Sunday, 3 April 2016

Seasons of my WILLOWCREST




A brief History of my Willowcrest

I think that it was during the mid to late 1990's in which I purchased my 
Greenleaf WILLOWCREST DOLLHOUSE KIT
For me it was "love at first sight"  
However, not long after I'd bought it, a variety of major events occurred in my Real Life which resulted me taking an extended leave of absence from miniatures, and my WILLOWCREST made a long, dark sojourn inside my somewhat dank garage. And that's where it's stayed for more than 14 years, until last summer, when I'd decided that after my "Arthur" was finished that I would at last begin putting this house together.
 Yet, little did I know that God, in HIS infinite wisdom,
 had a different plan...
***

January 2016

 I'd decided that
 I REALLY NEEDED TO BUILD THIS HOUSE! 
and so I opened the kit box (which was now waiting patiently behind my Studio door), 
took out the sheets of wood, and the sheets of directions and began to slowly read them over, 
and guess what?
 I couldn't figure them out!?! 
  I tried again and again to make sense of the instructions and every time it was like reading- Martian!.  It also happened that the main floor was warped and wouldn't stay flat once it was inserted into the slot in front wall.  All of those years in the damp garage had taken it's toll.
So in fury and frustration I left it, and 
January drifted into 
February. 
***
Every day I'd look at the freestanding front wall with it's wonky first floor and crooked front porch and I just got more and more irritated, trying to straighten it out and/or put the kit together.  
Time slipped by and still no progress was made.

February slid into March.
***

Finally, to save myself anymore grief and aggravation, I decided to cast aside the printed instructions and just 
do my own thing! 

(whatever that "thing" might happen to be

I finally put the shell together, by cutting off the wonky front porch as well as the twisted second floor overhang.  Then I got out any spare building parts and started taping them to the facade this way and that.
But since I had removed the front porch (which truthfully, I never liked anyway), I found that I didn't know how to transition the french doors down to the street level.  I changed my mind over and over again, trying long windows, short windows, 3 windows, no windows, but alas, nothing clicked.  I liked the idea of the upper balcony but not the way that it was relating to the window directly below it, and although I didn't want to cut anything out until I had first figured out the floor plan on the inside-
 I did it anyway:(
 Even so nothing made sense or worked for me.
 The second floor however, was simpler, so in the in-term, I worked on that.  
I cut a larger opening for a single french door in the bedroom, as well as the double french doors for the front face of the house.



For the main floor where the bay window would normally be, I decided to seal it back up, as well as eliminate the smaller windows to the right, on both the first and second floor, 
because 
this house kit, has 3 sets of living room windows; 1 large picture window in the front wall and 2 smaller sets of windows on the outside wall,
 AS WELL AS
 2 interior doors on either end of the living room wall leading into both the hall and the kitchen,
 IN ADDITION TO
a small angled fireplace in the middle of the same center wall!

In other words, 
multiple large openings on every single upright surface!


I have studied many other WILLOWCREST builds and have seen that arranging furniture in this living room is at best "challenging".  


By blocking out the smaller windows on the first and second floor, and later straightening out the angled center wall between the left and right half of the house, as well as blocking up the one door leading from the living room into the kitchen,  I would free up valuable wall space which would make for an easier room arrangement of both furniture, and/or artwork.  

But by installing a single french door I will still get plenty of daylight inside the room plus have access to a future side garden. 
I am going to make that little leftover projection ( which used to be  the top of the bay window), into a more substantial "Juliet" balcony, so that later I can place some potted plants on it.
Okay, this side house I am happy with! 
So it was back to the front of the house where the struggle continued.
*** 

I didn't want to buy any more windows or doors, until I knew exactly how many I would need and where they would go.  
AND
 I am still trying to decide on the style of my front door, although I think that I've narrowed it down.  
I am considering a half round transomed window over a solid front door, 
Or
 a more "scrolly" Federal style door surround (no transom).  
Still a toss up. 

More indecision...
Since nothing was making me happy, I left the house alone, and yet another month waved
"goodbye!"
as it marched past into 
APRIL
***
Then, just last Friday, I had a breakthrough!  
It meant patching up the hole in the front wall and re-sizing it to fit the double french doors. 

(this cut out was now way too big)
I had the idea to make a usable front patio, which was an idea that I had toyed with back in February, but I'd abandoned it because I couldn't get a good picture of it in my mind, 
but now 
it all became perfectly clear! 
Since I had also wanted to add another small balcony leading out from the bedroom which would over-look the patio below, it would therefore provide a good visual transition, taking the eye up and down by gentle stages.
So I did a mock up with layered builders foam, glued and wrapped it all with masking tape, and then glued it securely to the exterior of the house. I decided to add a small end wall to the right, planning later for a full wrap-around enclosure.  I also made steps leading down to my (future) garden.
"Alrighty then!" :D


I tried out the bistro table and chairs that I bought a couple of years ago from Victoria Miniland to make sure that I had enough room outside for entertaining.  I had changed the table top to a bigger one (which happens to be a fridge magnet), and later on, I will paint it.

 I had to fill in the portion around the window which I had already removed.  It looks awful now,  
however it won't look like this forever.

 But back outside to the patio....

I began to smooth on the wall putty straight out of the jar and over the entire surface of the foam board, however it began to lift off as I was leveling it out.  I tried wetting my pallet knife and when that still failed to keep the spackle on the form, I added white glue to the mix. 

I poured out about a tablespoon onto the surface of the putty and smoothed and worked it into the mud.  The putty stayed put!
I coated the patio and the stairs and one of the walls.  The rest I will do later, after I lay the tiles or stone.
It dried very slowly.

I left everything to dry overnight.


Meanwhile, back inside, I decided to figure out the second floor landing stairs.
Now before you get all
freaked out, the chunky white stairs in the photo above are only stand-ins which I'm using as a guide.
I think that I am going to place the 2nd floor stairs on the same wall as the first floor so that I'll have more room for the bed and bathroom.  I saw this re-positioning done on a Willowcrest build blog:
"Simply Curious"

http://elaineziman.blogspot.ca/2013/06/willowcrest-attic-staircase-solution.html
This blogger has a lot of creative ideas and is doing a contemporary interior, including a washer/ dryer, closets-
 The Works
Elaine shows some very creative space planning solutions, but as a matter of fact there are a number of interesting Willowcrest builders out in blogland.  I have gather as many of them as I can find onto my pinterest board, which I refer to when needed.
I LOVE seeing how others solve common design problems with their dollhouse kits,
 and then get them to work! 
https://www.pinterest.com/studioeminis/the-willowcrest-dollhouses/
Having said that, here is my proposed placement of the future bedroom door and
this is the proposed size of the future bathroom

so by re-positioning the staircase to the outside wall, I will have 2 larger second floor rooms.
The proposed placement of the bed, although this is 
Not THE BED which I will be using. 


and 
I'm also not sure if I will be using this french-style vanity in this room either, as I may wish to install instead, a wardrobe or dresser. 
Regardless,
I always find it interesting that 
as soon as you begin to add in the furniture, a room suddenly appears to feel bigger!
go figure?
***

Okay, so the following day the putty was dry and I gave it a light sanding.
What you see is still raw but it is solid! I will paint it to seal it but today, I had to play with it a bit to get a feel for the next step.  I've already added a bullnose to the edge of the steps, after I'd looked at these photos. 
And then after assessing the wall, I felt that it needed something more. Although, it is still unfinished, I think I'll make it terraced, just to break up the bland flatness of it, which will then make it more interesting.  By stepping it down and out from the inside wall, I will be able to have a planter box which can be filled with hedge material.  That will visually soften the stone and provide a surface for the front steps to later tie into.
But I can't build it out yet, because I still haven't decided on my front door. 
but now I'm Getting ideas!




And so, 
after a long winter of wet, dreary months-
 it's Spring again! 
my very favorite Season. 
***
 I have FINALLY begun "serious" work on my WILLOWCREST and I've even
 ordered the windows using the complimentary HBS gift certificate from last year's build along
(thank you HBS!) :D
but I won't do anything more until the windows get here 
Then 
I'll decide on the front door. 
hmmm? I wonder which one I'll  chose?

Still 
at this present time-
 I have no idea what this house will be.
I have no story-line 

 no working title, 
no real direction and no "map" to guide me.


Perhaps it's located somewhere here on the West coast?... 
perhaps in California? 
So should I try some French/Spanish fusion or maybe a little Shabby chic?
I just don't know...
hopefully some new ideas will come to me along the way 
 All through the winter, and now into spring
  I'll await to see what the morrow may bring


thus, 
my new adventure begins


elizabeth 



102 comments:

  1. OOOOOHHHHH.... when you kit bash, you Really kit bash!!! I LOVE what you are doing with this kit! Only you would Throw Out The Instructions!!! Yay! Go Elizabeth!!! LOL! I just think it is a good thing I am so far along in my build, or I would be having a serious case of the "maybe I should... or maybe.... or maybe...." and I would end up Never finishing my house!! LOL! I think you are Fearless and have come up with some really exciting ideas! As usual, I can't wait to see what comes next!!!

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    1. Hi Betsy! Yes, I really felt like BASHING this kit, but into wood pulp! hahahah
      I had to throw out the directions only because they made me feel utterly incompetent. :(
      I looked at your Willowcrest more often than most Betsy because of the 'FEARLESS" things that you are creating for it; Especially the trees "growing" in your living room! As I've said before, I admire your work Immensely and follow your blog regularly, but THANK YOU for every encouraging word. But only time will tell what this house will eventually morph into. :)

      elizabeth

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  2. Oh Elizabeth you have described my worst nightmare. Which is reading the directions and not getting it. Over and over I have read some until I sat there with tears running down my face. Grrrrrrr That is when the directions fly out the window and I just say the hell with it and go for it.

    I have no doubt in my mind that whatever your final choices are they will be good ones and very inspiring. I wish I could come over and play. ;-( I would love to see what you are doing. :-) XXXXXXX

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    1. Hi Catherine! I think that you have described just how I was feeling, like this house was becoming a "nightmare!" I don't know why I still can't understand the directions, >< Oh, well, it is beyond that now and all I can do is to keep on pressing on!
      AND keep hoping that I can make what looks like a "sow's ear" now, into a "silk purse" later! :D

      elizabeth

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    2. I have no doubt you will make it into a silk purse!

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  3. Hi Elizabeth! It's nice to see you starting on a new venture. But, my goodness, what a challenge you have ahead of you! I don't know how you do it. It would drive me crazy! I even had trouble keeping up with all the explanations. Good luck to you. You certainly are a pro! If someone can sort this out, you can. I look forward to what is to come. Many treats in store, I'm sure! I would be so curious to see your entire collection of miniature furniture and accessories!

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    1. Hi Lucille! It does feel good to be starting another BIG project, never mind that it has been delayed for almost 20 years. hahahha But make no mistake, it IS DRIVING ME CRAZY!!!!
      So, Unfortunately I don't feel much like a "Pro" right now, Lucille but it is still early days and I have to keep on reminding myself that even "the Arthur" wasn't built in a day! :))

      elizabeth

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  4. Whoopee! You're up and running.So glad you found your MOJO!!! I know your ideas for this entirely unique Willowcrest will be fantastic. Can't wait to see it at the end of June!
    Hugs, Linda

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    1. Hi Linda! I AM "Up and Running" but it has felt like it's been on a Treadmill for months, ie, going nowhere FAST! hahahha
      I am looking forward to you're visit in June and perhaps there will be something more to see by the time you come over!
      Keeping my hopes high and my fingers crossed! :D

      elizabeth

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  5. I am so excited!! This build looks amazing Elizabeth. I'm just thinking of all the element of the Arthur and trying to envision this puzzle.....I commend you in tackling this challenging build. But there is no one else out there that could do it better and write the most interesting posts along the way. Might be inspiring me to start my build soon....

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  6. Hi Kat! It always feels like a bit of a puzzle to me whether it's a single room or an entire house! :) I think that that is what keeps me intrigued in the first place! But THANK YOU, though for your vote of confidence Kat; 'cause "challenging" is putting in mildly. :D

    elizabeth

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  7. Quel défi Elizabeth !
    Je comprends tous les problèmes car, je me trouve en difficulté avec l'agrandissement du mas, surtout avec l'escalier. Je suis certaine que cette nouvelle maison sera très belle. Ce qui est quasiment fini, tel le patio est déjà très plaisant à regarder.
    A bientôt, bon courage pour la suite.
    Bises. Joce

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    1. Thank You Joce for all of your good wishes, because I think I can use Every one of them! :D As you know, stairs are ALWAYS a difficult for me and with this house I am having to face them right away instead of leaving them until the end, but it is somewhat comforting to know that you and I share the same challenges in this area.
      However, you decided to remodel you chateau AFTER you had built it, which I think is far more IMPRESSIVE than beginning with an empty shell. Way to go Joce! :D

      elizabeth

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  8. Como entendemos lo que te ha pasado,a veces las instrucciones parecen en un idioma aún no inventado!!! Pero me encanta que hayas puesto en práctica tus propias idea,estás haciendo cosas muy interesantes en la casa!!!
    Besos.

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    1. Thank You Pilar for letting me know that I am not alone in finding it difficult when it comes to comprehending written instructions! hahahha
      I have assembled 3 Greenleaf kits prior to this one, so I it is not like I haven't been able to do this before, but for some reason I just couldn't get it with this Willowcrest.
      Be that as it may, I am very glad that you are enjoying all of the changes and proposed modifications, thus far! :D

      elizabeth

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  9. Looking forward to see this project develop. I like seeing the progres you made so far. And not using a lot of windows makes sense. In my first house I cut a lot of windows but realised that I could not place any large furniture agains the walls so I closed most holes again. It looked a little like your project. You'll make it look wonderful again. Greetings Aurora

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    1. Yes, Aurora! It is often feast or famine when it comes to dollhouse windows because these small spaces really NEED the light.
      North American dollhouses rarely include a fourth wall, so there is less choice for furniture arrangement especially if Every wall is Maxed out with large openings. So, Good on YOU in sacrificing those extra windows in favor of more wall space, because a girl's gotta do, what a girl's gotta do! :))

      elizabeth

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  10. C'est une bonne chose que vous n'arrivez pas à lire les instructions pour la construction de votre maison. Maintenant vous allez faire une maison personnelle, qui vous ressemble et quand on connait votre tallent, cela n'en sera que mille fois mieux.
    Je suis très heureux Elizabeth, de suivre cette nouvelle aventure en votre compagnie.

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    1. Thank You Jean-Claude! Trying to understand the written instructions just made me feel dumb, and I still can't figure out why I can't decipher them???? Is it just me?
      Anyway, once I chucked them I felt no obligation towards them anymore except to find certain pieces that I knew I would need. I felt like WONDER WOMAN for a day, taking Vengeance on the EVIL INSTRUCTIONS and lassoing the dastardly crooked front porch into submission HaHaHa!!!!

      But now it is back to reality and what to do next..... ???

      elizabeth :D

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  11. Dear Elizabeth, how nice to see you with your new idea for dollhouse!
    I love your projects, I guess - this one will be stunning. I'm waiting for news from progress. Big hugs!! Have fantastic April!
    Magda

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    1. Thank You Magda! :D I certainly hope that this house will be "Stunning" but I think that is still quite far off. I get easily discouraged sometimes and often distracted but I am determined to complete this house because it has waited for me for a Very Long time in my garage!
      I wish YOU a Very Happy April too! :D

      elizabeth

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  12. your obstinacy was successful, the pieces seem to give much clarity
    good continuation
    hugs

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    1. Hahhahaha, "Obstinacy" is a Very good choice of words, Claude! :D My mother used to call me "hard-headed" which was her unique way of saying "Stubborn!" :D

      elizabeth

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  13. Love that you kept at it and at it until the lightbulb went on! I'm afraid I would have given up! It must feel great to be back at it and totally immersed in your new project.

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    1. Thank You Claudia, but I WAS at the point of scrapping this kit and was even looking for a replacement.
      Then I had to give my head a shake and think of not only my original investment when I'd purchased it way back when; as well as the plans I thought I'd had for it whilst it lay dormant all of those years in the garage; but also that I if other people could build this house - then so could I!
      And although I'm still waiting to feel "great", I certainly do feel more hopeful, now that I have made a Real Start. :))

      elizabeth

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  14. Elizabeth, it's so good to see you starting a new kit bash and to intuition the enthusiasm in your words. I love the way you enter into the serendipity of the moment in your work, and have a conversation with the house as the project unfolds...and yes, I know that some of that conversation involves yelling! I really enjoy watching your creative process. What I learned from this post is to just wait and not force solutions, that the answer will come, a lesson applicable to more than just miniatures, methinks!

    I'm also so glad to know that I am not the only one with decades old kits gathering dust in storage spaces, haha.

    Have you read the Elizabeth Goudge book The Scent of Water? I know you like her writing, it having inspired your Green Dolphin house. I recently re-read it; it's one of my favorites, and I thought of you. Besides being just an all around marvelous book, some special miniatures are part of the plot. If you haven't read it, I'd like to send you a copy!

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    1. Good Morrow Kate! :D How perceptive to mention my "conversations" with this house, because you are SO RIGHT! hahahaha :D
      But truthfully they were all one-sided because the house said NOTHING TO ME, even when provoked. I only wish that it had and not let 4 months slid by whilst "I" fumed.
      But like you, I too often wonder how many kits are "lost" in an attic, basement or garage. Poor things. Once they offered so much promise and anticipation but now they are all but forgotten; WARPING their lives away.....
      You mentioned "The Scent of Water" to me before Kate, and since then I have been actively looking for more Elizabeth Goudge books, but without success. I currently have The White Witch, Gentian Hill, The Book of Peace ( which is her inspirational poetry) and Green Dolphin Street, so YES! I would LOVE A COPY!!! It is so Very, Very Generous of you to think of me - Thank You Kate!
      if you email me I will forward my home address :D

      elizabeth
      bun.e810@gmail.com

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  15. Зачем Вам инструкция? Вы же художник! Инструкция убивает полет фантазии. Я с удовольствием читала ваше сообщение. Я с интересом наблюдала, как строительство дома обрастает новыми идеями. Я люблю промежуточные фотографии. Каждая фотография, как старт для новой мысли. Ваше сообщение принесло мне много радости. Я даже загрустила, когда ваш рассказ остановился! :) :) :) Я буду ждать ваши окна :(:(:(
    Татьяна

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    1. My dear Tatiana! I Always enjoy your comments!!! :D
      I had to laugh when you said "Why do I need Instructions?", because it didn't occur to me to ask that question of myself until a couple of months had already lapsed. Looking back, it felt then like Wasted Time but now I think of it as Waiting Time. Waiting to see which direction this house was willing to go in. The fact that I was impatient to get started and was thwarted at every turn, was what was the most distressful. However, NOW I do feel that my fancy is ready to take flight, and whilst I wait for the windows to arrive, the patio is really taking shape!
      But this is so unusual for me to be starting with the landscaping FIRST?

      I think that I am still in shock.

      elizabeth:D

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  16. A beautiful project! This house will be original. I'm curious to see the progress.

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    1. Hi Faby! It is not "beautiful" yet but I do hope that it will be! :D
      And I am really "curious" to see the progress too!

      elizabeth

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  17. Wooow! amazing job!
    A big hugs ;0)

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    1. Hi Monica and Thank You! :)) It is an interesting project that I am still baffled by, (to say the least), however, I Am hoping for Great results although I still don't know what they might be. :D

      elizabeth

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  18. Oooh!I love the organic way you work. I'm seeing Aix-en-Provence, France or Tuscany, Italy.

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    1. Thank You Very Much Cynthia for the location Ideas! I still haven't settled on where yet, but I as I am constructing the patio, I am convinced that this house HAS to be somewhere warm and sunny! But soon I WILL have to decide exactly where and on which Continent it should be! :D

      elizabeth

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  19. I'm already loving this! The light through the french doors into the bedroom is amazing. I know better than to guess where you are going with this. You have an amazing imagination and impeccable skills. I'm so excited to see the progression.
    hugs♥,
    Caroline

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    1. Hello Caroline! :D Yes, when I saw that photo with light streaming into the bedroom, it made me feel Happy too! :D
      I still have no concrete idea where I am going with this so each new thing that is done is almost like a Scavenger Hunt, moving from one spot to the other with only little hints and clues to guide me.
      Thanks for the compliment regarding my "skills" Caroline, but I'm afraid that although I do have Lots of Imagination, my actual building skills are really rather limited, and not at all like Yours. Yet I do appreciate your vote of confidence in me,- I Really REALLY do! :D

      elizabeth

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  20. Hi Elizabeth!
    The Willowcrest was my first house, so I had no idea that I could do anything other than what the instructions said. Bravo on all the changes. Loving the front patio in lieu of the original porch!
    Jenny

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    1. Hi Jenny! I have seen your Willowcrest and have pinned a number of your photo to my pinboard! :D I remember my first dollhouse kit too, and how I followed the directions to a "T". I think that we all have done that, because we are afraid to make a mistake and want it to look just like the picture on the box.
      I didn't want to mess up this house after having waited so long to build it, and so following the instructions was important to me (at the time) and it took 2 months before I decided to go for broke.
      I am really liking the patio too and although it is an odd place to start ( for me ) I am grateful to be doing SOMETHING that actually feels like real progress. :D

      elizabeth

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  21. I was so excited to see this in my e-mails this morning. This is my favorite Greenleaf House. While I was dithering around thinking about doing minis again they stopped making them and they are getting harder to find daily. I'm going to be following this build with my magnifying glass hung around my neck so I can see every detail. You can bet on that. I am so glad you are back at it again. Yippeee! While I was reading the part about your patio floor I thought to ask you if you know of a product called Liquitex professional Ceramic Stucco for artist? Looks like cement and dries like cement. Takes paint beautifully has the glue mixed in already and just is a beautiful product altogether. I did steps, sidewalk and chimney with it. Check it out sometime. So happy you are creating again and I get to watch This just made the day!

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    1. Hi Susan! For all those years that this Willowcrest laid dormant inside my garage, it was MY favorite house too!
      Then I tried to put it together and I had a different opinion. :) Nevertheless, I am getting into it now and so it IS my Favorite Again too! :D I always like the roofline of this house and that it has so much room on the 3rd floor which is so different than most kits on the market.
      I didn't know that they had stopped making these kits but I found a link from Greenleaf that has them available (for what I think ) is a very reasonable price for this size of a dollhouse kit. I posted the link below so that you can check it out, if you are still interested.

      http://shop.greenleafdollhouses.com/Willowcrest-Dollhouse.html

      Also Thank You Very Much, for the info regarding the Liquitex Ceramic Stucco! I shall Most Certainly be investigating that further! I already love their product line and so I am eager to now try this out too!:D
      And Thanks for the Welcome Back Susan, because it sure does feel good to be back in the (MINI) saddle again- YEEE HAW!!!!

      elizabeth


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    2. Thanks for the link. It is just grand that they've brought it back. It must have been customer demand. It was gone for months. I hope you do like that stucco product. I love the stuff. It's a little pricey but an 8 oz jar seems to go a long way because even a very thin coat seems to work. I got fed up with spackle cracking and chipping and went on a hunt. Actually...that's not what happened at all. I picked it up by mistake thinking I was getting molding paste. Happy accident. Just great to know you're around again sawing and banging things. lol

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    3. That has happened to me too, Susan- Happy accidents as a result of not actually reading a label, but far better than what I would have purchased, if I had! :D

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  22. Hello Elizabeth, ata girl, you just go and do your thing!! lol I love the idea of you throwing the instructions over your shoulder and just getting on with doing what you do best! I love those 'aha' moments when things just start to come together. I am really looking forward to watching this house come together, because, I have absolutely no doubt in my mind it will be fantastic.
    All the best
    Vivian

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    1. Oh Vivian, you have described it So Well, as an "aha moment!" Not to mention that often your first idea can often be the best.
      I had a rough idea to add this patio back in February but when I couldn't get it to gel I thought the idea wasn't worth keeping.
      And so I have come full circle; now knowing all of the things that Didn't Work, so I no longer have to worry about them! :D

      elizabeth

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  23. Good Morning Elizabeth,
    Oh how I love it when you are on a roll. You really rock! Didn't we reassure you that any time now you would be I N S P I R E D?
    Interesting to follow how you work out the why and wherefore of space. I know you do it constantly whether it be real life house or garden etc.
    Love that little patio and it will be so much fun to watch the direction the decorating will take.
    Hope to see you soon.
    Janine

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    1. Good Afternoon My Friend! :D Yes you were Always Very Optimistic even in the face of all my forecasts of dollhouse doom and gloom! Thank you for holding me up through those dark days Janine! :D

      It is quite windy today but as I write this, the sun is still shining bightly in the garden. All morning I have been enjoying the beautiful birdsongs that has been happening in the gardens, and I am Very "Happy About That!" :D

      The little patio is turning out better than I'd expected which is yet another thing for me to rejoice over, but I am already wondering what the new mini garden should look like although, I have barely started on the doll's house? ...
      Talk about working BACKWARDS!....?

      elizabeth:D

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  24. Hi Elizabeth, I think discarding the instructions will prove to be the best thing you did for this kit. Now the design and construction can be more organic and borne from your ideas rather than the manufacturers. Good call altering the walls/windows so there is more space for the interior decor and furniture. It looks much better yet still allows oodles of light to fill the rooms. I adore your idea of the patio and terrace. I'm really looking forward to following the evolution of your build. No doubt it will be fabulous! =0)

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    1. Hi Pepper, Thank You Very Much for your Support! :D
      Many Many years ago, I drew up a rough sketch for this doll's house that were quite different from what I have currently done, yet both include the addition of the French doors. So it gives me great pleasure to finally get to use them for this build.
      This doll's house has just over a 9 inch ceiling height on the main floor and 8 inches on the 2nd floor, which makes a big difference to the quality of the natural light, especially when I compare it to the low ceilings of the Arthur.
      I am looking forward to seeing how the rest of this build unfolds, whilst trying not to get too far ahead of myself in all of my new enthusiasm!:D

      elizabeth

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  25. Oh Elizabeth!! I LOVE your updates, all full of detail and pictures. It's so interesting to read your progression and decision making - almost as good as building the kit myself, only vicariously through you! I was soooo in love with you Arther project and still find myself going back through old posts, and this promises to be just as exciting a journey.
    I can't wait to see more...
    Si

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    1. Hi Simon! I had to insert lots of photos if only to show that I have not been just sitting idle on my hands all these month! :D
      But I don't think that YOU need any kits since you build like a pro anyway, but like you, I always find it interesting to see the progression and decision (or indecision) in the making. It is kinda like the "behind the scenes" of your favorite movie or t.v. show. isn't it? ;P

      elizabeth

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  26. Te ha costado mucho tiempo, pero finalmente estás consiguiendo una bonita casa, con tus propias reformas. Me encanta el reportaje del desarrollo de la construcción. Me gustan los patios y balcones en las casas, así que veo fenomenal que hayas incluido uno.

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    1. Hi Isabel! It certainly has been a long time getting to this stage of the build, but once I decided to make the proposed renovations, I felt better about proceeding even if was, INCH by INCH! :D
      And although, I didn't start out to include balconies And/ OR a patio, it just seemed like the right thing to do, and I am glad that you like it too! :D

      elizabeth

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  27. Don't you just love it when finally your brain kicks into gear and the ideas start flowing? It's a really exciting feeling and this is a really exciting project. I absolutely love all of the changes you've made so far. Can't wait to see the progress! - Marilyn D., Oromocto, NB http://charminis.blogspot.ca

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    1. Thank You Marilyn! For months it felt like my MOJO was on a permanent vacation along with my brain, so I WAS Very Happy when the "ideas started flowing" again. :D
      I am excited about the changes too, and once I find the right door and install the other windows I will have an even better idea as to which way to continue to proceed.

      elizabeth

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  28. I'm seeing Italian villa too! Somewhere warm with lots of sun and an olive tree. I love the challenge of a dollhouse. I love to puzzle over it for days/weeks, trying to find ways to make things work. I think that's how you get such creative finishes and layouts. This is gonna be a great build. I have a Willowcrest that I can't wait to build, and it's been sitting in my workroom for almost as long as yours. I've always known how it was going to be (boring old straight-down-the-line Victorian) but I saw a fancied-up Willowcrest on Ebay many years ago, and I have never wanted my Willowcrest to be anything other than the Ebay one! It is a great house and I never tire of seeing how other people put theirs together.

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    1. OH Shannon! I DO hope that you too, will dive in and take the WILLOWCREST PLUNGE! :D
      And I am sure that you will have better success reading the directions than I did. hahhaha
      So Far: What I think I like best so far about this house is the height of the ceilings on all 3 levels and the possibility for quite generous rooms!
      On the negative side what I dislike is the awkward floor plan and the front entrance that will be difficult to access once the interior walls are installed. I have likened it to Lea' Fissoni's Miniature House, where the second level hallway is tucked away, which you can only see from the front, yet there is a grand depth of field and realism that it gives for that very reason.
      With your great love of the French style and Amazing skill with the laser cutter( even making your own Amazing French furniture), I can foresee that the challenges of this house would be NOTHING that YOU couldn't, very easily handle! :D

      elizabeth

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    2. Thabks for the vote of confidence Elizabeth! I sometimes jump into builds and then realize that I am not fully prepared, need some supplies or have done things in the wrong order! But most things can be worked around. I can't build mine yet due to space constraints and I really want to finish the Coxwolds and Mountfield this year. I love the inaccessible rooms, part of the charm and mystery, but if you are worried about it, you could NOT glue in your front door or windows, so there would be a reasonable sized hole to poke your hand in should you need to. I don't tend to fiddle with mine once they're done, but then I've never needed to move house with them! Anyway, looking forward to future blog posts! And remember that everything is progress!

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    3. Yes, like you, not looking before I leap, is a problem I Regularly struggle with too. :(( But there is a trade off for Impulsiveness -Creativity, and with these kits there is also "forgiveness"; because as you've said, most things CAN be worked around. :)

      I think that your idea of leaving the front door removable is a good one and I shall apply that idea for the the window above it as well.

      e :D

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  29. Oooh! :D I love this kit, yet I love that you are changing it into your own. Bravo!

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    1. Hi Brae! I have always thought the Same thing about Every dollhouse kit that I have seen you tackle, and now it even extends to miniature Automobiles, as well! Bravo to YOU too! :D

      elizabeth

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  30. Gold medal for ingenuity, talent and sheer hard graft. The house punished you for letting it languish and rewrote the once clear instructions into gibberish. Well done you for knocking it into a much better creation - that'll teach it. Marilyn

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    1. Hahahahha, I think you're quite RIGHT Marilyn, about the house "punishing me for letting it languish" :D
      What is that old saying- " that revenge is dish best served cold?"

      But now it's MY turn in the kitchen. ;P

      elizabeth

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  31. I admire your fearlessness! But I know this will be a most beautiful project. You inspire me to take a little more risk ;-)

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    1. Hi Veronique! You may call it "fearlessness" but I call it desperation! Although I also hope that it WILL eventually be beautiful, I think that it is still too soon to tell.
      I am Delighted to know that I inspire you, because that is exactly how I feel about what "I" see out in blogland- INSPIRED! :D

      elizabeth

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  32. Oh! Qué aventura maravillosa!!!
    Todo apunta a que va a quedar preciosa! Adelante!!! :)

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  33. Thank You Zulueta! I am Very Happy that you like what you see so far and YES, it is definitely "FORWARD" from here on! :D

    elizabeth

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  34. Hello, Elizabeth. I've enjoyed reading this post; in fact, I read it three times, because you've accomplished so many things and have made so many decisions regarding the Willowcrest that my mind was boggled! How do you keep up with yourself? I've never built from a kit, but I'm sure that I'd find it overwhelming - especially if I had NO instructions and had to REDESIGN the whole thing! You've made such imaginative innovations and have so many creative ideas for the future of Willowcrest. I'm excited to see what that future brings. I know that the end results will be stunning and completely unexpected. It's strange that I never feel impatient with my own projects, but I AM impatient for you to get on with yours so I can find out what you decide to do!
    Marjorie

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    1. Hi Marjorie! I Really enjoyed reading your comments, Thank You!!!:D
      I can say that I have felt EXACTLY the same kind of "impatience" when seeing YOUR work as it develops, Especially since you work "Freestyle".
      The reason that I like kits though, is because I can easily chop them up to bite-sized bits with only a craft knife, which is GOOD for a power tool dropout like myself. :) Besides which, trying to think up something entirely from scratch, like you do, is not a gift that God gave me.
      But as far as feeling "impatient" about seeing the Willowcrest built,... after 20 years-
      I AM TOO! :D

      elizabeth

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  35. Your blog is inspirational and I've spent time perusing it again and then again...my current build is a Greenleaf kit called 'The Pierce' and it's my first dollhouse. There are things about it that don't work and I've decided to kit bash another kit called 'The Tennyson' and add it onto The Pierce...well...what have I got myself into? Love the way you just go for the vision in your head and now it has given me the courage to do the same...thank you for sharing the steps to the desired end product along with the beautiful pictures. Cheers, Alayne in Winnipeg

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  36. Hi Alayne! HOW TOTALLY COOL AND EXCITING!!!! :D The PIERCE is a BIG house but just a wee bit smaller than The GARFIELD, which my dear friend Fatima is currently working on, so I can well imagine the magnitude and scope of your project. But what a UNIQUE idea to add your Tennyson to it, WOWEE THAT'S thinking outside the BOXES! :D
    My ONLY word of advise is that you make sure that you can get your project OUT of the space once it is finally finished. Fatima's found, that her Garfield is just that much WIDER than her doorway is, and that is without a base support.
    If you keep that consideration in mind though, then I say- GO FOR IT! :D

    elizabeth
    p.s. Make sure you visit my Pinterest boards because I have one exclusively for the Pierce as well as one for the Tennyson, so there are lots of ideas ready and waiting there for you to see. :)

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    1. Dear Elizabeth,
      Thank you for your optimism! I thought the Pierce was large enough but when I started to build it the rooms seemed small and awkward. That's when the plan to attach the Tennyson to it was hatched...hope I'm not laying an egg! I'll remove the exterior porch of the Tennyson and add it on to the living room side of the Pierce. The other side will go out to a conservatory. The pieces will be joined but will be able to be disassembled for transporting through doorways...you are right that can be a huge problem if not thought through carefully! You have incredible ideas and I've thoroughly enjoyed reading back entries in your blog...especially loved your real life garden, the miniature garden and the 'lost china from the messy garage' posts. You have some beautiful items and do such creative things with them. I lived in Coquitlam for many years and would have loved to have met you as I could have learned a great deal. Shall have to content myself with reading your blog...please keep sharing through pictures and descriptions...it's a joy to read! Cheers, Alayne in Winnipeg

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    2. As you've just mentioned regarding The Pierce, my friend Fatima found the same thing to be true of her Garfield, that there are some Very awkward spaces with the original floor plan of the kit, which is true about the rooms in The Willowcrest too. Having said that though, I am excited to hear how you have solved your lack of space by adding not just an addition, but a Whole Entire House!!! Very Impressive! :D
      I am glad that you've been enjoying some of my back posts, Alayne, Thank You! But sadly my garage is even MESSIER since I wrote that post and trying to find some of the other miniatures that are still BURIED up in the loft is going to take yet another MAJOR overhaul , which I am NOT looking forward to doing this spring. :((

      Today the sun is shining and I have committed some time to working outside, as the garden desperately needs my attention. I wish that gardens would just take care of themselves - But they Don't!
      It is wierd that you had lived so close by but, had to move to Winnipeg, before we were actually able to "meet" on line? Oh the Joys of the Internet! :D


      elizabeth

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    3. Dear Elizabeth,
      The Willowcrest is a very charming house and I'm so looking forward to seeing what you will create inside and outside...there has to be a wonderful story to go along with this build! It looks like a European villa but I just know that the story that goes with the building will be intriguing and all your own. If I had the wonderful miniatures that you have collected over the years I would be scrambling to clean out the garage and loft to find them (despite the fact I am not a huge fan of keeping a perfectly tidy house...how can a person be exceptionally tidy when creating?) A shared cup of tea in your delightful real life garden would be a treat...so sorry we are now 1500 miles apart as I believe we have lots of interests in common such as miniatures, gardening and dogs! I do visit my sister in Victoria so perhaps a meeting might happen at some point in the future. In the meantime the internet is a great place to chat and I've so appreciated your enthusiasm for my rather crazy idea to join two house kits into one. Okay...now I'm going to stitch another row into the tiny silk comforter being made for the Versailles bed...one row down and another 25 or so to go! Have fun playing in your real life garden...try to think of it as garden play rather than garden work...still too cold for that here in Winnipeg hence the stitching time. Cheers, Alayne

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  37. How brave you are! I think I would have given up the project but you went on and on and you ended with a great house. I know that everything isn't completed but I really like what you've done so far, especially the patio. I can't wait to see more.
    Geneviève

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    1. Good Morning and Thank You Genevieve! :D I am still awaiting the windows for this build and hopefully they will arrive soon, meanwhile I Have installed the new front door and so I can continue with building the patio next to it while I wait.
      The patio is interesting to me and is becoming even more so as I get further and further along, so at least I will have some Real Progress to report before the end of April! :D

      elizabeth

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  38. Great - a new adventure begins!!! What could be better news than this... oh... wait a moment... there was something better... hearing you received the instruction sheet dedicated for Martians made my day. Some days ago I made first contact with an Orchid kit and got totally frustrated just looking at the instructions. So far I've only built DHE kits and they are very easy to understand - but this one... why do they want me to start with the windows??? I don't get it... but hearing even you had difficulties to get along with yours makes me feel less alone... ;O) - I'm really looking forward to what your house will become... and I'm wishing you loads of fun with this precious period when everything is still possible with a kit.

    Hugs
    Birgit

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    1. Greetings Birgit! :D I have never heard about DHE kits until you mentioned them, but the Orchid I am very familiar with. It is good to hear that I am not alone when it comes to written instructions, but then I have NEVER been good with written problems i.e. "if Tom was driving a blue car @ 15klm per hour and Sue was walking in her red shoes, who would get to Gramma's house first?" >< I need LOTS of PICTURES ( which is why I always find following IKEA directions such a big problem!) :((
      However, I am Already having Fun with the patio as it is actually WORKING! Yahoo! :D
      And you are soooo Right Birgit; everything is entirely POSSIBLE with a kit! :D

      elizabeth

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  39. I haven't been visiting blogs for a long time now, and yours is the first I went to, today, because I was sure you have made something beautiful in the meantime and I was curious about it. Of course I was right - - - you made something special and very Elizabeth-like out of the kit. Sometimes it needs months (or years) but in one second there is THE IDEA of how it can be. So this will be another one of your wonderful, wonderful projects. Thank you so much for sharing
    Andrea

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  40. Greetings Andrea and Thank You but this is Far from "Wonderful", yet however I DO have some interesting plans for it! :D
    I had taken a bit of a break from blogging too and am just getting back into it, myself but Thank you for taking the time to visit me today! :D
    It made me chuckle to read "Elizabeth-like" in your comment; I shall try and remember that phrase for the future! :D

    elizabeth

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  41. Everyone's already said it all, but I wanted to post my enthusiastic thumbs up too! I'll be looking forward to every post!

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    1. HI Jodi! Thank You Very Much for your "enthusiastic thumbs up"!!! :D
      It has really pleased and surprised me at how interested everyone has been regarding this new build. But I am excited about having finally made a start, especially since my MOJO is back in town!- so it's 2 thumbs up for that too! :D

      elizabeth

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  42. Amazing dollhouse! I love the photos and your progress! I can't wait to see more updates!

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    1. Thank You Pei Li! I have been hard at work on the patio which is as finished as it can be (for now) and I wait for the rest of the windows to arrive, which will make a big difference to the house yet again.

      elizabeth :D

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  43. Oh I'm loving the way this is going! That patio area suits it perfectly! I can't wait to see it all kitted out with plants and things. :D

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    1. Hi Christine! :D You will be pleased to learn that the patio floor is finished and that it Does have a few test plants residing on it already. Whether they remain is still to be determined, yet it IS a start. :)
      I am still waiting for the windows before I continue, but I have to say that I am very happy with the way the patio has turned out thus far and I look forward to posting more on it soon.
      Meanwhile, Thank You for both your comment and for your encouragement- Much Appreciated! :D

      elizabeth

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  44. Hello Elizabeth,
    Another wonderful start! Though very late sending a message please know that your posts are anticipated and completely enjoyed! You are a stunning talent.....and I look forward to seeing this house evolve.
    Applause from Ray

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  45. Hi Ray! Thank You for your trust in my vision and for enjoying my posts! Hip Hip Hooray!!! :D
    I have to say though, that when I look at this house I am still somewhat baffled as to what direction to take it in. Plus, I find it unsettling to be this uncertain at the start of a new build, yet I SHALL- PRESS ON! Hopefully the house will give me a clue as what to do next?!?! Meanwhile don't applaud too soon Ray, because it appears that my temperamental MOJO is exiting Stage LEFT! :((

    elizabeth :D

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  46. My dear Elizabeth!
    Oh the places you take us! You never cease to amaze me. I absolutely love this post as it is such a wonderful tool on how to take something and run with it. You not only show that you can take a kit and totally transform it but you also show that you need not fear closing a window and opening a door, as you have done with me during my struggles with "Victoria" the Garfield kit. I look forward to every post from you and have all kinds of trust in you that although your "Mojo"may be in temporary limbo at the moment, when it comes back it always shows it's best side. Oh the places you will go!!! Can't wait.

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  47. Dearest Fats! You sure know how to make a girl feel good about herself, Thank You!!! :D
    You are right about my Mojo being in limbo right now, however when it was here visiting me last week, I was able to get a little more done on this kit than I thought I would.
    And having worked with at least 5 Greenleaf kits prior to this one, I know that they are very forgiving when it comes to changing the things that you don't like, to making changes that you do!

    And what a GOOD THING it is too! ;P

    Welcome home, Fatima! :D

    elizabeth

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  48. Hello Lady Elizabeth,
    You always inspire me. It was worth every month you took to think about the project because the upgrades you are proposing are genius. I love the way you reworked the windows on the house and your idea for the front patio is terrific. The rooms look much more realistic then they originally did as per the kit and I already love the bedroom...even in it's bear state the light coming in makes it look so real. I have missed your posts and you certainly came back with a bang. I am so excited about this project and cannot wait for your next post.
    Big hug
    Giac

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    1. Hello Sir Giac! The windows are (so far), what I like the most in this house.
      After the cramped quarters of the Arthur, I felt that I wanted MORE LIGHT to be able to filter inside this Willowcrest, especially since the rooms are deeper. Windows change everything!
      Thank you for saying that you've missed my posts, Giac. I missed doing them, yet it was good to have some downtime to think things over and then re-group. I've found though, that blogging can be good form of personal therapy as well as being lots of FUN! ;P
      Big Hugs Back!

      elizabeth

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  49. Oh Elizabeth. I am so glad someone else struggles and has sleepless nights about layouts and logic like me. I know exactly how you have felt and how every decision you made meant another decision had to be made about what had changed. It is like a circle of torture until a light bulb moment and everything comes clear.

    I love what you are doing with this house. It is going to be SOOOOO much better than the original kit. I will try to find your Arthur project because that is my next one. I have the kit sitting under my desk still in the shipping wrapping paper because I am not allowing myself open it until I have finished my current project. Hopefully it will not be the 14 years your Willowcrest sat around. Looking forward to seeing what you do next!
    Mini hug,
    Carol

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    1. Hi Carol! The struggle is Real because nothing comes easy to me and as you've said, every new decision means another decision on top of the first one. Often I have to double back and start all over again, and it not only frustrates me, but wastes my time, my materials and my money! And that's when it really feels like a "circle of torture" :((
      I am by nature IMPULSIVE, so I am deliberately making myself go slow however, after such a long wait time, I feel pressed to move faster! What a dilemma.
      Thanks Carol for your empathetic and encouraging words; it feels good to be understood. :D

      elizabeth
      p.s. I hope you have a Fabulous time at the Kensington show, where I know you'll find much to inspire you, not only for your current fairy house but also for your future Arthur project. :D

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  50. So much construction going on! I can't wait to see more photos as you continue to work on it. I love the metal bed frame; so pretty!

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    1. Hi Lindsey! I wish that what you've said Was True and that there was MORE construction going on, rather than merely THINKING about it! :/

      elizabeth :)

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  51. I have to admire your tenacity as much as I admire your creativity, I have to admit that I would probably have consigned the kit pieces to the firewood pile long before you did! But on my I'm so glad you didn't, this is going to be something really special.

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  52. Good'ay Norma! :D When it comes to this kit, I think that you mistook my Will To Rule for "tenacity" although I admit that your word sounds a lot better. :)
    But I couldn't let a box of wood bits call the shots and DEFEAT me, now could I!?!?! and yet that's what is happening :(
    Unlike the Arthur, this house is paying me back BIG TIME and is fighting me every step of the way, and there is no telling where this will eventually lead.
    But I too hope that it will be "Special" :D

    elizabeth

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    1. Well, my Plan B, after the firewood solution so perhaps it's better described as Plan C, would be to put it away for a while. Probably several decades. But that's not your nature I know and so I remain confident that something special will indeed be the result of your frustrations, your labours and your wonderful imagination.

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  53. I thought about that option of putting it away for a while, but this house is tall and there is not one place where I could have placed it as is, without having to still look at it. I have Land's End on a "shelf in waiting" but there is not a single uninhabited space that would accommodate the height and depth of this house. So in short, I had no choice other than to proceed.

    e

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  54. Elizabeth, this is Sans! (Don't know which account I am being signed in so ...) just had to roll back to how it all began for Villa Leone.14 years... for me, 8 years since my plans for the Maharajah's Palace..haha. You are my inspiration. I always find your process fascinating. Will keep reading.

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    1. Hi Sans!!!!! :D
      It is good to see you here again, my dear!!! :D
      Time flies by and yet with blogs it is so easy to catch up again and erase the the months in just a few hours, isn't it?
      Regarding this Willowcrest project: It has changed Radically since I posted this.
      When I review what I blogged here and then look at what the Villa is in the process of becoming, I heave a great sigh and think to myself how much EASIER doing the house would have been had I NOT moved it to Italy. Ah me.... I have watched Romeo and Juliet so many times now, I have half the dialogue memorized!
      All in the name of research hahahhaha

      elizabeth

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