Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Welcome Followers And Other Musings

Welcome Giveaway!

Dear Followers, one and all! Welcome to my blog!

In honor of passing the 50 followers mark I have made a little something as a giveaway prize. Having never done a giveaway before, I really don't know WHAT I am doing! Nevertheless, if you leave a comment on this post before Saturday July 16, indicating that you wish to be a part of the drawing.....one of my nieces will be visiting this weekend and SHE will have the pleasure of drawing the winner from the hat!
As you may or may not know, we have been suffering a heat wave in the New England region in the past few weeks. Temperatures in the 97 degrees F for day after day! Too hot to do anything! It is cooler now, thank heavens, but at the start of the heat wave on the weekend of July 4, I was watching the number of my followers climb steadily towards the 50 mark. Who would have EVER thought I would find so many followers? Certainly not me! But having witnessed other bloggers honor their 50 follower mark with gift giveaways......I felt I should make a stab at it myself. And immediately felt that old anxiety.....what should I make? I can't make anything really nice.... I'm too much a beginner....I don't know what anyone else might like to have ......I don't have time for this.... I don't know HOW to do a giveaway....and SO ON! To quiet that little voice I went and sat in front of my Lovely Old Dollhouse.....just to LOOK at it and be soothed. And then I noticed the little L.L.Bean "catalogs" I had cut out last summer as I was starting to work on the dollhouse. And then I noticed a few tiny seashells I had lying around the dollhouse just waiting for something........ Hmmm....then inspiration struck! I had always wanted to try my hand at decorating a piece of furniture with seashells. I had even bought bags of the tiny shells from craft stores years ago. They were just waiting for me to remember them! What better way to honor the start of this HOT summer than by making something out of seashells? So I quickly assembled a mirror frame from scraps of wood and a tiny mirror, and then spent a DELIGHTFUL day carefully glueing every tiny seashell in place on the mirror frame!
It and the tiny catalog will go to the winner of the welcome followers drawing!

Welcoming followers with gifts is an ancient tradition. But when I think of welcoming people into my life and my world, the most powerful image that always comes to my mind is gathering around the hearth and sharing the warmth of fire and food. So perhaps it is no coincidence that the other subject of this post is the most basic hearth of all.....the kitchen hearth....this time the one in my Castle Dollhouse. Now, as you already know if you have been reading this blog, I came to build my Castle Dollhouse at least in part from seeing the very inspiring work of Nina and the Knitwits on their Tudor and Medieval Dollhouse Project. When I started to build my Castle in February of this year, Nina had not yet started on her very amazingly awesome kitchen wing of her dollhouse. And you will remember that I had decided right from the start that my Castle would have the kitchen BELOW the Great Hall, in the cellars as it were. So I find it really interesting to see just how different our castle kitchens are! And I must also confess that when Nina DID start her kitchen (almost the SAME week I had gotten mine mostly painted) I was constantly torn back and forth thinking "ooooh look what Nina has built! Now why didn't I do it that way?" or "maybe I should tear mine out and start again"! But fortunately I did nothing so drastic! And actually, it really helped me to see that I was following the inner prompting of my OWN Muse and just needed to pay attention to what I was dreaming about.....no matter how quiet that little voice became!.

So here you can see the basic shell of the Great Hall (where Ken (or is it Sir Kai?) is standing) above the kitchen area and the storage areas. There are two storage rooms, one on the right is the Pantry (from Pannetry or bread room) and the one on the left is the Buttery (not from butter.....but from Butts of wine or beer! - and hence the term for Butler being the one who looks after the wine).. ...

(*please notice, Sans!, my antique sewing machine in the background at right) :)

Here you can see I have painted the entire area the light gray base coat (after giving it all a coat of primer). You can see I have built the fireplace, and for inspiration on it's shape and scale I referred to many of my Medieval Illuminated texts. I really must learn to assemble a few of those picture references and include them in my posts.....

You can see here a closer view showing the base covered with the "Bondo" - our version of Polyfilla, and the shapes of stones carved into it before it dried. (Please refer to Nina's blog for EXCELLENT tutorials about this!) I was carefully following her suggestions for this part! And here you can also see that I have attached two doors between the kitchen and the storage rooms. So far, I have been using the cut-outs from the plywood walls as the doors wherever possible. Once they are painted and trimmed they serve very well.

Below you can see the basic stonework painted in. And I couldn't resist painting a "trompe l'oeil" fire in the hearth. After all, it was winter as I was building this, cold and dark here in the North and I couldn't know how soon I would get to putting in the electrical fire. I was AMAZED at the immediate difference it made in the kitchen! It brought light and warmth and a focal point even though it was just illusion!

Here is a closer view of the hearth and the still rough painting.......

And the beginnings of the vaulted ceilings for the kitchen and storage areas.......

And here the ceilings are painted and loosely placed (NOT yet glued down!)

It was at about this point in my construction that as I was researching medieval castle hearths on-line that I realized I had left out an important element! The Bread Oven! Now, you must realize dear readers, that at the time my Castle was "built" maybe in the eleventh or twelfth century, they did not even have chimneys as we know them! Chimneys came into fashion during the thirteenth century. Before that, the fire was in the center of the hall and the smoke rose up and found its way out through openings in the wall near the roof. And at that time, the bread ovens were a separate structure outside the building, often a free-standing bee-hive shaped structure. So it is ENTIRELY authentic that my Castle would have added the ovens to the kitchen later, even after they had added the chimney and hearth against the wall as we see above.
Here, therefore, is the newly re-modeled MODERN kitchen with the convenience of an interior bread oven, fully smoke-removing chimney, hearth with more than one pot chain and shutters on the arrow-slit windows! This view is with the vaulted ceiling removed and the beginning of the painted stone arches where the vaulting meets the stone walls. The building overseer is inspecting the workmanship..... :)

Here the vaulted ceiling is in place.

Now, Dear Readers, you must realize that I was about this far along in my construction when Nina started blogging about HER Tudor Medieval Kitchen! And Oh what a kitchen that is! The details! The creative tutorials! The polyclay pheasants and potato barrels! The fires and spits and charcoal burners! I was BLOWN AWAY! Every day was some new GREAT idea! And the whole becoming such a richly authentic period room! IT stopped me in my tracks! Well, for a few days at least! :) I had to come to the realization that MY Castle kitchen WANTED to be a dark and moody STONE place! It was in the Cellars, after all, and OLD and the whole image for me had always been more cave-like than the clearly Tudor era kitchen Nina was building! So I made my peace with the differences in our kitchens, and stored up in my mental wish list all sorts of good ideas which will arrive in my Castle Kitchen in good time. Because, I also realized that there is no point in hurrying this project! The pleasure is at least as much (for me) in the doing as in the having.....so I have AGES of pleasureable mini-building ahead of me!

So the details continue to be added... the shelf along the wall for platters and jars....... the wooden table that happens to be one I built in my teen years........ the cast iron cauldron and pot that also came from a set I had in my teens and is PERFECT for this kitchen......... And a detail that I am proudest of is the "smoke" rising from the fire on the hearth..... with the glitter of cinders rising in the smoke....... made from a lovely gauzy smokey colored glitter strewn fabric...! It may be a long way from finished...... but it is coming together just the way I have imagined!

So, WELCOME to my Kitchen, One and All!

Welcome Followers and Other Musings


  1. Love the kitchen! Please count me in in your give-away! And congrats on 50 Followers!:)

  2. Looking good! Congrats on 50 followers!

  3. Dear dear Betsy, I too love the cinders and sparks from the fire and the new shelves you have built. And let me tell you, yours is no less charming than all the castles I have seen. You should be pleased :). You have come to the fun part of building a room, filling it with all sorts of accessories :). It is already cosy, mind you and I sure will like to stand by your hearth and breathe in all the earthy smoke and delicious stew or broth. I can imagine the breads in the oven turning brown and smelling like home :).

    I see your sewing machine and think your antique is more beautiful than mine !! :).

    Dearie, you may have to remove the world map gadget which is eating into your 1st few paragraphs :).

  4. Me encanta este castillo, eres muuy ingeniosa..:D

  5. Oh Dear Me, Thank you Sans! for telling me my revolver world is covering the words to my post! I have SO MUCH to learn it seems! When I open my blog at home, the world goes behind the words, but when I open it at work it covers the words! When I noticed this, I asked my family to tell me how it was on their computer and so far they have said the words cover the world! But if even ONE of my followers has the world getting in the way of the post....then I MUST change it! My niece who is savvy about these things will help me figure out what I am doing! So please be patient while I figure this out!
    And Thank you for your kind words about my castle kitchen......I know it will take me a long time to get it all done....I just don't seem to be able to stay focused on one room til it is done! As you will see soon, I am working hard on the other rooms....several at a time! But I am having fun!:) Sometimes I think I like the building part best.....!

  6. And Thank you Ewa, I will certainly put your name in the drawing! I am glad you like my castle kitchen!

  7. Thank you too Lainie, and welcome to my blog! I have not had time to check out all the blogs of my followers ....but I am slowly working on it! I look forward to visiting yours in depth!

  8. And Thank you too, Calua.....I wish I really knew Spanish! I will learn to translate ! But I assume you are enchanted and that makes me VERY glad! Thank you for commenting....I love to hear from other mini-lovers!

  9. Ummm, I'm trying out a new template to fix the revolver overlap problem.....I love red, but hope it doesn't scare anyone away!

  10. I ADORE your kitchen, its layout, its moodiness and its position in the castle :) And your faux bricks are da bomb. Funny, I was looking at your photos and thinking, "Ooooh -- I should have done THAT and THAT and ..." You get the idea :)

    I really want to make some things for your castle -- perhaps we could have a little "castle swap"? I'm up to my neck with a project in my 1:1 life, but when that's done in mid-August I'd really like to do some medieval things again :)

    All the best,


  11. Thank YOU Nina for providing me with the starting point! I would LOVE to do a swap when you are ready! I might get some time off for vacation in August so that would give me extra play time!

  12. The kitchen came out wonderful! I would love to be a part of your giveaway! Congratulations on reaching the 50 mark.

    Come over and sign up for my giveaway if you haven't yet!!

  13. Thanks, Patty! I will be right over! And I'll put your name in the drawing!

  14. Congratulations, I found your blog today, is incredible, your kitchen is great! greetings