“Ginger bread“ house party for kids (and adults)!

The gram cracker “gingerbread” houses are constructed ahead of time so the icing can dry and the house structure will be firm before the party. Royal icing is used for construction because it holds the parts firmly while constructing and also once dry.

The recipe I used called for two egg whites, 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar, and 1 pound of powdered sugar. Beat the egg whites first until stiff and foamy. Then add the cream of tartar and powdered sugar and beat for a long time until stiff peaks form. Cover the unused icing with plastic wrap so no air will get to it. If it starts to dry it will become crunchy and clog up your decorating tips. Recipes for royal icing can also be found online.

Buying candy for the party is a lot of fun. I always look for small candies that can be used repeatedly on small houses.

Here are some examples of what the kids and adults made at our last party for Kevin and Melanie’s kids.

Decorating the yard is important too.

Half walls in the art studio

As I was beginning to plan where to put all my shelves in the art studio, I realized I didn’t have enough wall space. I decided to build a wall between the two halves of the studio to give me room for all my hanging shelves. I didn’t like how closed off it felt, however, so I cut a large opening in the wall at eye level to open up the space.

Since that leaves me only half a wall when I needed a whole wall, I’m also putting half a wall between the breeze through and the far section of studio. That will allow me to mount all my shelves and still have a view of the entire studio as well as the horse corral and yard.

I thought I would be done with my studio before Thanksgiving but, as I should have known, projects always take 2 to 4 times longer than expected.

Felted, hand spun yarn!

I decided to try my hand at felting my handspun yarn. I read about it in one of the spinning books I have. Now that I have tried it, I really like it.

First, you spin the wool. The first time I tried it I just spun just a little bit and made it into a ball, which I then felted and unspun. After that I tried making full skeins and felting them. Below, you see a full skein that is ready for felting.

To felt a skein, you put it in hot water and full it, then take it out and with soap, you lather it up and agitate between your hands. I like to fold my skein so it doesn’t get too tangled and felt it as if it were a ball.

Below is a picture of the felted skein which has not yet been unspun.

After the first felting, the skein must be unspun by turning the spinning wheel backwards and gradually moving the yarn onto the spindle while untwisting it.

This creates a beautiful and interesting texture in the felted yarn. Then the yarn must be felted again to increase its strength. Below is a picture of the final product, after drying.

The more it is felted while twisted, the more defined and interesting the texture when finished.

Below is a picture of the three stages next to each other.

Below is a picture of the first little bit I felted and unspun. All of these examples are with Merino wool.

I’d love to hear from anyone who tries this or has tried it.

Opening up the wall.

Before:

After:

I just love being able to see outside all around me. I especially love being able to see into the horse’s corral and barn from my studio. Makes me want to sleep in my studio even more, LOL!

This time, when I made my cut outs, I left the siding on the outside of the walls. That way I won’t have to piece it back together later.

Once the windows and trim are on, I will put cement board siding over this older plywood siding.

Working on the exterior of the cottage art studio.

With a week of sunny days in front of us, I decided it would be best to work on the outside of the art studio. We had a few days of rain and now with a break in the weather I realize I had better take advantage of the dry.

I could have chosen to have new windows but I had collected these old charmers over the past two years and I just love them. They may not be as energy efficient but I can create a barrier if I need to, from the weather, with clear bubble wrap or plastic.

Much of the siding I have used was given to us through Freecycle. I have begun buying new siding now though.

Ceiling almost finished!

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Look how bright the double room is now with the sheet rock up and ready to finish trimming out and painting. John and Ryan and I spent the last two days working as much as possible to get the ceiling in place. There was a lot of prep work to be done: finishing the insulation, spraying some foam insulation into cracks and crevices all over the place, and making sure there were no screws or nails or dried foam in the way of the sheet rock being raised into place. I only missed one little screw which created a little bubble when I hung that piece of ceiling. I had to cut into the bubble and will patch it later.

This time we rented a sheet rock raising tool to help us lift the large heavy Gypsum boards into place. I appreciated having the tool around for lifting the boards, fitting, and cutting them. It rented for $39 a day at Home Depot. We ended up using it for a day and a half.

I was able to work for three hours at a time and then I would have to take a break and have a snack or meal. I’m pretty happy about how much energy I had today. I was dripping with sweat and I felt so dirty when work was through but I feel blissful and tired after my shower, having accomplished so much.