Monday, February 23, 2015

Of Mice (Houses) and Men

Valentine's Day was a little over a week ago, and as usual I threw myself into preparations with gusto.  I just didn't have time to mail handmade cards - sob! - but I did bake batches and batches of cookies. 

For friends and family, chocolate sugar cookies with royal icing.  The heart shapes were achieved simply by placing a drop of pink icing amid the white and drawing a toothpick through it.

For Todd's suitemates at the university, red velvet Oreos...

...and for their party, a three-layer red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting.  I'd seen an idea online:  crumbling the cake left over from leveling the layers and pressing it into the frosting.  I decided to take it a step further by pressing leftover crumbs into a cookie cutter.

Remove the cutter, and the shape stays.  Voila!

Plenty of crumbs left over to hide my messy frosting job, too.

It was delicious! 

I usually try to do a handmade gift for Valentine's Day.  Although I'm atrocious at embroidery, I had the idea to embroider a circle of monogamous animals in honor of our commitment.  Wolves, swans, beavers, and many birds fit that criteria, but I was quickly overwhelmed at the thought of sketching out many animals that would require so much detail work.  I decided to go with insects, because I'm very fond of them, and there are surprising examples of monogamy within their world...although, to be fair, it's mostly because they live such short lives. 

First, I sketched my choices:  the termite, mosquito, and cockroach.

I darkened the outlines, cut them out, and arranged them on my fabric.

I used my light box to illuminate them for tracing with a fabric pen.

Here goes nothing!

I was really pleased with how it turned out!  It framed easily and now hangs in Todd's office.

My gifts from Todd were a mousepad with an image of an insect I'd photographed last year, plus a scroll saw and boxes and boxes of tools.  Yes, I was thrilled to get power tools, because this meant that we could start our work on the MOUSE HOUSE!  In review, the mouse house is a three foot tall "tree stump" with a cut-away front that shows the multiple rooms within.  We would create the furniture and furnishings ourselves, all in 1:12 scale.  I was absolutely thrilled to get started.  Todd has a mind better suited to architectural drafting, so he sketched out the floor plan...

The updated plans include a little library...hooray!

Next, he calculated room size, cut the boards, and started drilling.

It took several hours to finish the frame.  It *must* be correct, because it's going to be holding a lot of weight.  The frame itself (minus the front opening, of course) will be wrapped in chicken wire, then a type of molding cement for bark, plus the room contents add weight.

It was Todd's idea to leave an opening in the bottom of the house, to mimic the natural openings in some smaller tree trunks.  We'll create more natural curving sides with molding cement. 

Windows, doors, and stairs are coming next.  Stay tuned!

Have a great week! 

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