Tuesday, 2 September 2014

ROCK'IN IT!

Do any of you remember the annual t.v. cartoon special 
"It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown"?
 Every halloween, Charlie Brown and his friends would go Trick or Treating in the neighborhood.
All of his friends got candy in their bags, but poor old Charlie Brown always got... A ROCK.  (Such a rotten thing to do to a kid, but it was very funny at the time. )  In retrospect, I really admire Good ol' Charlie Brown for not loosing his cool. What extraordinary self-control that little guy possessed.  He always responded to adversity with these words
"Good Grief

I bring this up because all of last month, I was collecting a lot of rocks of my own.

Here is where I am, as we speak
 This is just a temporary arrangement.                                            
   Nothing IS now, as it will later become.                        
I just had to show you something colorful because the following photos are all pretty dull.

 the insulation board glued in place and painted with a coat of gesso

A while back, Betsy the Daydreamer, of "About My Dollhouses " blog, showcased her wonderfully creative usage of pink foam insulation board.  She cut and carved it into a room- dividing brick wall in her Conservatory makeover.  I was very impressed and had to get me some.  I bought a sheet from the Home Depot and stood it behind the door in my Studio and then I just looked at it for several weeks.  I still had the 3rd wall of #43 to add the egg carton stones to, but I couldn't do that until I got the back of roof on, which eventually I did and of course... it didn't fit the first time, so I struggle with that until I figured out a better solution rather than having to shave down the top of bathroom wall.
Good Grief! 
(that was a very long sentence)

Next up, was to determined where the chimney would run. But what kind of a chimney?  So it was back to Pinterest and many more days of looking... and looking... and looking. Too many choices.

 I couldn't make up my mind.
 I got extremely tired of my indecision.

 Finally, I opted to NOT tackle the stoning of the 3rd wall-  as yet,  
or
 do any more thinking about the chimney
 I was itching to do some 'real work' and NOW, before the summer drew to a complete close, so I turned my attention back to that pink insulation board, propped behind my door and dove right into building some rocks.
The idea was to have the cottage above grade.  I had never tried this kind of structure before but I thought it would be fun.  Betsy had built a hill for her Folly, which looked great so I thought I would like to give that a try.
Trying to decide on a landscape layout was not as much 'fun' as I thought it would be.  I don't do well without FIRST- a clear vision in mind of where I think I am headed.   I won't go into great detail of how much anxiety groping around within the dark recesses inside my head, caused me, or the sleepless nights I spent scrolling through pages and pages of English real estate photos as well as Pinterest.  
Meanwhile
The house itself was
dead silent,
and no help to me at all. 
 I couldn't find anything Anywhere, to inspire me, even in books.    
After an entire week, with the foam board glued onto the plywood base, I still had no clue what to do next.  Janine had earlier given me some thick scraps of white styrofoam packing, 
(leftovers from her RL kitchen renovations.) 
   I started cutting and shaping the slabs with a serrated bread knife.
Ey-Yah!
WHAT A MESS IT MAKES!
it looked like a styrofoam bomb went off inside my studio; it flew everywhere!
 okay, whatever....

I wanted the house to be countersunk into the landscape and so I built the grounds up around it.  I was still able to remove the cottage when necessary.  After I got a rough outline of what I thought was interesting to look at, I painted everything with Gesso to make it all cohesive; then a thin coat of Spackle followed on top of that. 

another blank slate.

  But then out came the modeling gel medium, something I had demonstrated over a year ago  August, when posting the finishing of the cottage walls in 
"Such a Little Kitchen"
 and later again I used it for my fireplace hearth tutorial in 
"Light My Fire"

I LOVE THIS STUFF!
I used a COARSE AND AN EXTRA COARSE  gel medium for the  first 2 coats of texture.   I laid it on with a trowel and boy was the texture rough looking! 
over the coat of Spackle,  I applied the gel medium
In fact:
 It was Too Textured you might even call it 'Volcanic', and it took at bit of extra work to make it look a little less rough. Eventually, after some painting and aging, I smoothed it out with a light over-lay of Matt Gel Medium which filled in some of the most extreme irregularities, but to tell you the truth, I tried to keep as much of the rugged look as I could. 
 Now This was Fun!
  I really enjoyed playing with the FAUX STONE surface.  I  merrily continued to paint and age it over several more days as I tried to make the steps up to the house look as though they had been well worn and carved out of rocks.  
But afterwards, I had an entire garden space that looked bleak and barren. It made me think of the water's edge, therefore I changed my direction mid-stream and decided to add some seawater to the left corner that you can see carved out below.  I made some BIG ROCKS that would be sunk half-way into the water.  The rocks looked like something found near the ocean.  


The above photo show the rocks I made and the styrofoam on top is what it started out as.

And this is a close up of the texture of the rocks that were going to be part of the shoreline .
Oh, I was so happy with the way the rocks were looking, but then I had to ask myself.....
'WHO IN THIER RIGHT MIND, WOULD LIVE AT SEA LEVEL, THIS CLOSE TO THE OCEAN'S EDGE?"
So it was back to Pinterest to see if I could find at least one other crazy person in England who had built their house this dangerously close to the incoming tides. 


Naturally, I couldn't find anything anywhere. 

The only thing that came remotely close, was the home of Dan Peggotty, Ham, Mrs. Gummage and little Emily, all living in that capsized boat which had been washed ashore from the novel
 "David Copperfield." 
I ended up watching the Freddie Bartholomew movie version just so that I could see that humble upside down house- boat planted so snugly in the sand.
Not exactly what I had in mind for this project so after more stalling, I had to decide what was more important to me; 
A)  a house of grey rocks sitting on a patch of  brown rocks with some deep dark water on the side, 
OR
B) a house of grey rocks sitting on a patchy green lawn with a garden full of colorful flowers surrounding it?
hmmmm?
Thus,... I filled in the shoreline 
Earlier, I had contemplated the idea of a surrounding stone garden wall just like that of my friend 
Janine at"MINWORKS". 
see her post "Vegetable Garden"

 Her "trusty man", the Mighty Bruce, had built her the most Marvelous enclosed side garden for her French house and he had even made 2 custom iron gates for 2 of the surrounding stone walls.  I already had an iron gate that I had purchased many, many years ago.  Above is what I had been originally contemplating before I had decided to do the water. 
 
  I felt that my original wall was too high, so I cut it down and tried to fit what was left, around the new in-fill of the old shoreline.  I did a rough cut; but I found that I liked the effect and decided to keep the wall raggedy.  I liked the look of it being broken and needing repairs.  The iron fencing on top use to be green plastic farm yard fencing. Currently, it is precariously balancing on top of the wall, until I can decide how I want to secure it.  I almost have enough of the fence; but not quite.  I shall have to make some adjustment somehow to get this to look as it should.
To get the texture that I needed for the lower wall, I laid on a thin coating of Spackle and then dashed it with Bird Gravel. ( see photo above) I had run out of the Coarse Gel Medium and I didn't want to buy any more so this worked as a good base coat.
But I still needed more layers and more texture. 

To get the wall to this stage, I did a little experimenting.  I mixed  SPACKLE with WHITE  TACKY GLUE, SAND, BLACK AND WHITE ACRYLIC PAINT,  BIRD GRAVEL and WATER.  It became very thick and plasticy like Mastic Putty, but it applied Beautifully, dried hard like cement and cleaned off the knife with soap and water.   By going against the grain as it was setting up I was able to emphasize the irregularities of the wall and by allowing some of the base coat to show through, I got a bit more visual depth. 
[sidebar] 
I recently discovered several tutorials on Pinterest,  on how to make your own Textured Gel Paste, which I tried out and Highly Recommend if you don't want to spend the money on the commercial brands.  The mix I used above was my own idea,  but inspired by what I had previously seen.
check them out on youtube
This is a close up view of the new/old cement wall.  
Who would know that this began life as pink foam board insulation?

 ( trick shot) I had to see what it looked like from the front Parlor window! 
Yes!
This is the corner of the left side of the retaining wall, almost done.  Still adjusting the paint color.
My intention is to eventually add growing things in the cracks and crevices.
I really enjoyed making this wall, and I am so glad that I gave up my stupid ocean side idea.


This is supposed to be a city house after all on 
"Green Dolphin Street!"  
So now that I have a house with a yard, the next question is what part of England is it suppose to be in? 
 The house looks a bit French with these bright red shutters against the stone finish.  Of the hundreds of photos I have previewed of English cottages, I have NEVER Yet seen shutters on ANY English stone cottages.  ONCE I did see, shutters on an English wood- sided building.  That  surprised me. 
I didn't even know that the English HAD wood-sided houses..... Duh!  But generally speaking, it appears that the English don't seem that keen on shutters, at least from what I have seen through Pinterest.  If I am wrong please correct me.   Every time I discovered a photo of a stone cottage with shutters, it was French or from another European country.  
Janine and Fatima said it doesn't matter. 
 I reluctantly concede defeat. 
 But Next Time, I shall do the required research FIRST instead of LAST. 

A  LESSON LEARNED THE Dumb WAY.


So my English stone cottage, is not so English after all, and looks more French..... *shrug*
c'est la vie

(  still I'm very grateful that the French like shutters!)
And as to the garden, well.... that is still under consturction.  The  photo above is where I began the garden. ( The black front step you see here, is not the current one but only the understudy, the new stoop is in the photo below.)  
With any project there has to be a beginning so not knowing exactly which direction the garden should take, I took the front steps and began there. 
After all of those monotone photographs above, I had to leave  you with a little taste of color and how my  French/English garden is 'growing'.  Tai the cat, has jumped from the chair by the front door, to sun himself outside on the new stoop.   The climbing red roses are just temporary stand in's for the better ones yet to be made.  Meanwhile, I have ordered some flower kits from England's
"the Miniature Garden"

they have just arrived today.
 I am really looking forward to assembling them.  

The flowers are Euphorbia and Snapdragons by Georgie Steed.  I am working towards a lot of color against all of this stone.
As I awaited the arrival of the flower kits, I tried my hand at some faux iron work and
 I  made a handrail for the front step just to see if I could.

This vibrant grouping are some of the plants that I made last year, 
see my post
  "A GARDEN OF EARTHLY DELIGHTS" 
By piecing together bits of assorted plastic plants, I made a lot of flowers that really needed a home.  I have bushels of plastic flowers that I have been collecting both for this as well as future garden projects.  As you can see, red and acid yellow will be bright additions to the colorful chaos that I have in mind.
My fellow Minteer,
Fatima of Beauminis, 
has been very busy making armloads of Peonies that are Simply Fabulous 
 and she has promised to make some for me. :))
Yipee!

I shall really need to figure out a planting plan for the garden....
But all of that is for a little later on.

 I have still a lot of work to do on the cement retaining walls and attaching the iron railing.
Not to mention the 3rd side of the house which is still unfinished and still needs it's egg carton stone.  I have to make the gate posts and secure the front gate, as well as  the slate roof shingles to make and then install  and also the brick/ stone chimney which I am still unclear about ....

 and as Charlie Brown would say-
"Good Grief!"

 (will these projects never end? )

 Unlike poor ol' Charlie Brown who did not enjoy the rocks he was given every  disappointing halloween , 

 I am EXCEEDINGLY Thankful for every assorted rock of mine and I Love them All  
what an experience

***

ROCK ON!



elizabeth :D

69 comments:

  1. Dear Elizabeth.... I just wrote a whole Book of a comment... and it disappeared? Please tell me it ain't so!

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  2. Ah, My dear Elizabeth (take two!) I can only say You ROCK!!! :) (And I am so touched that you mention Me!) The pink foam in Your hands is just Amazingly, Awesomely Stunningly Incredibly Real! You always amaze me with how you combine ordinary spackle and glue and whatever else you have to hand and come up with such Perfect results! Your cement retaining wall is just Perfect! And the iron fence on the top is just the right touch! (The missing parts could be filled with old rotting boards... as filling for missing parts of the fence... particularly in a corner or by the house... or another gate that is all old rotting wood....) As for your garden.... it is sure to be the envy of all of us! I am already drooling and you are just getting Started! (I am learning what That means! LOL!) I am going to have to go get myself some flower kits.... so "Someday" I can start making flowers for my own gardens...! This house and the garden are becoming so wonderfully poetic and evocative.... I want to move in!!! I can't wait to see what you will add next! I am always So Amazed and Inspired by Your creativity and your Perfectionism! Keep on "Rockin'" and surely the chimney of your Dreams will show up! I can't wait!!!

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    1. Hey Betsy! Read my reply below Giac's :))

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  3. Hello Lady Elizabeth,
    I am so in awe and in love with the front of your house I do not even know where to start. All the headache and sleepless nights were so well worth it because the stone is just incredible. It is one thing to get the interior of a miniature house to look real, but to get the outside that realistic as in the first picture is just ...good grief...I can't think of and adjective that is great enough. I am being completely sincere...it is beautiful and so realistic! Wow! I think a grey cell bomb went off in my head.
    Okay Giac, focus: The railing is lovely and I think so much better then the walls. I think it looks much more in sink with the cottage. I am not an expert on British cottages, but I remember w=seeing them on Miss Marple DVD's, the ones with Joan Hickson, and in the mini series Cranford I believe many of them had shutters. also, old Tudor homes had shutters but no glass, so I think your cottage is right at home... I say as I sit at my computer in the suburbs of Montreal, so maybe I am not the one to listen to ;)
    I am stopping now because I could go on gushing a long time my friend, I wil lsay this: this post was not a good one, it was an event. Bravo Lady E!
    Big hug,
    Giac
    a fan and a huge admirer

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    1. Awww Shucks!
      What a comment to try and live up to Giac, but Thank You! :D
      I am very grateful for your input about the realism of the stone wall and also about the British shutter crisis! Do they or don't they? I shall google up the Miss Marple that you referred to, AND as matter of fact Marisa of Steiworks also said something about Miss Marple being a great reference to go to but I wasn't thinking about shutters then. When I stop and think about it, it sound kinda absurd to be THIS distracted by whether the English have shutters or not on their stone cottages. Why do I chose to worry about things like this?
      Anyway, I am so glad that you like the results of the landscaping Giac! Your comments always warm my heart.
      A BIG Hug Back to my Most Wonderful Man Fan! :D

      elizabeth

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  4. Hi Betsy! You make me SMILE! :)) Your blog is such a Pleasure to visit because I Love seeing your Talents in Action! I just revisited your blog of the Folly perched on the hill, because I not only remembered the hill, but The Folly has always been one of my very Favorite Projects of yours.
    Your idea of the wood gate sounds like a very good idea! The wheels are now slowly turning. Since I love to get messy, working with the faux stone and adding all of those layers of product was right up my alley but with regard to the garden, I haven't made plants since last year so I know that I am going to be very rusty at first. I should get Fatima to hold my hand during the process because she is such a PRO when it comes to doing fiddley bits like flowers. Being such a messy crafter, I usually I go overboard on the glue applications so having Fatima's restraining hand and discerning eyes would certainly come in handy for me. :))
    Of course, there will be some plants that I just will NOT attempt. One of them SHOULD BE the climbing rose which is going to be a challenge trying to make a clean job of it. I will definitely be doing a progress report on my success and my failures in the garden department. Meanwhile a chimney did indeed present itself but it is now dependent on the finishing of the 3rd wall.... Boring!!!!

    I much rather play in the garden. :D

    elizabeth

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  5. Ms E, Stunning sculpting and creation from concept to completion. The realistic worn stone work and moss, wonderful textures and details! It is truly amazing what you can create with common items, you always do stunning work.

    The railing is a fantastic choice it, almost places the whole scene like a protected place in a museum. I love seeing combinations of man made and natural products, wrought iron and wood stone and steel..wonderful!

    You garden already looks wonderful, I know you will just add to it beauty.
    I look forward to seeing your progress in the green!
    Hugs~J

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    Replies
    1. Hello Mrs. Fanaticus, Thank You and Welcome to my insanity! hahah
      I am so glad that you like the textures of the stone and the moss, Jane. I didn't add the moss flocking until after the painting was done so when I did it gave the wall some visual softness that it really needed. I really like the final effect and I am pleased as punch,that you do too! And ...
      it is about time that I used that fencing up for something. It has been tucked away in a bundle for quite awhile now and it needed to finally come out and play! :))


      elizabeth

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  6. Это великолепно! Просто нереально реальные вещи получились! Браво!

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    1. Hi Galchi! Thank You so much for such a lovely comment and compliment! :D
      I really wanted the outside of the house to have as much interest as the interior. It was a lot of fun trying out some new techniques too!

      elizabeth

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  7. Wow, what a fantastic job you've done of the landscaping and gardening. If I hadn't seen the step-by-step photos, I would believe that the later photos were of an actual garden. I love the texture on the retaining wall and I think the railings just finish it off. As for shutters, it rains more than it's sunny here in the UK. I think shutters aren't as popular purely because they rot in the bad weather. But they do exist - Hoveton Hall Gardens in the Norfolk Broads

    http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/506438

    =0)

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    Replies
    1. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!! I just googled up that address and sure as shootin', you are RIGHT! :D Do you know that you have just saved me from myself? Seriously, I am so happy to see some confirmation that I am not way off base with this cottage of mine. The fact that those shutters of Hoveton Hall are painted with a rich color is also a bonus for me to see. So once again, from the bottom of my heart, I THANK YOU PEPPER, they are Perfect! :D

      elizabeth

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  8. GAH! I lost my comment.... it was long too!

    Mark II - I love your garden you have been working really hard, I just need to find out what 'foam core' it in French...! Very inspiring. Georgie's flower kits are a delight to make - really well thought out and easy to do.

    I love your red shutters - they don't look particularly English, but they are just so cheerful and warm - a necessity in damp weather. I feel for your conundrum, I have the same problem with chimneys, which are driving me nuts. Shutters in England (Britain) tend to be on the inside of the window, whereas in France, like on my RL house, they are on the outside.

    BUT! On the islands of Jersey and Guernsey, the architecture is very French, though the islands themselves are British... so I´m sure you could find some examples of English shutters.... maybe even bright cherry red ones!

    Jonquil

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    1. for example the Manor House at Jersey Zoo

      http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manoir_des_Augr%C3%A8s

      (though not red :I )

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    2. I can't believe this.... TWICE IN ONE BLOG! I have had Even MORE Shutters Appear out of nowhere in answer to my SOS, ( Show Our Shutters) :)) THANK YOU SO MUCH, Jonquil! A Double confirmation that they do indeed "grow" in England. :D
      I use to have the shutters painted a dirty yellow green, but once I re-painted them red, they cheered me up and the exterior of the house too!
      I am looking forward to assembling Georgie's kits and your endorsement is greatly appreciated.
      It is good to know that I am in good company when it comes to wanting to get things "Right". I gave up on the chimney for now because I want to be sure, just like you do. Right after I stopped officially looking, I found one that I think might work, but I may change my mind again later on so I am going to let everything ' simmer on low' for a little longer before I make a real commitment. All the best in searching for yours. I feel your frustration, I really do. Meanwhile, I am greatly Encouraged by your comments! :))

      elizabeth

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  9. Oh my, where to start. This is the most visually informative and wonderful post I have come across in a long time. Your outside of the house is just so realistic and beautiful. Realistic is incredibly difficult at times to achieve in miniatures.....but I can say you have done it. I cannot believe what you have achieved with foam....brilliant. Thank you for sharing with us, and I think the red shutters give the scene the vibrancy which makes it somewhere you'd love to be.
    All the best
    Vivian

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    1. Hi Vivian! What a lot of lovely things to say; Thank You Very, Very Much! :D
      I enjoy the process of trying for realism and atmosphere, and it is always very gratifying when others appreciate and enjoy my efforts too. But I learned by viewing Betsy's projects just as others may be learning from mine. It is a way of paying it forward, isn't it? I did the tutorial so that everyone could see just how easy it can actually be.
      Thank you again for your comments AND for liking the red shutters too! :D

      elizabeth

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  10. Oh Elizabeth! Sam here.
    WOW, WOW, WOW!!!!!!!! I love watching how the creative process works for you. Thanks for all the photos and thoughts as you go along. It is very inspiring and makes me realize that you are actually human. The end results are stunning!
    You make me laugh. I have used the blue foam board and the white styrofoam as well. It is actually amazing where you find the little bits and pieces of cut off foam!
    As always, it is a pure pleasure to read and look at your blog!
    Hugs,
    Sam

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    1. Hello Sam! THANK YOU for your comment and your cute compliment! It is giving me a good chuckle! :D hmmm?... I Think I am human... well, maybe not first thing in the morning, but later on for sure, right after I have had a cup of tea, hahah
      And Now that you have mentioned it Sam, scraps and off-cuts are a great way to reduce, reuse and recylce AND save some money. A very timely reminder as there is new construction sites all around my neighborhood right now.
      I have seen the Blue foam board insulation.... is there a noticeable difference between the two?
      Bye the way, Sam, What a Score landing that new little property for Luka! Isabelle's real estate business has been really booming lately thanks to you.... Keep up the good work! :))

      elizabeth

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  11. Hi Elizabeth,
    OMG....I am stunned! I love the house and the front of your house with the beautiful stones and garden! Everything is so realistic!
    Wow! Congratulations for the amazing work!
    Hugs
    Kikka

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    1. Hello Kikka! THANK YOU!!! :D
      This garden is not over yet but I am Delighted that you are enjoying it! :D
      I still have a long way to go but now that the ground work has been laid, I hope that filling it with flowers will be a whole lot easier!

      elizabeth

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  12. Has hecho un trabajo increible, te ha llevado mucho tiempo y esfuerzo, y hasta horas robadas al sueño, pero el resultado es impresionante y hace que valga la pena.
    Cuando he visto la primera foto de esta entrada, he pensado que era de una casa real y no de una a escala 1:12
    Te doy mi mas sincera felicitación por esta maravilla que has creado. Ya sea francesa o inglesa, es una obra de arte.
    Un abrazo
    Victoria

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    1. Thank You So Much Victoria! I am deeply touched by your comment! Of course, I am my own worst critic but it makes me very happy and encouraged when my efforts are appreciated and enjoyed by others. :D

      elizabeth

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  13. splendide, j'ai d'abord cru que c'était une scène de la vie rélle, très bel effet de structure et de peinture

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    1. Hello Claude! Thank You! I am Very Happy that you like it! :D The fact that it looks so real from the photo is that I am getting better at taking pictures. hahaha.
      The right lighting can go a long way.

      elizabeth

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  14. Hi Elizabeth! Wow, you have done an excellent job on these rocks and your garden, it looks fabulous!! But it was quite a story to discover all about it and you know I LOVE your lively stories about all your discoveries ;)! Regarding the shutters: I am afraid I can't help you, but I see that Carol and Jonquil gave you some advice, I hope it will be helpful for your search for English shutters.
    For the Dutch shutters: in earlier times the colors of the shutters of houses and/or farms referred to their landlords of the castles and/or the manors in The Netherlands.
    I can't wait to see more of your garden and the plants and flowers you have in mind for this project! Before I forget I only can say: keep on rocking, Elizabeth :D!!
    Big hug, Ilona

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    1. Hi Ilona! What a Great Pleasure to see you on-line again! You certainly have been missed. :)) Yes,Thank You! My quest for confirmation that English shutters on stone houses are indeed a FACT and not FICTION thanks to Pepper and Jonquil who have now set my mind at ease on that point. Good to be able to move on and to stress out about something different. hahaha
      Your information about the history about the colors of the shutters in the Netherlands was something that I was not aware of and I shall certainly be squirreling that away in my head to dig into latter.
      I am glad that you are wanting to see more of the garden Ilona, because that is what I am working on right now and this is where the real fun begins! :D
      Thank You for all of your comments!
      and a Big Hug Back

      elizabeth

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  15. Thank You!!! Reading this post was such a treat, thank you for sharing your process. I haven't tried any of these products and effects as yet, and I think you just saved me hours on Pinterest looking :) You have created some seriously awesome rocks. I love the shot of the front step with mossiness and plants in place, and your paintwork is inspiring. This is all just plain out really really really good - such passionate creativity!

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    1. Hahahha, "Seriously Awesome Rocks" that is soooo cool! :)) Thank You!!! :D
      You know Sherri-Lee, if it had not been for Betsy demonstrating the ease of making the hill of the Folly and then the divider for her wonderful Conservatory, I probably would not have a garden to show you. Today my sister said to me that the next project that I tackle should have water as its theme because she too, loved the look of those rocks.
      My sister and my friend Janine are great gardeners and so from this point on, I shall have both of them critiquing the plantings. Janine is always very gentle whereas my sister will say... " What's THAT suppose to be!!!?"

      Meanwhile, it makes me Very Happy that you are really enjoying this sneaky peak of a garden yet to come.

      elizabeth

      elizabeth

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    2. Betsy's blogs are a wonderful place to spend time, I especially enjoy her "About my House Dreams" blog with the pics of her garden flowers and the painting of her house walls and furniture - OMG! Thanks for mentioning her Folly, I'll be able check it out. It gladdens me to see folks sharing and learning from one another and passing the creative inspiration around. I'd really like to try using those pink insulation boards, completely clueless as to whether we can get them in AUS. Our Bunnings isn't quite like Home Depot.

      Don't you love how sisters can be so very honest when they need to :) Mine does this mix of gentle with 'You What?!' I agree that those rocks need their own setting and a pool of water. They totally deserve showing off. Hope you're having a great week, thanks for being you - Sherri-Lee.

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    3. Hi Again Sherri-Lee, Betsy's Folly has always been a favorite of mine, that and now also, her Rose Cottage. The Insulation Foam Board that she used for the hill is thicker than the sheet that I purchased and perhaps that makes a difference in the density and the ease of cutting and shaping which is what I was keeping in mind when I purchased mine. I am not good with electrical tools and I don't own a HOTWIRE which is what is recommended to get the clean cuts without all of the excessive flying debris. Railroad hobbyist use a Hotwire a lot. I just used a bread knife.
      The board also has a blue version but I just used what Betsy used. Isabelle suggested that off-cuts found around construction sites is one way to secure some and I agree. Happy Hunting!

      elizabeth :D

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  16. Oh Elizabeth,
    thank you for sharing another if your wonderful - fabulous - I have to find more words .... - magnificent and beautiful new scenes. I'm thrilled.
    Warm regards
    Andrea

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    1. Hi Andrea! Thank You So Much for all of your Praise! :D This is obviously still a work in progress, but I AM happy that I have done Some necessary work towards getting this house closer towards next year's deadline. That the landscape is something I can feel proud of, thrills me too! :))

      elizabeth

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  17. Bonjour Elizabeth,
    je veux être comme le chat, assis sur le perron pour contempler à mon aise votre merveilleux jardin. Votre travail de la pierre est incroyable de réalisme et le choix des couleurs parfait.

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    1. hahahha! What a purrr-fectly lovely comment, Thank You Jean-Claude! :))
      Tai the cat, has been 'rolling in Catnip' since he has been allowed to venture outside. It was my daughter who had originally suggested that I should let the cat out and put him on the front step. I did that and later I moved him to the bench which is a little higher up.
      Then my sister said to me " Why is the cat on the bench? Every cat I see is always sitting right in the way, at the front door!"
      She was so right.
      What a gal!
      So Tai the cat is back on the front step; and he looks right at home there too!
      I will relay your compliments to him.
      He will be so pleased. :D

      elizabeth

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  18. Elisabeth you new post is fun and informative as usual!
    I like the garden and it looks so real...
    Thank you for the good read and for sharing your experiences :)
    Ersilia

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    1. Hi Ersilia! Thank You Very Much! :)) This experience WAS FUN, especially in retrospect. hahaha It makes me Very Happy that you like the looks of the garden so far. I have been thinking about how to maximize the space; but have no real plan as yet. I am hoping that a Blast of Mojo might soon kick in. So far it hasn't, but I am pressing on, and doing a little bit at a time. I shall keep everyone posted as to how it goes.
      I am so glad you enjoyed the story and I can assure you that the next installment will not be too far behind. :))

      elizabeth

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  19. Wow! I's incredible!
    The garden is perfect and looks so real.

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    1. Hi Faby! Many Many Thanks! I was hoping that it would look "Real" and it really makes me happy that you think so and like it too!:D

      elizabeth

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  20. It's incredible what you managed to do and achieve. It adds so much to the house and I love the garden. the picture of the bench with the flowers under the window is really gorgeous and full of life.
    Concerning shutters it's true that English houses don't have shutters, I rarely have seen any and when I have they were only as a decoration, not being able to be shut. It is a problem for French people when they go to England because in the early morning the bedroom is not dark enough and they wake up early.
    Geneviève

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    1. Hello Genevieve! Thank You Very Much for your comment because now that you have mentioned it, I do recall seeing those inside shutters that fold back onto themselves and are tucked inside the window casings, from the interior. I had forgotten about those until now. It makes me feel less crazy that I have been looking for a needle in a haystack all this time. Pepper and Jonquil have given me 2 English stone houses to chew on and that have set my mind at ease but YOUR comment has prompted me to add some FAUX HINGES to the red shutters. So, Thank You!!! I wouldn't want any visitors to #43 to have to wake up too early either! :D

      elizabeth

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  21. Wow! It looks finished to me, Elizabeth! I can't imagine how you could improve on this. Plus, it does look really fun! Congrats! xo Jennifer

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    1. Hello Jennifer! Many Many Thanks Jennifer, for your comment and your compliment! :D I only just gave you a tiny taste of the garden because there is so much left to be done. The tall shrubs which are the foundation plantings make it all look fuller and more finished than it is,.... but then so does the angle of the camera. :))

      elizabeth

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  22. El trabajo que has realizado para simular las rocas es estupendo. Realmente tienen una textura y color que engaña a los ojos.La fachada está preciosa con todas esas plantas. La reja de hierro sobre la piedra queda fenomenal.

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    1. Hello Isabel! Thank You Very Much for your compliments about the color of the rocks. It took a few tries to get it "right" but it was So Interesting watching how the paint enhanced all of the surface textures that I didn't mind that portion of the process at all. Which is why I really didn't want to see the shoreline go, but then, that's life. There is always the next project to do and maybe then I will find a permanent home for my rocks. :))

      elizabeth

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  23. I love love love the stone work and concrete Elizabeth. It is just perfect as usual! I looked up the recipes for the texture paste so I can have a go, so thanks for the idea. I have a commercially made one, which i used on the doll shop, and really liked using it, so will look forward to trying the homemade one too. I know how it goes with landscaping. I am trying to landscape my Christmas house, and can't quite decide. I have all the plants laid out and have them sitting for a few weeks so I can look every so often and see if I am still happy after a month or two. Then I hopefully will be happy enough to stick them all to the base! I am sure that whatever you come up with will be amazing. The snapdragons sound like the perfect English cottage plant too.

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    1. Hi Shannon! Thank You for your compliments and your most welcomed comments! I am in full agreement that letting things sit for awhile and looking and looking at them, will often help solidify a determined course of action.

      Your Christmas House sounds Exciting! There was a recipe that I saw on Pinterest for making BELIEVABLE SNOW from Baking Soda and White glue. I meant to pass that site onto my friend Fatima who is also constructing a Christmas house for her Garfield, so Thanks for reminding me.
      And as to the snapdragons, YES they are indeed, the Perfect English cottage plants!

      elizabeth :D

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  24. Wahou ! quel fabuleux travail pour un jardin extraordinaire !
    J'adore les volets rouges, fermer les volets, allumer les lumières et se sentir comme dans un cocon !
    C'est tellement beau et tellement vrai, que sans le texte, les photos nous projettent dans un monde réel ! Très belle réussite de votre mini jardin !
    Félicitations Elizabeth ! Bises. Joce

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    1. Hi Joce! Thank You Very Much for such a Wonderful compliment! I LOVE IT, when the viewer gets lost in the photos and imagines themselves within the scene, because it is always nice to have company.

      And soon I shall be able to entertain in the garden too! :D

      elizabeth

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  25. Fantastic! It all looks out like a fairytale.

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    1. Hello Merja! What a Lovely thing to say, Thank You!!! When I was trying to choose the opening photo for the blog, the one at the top seemed to tell a story of it own, apart from me. I didn't think that the story would be a 'fairy tale' but I guess that is really could be a "Once upon a time" cottage.
      complete with a "happy ending"! :D

      elizabeth

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  26. !!!!!!!!!!!! Я хочу жить в этом доме!!!!!! Я обожаю лестницу, которая поросла влажным мхом. Я люблю ваши французские (английские) жалюзи.:) :) :) Все выглядит так реально, что хочется положить руку на замшелый камень. Я рада, что зашла к вам в гости! Посмотрела ваши фотографии, и сердце мое радуется! Дорогая Элизабет! Вы непревзойденны! Вы сделали огромную работу, и мне кажется, что вы наслаждались, когда наносили очередной слой краски на камни. Пенопласт с каждым слоем краски превращался в реальный, поросший мхом, камень. Я немного завидую вашему коту...:):):) Я хотела бы стать маленькой, и присесть рядом с ним!
    Татьяна

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    1. My Dear Tatiana! You always make me feel Soooo Special whenever I read your Wonderful comments! :D Thank You So Much!!!
      Yes, I DID have a whole lot of enjoyment with making all of these rock, but the Studio was in shambles for days. There were white foam balls and pink foam chips EVERYWHERE, as well as pots of half-used color-washes and plaster mixes on every surface. I could barely move without knocking something over, just trying to step in and out of the room.
      But the Doing of it was truly an EXPERIENCE! It surprised me that I was able to make the surfaces look like what they were suppose to look like. And then to age them and to add the moss and green bits gave it all another layer that truly made me happy. It is so gratifying that you approve! :))
      I am still trying to work out a garden plan, but I will take the time to tell you now, that there are certain "moments" that stick and that I try to absorb which I see on-line and I shall never forget the photo of the garden scene that I saw on your blog last summer. It was of a deck chair sitting next to a table right under the window. I was bowled over by the authenticity of the details; weeds growing through the paving stones, the ripe summer apples spilt carelessly on the ground, a folded chair propped against the chipped plaster walls with the exposed old bricks beneath the surface stone ahhhh .... so much atmosphere just in that little vignette.
      It was truly poetic, and thus will I ALWAYS be one of YOUR greatest fans! :D

      elizabeth

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  27. It's fantastic how natural the rocks look. Thank you for sharing and explaining.
    Great work, as always.
    Hugs, Drora

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    1. Hi Drora! Thank You Very Much for your compliment! :D
      It has surprised me too, that the rocks turned out so well. I own a lot of the credit to Youtube and the various painting and detailed tutorials that I discovered by the Railroad Hobby guys. If anyone wants to know,' WHO KNOWS HOW to build and paint rocks?', just check any of them out because,...
      THEY DO! :))

      elizabeth

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  28. As always another enjoyable read Elizabeth! I had a few laugh out loud moments as you described your process! I suppose it isn't that practical to live that close to an ocean! But still! Haha. The garden idea is a great choice regardless. I admire your dedication to keeping this cottage to one style and location. The work so far is just beautiful. Its amazing seeing how you made all the stone and the realism is beyond words. You really know how to use paints to age the landscape and it makes me want to try. The pop of red is darling, I hope that stays in the finished product too! Looking forward to seeing more! :)

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  29. Hey Kristine! THANK YOU for your comments and also for appreciating my pursuit of a 'home' somewhere in England for my cottage, only not TOO close to the water! hahaha
    One of the unexpected discoveries with this project was in using the white styrofoam. The interior of it is already textured and nubbly so it makes the exposure of it a great direction to start with and exploit. I also used all of the little balls that detached from the blocks as I was layering on the Spackle and the gel coats, and just went right over them, locking them into place with the products. The pink foam was less messy but the white stuff was the unexpected hero of the day.
    I am Delighted that you like the red shutters because I do too. As I mentioned earlier replies, they used to be a dirty yellow green but when I changed them to match the door, the entire cottage perked up. No regrets there, and now, thanks to Genvieve's comment about English vs French shutters, I have added some Faux Red Hinges to mine. Little extra detail like this, go a very long way and bring me that much closer to being satisfied with what I am doing and what the end product will look like.
    Next up is the further development of the garden; "More" is Definitely on its way! :D

    elizabeth

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  30. I can't add to what everyone else has said except just imagine I had said it all. Breathtaking work. As for shutters. Here in the UK exterior shutters are more decorative than usable - indeed they were a fad in the 1980's and got put on everything. So your cottage can be legitimately anywhere in the country - the owners just thought it would look pretty with shutters - they are so right.Your cottage and surrounding stonework looks very Edinburgh to me so it is in the UK but not in England. It could be Cornish though. Odd thing with houses it is as much to do with the 'light' on them as the structures themselves. grey wash - up north - gold wash midlands and southish, bright crisp light Devon and Cornwall. See, I am even pickier than you. Now to determine what flowers are in flower at what time .......Euphorbia and snapdragon plant you firmly in Spring. Indeed snapdragons and tulips look lovely together. Snapdragons also self-seed into rocky walls and terraces! Lovely stuff ahead. marilyn

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  31. Marilyn, YOU ARE A GAL AFTER MY OWN HEART!!!!! :D Hip Hip HOORAY!
    I was telling my sister last night that I have had shutter- sighting confirmed by photograph, from TWO reliable sources and now here is a THIRD ONE, the proverbial 'cherry on top', so to speak. My sister rolled her eyes and said "Are you Still talking about THAT?"
    Well not any more, after all of the help that I have now been given. So a GReat Big Thank YOU Em, for your invaluable contribution. In my armchair travels all over the U.K. via Pinterest, I too,have seen the differences in the colors of the stones used for building and especially the differences in the quality of The Light. That was such a good point, Marilyn.
    I looked a long and hard at Cornwall and found that a lot of the stones that I had used on the facade of the house could have come from there. I saw cement too, although with less blue in it than mine has.
    I'm with you about the planting time. I wasn't sure about the tulips being around when the snapdragons were in bloom but if they were the late Spring variety, then they could legitimately still be around, and I do LOVE tulips! However there is no doubt, that I shall be taking some artistic liberties with some of the plants over-lapping each other a little longer than they should; THAT is a given, but I do want to keep it more believable than not.
    If you see some glaring error from the British point of view, then PLEASE TELL ME. I am more than willing to listen and heed knowledgeable direction and advise. My sister Bev, is always calling me on stuff that I try to get away with and so does my daughter, Samantha. I often pretend I know what's what, when really I'm only guessing.
    Story of my life! hahahaha

    elizabeth :D

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  32. Dear Miniteer...(Elizabeth). You are a Rock and you DO ROCK!...sorry, couldn't resist. I absolutely love what you have done so far. Thank you for the wonderful step description of how you started carving the landscaping. I am at awe. One day you are without inspiration and the next, you have done such a lot of work. There is nothing I can say that hasn't been said already by your amazing followers. Thank you for the "plug". I am excited over the creation of a batch of peonies for this amazing piece you are creating. Love love love!!!!

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  33. Hey Fats! THANK YOU!!! :D
    Yes, for several weeks, I certainly WAS without any inspiration.
    And all through the above process, I was still looking for it, but how much longer could I afford to wait for inspiration to show up? The West Coast Miniature Show is next June and I am still way behind in getting this project finished. I felt that I needed to just dive in and hoped that what I did, would float.
    Now the real fun begins and to have a batch of your FABULOUS Peonies "growing" in my front garden will be such an honor and something to really crow about!
    happy happy happy happy!!!

    elizabeth

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  34. I'm absolutely speechless Elizabeth!! And trust me, that is a VERY rare thing indeed. I truly did think that the first photo was of a real property, your inspiration photo perhaps. (If I looked closely I would have noticed the missing gate post I guess but I think I'd even have accepted that and figured there was a good reason for it - like rot, removal, and a replacement on the way). If there is a word - in any langauge - that means way more than 'impressed' it's the one that I want! I don't envy you the mess of working with the pink stuff but I do have a bad case of rock envy in respect of the finished product! Thanks for the tips on the various mixtures you've tried out, with such great success.

    I'm glad that you solved the issue with the shutters so that you can rest easy on that point but in general I agree with Janine and Fatima that it doesn't matter anyway, it's Art not Architectural Digest ;) That said, the discussion about the variations in colour of stone and light qualities in various parts of the UK is very very interesting.

    (BTW, thank you so much for your extremely nice comment on my kitchen - high praise indeed coming from you! It was fun to do something 'clean' for a change but I am really looking forward to getting back to my French project and a creating a bit of grime again.)

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  35. Hi Norma! I would have to agree, that it is "Art and Not Architectural Digest"! hahhahahha ( I will have to have that framed and kept close by, since I tend to chase my own tail at times. ) :))
    Thank You for your Most WONDERFUL comment!!! Apart from the mess when sawing away at the foam boards, this was very easy to do and made all the easier by looking again at Betsy's blog and what she achieved with her sculpting. I also found that youtube and model railroad landscaping videos, was an invaluable resource. (Those train guys are real sticklers for details.)
    Right now I am diligently working on the garden and enjoying it. I should have some photos to show next week.
    Meanwhile, I WAS/ AM so Impressed with what you have done with those kitchen units, and Again, I take my hat off to you! :))

    elizabeth

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  36. I worked with Styrofoam once- just once. LOL! You're right about the bomb going off. And it sticks to you. A mess. I have not wanted to even entertain the idea of working with it ever again. But oh my goodness! Seeing your exquisite front yard is sure making me want to change my mind. You are some sort of genius artist. The house looks so welcoming, cozy, warm and so rustic. It's such a gorgeous project!
    hugs♥,
    Caroline

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  37. Hi Caroline! Yes, you are so right about the styrofoam sticking to you and everything it lands on like a magnet. I forgot about that. I had a heck of a time trying to vacuum it all up too but it did eventually get done. :D But regardless of whether it is foam chips or anything else I am working on or with, I end up with a layer of litter on my carpet and smothering the work table. I am ALWAYS untidy. :((
    But I am SO GLAD that the end results have met with your approval; Thank You! :D

    elizabeth

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  38. Hi Elizabeth! I love your shutters and it makes no difference whether they are French or English! They contribute a certain timeless atmosphere to your house! The house is so much better with them. As for your rock formation, amazing! You are one courageous lady, Elizabeth. You always find a way to do what needs to be done. You certainly have the magic touch! I adore your work! I look forward to seeing your garden. I just know that it will be so colourful and uplifting. I know that it will be as pretty as a picture!

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  39. Hi Lucille! Thank You for your very kind and thoughtful comment! I like the color of the shutter too because I feel that they give the house a "lift", and I am happy to have your support Lucille. :))
    As for my courage...? I never think of it in that way. I am often reckless and do things that I regret later but have to find a way to fix! However, you do NOT have to wait any longer to see the garden because I have just posted the first half done! This was less stressful and more deliberate than the rocks. I hope you will enjoy what you see Lucille and Thank You again for your vote of confidence! :D

    elizabeth

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  40. Потрясающе! Так реалистично! Элизабет спасибо, что рассказываете из чего делаете ваши шедевры. Подписалась на ваш блог, с удовольствием буду читать вас! Жду новых записей и секретиков :)

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  41. Hi Katrin! Welcome to my blog and Thank You for leaving such a lovely comment! :D
    This was such a new experience for me and I am Still Learning! I am always happy to share what I know ( or think I know ) and I hope that it has made some sense to you, as I realize that not everything will translate smoothly from one language to the next.
    But I once again Thank You! :D

    elizabeth

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