The fruits of a busy week in November (and a delightful surprise).

In November last year I had a sudden urge to get stuff done. Almost desperately. I booked in a dentist appointment (first in two and a half years), waxing, hair, optometrist (first in five years) and car servicing in the space of three days. That Sunday I found myself removing everything from the pantry for a stocktake. At this point Big Poppa looked at me closely and asked “Are you ok?” I stopped and thought about it and replied the only thing that seemed logical at the time. “I think I’d better do a pregnancy test.”

For those of you that have been following along, the year that followed our miscarriage was really tough. While grieving for our loss we tried month after month to conceive. Some months my period was up to 9 days late and I would have done 6 or 7 pregnancy tests, all negative. I hate to think over the space of a year how many of those little plastic sticks we sent into landfill.

Anyone who has experienced difficulties conceiving will know about the woes of tracking or charting your cycle (something I tried to avoid, fearing I’d get obsessive about it), forcing yourself to have exhausted sex between putting the toddler to bed and doing the dishes because IF WE DON’T DO IT RIGHT NOW IT’S ALL OVER FOR A MONTH AND WE MIGHT AS WELL GIVE UP NOW

(deep breaths)

and then the dreaded two week wait where you allow yourself to get hopeful every time you experience something vaguely different in your body (and find yourself Googling ridiculous things like “Is finger pain an early pregnancy symptom?”) and then trying to wait until the right time to take a test, then taking one early and getting a negative result but reassuring yourself that it’s just too early and then taking one at the right time and it coming out negative and convincing yourself that there is definitely a shadow and then taking another half a dozen just to be sure and then stressing yourself out so much your period ends up being late anyway, causing more angst.

Plus, crying in the doctor’s office. Crying in your boss’s office. Crying on the way to work. Crying on the way home from work. Crying in the middle of the night. Crying into your child’s hair. Changing your diet. Not drinking alcohol. No sugar! No caffeine! No additives! No fun!

Convincing yourself there is something dreadfully wrong and avoiding having your scheduled pap smear on time because you don’t want to find out and sending your husband off for tests because you’re afraid to send yourself off for tests, then three blissful months of acupuncture (if you exclude the three months of dreadful mornings and evenings of drinking foul tasting Chinese herbs) and finally you realise you can’t afford to keep that up and something has to give and…

Well – around comes October. We’ve passed the painful anniversaries of our baby’s due date and the date of our miscarriage the year before. I’ve come to an agreement with myself (and a very accommodating Big Poppa) that every new period will result in eating one full wheel of soft cheese, drinking one full bottle of red wine and booking in one full overnight, getting loose, letting it go girls’ night with my friends. We have decided to stop acupuncture and stop focusing on getting pregnant. We’ve started to think about all those other things we could plan for our future that don’t involve having another child. We have (again and again) celebrated the beautiful child we already have and have decided that’s enough. We’re thinking about working in Alice Springs and taking Little Fearse to New York and maybe even Disney Land. Our last hurdle to endure in our conception journey is a fertility appointment, booked months ago and coming up fast. After that we’ve agreed that armed with whatever knowledge we gain we will refuse any invasive tests or treatments and just get on with our lives.

And then, BAM. I’m booking a thousand appointments in a week and emptying out the pantry and taking a pregnancy test and WHAT? Two lines. Two lines. Two tests with two lines. FOUR LINES. This is more shocking than the 300 tests we’ve taken this year that were negative. Three tests, six lines. Four tests, eight lines. So we cancelled out fertility appointment and readjusted our future again.

And here we are. We’re 22 weeks along. It’s been anxious. There have been weeks of bleeding and blood tests, there have been 5 ultrasounds and 8 instances of hearing a healthy beating heart. We are at a stage now where we are finally feeling that this is something that is really happening – that come July we’ll have another Little Fearse (Mini Fearse? Tiny Fearse?) in our lives.

[Cute pic of Little Fearse and the bump to come when I’m…you know…not in my PJs and she’s…you know…not covered in Vegemite.]

Mama xo

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Dolls’ House renovation: The Living Room

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Our living room has a lot less detail than the kitchen, but it is still a very charming room (we think!). This room is even more influenced by the wonderful presents from my bagel-gifting, E.T.-contributing, kitchen table-donating friend. But before we get into the finer details. The before shot…

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This is a very blah shade of pink. Of course it is grubby, too, adding to the dreariness of this picture. It was a very not-wow room. Although it isn’t my favourite room in the house, I’m pretty fond of the newer version..

The Fearse Family: Dolls' house living room renovation

As I mentioned, this room is mostly furnished with gifts from my friend’s childhood dolls’ house. The lounge suite, coffee table, piano and piano stool are all from her miniature house. I was going to make a lounge suite to go with the comfy chair I made for the study. I was so relieved to be gifted these as I was fast running out of time and I had a strong feeling I wasn’t going to finish them in time. Next thing I know I have a shoe box in my hands full of these gorgeous mini things.

The piano. Swoon! This is another of the dolls’ house secrets. The piano plays! It has a music box inside. This is one of the best features of the house and sometimes while Little Fearse is playing with the house I pull the piano out and set it playing next to the house just for my own aural pleasure. It is just gorgeous.

The curtains I cut from some vintage fabric I had in my sewing box. I’d purchased it on eBay years ago. I sewed these on my machine. They’re a bit wonky and rough, but tied up you’d never know. I tied the bows with a ribbon that I cut off a shirt. They were the little ribbons that are sewn inside the shoulder and used for hanging the clothing on hangers in the shop. I always keep these. They’re often handy! The curtain rod, like the kitchen rod, was a poorly painted plastic rod from our spare room blinds. Big Poppa screwed little eyelets in for the rod to slide through. I found them in the shed looking very rusty. I painted them with gold paint, too.

BP printed off a picture of some brick work and glued some of these inside the fire place. It used to be painted red, but got a few white streaks on it when BP painted the room, so he decided to add the brickwork to cover it. I think it’s really charming and also goes with the brickwork he glued to the chimney outside the house. This is one of my favourite new things about the house and it was so easy to do.

The big backed TV with all its vintage charm comes from the Simpsons set BP was given in 1992. There is also a purple plastic couch somewhere, but we didn’t use this in the house. You can change the picture, there is a slot on the side. We’d like to add some different television shows over time, probably mostly Play School at this stage, as that’s Little Fearse’s favourite.

The picture frame on the mantle piece we found from a kooky vintage stall at the market. The photo of us is from our honeymoon in New York. We sought out all the photo booths we could find throughout New York and have a whole series of photos which we have so far done nothing with. We thought this photo was kind of fun hoped Little Fearse would think it was silly, which she did. Eventually I’d like to mount this on the wall, too, but I need to figure a way of doing it without gluing it to the wall, so that can wait for now.

Next up, the bathroom.

Mama xo

Dolls’ house renovation: The Kitchen

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I’ve been writing this post in my head all day (do you do that?) and what I keep wanting to start with are the words “The kitchen is my favourite room in the house”. But, actually, I feel that way about all the rooms. They just came together so beautifully. I think that the kitchen is the most “together” room in the house. Most of the furniture in there kind of matches and looks vibrant and lovely. Since the furniture and decorations for our house were sourced from all over the shop there was never any real intention for things to go together, so that was a nice surprise.

When I was a kid the kitchen had a contacted floor. The grey and white checks looked very smart and gave it a real kitchen-y vibe, but somewhere along the way half the contact was pulled up and the kitchen was left looking pretty ratty.

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The paint job left a bit to be desired. I did like how you could see stencilled writing coming through from the original wood on the floor. I wonder what my Papa used to make the house in the first place. Anyway, it’s gone now, hidden beneath a layer of shiny white paint. We hope to update the floor of the kitchen one day with tiling or floor boards, but for now the paint will suffice. So…time to unveil.

The Fearse Family: Dolls' house kitchen renovation

 

Ta-da!*

The kitchen is the life-blood of most homes. Yes, it bugs me that not all the Simpsons can fit around the kitchen table. This will probably be something I rectify in the future. The adorable little red table and chairs were a beautiful gift from a friend’s childhood dolls’ house. I think they are very charming. The other red chair (with Marge’s apron draped over it) came from a set of things we bought on eBay. The child’s high chair came from the same set. They just happen to (sort of) match the other furniture.

The long bench we made from items purchased from the Reverse Art Truck. This is a not for profit organisation that collects items from businesses that would otherwise go into landfill and recycles them for arts and crafts. They offer it by the bag load to customers. We bought a garbage bag full of paints, varnish, paper goods, wooden bits and pieces, plastic, foam, material etc etc etc for $30, which was our major expense. We have a lot of this stuff left for other craft projects. The bench is made from a piece of Venetian blind with dowels for legs.  It actually caused us quite a bit of trouble putting this together as we had lots of different ideas about how to make it. As it turned out the most simple method (literally gluing dowelling to the bottom of the blind) was the best one. It is so easy to over-think things sometimes.

The wall paper was also found at the Reverse Art Truck. It was gift wrapping and I thought it was perfect for vintage-style wall paper. I attached this with modge podge. I think it turned out really well. The paper itself is very thin and I was worried it would tear, but it adhered beautifully.

The fridge was purchased from eBay with some other random things you’ll see throughout the house. The door opens. There is a small slice of pizza in there that came with an E.T. doll a friend gave me years ago. The same friend (actually, the same one who gave me the table and chairs, too!) gave me bagel and cream cheese earrings after a trip to New York. I lost the cream cheese earring somewhere along the way, but the bagel was removed from the earring to join the pizza in the kitchen.

When I was hunting for things for the dolls’ house I found a round take away container, sealed with tape, in the op shop for $1.25. It was full of Barbie clothes, but amongst them I could see little bits of plastic here and there. I wasn’t able to open it to check what they were, so I decided to risk the $1.25 and see what I could find. It was filled with great stuff for the house, including the champagne glasses, bowls, plates, orange juice and cereal you can see here. It was a really lucky find.

The stove was made by Big Poppa. It took us a while to come up with this idea. The painted block was left over from an abandoned project for Little Fearse’s first birthday. BP drew the details on the front of the stove, including the time 8:00. This is one of the “secrets” of the dolls’ house as whenever we ask Little Fearse what time it is she says “8 o’clock, tick tock”. I borrowed the idea of using buttons for hotplates from my favourite dolls’ house tour. I plan to add a sink one day.

The small pictorial plate was my Mum’s as a child. When she had to clear her parents’ house out she gave me a sewing basket from her old bedroom full of random bits and pieces. This was in there. I really like that something she had as a child is in the house, since it was originally hers.

The final feature of the kitchen is the curtain. The rod is actually a piece of strong plastic that came out of some blinds we removed from the spare bedroom in our house. I cut off a small piece and painted it (poorly) with gold paint I found at the Reverse Art Truck. I used a scrap of material left over from my Mum’s 70s sewing fabrics to make the cafe style curtain. I attached this to a scrap of calico I usually use for practising stitches on my sewing machine. I really love the curtain – it turned out exactly as I hoped it would.

Stay tuned for room 2, the living room.

Mama xo

*For those of you that, like me, enjoy continuity you will notice these photos were taken from two different shoots. It definitely irritates me that the bagel turns up in different spots in different pictures. I hope you can cope with this, my fellow anally retentive persons.

Little Fearse turns 2! (The dolls’ house renovation edition)

The Fearse Family: Dolls' house make over

Over the past month Big Poppa and I have delighted in this dolls’ house renovation project. It was an adventure very close to my heart. My grandfather build this simple house for my mother in the cramped little shed at the end of his garden in the 1950s. My Mum played with it as a child and then it was passed on to me in my childhood in the ’80s. Now in the twenty-tens (discussion has ensued regarding what we call this era, Little Fearse rejected the “teenies”, so 2010s is the best I’ve got) my daughter has been gifted this gorgeous house made by her great grandfather. It’s the kind of continuity that really delights me, being a sentimental kind of lass. My grandfather, who I called Papa, was a gentle, industrious and humorous man who I adored and admired as a child. It gives me such a thrill to see my daughter, who never knew him, playing with the house he designed and built with his own hands. Now Big Poppa and I have had the opportunity to make our mark on the house, giving it extra sentimental credit if it ever gets handed on to future Fearse generations. Or, you know, Little Fearse may have been taught the skill of decluttering so well that she turfs it first opportunity she gets.

The original dolls’ house had a frontage the slid along the runner at the front. This was present in my childhood but has since disappeared. We may make another one day, or maybe unearth the original one in my parents’ shed, but for now we’re not worried – it’s just for appearance anyway, and would hamper play. The lid of the house comes off. As Little Fearse grows she will be able to play through the roof space as well as the front.

The dolls’ house is filled with items sourced from here and there and everywhere. You may recognise the family living there. The old school Simpsons family have been gathered by Big Poppa since childhood. They are the perfect size for the house and since he doesn’t want to part with them, we thought we might as well give them a purpose and a home. Each room in the house holds its secrets, which we will reveal in a room-by-room series.

Our dolls’ house isn’t finished – we have lots of plans for additions and improvements (including doing up the roof, which wasn’t done in time). We’ll keep you updated as we make changes.

Part 1: The Kitchen

Part 2: The Living Room

Part 3: The Bathroom

Part 4: The Bedroom

Part 5: The Library

Mama xo

 

There are a number of resources we’ve used throughout the project. Most of these are web based, but we have also learned a lot from a number of books we borrowed from the local library. These were:

Making period dolls’ house accessories. Andrea Barham.

Dolls’ house furniture : easy to make projects in 1/12 scale / Freida Gray.

Finishing touches / Jane Harrop.

Creating dolls’ house period style / Lionel & Ann Barnard.

If you are setting out on your own dolls’ house renovation here are a few of our favourite websites we turned to for inspiration:

Modern DIY dollhouse with wooden furniture – this was my absolute favourite and most inspirational tutorial. I just love how Erin used only things around the house. Our own stove is inspired by Erin’s.

Seven Thirty Three – an adorable dolls house renovation tutorial.

How to: Make a modern doll house – this is a great little house. I’m actually quite envious of the kitchen and the window planters!

My froggy stuff – tutorials for everything dolls house related! Great pics and printables, too.

Creatively content – DIY from building the house to decorating and creating furniture.

Dollshouse decorating – I found this page a little confusing to navigate, but the ideas are endless and usually quite simple.

Kathy’s Miniatures – this gorgeous Irish cottage is themed down to the bathroom towels. Lots of adorable ideas. I particularly liked the little knitted blankets and plan to add some of these to Little Fearse’s house one day.

 

Toddler musings on the difference between ‘house’ and ‘home’.

On the way home from family day care yesterday Little Fearse started a conversation with her BP about our house and whether it was also our home. Later, on the way to Granny and Papa’s for dinner this happened:

Lil Fearse: Bye bye Daddy’s house.

Mama: Bye bye home.

LF: Daddy’s house, LF and Daddy and Mummy home.

M: That’s right, it’s our home.

LF: Go Papa’s house.

M: Yes, Papa’s house and Granny’s house. It’s also their home.

LF: NO! Papa house. Granny house. NOT home!

M: Well, yes, it’s their house and their home, too.

LF: NO NO NO NO NO! Daddy’s house Papa and Granny home.

M: Is our house Papa and Granny’s home, too?

LF: Yes. Mummy and Daddy and LF and Papa and Granny home.

I think it is a most remarkable thing that our two year old wants to distinguish between a house (structure) and a home (heart). For our last year or so we have been working on making this house a place to put our hearts. We are getting there. When our family came for LF’s birthday on Saturday many commented that they were starting to see the difference. There is less stuff and more room for that cosy, homey feeling. It is so restful and calming. It makes me happy.

Mama xo

Play time fun

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We’ve been having lots of fun together lately, Little Fearse, Big Poppa and I. Play has included; exploring nearby nature parks; dressing up; lots of crazy, unbalanced, creative towers; dressing like Dad; creating a zoo; bathing with rose petals gathered from the garden; cooking pancakes; learning about the fragility of eggs; designing our own ragdoll; deciding that actually, she needs a face; riding on things designed not for riding; sharing fun breakies (and playing musical chairs).

Little Fearse and I had an early Earth Hour with a candle lit bath last week. It was a really lovely way to spend an hour, playing ducks in the near dark. She is thoroughly enjoying her little tent, filling it with blankets and phones and toys – her own hideout. We are visiting the library every second week and falling in love with new stories each time. She loves turning surprising things in to drums and drums into surprising things.

Watching an almost 2 year old create and imagine and explore is such a joyous thing.

Mama xo