Wow, How Times Flies!

Things have been unbelievably busy in my “real” job. For those who don’t know me, I work in the tech industry, I am a quality assurance testing engineer. That’s fancy words for “making sure stuff works right on the internet”. :-)

I recently took a challenging contract for American Association of Family Physicians (AAFP) and I have been putting in some challenging hours, first getting up to speed and now working on the project. It has NOTHING to do with crafting – thank heavens – else I fear I would stop doing crafting altogether. Crafting and sewing and quilting have become my mode of decompression after a long day sitting in front of a computer. There is nothing more rewarding than handling fabric or sanding wood… something that brings me back to life after working in a digital world all day.

The weeks haven’t been entirely without crafting, but more from the standpoint of collecting the basics for future projects. For one, I bought myself another embroidery machine – a Singer Quantum XL-6000 – and can’t wait to get it up and running. This makes the fourth quantum series machines that I own, and I have head over heels for all of my Singer machines. Unfortunately, the latest one arrived needing a bit of servicing and I figured that I would get it tuned up at the same time. I finally picked it up Wednesday and barely had time to get it into the room.

Because I have two embroidery machines – and I plan to use both – I had to rethink my sewing/crafting room. Finally after much hunting and planning, I have a solution. I took a nice new tall chest of drawers and removed the second and third drawers and added a pull out drawer. With help from the bestest kid in the whole world (how did I get so lucky to have such a considerate and loving son?), we got it done and in place the day before I picked up the machine from the repair shop.

IMG_3624This will give me all kind of storage for embroidery thread and stabilizers and all the attachments that come with these machines. Of course the cabinet that had been there is now sitting in the garage awaiting some new plan. Everything that was stored in that had to have a new home, so I bought a new cabinet for the space between the television cabinet and the wall. Found the perfect one at the new IKEA that opened up and with a little modification, it will be the perfect addition to the room. Bottom line though, there isn’t one more square inch available for anything after this!

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As I look at this photo, I think I should do something different under my cutting table. Hmmm….

As you can see from both photos, there is a lot of organizing to be done. Sometimes I think being so organized is a curse, I think I spend just about 1% more time organizing than I do crafting, sewing and quilting!

We spent last weekend making the extended trip to Witchita – about 3 hours southwest of Kansas City to retrieve some goodies from an estate sale. This weekend we are heading to Iowa on another of our abandoned house hunting trips. Give us a chance to do something different – something my son is interested in. It is actually called urban exploration and can include more than houses, but in our part of the country, there is a dearth of abandoned farm houses as small family farms are being bought up by commercial farming operations. It really is quite sad, but the reality of what is happening to the business of farming. I talk more about that on my other blog – if you’re even interested enough to check it out, it is MacCupcake.wordpress.com. That blog is the place where I talk about this next phase of my life where my main role is no longer “Mommy” and what it means and what I would like to do with my years.

Anyway, those expeditions often result in finding some amazing finds – it is interesting to see what gets left behind – deemed no longer necessary or wanted. The third, smaller stall of my garage is packed with finds from these trips, estate sales, thrifting and CraigsList.

IMG_2602Like if I work on this stuff every minute I am awake, I could never use everything that I have collected. I have always said when I die, my house is going to be one helluva estate sale!

So, come back often, I promise to get more posted as I finish projects. And don’t forget to show the love, I like comments!!

julie

No Drought In Kansas City

As many of you know, I am a transplant to Kansas City from Northern California’s Silicon Valley. We celebrate ten years in the Show-Me state next month. Even so, I always pay attention to the weather and wild fires out in California, which I still think of as ‘home’. They’ve been through some devastating drought conditions which have led to major wild fires. I feel for my peeps on the west coast.

But drought is one thing that Kansas City has not experienced. Well, at least not this year! Everything is greener than green and if you follow my blog, you know that my strawberry patch…

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…and The Kid’s pumpkin patch…

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….are growing like gang-busters. As I understood strawberries, the plants really don’t mature until the third year and then you can expect some decent harvests. Well, mine are only in their second year but have already harvested many quarts. And this even with me leaving about a third on the ground to help fill in light patches!My HouseI have a larger than standard lot, as our house is on a semi-cul-de-sac. I don’t know what else to call it. It is a corner where one street turns 90 degrees and becomes another street, but the corner is set back and we have a wide half-round area in front of my house and two of my neighbors. This makes for larger backyards, which good or bad, means we have more lawn.

Screen Shot 2014-06-13 at 6.34.56 PMHowever, the way that our property is naturally graded, all run off from the eastern neighbor flows into a little stream through our back yard and then into a underground culvert that then feeds into a (very small) lake in the neighborhood just south of us. Thankfully this ugly culvert is in the back of my western neighbor and he has done a great job of camouflaging it.

One might reasonably think that this should work well and most of the time it does. However, when we have had multiple days of heavy rain (as we have recently), it doesn’t seem to work and we get a lot of standing water in our backyard. Or as I call it, “A River Runs Through It”.

DSCN2486The small leafy patch just to the left of the tree (behind the river) is the Kid’s pumpkin patch. Lots of rain is working a minor miracle on the plants… the vines have gone gangbusters and there are hundreds of blossoms! I think we can safely expect a lot of pumpkins… not the biggest, but I am expecting numbers! So, the standing water isn’t a big deal (although it does make it tough to mow that part of the yard), but mostly it keeps the grass beautifully green and nourishes my tree line.

All of Kansas City is just so healthy and green as well. For once, I can honestly look at Kansas City and call it beautiful! I don’t dislike KC, but there is nothing to compare with San Jose/San Francisco area and the Pacific Ocean and the Sierra Madre mountains and everything in between. I really miss California!

Me and The Kid have been slowly been working on some new projects – The Kid now more than me since I’ve gone back to work. Last night we sold the purple vanity (yay!) and I think I have a buyer for the umpteenth pink ombre dresser that I finished an evening or so ago. That leaves just the two-tone vanity left to sell and I will officially have my entry way cleared!

photoI am also about a third or so complete on a 8″ x 10″ cross stitch project, I just picked up the canvas and some thread and started stitching! I am thinking that I will make it into an iPad case when I am done. Or something. Ha! I always have to have something to do with my hands even when I am too tired to refinish furniture and just am sitting on the couch watching ‘Nurse Jackie’. (Don’t get me started talking about binge series watching… that’s another whole different post!)

Thankfully, today is Friday and the end of my first week on the new job. I am really liking it, as I have a super team and an even more super (super-duper?) manager and I am coming up to speed really quick. Which is great, ’cause I really don’t like being the ‘new’ person. I see me doing this for a while. I hope!

julie

Strawberries! And Another Vanity Restore

First, let me just brag about the crazy awesomeness of my strawberry patch! A couple of weeks ago, the patch was covered in little white flowers and last week I harvested about a pint of sweet berries. Me and The Kid went out last night to check the pumpkin patch and I thought to give the strawberries a quick check! Yowza!

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I did find a couple more of those pesky snails, so it would seem I need pesticide. Or some natural bug killer. One more thing on the TO DO list!

Oh, here is a quick shot of the pumpkin patch. These were started from seeds kept from last year around Halloween and sprouted in the kitchen. We were worried at first that they wouldn’t grow, but should have known better!

IMG_6559I have also been working on another vanity, originally I had hoped to keep it for myself, but the house is already overflowing to stretching the seams! This had a great story behind it, the man who I got it from told us that it was built in US-occupied Japan and was built with old growth oak. There was a lot of beautiful wood in the piece, unfortunately, it had been sitting in his damp basement for way too long and had a lot of wood and veneer damage. So, I salvaged what I could, which was sanded and re-varnished. What I couldn’t replace was replaced by maple plywood and painted a high gloss ivory. The handles were painted a matching color and replace. I also painted the last 40″ square mirror to match and it looks spectacular. The matching bench seat was all oak, so it too, was sanded and re-varnished. I covered the top with a gorgeous two toned upholstery fabric and viola!, perfection!

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Isn’t it beautiful? I love the way the two tones play off of each other. (You can see the reflection of the as-of-yet still-unsold doll house! :-().

DSCN2472A quick shot of the kid helping with the vanity. I am the luckiest mom to have been blessed with The Kid. He is the antithesis of what I was at his age! Thank heavens!

And not to go on and on, but isn’t CraigsList just the best thing ever?! I don’t know what I am going to do with it, but a student of architecture was giving away one of his projects and I had to have it! Not quite the normal scale of 1 inch to 1 FOOT scale that most dollhouses are, none of the existing furniture or fixtures I have will work in this house. And did I mention it was HUGE? It stands about 4 1/2 foot tall and the base is 4′ x 4′ but it is FRIGGIN’ COOL!

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photo 2The Kid has claimed one of the remaining Victrola cabinets and has been working on it. I think it will turn out even better than if I had done the work. He has a great imagination and loves the wood working. If it just weren’t already getting so hot and muggy!

More stuff on the way! Come back soon!

julie

Tale of Four Victrola Cabinets (and a Vanity)

Have I told you how much I love CraigsList? In my city, it is amazingly active, including the Free section. For instance, a few weeks ago, I picked up four Victrola cabinets from a man who restores them… but it often took many different units to get enough parts to get a single player in working condition. He had accumulated quite a few and apparently one night, it was more than he could store.

01414_146BGjp6j5f_600x450You can see that he still had a few more that he had to give away. Those four were enough for me. :-)

So, I have finished the first two. One for me and one to sell. Let’s start with the one for sale. It would be the one to the furthermost right in the photo. The top was in decent condition, so it was sanded down to the original wood. Following, it received several coats of a dark turquoise color. I was careful to paint only the body. As I said, I sanded the top down to a beautiful wood grain, so I gave it two coats of a walnut stain followed by two coats of polyurethane. The top just shines.

DSCN2365I fitted the right side (where the megaphone and the actual phonograph had been) with a plastic tub for ice. I found one that fit almost perfectly, adding a ledger for the lip of the tub to rest.

DSCN2402All of the interior wood was cleaned and a coat of walnut to enhance the existing wood finish. This thing was in absolutely beautiful condition. I added the brushed nickel knobs to complete the cabinet. I had wanted to purchase some old decanters and at least one set of high ball glasses and maybe some champagne class to set a nicer stage for photos, but the whole idea of this thing is to make money – as much as possible.

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I picked up three mirrors a couple of years back from Penney’s outlet store, they were $200 originally and marked down to their final price of $20! When I saw them, I couldn’t say no, even though their wood finishes were very scratched. My instinct was to paint them anyway, so I had purchased all three. I painted one with the same paint as the cabinet and am selling them as a pair.

A few more photos of the cabinet for your viewing pleasure.

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I have another almost finished that I have decided to keep. I will show you that one soon. The next project I finished though, is this nice vanity… well, the finished product is nice anyway. It was in pretty bad shape with I picked it up though. This one took quite a bit of work to get it to the point of being able to paint it.

DSCN2336I had determined to do something different this time, rather than the standard pink or (off) white. Lots of young girls like pink, but there are probably about just as many who like purple. So I started with a purple I had in stock.

DSCN2354After the first coat of this particular purple, I thought that it looked a little too much on the red side of purple, so I purchased a purple that leaned toward blue spectrum and started the painting process all over again.

DSCN2410I also added the wood detail on all four of the drawers as well as the rope trim, since sanding required most of the original trim to be removed. I also purchased a piece of quarter inch glass for the shelf in between the cabinets. I think this came out really beautiful.

DSCN2409One of these days I am going to have to figure out how to take good photos of furniture with mirrors. I always seem to get a reflection of the weirdest stuff when I take them!

DSCN2408Here it is in all of its purple glory! I have these two pieces listed on CraigsList and hopefully they will sell quickly. I am working on one more, almost done and then there are two more that I have to get started on.

julie

Let’s Finish a Few (Before We Start More)!

With all the work that I have been doing with furniture lately, I have developed quite the respect for furniture design and well made pieces. And nothing breaks my heart more than to see a gorgeous piece that has been not only been neglected but abused.

This weekend, I picked up a glorious old vanity. The owner told the most wonderful story, about how his parents had lived in occupied Japan and bought this pieces. Solid oak and well appointed. Well built and professionally finished.

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But it had been passed down to a different sibling and in the following years, this once lovely piece of furniture had been relegated to a damp, dusty basement. And if you’re reading tis, you probably know what dampness does to wood, especially on veneer. Even as we were carrying it from the basement, pieces of the basic structure were literally falling off! But we had the good opportunity to retrieve every last piece and it is now undergoing restoration.

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From the appearance of the bottom, it almost looks like it was sitting in four inches of water.

We cleared all of the decaying, which is most of the “skin” of the piece. The next step was to start gluing the pieces of the legs back together… we used all the clamps that we had available!

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That is the nice thing about working with these older projects, they are all wood and wood can be made whole again. The newer furniture being churned out of the factories today are made of cheap plywood and pressboard and vinyl and plastic made to look like wood. They fall apart easily and after their initial “shine”, they really show their true bones. Or lack there of. That is what I look for whenever I am presented with an opportunity… the piece has to have “good bones”.

Which reminds me, on our recent treasure hunting, I found an old Singer sewing machine. I love those old ones with the treadle and iron base, I have one that was passed down to me from my mother’s mother, but it is immaculate and I could never do anything to damage it. One day, I would like to make the necessary repairs to get it going, I believe it only needs a belt and a good cleaning.

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So, I found one that the primary cabinet was nearly fallen apart (much like the vanity above). But the side drawers were in fantastic shape, so I dragged it home. I’ve since removed the base and carefully taken apart the cabinets and they are progressing.

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I am painting it the soft green shade that I used in my sewing room, I figured that I could use it to store bindings and elastic and those other little packages that seem to resist being organized.

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The sewing machine, much to my regret, was sold for scrap, but it wasn’t operational and definitely wasn’t worth putting too much effort or money in doing so. I am still trying to figure out what to do with treadle base, if you have ideas, please share.

So much more work to do, and sitting behind this computer isn’t getting it done!

julie

 

And My Favorite Status: SOLD!

I finally moved one of the two behemoths out of my entry way and turned them into cash! Yay!

The wardrobe has been finished for a while and I was beginning to wonder if anyone would find the makeover to their taste. I was jockeying ways to actually keep it and make it the centerpiece of my entry way when I got the email. If you want to take a look at the previous blogs which described went into the restoration and painting of the wardrobe, click here.

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I happily helped load it into the back of their SUV in exchange for a tidy sum of cash. I like it when it works out that way.

I also had just put the finishing touches on the off-white vanity and no sooner listed it for sale, then a lovely woman called to claim it for her daughter. I hadn’t even had a chance to post the finished pics here.

DSCN2341So, the vanity needed very little work, it was just in brilliant condition. A few minor fixes to the veneer, we (me and my trusty sidekick ‘The Kid’) attempted to replace the missing veneer pieces. It was good practice.

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DSCN2334It turned out okay, but not spectacular, so I opted to go ahead with painting the entire cabinet. I loved the simplicity of the design on the drawers and mirror. And of course, my new favorite color – Vanilla Custard – gave it an elegant look.

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At the last minute, I came across an old piano bench, the top so warped and the veneer almost non-existent, that I opted to use along with the vanity. Apologies for the bad lighting, but I only had finished the bench before sunset and could take a quick snapshot before the buyer arrived.

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DSCN2347As it was a former piano bench, the top hinged up to reveal a little storage under the top. It was a simple job to add a piece of two inch foam and then wrap it with the softest velour I could find. And without having a sample of the paint with me, I picked out the fabric and the color was a spot on match.

As timing would have it, we picked up another vanity and bench seat! I am in the middle of so many projects… on top of that, I am trying to keep an active job hunt going. There might just be a point that I would be grateful to go back to work and not worry about how much furniture is occupying my three car garage!

julie

New Favorite Color – Vanilla Custard

Had a break in the weather – actually had a couple of days with temperatures in the seventies. And then, of course, it dipped back down today to make it too cold to paint in the garage again. So frustrating. If temps don’t go back up soon, I will be bringing in the latest aquisition of a vanity to work.

I thought I’d give you a sneak peak at the pieces as they are drying their third coat of paint, using my new favorite color and sheen. I am using  high gloss paint in a shade called Vanilla Custard. It is a warmer than an ordinary white, bordering on a very light yellow. I had originally planned to use it in conjunction with some touches of Blush Pink, but now am giving that color scheme a second thought, I like the Vanilla Custard all by itself.

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The bottom large drawers have a beautiful motif on their fronts. This may (or may not) be highlighted in a coordinating pink.

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The primary body of the vanity in the Vanilla Custard. Three coats of paint in high gloss finish make this piece just shine. Love the front legs on this piece. Even though you can’t see it in this photo, the smaller drawers have some extraordinary motifs as well.

photo 9The mirror frame also has some nice carved detailing. This piece required the most work, as all of the joints had come loose or apart. Just need to reinstall the glass and re-attach to the vanity.

photo 10Small piano bench I picked up that had a warped bench top. Removed it and will be replacing with a padded cushion in the softest fabric in the same shade of white. Like the leg detailing… not too much and not too little.

Both pieces were found objects, absolutely free! The big investment besides elbow grease and some screws and glue was the paint at a hefty $17. I am tempted to keep this one, but it really is completely different than my current bedroom style.

Well, that’s it for tonight. Come back soon for the unveiling!

julie

The Weather is Just Not Co-operating. Argh!

Officially, spring came last week and with it, a couple of days of temperatures in the sixties. Windows open, doors ajar and lots of work in the garage. That lasted all of about two days and then it has dipped down into the ‘too cold to do anything fun outside’ range of temps. And now, today, they are calling for snow. Snow!

Too cold for even working in the garage… and I have so much that needs to get done.

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photo 2I picked up another vanity and a stool, but that leaves me one stool/bench short. Just like I started!

Over the last few months, I have been working on dollhouse furniture and clothing, getting ready for the ‘Dolls & Cupcakes’ website. I seem to be totally dragging on getting the website up and running, so I opted to put a few pieces on eBay, just to see how sales would be.

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DSCN2283So far, they’re not getting much attention, not as much as I thought. Maybe the American Girl craze is waning?

This weather is so non-conducive to working, but I am going to do my best to get something done today. Hope you’re having better luck than I!

julie

More Denim, This Is It For a While…

Okay, I persevered and finished another denim quilt. This one fought a long and hard battle. It is the first time that I had to really rip seams and fix mistaken cuts. And not just once. And to add to the fighting, the weight of all that denim had me uttering choice phrases to the sewing machine. I even had to throw my hands up in defeat and leave it for a couple of days while I pondered the best way to finish it.

I think it all boiled down to four diagonal set-in seams. I have never been a big fan of set-in seams anyway, but that they were on a bias and diagonal didn’t help. Oh and yeah, broke four! needles in the process. Denim is not kind but I love the end result.

IMG_6145Now I have three more denim tops completed and have really paired down my stash of recycled denim, I am going to swear off working with it for a while. I flipped through a few books and magazines that I’ve marked with possible ideas but nothing seems to be sparking or lighting a fire under me. Maybe I need to take a break from sewing and concentrate on finishing at least one or two of the Victrola cabinets that I picked up a few weeks ago.

I’ve decided with one that I am going to turn into a little bar… with a little ice tub and a place for bottles and decanters and store glasses and napkins in the cabinet where albums were kept. I am thinking a walnut stained top and painting the cabinet a deep brown. The other cabinet is going to be an entertainment cabinet… using the former horn as an amplifier for an iPhone/iPod/music player and then adding a turntable and also making place for game controllers. This piece is going to be walnut stained top with a deep red/maroon cabinet. I think this will be really sharp.

There are two additional cabinets, a taller one that I think The Kid has his eye on it to be restored to the same sort of end product… a place for gaming systems and also a music system. And the last one has the makings to be the perfect bathroom vanity. I will have to replace the top with a solid piece (it splits in the middle right now), but I could see this is a beautiful ivory with maybe a piece of granite or ivory on top. Guess we’ll have to see how this proceeds.

Tomorrow I may go down to the Habitat’s ReStore and check out what they have in terms of granite or ivory and if they might have any vessel sinks that might work. Or any other interesting pieces that might be fun to work with. I still have the whole garage/shop job that I have planned, a post for another day.

julie

For Sale: Handcrafted Doll House and Accessories

Need that perfect gift for your little doll mommy? Built for all 18″ dolls including American Girl, Today Girl, Journey Girl, Madame Alexander, My Twinn, Our Generation, KidKraft Sadie, Gotz and Disney Princess and more. After many months of planning, shopping, designing, building and furnishing, I am offering this one of a kind dollhouse for $3000.00.

DSCN1929Designed, built, handcrafted and lovingly assembled for your princess just in time for Christmas. Give your little girl a place to play and store all of her American Girl treasures!!

Two pieces, designed for delivery, assembled stands 80″ tall. But that doesn’t include the rooftop garden! Overall dimensions: 80″h x 25″d x 48″w. This was hand built by my son and I in our home and has many extras you won’t find in any other house.

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Three levels boasts a bedroom with adjoining bathroom, living room with fireplace and a state of the art kitchen with built in cabinets and turquoise appliances. Everything pictured is included with the exception of the doll. The doll is not included.

The pink bedroom with handcrafted bed and handmade linens sewn in awesome shades of pink. Includes a pillow with pillow case. Matching dresser in shades of pink (also called ombré style of painting) with four functional drawers. To round out the bedroom, we have a deep red wood stained armoire with a bar for hanging and three small drawers.

DSCN1912Enter the bathroom through the door in the bedroom to find a clawfoot bathtub, toilet and sink. Pink towel set – bath towel, hand towel and washcloth and a small basket with shampoo, conditioner and bath soap. The room is complete with actual white square tiles and baseboards.

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DSCN1911The kitchen is like no other you will ever see! Taking up the entire second floor, it boasts built in glass door cupboards above and below. Stainless steel sink with extendable sink sprayer sits on top of a glass tile countertop in beautiful shades of turquoise. The cupboard next to the store has a solid wood surface perfect for chopping vegetables, and houses a mixer and baking pans. Microwave above the over (sorry, door doesn’t open) but the range has an opening door with two wire shelves and plastic door to see when those pastries are browned. Refrigerator comes stocked with vegetables and food for hosting that perfect holiday party. Pantry next to the ‘fridge also boasts soup and assorted canned vegetables.

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DSCN1924The kitchen floor is a beautiful hardwood floor, three coats of varnish and three coats of polyurethane. This will look beautiful for years of play.  Same floor on the third floor, and has a hand hooked rug in between upholstered sofas. Put your feet up and relax in front of the fireplace (extra firewood in the wood box). A small table with a sewing box is near for mending socks on a late night. Plenty of room to include a Christmas tree for your dolls!

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On top, we have one more relaxing space… three piece wicker set with heart motif is surrounded by pots of colorful flowers. A wonderful place to enjoy the sunshine with a glass of tea!

DSCN1927Please keep in mind that I am simply someone who likes to tinker and collect, I am not a master carpenter so this is unique albeit not perfect.  The small imperfections make it a one of a kind but built and furnished with love and laughter!

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DSCN1902Keep in mind that although lots of little extras have been provided, there is still plenty of room to add your own special touches. Pictures, posters, doll clothes, food, dishes, jewelry… all those things that will make this dollhouse your daughter’s own.

Dollhouse will be available for local pick up in Kansas City MO once payment is received. Feel free to email me with ANY questions.

With regards to shipping: I want to work with you to make this your little girl’s perfect Christmas. I can deliver locally in and around Kansas City area for $50. That includes delivery and set up in your home. I will work with you on getting it to you, inquire about delivery outside the area, please send me an email.  Of course you are always welcome to swing through town and pick it up!

Please remember: The doll is not included. Everything else is.

I would love to hear your comments, questions, your own experiences. See previous posts for more in depth instructions and photos. I’ve truly enjoyed this process, but am ready to move on to something new and challenging.

Thanks for stopping by!

julie

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