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August 28, 2011

Easy yellow cake in a cup!

My miniatures group has been discussing microwave cake for a while now, but this is the first time I tried it.  You can use a microwave safe mug or a ramekin.  I used a bouillon bowl, because that's all I could find in the store.  It's kind of like a small soup bowl.  The cake ends up about two inches high in this bowl.

Here are my two favorite recipes.  I didn't bother mixing in a separate bowl or using cooking spray, and it didn't seem to make any difference.  I also ate it directly out of the bowl.  Be careful when removing - it will be HOT and you're going to have to WAIT.  Good luck.  I sprinkle chocolate chips across the top right after removing it from the microwave.  It melts quickly and acts as frosting. 

Single Serving Microwave Chocolate Cake

2 TBSP flour
1.5 TBSP sugar 

1/2 tsp baking powder
1 T unsweetened cocoa powder
A pinch of salt
2 TBSP milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp oil

Mix all of the ingredients together in a small bowl.  Microwave on high for 1 minute.  

Single Serving Microwave Yellow Cake:

2 TBSP flour 
1.5 TBSP sugar 
1/4 tsp baking powder 
1/8 tsp salt
 2 TBSP milk 
3/4 TBSP oil 
1/4 tsp vanilla extract


Mix ingredients together and microwave on high for 1 minute.

The photo above is yellow cake, but made with brown sugar.  It tastes just as good as white sugar!

August 23, 2011

There I was, shopping in Walmart.  I needed a dish pan, because filling up our cavernous sink is a chore.  I wanted to try the ammonia and ziploc bag technique to clean our burners, and maybe a pan.  I wanted a cheap pitcher, and to look at storage for the craft room. 
Walmart was all screwed up due to reconstruction.  Temporary entrance, all the windows boarded up, everything all over the place.  Plus they had recently rearranged all the aisles, so nothing was where it should be, and the ceilings seemed to be much higher and farther away.  I felt very disoriented.  Walmart's previous layout had been logical, and made sense.  Now it didn't!

I was looking at ziploc bags, trying to figure out what size they actually were, when the shelf started shaking and I heard something rumbling.  Must be doing something weird with their construction.  Funny, I didn't see any equipment big enough to make that noise.  Huh.  Still shaking and wobbling.  Harder.  Is someone moving the shelf?  obnoxious kids?  Stop moving, shelf. *touches it*. Still shaking and rumbling.  Earthquake?  No, Can't be. Could it?  and then my common sense started yelling at me.


I hurried out of the aisle into a wide open space, and soon the shaking slowed down and stopped.  Walked back a few paces.  A wide eyed lady asks me,"was that an earthquake?"  I said, "No! we don't get those here!"   I went back to looking at ziploc bags, but by that time thought, screw it, go home.  Then the lady came back, carrying her phone. "It WAS an earthquake! Everybody's talking about it!"  THEN the Walmart employees began combing the aisles, telling us to leave the store so they could check for damage.  So I dropped the dish tub and the bags and left.  All sorts of cranky old women were yelling at the employees to let them check out up front.   We heard a little bit of a beeping warning, but no real alarm.  Kinda sad. 

I went to my car and started making calls and listening to the radio, along with everybody else, then went home and checked the house over carefully.  A broom had fallen over, and a plastic LED candle in the guest room.  Yay for the house being sturdier than we thought!  
My mom was fine, and had my grandmother and nephew with her. One aunt had to rush down 12 flights of stairs, my sister had to deal with 5.  My cousin slept through it all, or was driving and didn't notice.  totally surreal. 

August 22, 2011

Moberg Gallery: Artist Portfolios

I'm dazzled. and I have so much useless wall space . . .
August 11, 2011

I thought perhaps if I gave Robin a new set of shoes (considering the condition of the old pair) she might relax a little. I found that working with cloth to make shoes turned out to be a bit better than working with leather, but as you can see, I'm still terrible at getting glue everywhere. that's the bad thing about the macro setting on my camera! I don't see the glue at all when I look at them!

The soles are made from white fun foam, the rest from plain old red cotton. I trimmed with red and white bunka. They come off!

It was very easy to do.

Step 1. Trace around her feet onto white cardboard or whatever heavy thin material you happen to have handy. Not too thick. Cut out.

Step 2. Trace THOSE patterns onto fun foam. Felt or leather could work, too, but I was gooing for a thick shoe base.

Step 3. Cut out a circle about an inch in diameter using your desired shoe fabric.

Step 4. Cut that circle neatly in half. This will make the toes of the shoe.

Step 5. Cut out two strips of fabric about a quarter of an inch wide and about two inches long.

Step 6. Using the cardboard foot pattern for this step. I placed a sole against the bottom of each foot and then wrapped the fabric around her foot to make the desired shape. Glue the fabric to the bottom of the sole (the side opposite her feet). The long strips go around her heel, and the half-circle goes over her toes, straight edge closer to her ankles. Trim as necessary.

Step 7. Glue the fun foam sole to the bottom of her shoe. This hides the glued edges.

Step 8. Trim with bunka around the edges, or wherever you want to decorate the shoe.I ran red bunka around the open edge of the shoe, and white around the sole to add texture to the base and hide the glued tucked under edges.

I'd say make sure you don't glue the shoe to the doll, but really, with this plastic doll, it'd be easy to remove if necessary. You might find it easier to apply small bits of glue with a toothpick or similar to prevent the mess I made.

I'm hoping the other dolls won't make cracks about ruby slippers and falling houses.

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August 7, 2011

My shoemaking skills have not improved, but at least I got something that will work, and minimizes his duck feet. Robin may get a new pair of shoes, as the current pair don't seem to be holding up too well.
"Now THAT's a knife!"
Here's a better lit shot, with Theo doing his Crocodile Dundee impression. (I'm glad he didn't notice the mitre box saw.  He would have been doing a Sagara Sanosuke impression with his zanbatō.) Moving pictures were JUST starting to appear when Theo got buried, so he readily took to their advanced stages when Robin got sick of explaining things to him. "Go watch some videos! I'm busy!"

Oh, sweet Netflix.
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August 6, 2011

This is another Heidi Ott doll, one of the early generation dollhouse dolls. (I've seen the later ones. I want them.) It's probably pointless to say that he's been in my stash a while. ALL of my dolls have been in my stash a while at this point.

His story is bizarre, possibly because I was watching Highlander at the time I acquired him. Netflix reruns, anyway. Yep, that's right. Robin and her team disinterred him in the underbelly of a church. It took a while to convince her that it wasn't an elaborate prank, he really was buried there at the end of the 19th century. Now he's trying to learn about the 21st century and basically driving Robin nuts.

Modern styles are difficult to do, and it's hard to find patterns that would transfer well to this scale. I struggled and futzed and this is the current result. I want to redo the shirt because I had problems with the cuffs, and I need to redo the vest because I got lazy and used too much glue. For this doll I had to sit and think about what a man might wear in the 21st century if he were accustomed to Victorian/Edwardian fashion, yet wanted to fit in with modern casual society without compromising TOO much.

I consider this a trial run. Now that I know what works for the look I want, I plan to make up a pattern and post it. Most Ott dolls look like they're simply drowning in cloth, and this strikes me as unfair. There doesn't seem to be anyone providing patterns or clothing to suit them, and I want to fix that. This style hides his funky hips and hopefully makes him look taller, although it's hard to make a 5.5" doll look tall. (Most male dollhouse dolls come in at 6".)

While I love articulated dolls, they're also hard to dress because you can't take shortcuts, like sewing or gluing cloth directly to the body. I dislike the feet of these dolls because they're short and paddle shaped, making it difficult to produce a shoe that doesn't look like duck feet. (He stole Robin's shoes for the photo. I SUCK at shoe-making. When I get a non-horrible result I'll reshoot.) The new Ott dolls have better feet, and shoes that go along with them, but they're also more expensive. I had to compromise.
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August 2, 2011

My photos of my Archaeologist's study are actually quite old. Since I moved, they are no longer in the same room, or on the same bookshelf. The bookshelf I did move it to is actually bigger, meaning that not only do I have more space to spread out, but I also HAVE to make changes.

It's looked strange for a while, and finally I decided I needed to make those changes. I wanted to add some architectural details so that it no longer looked like I'd thrown a bunch of random objects on a shelf. I felt the best and easiest way to do this would be to make it a split level room, or possibly add stairs. (I could always add a 'second floor' to the shelf above!) Below is my mock-up of my idea.

I think it will work. I can even hide wiring underneath the platform, although that leads to my next problem. My lighting supplies are a mess. None of the lights I have seem to be appropriate for this modern setting, and the ones I've looked at online just don't seem right. I may just add one of those tiny LED undercabinet bulbs. I need SOME sort of light in there!

I also discovered a chair problem. Like my own house, there's not enough seating, so I dug through my stash and stole a few chairs meant for my neglected Edwardian house. Then I brought Robin over to see if I'd gotten the scale right for the platform. She noticed the new chairs immediately. "Where's my green 1920's chair?" She demanded. "It was perfect in here! why'd you leave it out?" I dug around for it and then finally remembered - I'd given it to Nora. This earned me another rant about giving away her furniture to perfect strangers. Apparently I'd whisked Nora away to the guest room when she arrived, and had never had her with the other dolls. The elves are also in the guest room, but I doubt they'd associate with the likes of her. Fortunately, Robin seems to have forgotten about her new laptop that I'd also given Nora. I brought them all down. maybe Nora would like an MP3 player instead.

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