My Commitment Problem

Its true, I have a commitment problem.

Not to the house, and definitely not to my husband or anything foolish like that.

I simply can’t commit to style.

There are far too many ways to decorate this house. Far too many! Especially as it seems the house is now a castle, or at least a fortress. Manor estate, maybe?

I was absolutely brooding about it. Unlike the patio, I had no idea what I was going to do.


I did realize that the layout was simply impossible. There is no where to put a bathroom. The first two floors are too large, and there’s a door on one side of the bottom floor and they both have the elevator. Huh. I could divide the second floor into a bathroom and a bedroom, but…there would then be a balcony in the bathroom. That’s just weird. Now, there might come a day when I remove that balcony. Let’s just say I’ve already planned out an addition. But that’s out there somewhere.

The third floor certainly has smaller rooms that would be more bathroom appropriate but there’s still that elevator and then the stairs to the party patio which have no doorway…and no, that’s not an appropriate bathroom location, either.

The only remaining room is the top floor next to the party patio. And that’s about as weird as the room with the balcony.

I’ve known from the beginning that I wanted to use the Popsicle stick floor technique. In every YouTube video I’ve seen, they’re just awesome. They look just like “real people” floors. But, well, too modern. Don’t get me wrong, they’d be perfect for a modern room or even a “Mid-Century Modern” room, but again, that’s not the absolute all that I want for this house.

Although at least now I think I have a plan.

I went through oodles of ideas for floors. I’ve seen scrapbook paper used, so that was a good idea, and I even thought of using bathroom mats and cutting them down for carpeting. Which I might still do. But…

I’d still have to make a decision!

What style? What color? Which room was what? Where’s the kitchen? The bathroom? The bedroom? And what color will the furniture be, then? Which wood finish?


The first thing I realized is that, since Popsicle sticks are technically still wood–cheap wood, for sure, but wood–they could be stained.

A world opened up before my eyes. ALL the styles. ALL the colors.

But I’d still have to make a decision and declare, “THIS room is the bathroom, and THIS room is the kitchen, and THIS is the style and color I’m using in the living room,” and I just don’t want too. And you can’t make me!!!

Then it came upon me, like one of those visions prophets have but, y’know, a lot more normal.

Foam board.

Foam board is cheap, even cheaper than cheap as they have it at Dollar Tree and that’s about as low as you can go. It can be easily cut with just my li’l ole X-acto knives, and measured to fit any room of the house. ALL the rooms of the house.

Three finished floors. I got better at cutting as I went along…

Its even easier because the first two floors are the same size, and the two left side floors on the third and fourth are the same size. Interchangeable floors for the win!!!

These were the three colors of stain that my beloved Hubs just happened to have leftovers laying about–rosewood, gunstock, and colonial. So far, gunstock is my favorite although the colonial (walnut, I believe) has a lovely old house feel to it. Now that I have the measurements, if I like (and you know I do!), I can very easily make as many floors in as many different looks as I like. And yes, I already have a bathmat (from Aldi no less, cheap!) ready to be sacrificed for some nice, comfy, casual living room. Probably.

I have to say, they look amazing in the house, too! I am now back on track. Not only is this a very useful idea for floors, I can easily make similar foam board, or even paper board walls. I might have to use Velcro to keep them in place, but I luckily already have quite the stock of that laying about. Given the times (lockdown and all that), I’m currently stuck with the “what I have on hand” or might be able to get at the grocery store which is about the only place we go these days. Ordering online is still possible but, well, backed up. A lot.

Now I’ve no reason to have to commit. I can have as many styles as I choose…which means this will be a long, unending hobby. I feel that’s important with hobbies. Why would you want one you could actually finish? Even after the house is “finished,” there will be more to do on the house, furniture, furnishings, and then of course there’s the dolls and the clothes and shoes and…

I will enjoy this for many, many more years to come. Commitment free.



Balcony and Cross-Crafting

I knew what I wanted to do with the balcony/party patio. I’d known before I even started the outside. Its probably the only part of this house rehab that I’d planned ahead.

I just didn’t know exactly how I was going to accomplish it.

So now I’m going to introduce you all to the world of Cross Training Crafts or Cross Crafts. Hey, its good enough for pro-athletes, its good enough for us, right?

Like most crafters, this isn’t my first rodeo. Not by a long shot. I’ve still got a lot of irons in the fire. Who doesn’t? Is there a square inch at Hobby Lobby, Michael’s, or Joann “Fabrics” that you don’t walk through, even just aimlessly browsing? I thought not.

My personal craft journey started ages and ages ago. Probably with preschool finger painting. Heh. But in closer memory, I was into Dungeons and Dragons as early as Junior High so the first full-on art I remember being interested in was painting miniatures. I was already restringing some beads around that time. Later, I combined the fine brushes of miniature painting with a friend’s wire twisting and made jewelry for sale for the first time in college. I then branched off into bead-weaving and then later into my own bead-stringing designs with gemstones. Yeah, I still have quite a few beads lying about the house, but that’s another story.

There are “posts” missing, and the top of the railing broke so I removed it. In order to add the hair pins, I need to add posts as they need to be closer.

I am hoping to make the railing look more like wrought-iron. That part ought to be easy enough; paint it black, right? Oh, and one of my favorite YouTubers, Fun and Crafts, made a railing incorporating old-school hair pins that was dead on what I’m wanting. Then I found some lovely square dowel rods, so I believe I’m all set. The railing is now in pretty bad shape; the years of storage weren’t kind to it.

Probably the only thing I knew for sure I wanted to do, before even starting to look for materials, was some sort of faux stone for the patio. On this concept, I got really lucky.

I was browsing around YouTube, not really with any purpose in mind, just letting it recommend what it would. And wouldn’t you know it, the Mighty YouTube Randomizer (which isn’t really random, I know) came up with Black Magic Craft. Now I don’t remember which of his videos came up first, but I remember being fascinated because, like both My Froggy Stuff and Fun and Crafts, he was using foam board as the basis for building most of his creations. Of course, they’re on a much smaller scale but the fundamentals are the same. And wouldn’t you know it, he did a faux stone with cardboard egg cartons. YES!!! So convenient–easily available, free, and I even happened to have a couple lying around. I set to work immediately, excited beyond belief and…

Every new craft has a learning curve, amirite?

You’ll be happy to know it didn’t stay like this. I began with the floor, which as you can easily tell isn’t all that great. By the time I got to the walls, I had gotten the technique down a little better. This was probably after the first round of dry-brushing. I just felt it needed some additional coloring to bring it all together and make it look more natural. It definitely needed something at this stage, as it looked, well, awful. So I kept going.

If you’re thinking of attempting this, let me warn you…the glue you use and the texture of the egg carton will make a difference. Not all egg cartons are as hard, thick, or whatever. I used what Black Magic Crafts suggested for glue, which was Mod Podge. It worked great, but I think my container might’ve been a bit on the older side. The torn bits of egg carton were, well, stiff and hard, and ended up being pointing and almost dangerous to touch. I watered down the Mod Podge a bit, almost soaking the cardboard in it, and that seemed to negate that at least a little. By the time I got to the walls, I was almost using the Mod Podge and cardboard as if it were Papier Mache…soaking it in a dilution of Mod Podge and water. But hey, it worked, and that was the point.
















So here’s the final effect. Minus the railings, of course, which will be next. The floor is still a bit messed up, but I’m hoping that with some furniture and so forth, it’ll hardly be noticeable. Hoping. Because there’s like 3 layers of Mod Podge on this now, so those stones are not coming back up easily!!! Honestly, it looks a lot better in person, mostly because I’m a horrible photographer. That, I’m sure, I’ll get better at as things go along…

I hope.

So, now what? The Outside

I’ve got a house. Its now been thoroughly cleaned out. The old wall paper was pulled down, the foul-smelling carpet pulled up. I could just throw a coat of white latex on it, fix the balcony railings, and call it a day.

I could also paint each room a different solid color and, again, call it a day.

But seriously, what kind of fun would that be? Not much of a challenge, either.

My goals are a wee bit loftier.

If you’ll remember my first post, or maybe just trek back there to read it, you’ll note that I had an argument with myself about whether I ought to pursue the 1/6th scale Barbie-sized house or if I ought to convert over to 1/12 or maybe even smaller. One of the major reasons for that would be the Colleen Moore Fairy Castle.

My family lived in the suburbs just outside of Chicago when I was growing up, so a trip over to the Museum of Science and Industry was a pretty frequent event. Yes, it seems a strange place to have a fairy castle; but who am I to argue? My mom and I always made a point of fitting our favorite castle into every visit.

The Great Hall of the Fairy Castle; Nothing like setting your goals high, amirite?

Its gorgeous. Its more than gorgeous; its lavish. Alright, I’d never in my wildest dreams be able to afford even 1/12 scale gem-studded furniture or gold plated…well, anything, but there’s no reason I can’t make it look like it is. Granted, that would be much, much easier in the smaller scale. I haven’t yet seen anyone attempt it in 1/6th. Maybe they have, and I haven’t seen it. Maybe there’s a reason I haven’t. I’m thinking it would be a lot of fun to try.

The Fairy Castle is most definitely a major style influence for me, I’ll admit. Also, I’m a bit of a science fiction/fantasy nerd, as well as a history freak. I love it all, from the Medieval to the Renaissance to the Victorian and everything before, after, and during.

So now I’m torn. I have one house and about fifty-thousand decor plans. WHAT DO I DO???

I’ll admit that, briefly, I was paralyzed with indecision.

First, I started looking for practical assistance. I hit YouTube where there’s tutorials on just about any subject a person could imagine. The very first one that came up was a woman creating houses out of cardboard and other recycled materials. She made it look absolutely easy and gave me ideas about the outside and railings for the house.

Seriously…cork for bricks? Hair pins for wrought iron railings? I AM SO IN!

Although the bricks didn’t work out as well as I’d hoped. I really wanted a redder brick and painting the cork failed miserably. (I would have shared pictures of this if I’d thought to blog about this process earlier. I promise to share failures from now on!) If I can think of some way to dye the cork, I might try this again at some other time.

I played with other ideas for the outside of the house. Scrapbook paper was a great idea, but I didn’t find anything I liked. Other ideas came and went, everything from making my own bricks and actually gluing them on to painting a faux stone. Most of them would have worked, and varied only really in the amount of work it would have taken me.

But then on a wander through Joann Fabrics, I scored on a roll of “background paper” in a grey brick pattern. The bricks are bigger than I would have wanted ideally but I think I like the overall look.

This is where I realize there is SO MUCH TO SAY and I’m kinda tripping on my own thoughts at this point! I’d never done much in the way of “decoupage” or working with Mod Podge in the past, so the exterior of the house isn’t…well…perfect. But I think it’ll go along with the overall theme I’m developing.

Not perfect, but it will do!

Not perfect, but it will do!

Credit where Credit is Due

Just a small addendum to my last (and first!) post, “The House that Dad Built.” (Which you can find over here…

I heard from my Dad (my parents being my most fierce, and currently only, fans) regarding my Mom’s role in the creation of the House. Turns out she’s the one who brought the plans home…from the library, if I remember the message correctly!

And the door light (which you can actually see from the header picture) was from a set of Christmas lights that I don’t remember but…oh, those must have been awesome!

Well, that’s about as short and sweet as I get. Just wanted to make sure posterity had the account correct and my Mom’s part in all of this was duly recorded!

The House that Dad Built

I was given my first Barbie when I was 5 or 6. Forgive me, I’m now 51 so those memories aren’t the sharpest anymore, but I’m sure it was around then. I don’t know that it was an immediate obsession, but I know that she sure became one!

Growing up in the suburbs can sometimes be isolating, but it definitely wasn’t the case for me. We had a true neighborhood, the kind you usually see in movies or TV based around New York or Chicago or something. It was only one block long, but jam-packed full of kids around my age and parents who took turns watching us, pretty much dependent on which yard we were playing in at the time. Those were absolutely idyllic days–tennis in the street (picking a random crack as a net), riding bikes virtually everywhere (within mom’s yelling distance of course), playing house or whatever wherever we were at the moment, and of course Barbies. Several of us girls would often congregate at my parents’ house, or one of their houses, or even on a sidewalk for hours of pure Barbie-doll enjoyment.

The first Barbie was followed my others, some gifts, some were earned with money from various chores and yes, babysitting.

My Dad worked for Sears (remember them?) so my Christmases and Birthdays were filled with gifts straight out of the Sears Wish Book and Toy Department. And the collection grew, and grew. I ended up with the airplane, two pop-up houses (one an earlier version of the soon-to-be-envied Dreamhouse), a very large swimming pool, a bathtub set that made bubbles, fancy dining-room furniture, as well as two sets of pewter table servings.And naturally my grandmothers and mom contributed various handmade items. They were golden days.

But of course, there was that one thing that every Barbie aficionado wanted in those days, and that was the glory which was the Barbie Dreamhouse, towering in the sky fully furnished with an elevator. I drooled at every commercial. I have no memory of it now, but I imagine I was kind of obnoxious about it.

As we all know, the Barbie Dreamhouse isn’t exactly “sturdy.” And its not exactly cheap, either. Never was, even in those “good old days.” I don’t know, and honestly don’t care why my Dad decided to build one instead of buying it. I don’t care because that doesn’t matter. It was the right decision. I loved it. I still love it. Its freaking amazing.

It had it all; it towered over my Barbie-verse. It had an elevator and a balcony, and even a fire place in that top floor there. The front door has a knocker and even a sliced-in-half nightlight that served as a porch light. It didn’t work, but it didn’t matter. There was shag carpeting and wallpaper even in the first floor. This photo doesn’t do it justice, but…well, time happened.

First, the poor thing was stored in my parents attic. At the ripe old age of 12 as I entered Junior High, I decided I was officially too old for Barbies. With religious care, I packed all the clothes, all the furniture, all the decor and all my beloved dolls carefully, and stored it all with the house and all the out buildings in the attic. When they retired and moved about an hour from where I grew up, it was all moved unceremoniously into my storage locker.

When we moved from our apartment into our house, the entire contents of that locker were again unceremoniously moved into our garage. That’s where the worst of the damage occurred. It was actually disgusting. Repulsive, even. And gave me yet another reason to hate ground squirrels. The carpeting had been, well, defiled.

The picture above as well as the one for my front page were taken after I pulled the poor thing out of the garage, pulled out the carpeting, ripped off the wallpaper and gave it a proper bath.

This is the beginning of an adventure. A whole new era of “playing Barbie” and hopefully years more enjoyment of the House that Dad built.

Thanks again, Dad. Love you!