again, thanks again, and (hopefully)….I am back.

Oh Dear God, My Wallet is Screaming at Me…

Found this very tasty discovery from StudioSeven’s blog Mini*Aesthetics. I will confess that I am sorely tempted to risk upsetting my husband. Granted, he’s been very encouraging in terms of my hobby/crazy obsession. But like any human, he has his limits.But seriously, this is tempting!

Apparently Chiasso.com is selling the Dylan House from Brinca Dada. And am willing to bet specific body parts, many a modern mini fan probably has a house (or more) from Brinca Dada in their ultimate wish list.  Granted, their houses are more of the 1:16 scale and “supposedly” designed for kids. But many fans know the idea of letting little fingers playing with these beauties is almost to the point of sacrilege. Let’s face — it’s too pretty.

Usually these houses can go in the hundreds depending on the vendor. But Chiasso is offering the Dylan house for the lovely price of — $98. Can we say score? Why, yes, yes we can.  Downside though — there’s only two left in stock.

Emotionally and mentally, I want this. I want it so bad that I have my wallet in front of my keyboard, and my credit card peeking out of it oh so slightly. As if tempting me to whip out its plasticky power and claim this house as my own. On the flip side, my brain’s threatening me with more than bodily harm if I go through with it. And the fact I’m gonna be feeling guilty because I will have to tell BK about why there’s a package at our apartment door.

Telling you — I need to win the lottery. 😦

Some House-Keeping, and Updates

Now that the madness known as the wedding have settled (and don’t get me started on the whole last name changing thing – that’s alone is a saga not worth talking about), it felt awesome to clear my workroom (aka the dining room) of all the DIY wedding stuff.  While I was thinking of selling the items on Craigslist or various classified sites for brides, I ended actually donating the stuff to a friend who was helping another friend’s wedding. So hopefully the stuff I have will be of use!

Rambling aside, figured I can now start putting out a list of things that I had WANTED to have completed before this year is over:

1. Build the A Frame House kit. Have gotten emails from folks curious about this kit, and I definitely need to chronicle its construction process.

2. Attempt to complete in the HBS’s 18th Annual Creatin’ Contest. Each year, miniatures.com holds a year-long contest where people customize a specific kit in their inventory. Photos are submitted by the end of the year, and the winner receives a $1000 gift certificate to their store. I dunno about you, but I can seriously can think of a TON of stuff to buy with that amount!

BK knew I was going back and forth on participating since all my free time was devoted to the wedding. Imagine my surprise when he decided to get me the contest kit as a birthday gift.  But with today being early November…as much as I want to meet the contest deadline of December 16th, I don’t think I’ll make it in time.  Will see though.

3. Build the Newport Cape by Duracraft. I’ve loved this kit for a long time, and managed to score one via Ebay late last year. My dolls are in dire need of a home, and frankly, I do owe them a place to stay rather than the rubbermaid bin in the closet. 😛

4. Testing a Prototype 1:12th Scale Kit. This is the one I feel the most awful about. In one of the forums I participated in, a fellow miniaturist (whom I will refer to as “Monsieur M”) asked me to test. He built this kit using the same technique used in real life houses (creating a wooden frame then applying a miniature “dry wall” so to speak). His request? For me to build it and chronicle the stages.

Easy as pie right? Except he asked me this awhile back. Like in 2009.  God, I feel like a dingbat.

Hopefully, Monsieur M is reading this, and will forgive me for putting this off. Because as of this date, I am putting this as the PRIORITY PROJECT OF 2011.

There, I’ve said it.  Now if you excuse me, I got my workshop to reopen and jump start into operation.

At Last, It’s Here

One chapter ends….and another begins.

Don’t get me wrong folks…I’m very happy that I married the man of my dreams. Crotchety bastard and all.  Granted, some things that were planned and practiced didn’t exactly work out. But honestly, it all didn’t matter. Folks were right in telling BK and I that at the end of the day…..you will be going to bed with the person you want to spend the rest of your life with.

Yeah, yeah, I know this isn’t a mini related blog….but I do want to express my appreciation to everyone who have followed the blog and didn’t rib me much for the lack of posts for several months.  Was definitely tempting to just shove all the wedding DIY stuff off my work table and just work on the projects I wanted to do. But with the exception of the cardbox  and (literally a few days before the wedding), this wedding centerpiece…it was pretty nice to show to our families and guests a little of my obsession.

Now, with the wedding done and over with….happy to say that I am back (albeit slowly).

Yeah I Know It’s Been Awhile…

...not sure how most folks can do it. You know, juggle life and keep their blog posts up and running.

I will admit I am terrible with my blog. Will have moments where I’m furiously writing one entry after another. Then will have moments where real life simply gets in the way.

Since the last entry, things have just been plain nutty. If it’s not work kicking my ass, it’s the wedding planning and the apparently that erupts when the words “wedding” and “marriage” got dropped. And rather than DIYing my next mini project, all my energies are being put towards projects to said wedding.

Funny thing is, it didn’t occur to me how the more I worked into those projects, the unhappy I got. Was I unhappy? Was this going over my head?

Luckily, no — it was more of I never gave time to myself to do things I genuinely enjoyed.  Like reading a book. Or watching Scrubs. Or just being to cuddle next to my future husband BK on a Saturday morning and sleep in.

Not sure how it happened, but let’s say BK and my dolls decided to intervene. By having me make this cardbox out of a dollhouse roombox.

It was actually BK’s idea. He knew we needed a cardbox for the wedding. But seeing how stressed I was over the invites, he calmly suggested that I make it using a dollhouse roombox.  Funny how a simple idea like this actually lighten my mood considerably.

Started with getting the Seaview Roombox from a miniature shop in Canada called Victoria Miniland. It was a bit pricey (forget how shipping from Canada can be $$$ too!), but I definitely like it. It’s pretty straightforward assembling it, and I love how the front attaches to the main box by magnets embedded in the panel. So I don’t have to pull out the drill to make hinges. Though I might need to install latches to keep this secure.

While the overall roombox was easy, I was not crazy with the original door and window that came with it. For one, it was difficult as hell to paint its trim if you’re painting the rest of the box with a different color. Plus…I wanted the roombox to mimic the historical townhomes in Old Town Alexandria (where BK and I live). So ended up tearing out the door and windows, and installing a layer of foamcore to reinforce the front panel. That way, I can not only install a new door and window, but give a stable base to install siding (using cardboard upholstery strips).  The interior was pretty straightforward being a single room. But to help cut down costs (I was putting every single penny I saved towards the wedding), had to resort to using what I had available. That was probably a good thing — not only did I find what I needed, but discovered crap I bought months ago and had completely forgotten! 😛

Am pretty happy with the finished product (and apparently so did BK and my family). The hysterical part? Now my cousins are lining up asking if they can either borrow the cardbox or make one for them when it’s their time to get married. While that’s flattering and all…I’ll be too busy going back to my hobby thank you very much. Didn’t realize how much I miss doing this!