Color Me Brown book challenge

I never intended for this to be a book blog, but I love books - I almost wish that I had become a librarian. The books I've reviewed so far have been how to books because I intended this to be a book about things I make.

I just stumbled upon the Color Me Brown book challenge, and it called my name. As a mother of four beautiful daughters, I want them to develop a love of reading. I also want to instill positive self images. So this particular challenge has personal value for me. I'm not yet sure which books I'll be reviewing in August, but I'm looking forward to whatever they will be.


BIP Blog Post Bingo

2009BIP 150x210
I've spent the last few days participating in the blog improvement project at Sophisticated Dorkiness.

I created a couple of review posts, a short list post, a resource and opinion post with poll, and a personal post with links (I had hoped that this would cover the long post too, but I couldn't find anything else to talk about on the subject).


Playhouse Heaven

1. the playhouse, 2. playhouse-sleepover, 3. playhouse, 4. Dreaming Spires Willow Playhouse from Judith Needham www.willowplayhouses.co.uk, 5. This is my playhouse, 6. Unique, 7. Crooked Man's House, 8. Dream Playhouse, 9. DSC01076.JPG

I have dreamed of building a playhouse since the birth of my first child many years ago. At the time it was to be a tree house, but the tree has since fallen. Over the years I have drawn many different plans and bought and read several books on the subject.

While I was supposed to be working on other things today, I found myself on Flickr where I happened upon these great images. I would love to do a tour of the interiors of these houses. I've never tried a mosaic, so I picked my favorites and gave it a try.

I've been trying to determine if there is a theme to what I was drawn to. It looks as though they are all unusual or have a natural quality to them. They seem to vibe with my no frills, earthy nature. I realize that I prefer not to have a Victorian or cookie cutter kit type house.

I have little to no carpentry skills, so what I build will involve a lot of guessing. I want to use as many found or recycled objects as I can. I've already bought a door and a couple of screens from the Habitat Restore.

This playhouse is on my bucket list, and I am determined to get it done this year. It won't be as cool as these, but I will be proud of myself, and I am sure that my children will be thrilled. Even the oldest, who is probably technically too old.

Which makes me wonder are you ever too old for a playhouse? I know that I've seen trends in fully functional tree houses that are being used as home offices. I'm not into that, though. I want to design it to catch breezes and capture sunlight. I want it to be a kid's place to play and not a tricked out (wo)man cave. Living in Texas, I will probably have to utilize a fan though. Maybe I can learn about solar power in the process. If so, I might also put in solar lighting so that we could do slumber parties like the one in the mosaic.

Is it obvious that this is more for me than for my children? I mean they are welcome and I'd love to give them memories of playing with momma in the playhouse. But I think that the basket on a pulley, the loft, the binoculars, and all the other gadgetry in my head are all my fantasies.

I suppose that it would only be fair to have them help me plan so that they might enjoy it more. But I think that it's probably more important that I get it going.


Let's try a poll

Since I'm on a quest to experiment with improving my blog, I'm going to experiment with polls tonight.
I found tutorials on creating them here, here, and here. These all involved manipulating the gadget provided by blogspot.

Have you ever used a poll on your blog?

This was relatively easy to do. But I wanted experiment with polls form other sources. So a search led me to Vizu.com where I created this poll.

While I could still only do one question, I was able to select colors and the width of the survey. But I didn't much care for the advertising that appeared after I voted.

Please vote in the polls so that I can experiment with this more.

The quest to improve continues.

More blog improvement

After participating in recent challenges, I find myself constantly asking how I can make this blog look better. I know that I really should be focusing on adding more content that people care about. But since I'm still in infancy phase, I use this more as a diversion and motivator than as a traffic builder.

So I've been nagging myself to go back and finish the things that I didn't get to in the Bloggiesta. Namely, I want to

  • make the related post widget work

  • figure out why my favicon doesn't show up

  • get the widget working that's supposed to recognize first time visitors

  • create a 404 page (I just think this is cool)and

  • play with image placement some more

I've already changed my background again, so maybe you'll notice other changes soon.


Review: Hammocks, Hassocks and Hideaways

Hammocks, Hassocks and Hideaways: Furniture Kids Can Build For Themselves (1980)
by Timothy Fisher 0201029367 170 pages

Summary: As the title states, this is a book of furniture projects described at a level intended to encourage kids to DIY.

Review: The first section of this book out lines tools and materials that will be used to complete the projects. The next section explains projects that sit on the floor - primarily chairs. The section on "in the air" furniture provides guidance on projects that are swing and hammock in nature. The next section is about boxes and tables that can be folded flat. There is a section on outdoor furniture that utilizes interesting materials. There is a small section on storage and a section with ideas for various room dividers. The final section focuses mainly on lamps.

Recommendation: The projects in this book are simple and utilize simple materials. While I might want to modify them a bit if I were making these items for my kids' rooms, I would follow them as is for a playhouse. With simple directions, it will come in handy in my first attempts and furnishing a play space for my children.


Review: Creating and Crafting Dolls

Creating & Crafting Dolls (1994)
by Eloise Piper 0801985242
128 pages

Summary: This book gives a pattern and steps for making a doll with suggestions for varying the appearance.

Review: This well written book gives a relatively simple pattern for a doll. Each chapter gives information on how to add to the details of the doll. For each detail, instructions are given on how to stay simple or how to add more complexity to the project. For example, when adding facial features, one could draw them on, use embroidery, or applique features. Instruction is given for clothing dolls from applique to actual outfits.

Recommendation: I would definitely recommend this book for beginners to intermediate doll makers who are looking to make a simply doll and perhaps spice it up a bit.


Review: Housebuilding for Children

Housebuilding for Children (1977)
by Les Walker 0879513322
175 pages

Summary This book gives details that guide children through the process of building small-scale structures using large-scale techniques and principles.

Review I bought this book several years ago with the intention of saving money and building my own playhouse for my daughter. I chose this particular book because it is aimed at children. It is written to allow a child to increase her skill sets under adult supervision. The edition I have is older, so no power tools are mentioned. A group of kids could conceivably follow the given directions and complete one of several different structure types. They might also learn about different building techniques along the way.

Recommendation I would recommend this book to a young person with a budding interest in architecture or construction. I would also recommend it to the adult novice in woodworking who would be interested in building something for children.