Saturday, December 18, 2010

Teeny Tiny Bathroom

After a long break we are back to working on the cottage again. The Lord of the Manor installed the bathroom sink last weekend and today Teen2 and I made some curtains.

This teeny tiny bathroom is only about 3'x8' and the sink area cantilevers out over a flower bed. We made a curtain for the window and a curtain to hide the plumbing under the sink. To the left is the shower and to the right is the toilet. Now we just need to connect the water heater and we will be ready to host a guest here Amongst The Oaks.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Annual Holiday Photo

Last Sunday we took our Annual Family Holiday Photo. We got a good one that I will be sending out, but I wanted to share this blooper with you. I set up the camera and stomped down a trail to where the rest of the family was sitting. Then I set the timer and started towards them but I fell down and was wallowing around in the snow trying to get up when the camera took the picture. That's why they're all laughing.
Good times here Amongst The Oaks.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Random Party Photos

Just had to share a few more photos from the Halloween party. Above is Myrtle before she was Moaning.

Here are spiders fleeing the castle. Remember Ron saying, "Spiders! Why does it have to be spiders? Why couldn't it be 'follow the butterflies'?"
Here are two cute students. They perfectly illustrate that costumes needn't be difficult or expensive to be effective.
Oh, here is one of my favorite costumes. She is Tonks with the pink hair and pig snout. Too cute!

These two photos show the party in the Gryffindor Common Room after they won the Quiddich cup. The music was loud, everyone was dancing, and I'm pretty sure some snogging was going on somewhere.

Here is one of the educational decrees that I (Umbridge) posted in the Entry Hall.

Here is Bellatrix LeStrange's dark mark. Pretty cool, eh?

And here are Hermione's books and a jar for S.P.E.W. donations. Of which she received NONE! What a bunch of cheapskates.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Hogwarts Party Details

One of my favorite details about Hogwarts was the floating candles in the Great Hall. To recreate that I used those battery operated candles you see around Christmas. You've probably seen them before. The neat thing about them is you can put them in your own candle holders, turn the switch on at 5pm, and every day they will come on at 5pm and stay on for about 5 hours. The batteries last for months, so even in the cold, dark days of January they still come on to cheer your evenings. I got my first batch years ago from the Lillian Vernon catalog, but I've since found them online here.

To get the Great Hall effect, I took them out of their holders, tied thread around the bulbs and suspended them from the ceiling of my dining room with clear pushpins. I was quite happy with them and I think the Fat Lady was too.

The invitations were printed in green ink using a font I found online called Hogwarts. I tried to use similar verbage to Harry's first acceptance letter. And I tried to address each one using descriptive terminology for each kid's bedroom. If we had no idea about their bedroom we used the Cupboard under the Stairs.

When the guests arrived they had the option to don the Sorting Hat and be assigned a house. We had several stickers for each house, but the Gryffindor stickers seemed to be the most popular.

We also found some Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans and gave them as prizes. They are always fun. The flavors seem to change over the years. I remember getting a dirt flavored one before and I heard there was earwax and vomit too, but this year the icky ones were FISH, CHEESE, ONION, PEPPER, GRAVY, and SAUSAGE. And yes, they really taste like their names.

And Ollivander (Teen2) made a little display of wands that guests could borrow.

I hope you enjoyed visiting our Harry Potter theme Halloween party. Now, who's excited about November 19th? I know we are!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Start of Term Party

Our Halloween party last night was wonderful if I do say so myself. We had butterbeer which was quite good. We made the butterscotch base ourselves, but I think it would be just as good to use premade butterscotch syrup. Basically you blend a little syrup with cream soda, top the glass up with more cream soda, and float a dollop of slightly whipped cream on top. Just like what is served at the Three Broomsticks.

We also had Scabbers scampering around...

and Crookshanks was seen soaking up some late afternoon sunshine.

And bless his little heart, Dobby nearly wore himself out cooking, cleaning, serving and cleaning up. I heard pots and pans being clanked around in the kitchens all night long.

Dumbledor gave an inspiring Start of Term welcome speech...

and introduced the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, Mad Eye Moody.
We had several promising new students; Luna Lovegood, Cho Chang, Harry Potter, Cedric Diggory, young Bellatrix LeStrange, and Moaning Myrtle.
But several characters that showed up seemed to be at the wrong party; a SWAT guy, a crack dealer, Abraham Lincoln, Indiana Jones, Dr. House, Pyramid Head, and the Mad Hatter.
This strange woman was lurking around all night with a clipboard. Does anyone know who she was and what she was up to? I don't really trust her.

Friday, October 29, 2010

House Elves Only!

You know how when you have a party and everyone ends up in the kitchen no matter how nicely you have set everything up in all the other rooms? I'm hoping this will keep a few of the kids out of the kitchen. What do you think?

It's just an old sheet with the message stenciled on in green spray paint. Then we tore it up from the bottom so you could pass through it easily. The cats are having a lot of fun with it, but I hope
I didn't just make a plaything for them. Oh well, on to the menu.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Fat Lady

Our library is going to be the Gryffindor Common Room for our Halloween party and of course we needed a portrait of the Fat Lady in the Pink Dress on the door. I cut two pieces of brown paper; one to fit each sliding door and found a photo of the Fat Lady on the Internet. Then I sketched her in and colored her in with oil pastels. Then I finished out the edges to look like a stone wall. Now, if we can just remember the password! Was it Caput Draconus? or Fortuna Major? or Pig Snout?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Inside the Three Broomsticks

The Three Broomsticks is all set up now. I tried to make it look pub-like, but I really think it needs some antlers, don't you?

Anyway, we have a preponderance of red plaid, pewter mugs, playing cards, and even

a shrunken head that Teen2 made out of an apple.

And a bat flew through too. So what do you think?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hogwarts and Hogsmeade

Here is the set up for the front of the Three Broomsticks. I had to position a spot light up on the siding to help the name show, but I'm quite happy with it. Next I'll start decorating the inside to look like a pub.

And here is the Hogwarts sign over the front door. It too is made of Sintra (that PVC sign material). It was more difficult to illuminate and I'm not exactly happy with how it looks. Maybe I'll try another spot light from a different angle. I want it to be easy to read and right now the shadows are too confusing. Maybe the green light isn't right? What do you think. Suggestions are greatly appreciated.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Three Broomsticks

One of my plans for our Harry Potter Halloween Party is to turn our little cottage/shed/studio into the Three Broomsticks. I figure the kids will want hang out there just like they did in the books, so I'm trying to make it authentic yet kid proof. I plan to arrange two small tables and eight chairs like you'd see in a pub. I've put away the girly stuff and hung some red plaid curtains. I'll set out pewter mugs and cups, and a few bowls of snacks. I've even found a recipe for Butterbeer which I plan to test sometime this week.

LOM has already made the sign for out front. It's about 24"x30" and made out of Sintra. (Sintra is a PVC product that we use all the time in the sign industry.) That font is called Hogwarts and I found it online. Isn't it perfect? Has anyone got any more cute ideas for decorating the Three Broomsticks?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Grain Painting

We get some interesting jobs at work.... Like this grain painting on antique automobile parts. The owner is restoring the vehicle and the original parts were grain painted but worn, so he came to us to get them redone. Grain painting is not something we ordinarily do, but this man is an old and loyal customer so we are willing to try just about anything for him.

First we photographed all the parts and got color matches for the background and glazing. Then we sandblasted the parts, primed them and painted them this ochre color. Here is the glove box door.

I don't have any fancy graining brushes so I cut V shaped chunks out of a throw away brush to make one. Then I mixed equal parts faux painting glaze and a very dark brown color. Here is the "graining" brush loaded with glaze.

Step one is to apply the glaze in slow steady strips across the piece. If the lines are a little wiggly it doesn't matter, but the thickness of the paint should be consistent.
Notice how the curved window frames are even more wiggly because it's harder to do irregular shapes. But seriously, it won't matter.

Step Two is to drag a soft dry brush across the grain. This is where consistent application of paint in the first step really shows its importance. If you applied too much, it just makes a big smear, if you applied too little, it won't pull out the horizontal marks.
This is how you want it to look.

Step three is to stipple the wettest areas with a stiff dry brush. Stipple means to tap the surface with the tip of the brush. Above is a window frame and below is the glove box door after stippling.

Step four is to drag the soft dry brush back over the wettest areas with the grain this time.
I repeated those four steps again and again as I worked my way around the six window frames, the dash, and the glove box door. And then I repeated them again and again and again for the second coat.
This is how it finally looked. So don't be intimidated by grain painting. It just takes some faux painting glaze, a few simple tools, and lots of patience.