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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Allison's Journal- the Old Books

When we got home from school today mom said she had a surprise for us. She told us to go look in the family room after we got done with our snack.

This is one of the days of the week that Maria and Jeremy are here overnight so the 6 of us talked about what could be waiting for us. I don't think we have ever hurried that much eating our snack. LOL

When we got done and went into the family room we found a cardboard box.

It had a sign on it that said “old kid's books”

We asked mom where it had come from. She told us that when she went to the post office today she noticed that the house across the road from the post office was having an estate sale. She decided to go take a quick look. She had been looking at books when the man running the sale had asked her if she had noticed the table at the back. It had a bunch of boxes on it. He told her that he had just boxed up groups of books and that they were $10 per box.

Everyone in our house loves books so she went to take a look. She was hoping to find more old cookbooks for her collection. Instead she found this box. She said she lifted the flaps of the box to take a peek and the first thing she saw was that there were at least 2 Nancy Drew books on the top. She knows how much Chelsea and I love our Nancy Drew books so she grabbed the box before anyone else could decided it was interesting.

When she got it home she just opened the top of the box enough to see that the books were really old but she decided to let us look through them and discover what treasures we have.

Being the oldest Chelsea and I took charge and opened the box. Sure enough the first thing we saw were two really old Nancy Drew mystery books. One was called The Hidden Staircase and the other one is The Secret of the Old Clock. We love mystery books especially Nancy Drew mystery books. And to make it even better they are ones neither of us have read before!

We took those out and set them to the side.

Next we found some Little Golden Books. Izzy and Maria wanted those right away. There were 5 of them but the girls took them so fast I don't even know what the titles were. I am sure they are going to want either Chelsea or I to read to them later so we can find out then.

Under the Little Golden Books were to old science fiction magazines. They are just filled with old sci-fi stories. Both Michael and Jeremy love sci-fi so they grabbed those really quick.

We found two more Nancy Drew books, one was a second copy of The Secret of the Old Clock but the other one was The Bungalow Mystery, another one we haven't read.

Next we saw a blue book and when we picked it up we found out the title is “The Blue Fairy Book.” It looks like it is just filled with classic fairy tales.

At the bottom of the box we found an old reading book, Fun With Dick and Jane. Later mom told us she remembers reading that book at school in first grade. That made Izzy and Maria take notice. They are really excited to be learning to read and they decided to try to read this one together tonight after dinner.

Also at the bottom of the box were some more science fiction, a book called When I Go to the Moon. Along with a really thick Little Golden Book called Exploring Space. They are both really old and the ideas are so different from what we know today. The boys are so excited to read them.

I think mom got a fantastic deal on this box of books. We are all going to be busy reading for weeks. Chelsea and I decided to both start by reading the Secret of the Old Clock since there are two copies of it. Then we will have to take turns of the other two. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Doll Size PB&J Sandwich

I know this week's video is a bit long, but you are really getting two projects in one video.

The PB&J sandwich was high on my list of things to show you when I decided to do the bread cane. I love how they look and it really is an easy process. It just takes some time and there are several steps.

The texturing portion of the project is exactly the same as for the toast. You could even get away with not adding the texture the sides of the bread slices that are going to be on the inside of the sandwich. I was afraid I would loose track of which was the inside side of the bread so I just textured both sides. It really only takes a few seconds to texture both sides anyway.

I like to pre-bake the bread slices when I am making these sandwiches. I find if I don't I usually end up getting my bread all misshapen and loose any texture I added. By baking the slices as soon as they are textured you can be sure that they will stay the shape you want them to be.

The peanut butter clay mixture is a pretty easy one. I used 1 part Fimo Sunflower (yellow) and 6 parts Sculpey III Tan this time. There are other mixtures of clay that will yield the color we are looking for. Just experiment with the colors of clay you have on hand.

After we get a peanut butter color that we are happy with it is time to mix the clay into the Translucent Liquid Sculpey (TLS) this can take a while just be patient and work at it until it is about the same texture as real peanut butter. I find it is much easier to mix TLS with softer clays.

Next we spread the “peanut butter” onto the bread just like if we were making a real sandwich. The only difference is that since we needed to cut the sandwich before we made it (so we could add the texture to that cut edge) we need to make the filling look like the knife drug it out of the sandwich when it was cut.

You can make the jelly with TLS if you want but my real preference is to use Liquid Kato clay for anything that I want to look really translucent. I used the same “jelly” recipe as last week for the toast. Just remember to use oil paint to color liquid clay not acrylic paint.

You don't need to add the jelly to the middle of each sandwich half just to the edges. And make sure some of it drips down the sides of the sandwich. You want people to know you put it there!

I decided to add a bonus project of the jar of peanut butter. I tried several things before I decided to go with the PVC pipe. Then it took way too long to get it cut even close to straight. It was just one of those days around here. In the end I decided to go with it almost straight.

I wanted add some dimension to the jar so I used some quilling paper. These are just 1/8” stripes of paper that comes pre-cut. I usually have a bunch of it on hand for projects because it is usually in-expensive and makes a lot of project go a lot faster. Feel free to cut a strip of paper if you don't have this.

After gluing the two bands onto my piece of PVC pipe I painted it with some acryilic paint that was as close to the color of peanut butter as I could find in my drawer. It did take several coats of paint to make everything look nice and smooth.

After the paint I coated everything with about 4 coats of Triple Thick, I love how this product makes the project look like a glass jar.

At this point simply add a label and a lid and you are done.

I love how this project turned out. I hope you do too.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Alison's Journal- New Coats

We all needed new winter coats this year so mom took us shopping for them today. I hate how I almost always have to pick out a winter coat when the weather is really hot outside. It is so hard to think about what I will want to wear in a few months when the weather is so different from what it is now. It is also kind of a sad reminder that the nice weather is going to be gone so soon.

Anyway mom took us to the mall to look for our coats. Izzy, Chelsea and I were really happy to go and do some shopping. Michael on the other hand was grumpy all day. He hates to go shopping, especially for clothes. He had a bunch of other things he wanted to do and we heard about them all day long. Boys!

I think we all did get coats were are going to be happy with so I talked everyone into meeting here in the family room so we can show you what we got.

Chelsea, Izzy and I had to wait for Michael, he took as long as he could getting in here.

He finally showed up with his coat.

I wanted to show you my coat first, I love how it is made of denim. It feels and looks like a pair of well worn jeans. And I love the poke-a-dot fabric that lines the hood. It is so pretty and silky. My new coat even has come convenient pockets on the front.

Chelsea surprised all of us (even herself) when she picked a purple coat! That's my favorite color, hers is pink. But she fell in love with the pattern on the front of the coat. The style is really good for her too, it emphasizes her waist so nicely. She even pulled her hair out of the way so we could see the details on the back. She says it is super comfortable too. She had a hard time finding a coat she liked that didn't have a hood on it. She says they just get in the way with her long hair and she prefers to wear hats when the rest of us have our hoods on.

Izzy was so excited about her new coat. She loves the bright pink and the kitty paws! She is an animal lover so those paw prints were what drew her to this coat. She also loves the fuzzy lining in her coat.

Michael had to wait to last to show everyone his coat. We figured we had to wait for him we would make him wait for us. Also dad says a gentleman should always let the ladies go first.

Michael picked out a green hoodie, he says “it's a coat” not much information but whatever. At least we got him to show up. His is almost the same style as Izzy's and it is lined too.

Mom was happy we were all able to find coats in one trip this year. Last year it took two trips. And all of our coats were on sale for once! Mom says she really hopes none of us out-grow our new coats before winter is over this year. Last year Izzy had a growth spurt and outgrew her winter coat just before the only really bad weather we had. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Doll Size Toast

This week we are going to take advantage of the bread slice cane we made last week to make the dolls some slices of toast. If you missed the cane here is a link to that video.

We are going to start by carefully slicing some slices off our cane. I can't seem to cut real bread straight and I do no better on the doll size. Then we are going to texture the slices just like we did for the bread slices last week.

Now using our standard chalks that we use to make things look baked we are going to color the cut surfaces of the bread slices. Just go slow and take your time with this step. I tried to rush the coloring in the video and got a bit too much color on that one slice. That did allow me to show you how to correct that type of mistake.

Once you are happy with the toasted look of your bread you need to decide if the dolls want their toast cut into pieces. I almost always cut my toast on the diagonal so that is what I did in the video.

Now the fun part of this project. We are going to add a bit of texture to the inside of the slice. Support your bread slice with an emery board (use 2 if you are nervous about ruining the texture you worked so hard on) and using a “pointy tool” (I like to use a dental pick) make light circular motions on that cut edge. You are really just barely touching the clay, almost like you are tickling it. Make lots of tiny little circles and you find the edge starting to look like it has little crumbs. If clay builds up on your tool be sure to wipe it off, you need to the tip clean to make the texture.

Now bake the slices at about 250 degrees (Fahrenheit) for about 10 minutes. If your dolls want their toast plain you are finished .

My dolls on the other hand wanted some jam/jelly on their toast.

To make the jam/jelly you will need some liquid polymer clay. This time I am using the one from Kato Clay. I like this one because it stays somewhat shiny and it is very clear. TLS (Translucent Liquid Sculpey) would also work but will need a clear finish once it is baked to give it a shine. If you can find Liquid Fimo it also works nicely for this.

To color the liquid clay we are using some oil paint. That is my preferred method to color it. Just pick colors that are close to the jam/jelly you are trying to make. Today I used some Rose Madder for the red one and a mix of the Rose Madder and some Cerulean Blue to make the grape.

I like to just mix up what I am going to use at the time rather than having to deal with a bunch of mixtures that I have to keep track of.

This is one of the few times you will see me bake my project on a ceramic tile. That is because if the liquid mixture drips onto the baking surface I can easily remove it from the glazed tile. If I had baked on my normal paper plate it would have been stuck.

I initially tried baking the jam/jelly step at my normal baking time and temperature but found it just didn't cure. I ended up baking at 275 degrees (Fahrenheit) for 20 minutes to get it to cure.

So that is our project for today. I hope you liked it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Allison's Journal- Getting Ready for School in the Morning

This year mornings are really interesting around our house. Mom says it is like herding cats. LOL It is a madhouse for sure.

You see this is the first year that our little sister, Izzy is walking to school with us. She is in first grade this year. Our small school didn't have a kindergarten class last year so mom had to drive her to school. That school started about a half hour later than we did so it was a little calmer.

On top of getting all 4 of us ready at the same time in the mornings, Jeremy and his little sister Maria, are also staying with us n3 nights a week. Their mom just got a new job, she now works nights at the hospital. She is a nurse and takes care of sick babies. She loves her new job but she was so worried about who was going to watch Jeremy and Maria. Then mom told her they are over here as much as they are home so they might as well stay here. Everyone seems to be loving the new arrangement even it can be chaotic some mornings.

We have been getting up and getting off to school for about a week now so we do have a routine worked out. Let me walk you through a typical morning.
Maria stand still so I can brush your hair.

First both Chelsea and I get up and get ready. Then we have the younger girls come to our rooms so we can make sure they are dressed and ready to go. Chelsea usually has to brush Maria's hair, she has a lot of trouble getting it done by herself. Mostly I just have to check that Izzy is wearing school clothes instead of play clothes and that everything goes together. One day last week she almost left with shoes that didn't match! That was when Chelsea and I told mom we would take over making sure they were ready.

Izzy I like the outfit you picked out today. 

The boys are really good at getting going on their own (once mom gets them to get out of bed)

Once mom knows that we are getting ready she gets our breakfast out and packs lunches if any of us are taking a lunch that day. Today we are all getting lunches at school.

We all meet in the kitchen for breakfast. Mom usually puts out a couple of choices then while we eat she can go check her email before she has to get her day started.
Looks like some good things to choose from this morning.

Could I have some hot chocolate???  Please.

Once we have eaten Michael and Jeremy are in charge of making sure everything is put away and the dirty dishes are in the dishwasher. They always complain but they do get it done.
I still need to put this cereal away. 

How much soap did mom say to put in?

Next Chelsea and I make sure everyone has everything before we head out. Mom usually has us leave our backpacks in the family room so they are easy to grab on the way out the door.

I need to get my folders than I'll be ready to go. 

I like to do one more quick check before we step off the front porch that everyone did pick up all the things they need that morning.
Michael did you remember to get your homework?

I think we're ready to go. 

Izzy and Maria don't run ahead! We all have to stay together. 

Then we start our walk. It is about a three-fourths of a mile to school and we walk both ways. Mom sometimes drives us but only if the weather is really bad.
The view from the front porch, it's a beautiful day!

The first couple of days the little girls had a little trouble with the long walk but by last Thursday they were just fine. I actually missed the walk over the summer. I like to see what is going on around us.

Today the temperature is a little on the cool side but we will be nice and warm once we start walking.

I love to watch the seasons change through the school year. The leaves should be starting to change their colors soon. I saw there were some apples on the trees but they aren't ripe yet.

One of our neighbor's cows left its calf sleeping by the fence along our road. We all stopped for a moment to look at it but we didn't disturb it. We didn't want the mama cow to get upset with us. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Doll Size Basic Bread

This week we are basically doing some prep work for some future projects. I have several projects in mind that take slices of bread. Since it is so much easier to make the bread slices from a cane I decided to present the cane for them this week. I do show you how to make a slice of bread from the cane just in case the dolls are hungry this week. If you made the jars of jam last week then they have the start of a nice snack.

One thing I want to talk to you about today is what clay I choose for each project and how that can vary depending how I am using the project. I started out doing polymer clay in the smaller dollhouse miniature scale of 1/12, that is if something is 12 inches in real life it will be 1 inch in that scale. That is a lot smaller than what I do for this channel/blog. Here we are working in1/3rd scale or what is 12 inches in real life is 4 inches in scale. This changes several things in how I approach the projects.

In the smaller scale I tend to stay away from the Sculpey III clay brand all together. The smaller scale requires the details to stand up to being made very tiny. Also the amount of clay is so much less. For this larger scale my details can be a little less defined and still show and the pieces take a lot more clay.

Sculpey III clay is much softer, it is much easier to condition (get ready to work with) and to work in general. But because of this softness it is much harder to make small items that are highly detailed because the details tend to disappear as you work to get the item smaller. In the larger scale we don't need to worry about that so much.

Also because our items here are a lot larger and many stores carry the Scupley III clay cheaper than the other brands that is definitely an advantage. If you watch your sales you can get the clay for a much better price. Just watch the adds for the stores you regularly shop at.

That all being said there are still times that I will recommend Fimo for a project because it is firmer and works better for somethings.

For this project in this scale I really feel the Sculpey III is the best choice. The colors that I used were perfect and it was easy to work. The colors by the way were white and beige.

Now the age old question of do we want to add things from the real kitchen to our clay to add texture. I will say I only do this when I feel it is important to the finished project. In this case I used some cornmeal to start our texture. I almost always add the cornmeal to the clay mixture if I am making a sliced bread. I personally have not had any problems in the 20-25 (or more??) or so years that I have been working with clay. I do have friends that live in other climates that have had problems mostly with bugs (or a few mice) taking a fancy to their projects. I am not sure if that is because of the differences in the climates we live in or in the critters that also live near by or if it had to do with how things were stored. Everyone I know that did have issues lived in the south-eastern United States. So if you are nervous about adding the cornmeal leave it out.

One of the biggest challenges of this project will be keeping everything clean. The smallest speck of dust will show up on the white clay. So clean your work surface and your hands thoroughly before and during the time you are working.

Once you have the clay conditioned and the cornmeal worked in (if you are adding it) it is time to shape our cane. This cane will be shaped pretty much like a loaf of bread. Take you time and get it the way you want it.

To add a “crust” to our bread we are using the same chalks that I use all the time. Work up the color in layers until your bread looks like it was baked.

Now the hard part. This cane needs to set up for at least 24 hours before we even try to cut it. After all the work we did to knead the clay and mix it together it has gotten warm and soft. It needs to go back to a firmer state before we cut or it will smash out of shape.

You saw in the video my cane cut just fine and I didn't need to re-shape my slice at all. That is because it sat on my table for about 48 hours before I sliced it.

If you want some plain slices follow the steps in the tutorial to texture then bake the slice.

Now wrap up the rest of the cane in a plastic sandwich bag and put it somewhere safe so we can make some fun things from it.

All that being said if I was going to create a loaf of bread I would make the same shape from Model Magic and use the chalks to color the outside. The plain white is fine as long as it isn't going to be sliced.

If we were to make a loaf of bread from the polymer clay it would take a long time to bake and the clay gets expensive. My cane is about the size of a scale loaf of bread and took 2 full packages of polymer clay to create. If I was going to bake it I am thinking it would probably take at least 30-45 minutes at 250 degrees Fahrenheit, but that is a guess. It is way bigger than anything I have ever tried to bake so I am not sure how it would do.

So that is our bread cane. Next week we are going to make something else out of this.