Local Greengrocer Expanding Business

Local greengrocer Gail Goat is pleased to announce the expansion of her business.

“I’ve doubled my retail retail space and now offer several more fruits and vegetables for sale. It is a huge step forward for my business, and I couldn’t be more excited,” she explained.

greengrocer expansion

She now offers an expanded variety of fresh fruits and vegetables – on the day we visited she had watermelon, oranges, strawberries, and raspberries; as well as tomatoes, green beans, squash, and mushrooms on her new display.

Her young daughter, Gabby was quite enthusiastic over he mother’s new offerings, scampering up and popping a strawberry into her mouth.

greengrocer expansion story

“Yum, Yum!” was Gabby’s review.

Local baker Mortimer Mouse is embracing the new, larger greengrocer’s: “I love to use fresh ingredients in my baking. And I never know when inspiration will strike. So having Mrs. Goat’s right down the street is perfect for me. I need some oranges today – doesn’t orange buttermilk pound cake sound delectable?”

greengrocer expansion story 2

The greengrocery is open from 9-5 every day and Mrs. Goat will be happy to fill a bag with the freshest foods just for you.

 

This is a project that I have had finished since the summer, but haven’t had a chance to share. I originally posted about the greengrocery a long time ago. Here is that post. After my first greengrocery post, I made a second display stand in order to write the tutorial on how to build it. Since that time it’s been floating around in my craft room waiting to be filled. 

I started by making some wooden crates. The tutorial I used originally seems to be gone, so maybe I should do one soon. Then came the part that is both very tedious and very fun to me: filling the crates. 

greengrocer expansion 3

greengrocer expansion produce

Most of the tutorials for the fruits and veggies have disappeared – so frustrating!

All but the raspberries were made with polymer clay. The raspberries are made out of thread, glue, and glass microbeads. 

One technique that I learned during this project was varnishing my baked polymer clay. I researched a lot online, trying to find a varnish that wasn’t too expensive and that came in a not-too-large container. There are so many disagreements online about the best varnish to use, it was really overwhelming to sort through all the different opinions. But I settled on using “Pledge brand Floor Care Finish“. I cannot attest to how this product will hold up over time, but it looks nice now. I really love the dimension and realism it gives to those items that would be shiny in real life. The squash and tomatoes were given a quick single coat of the varnish, as was the flesh of the cut watermelon. I also went back to my previous greengrocer display and added varnish to the pumpkins and the eggplant. The eggplant, especially looks so much better with some shine (as long as you can ignore the fingerprints – and I can.

Eggplant

Do you think I should add tutorials for any of the things on this post? It’s so frustrating for so many online tutorials to disappear – would doing my own be helpful? I’m definitely not an expert at all. But I hate showing what I’ve made without at least offering some help on how to make something. 

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State of the Crossings Address 2017

The following remarks are excerpted from the speech given by Mayor Carl Cuddle-Bear on October 23, 2017 to the gathered villagers of Crabapple Crossings:

“I know the past few months have been difficult for all of us. We were displaced from our homes, some of our homes and businesses suffered some damage, and even now that we are back, things haven’t yet returned to normal. But despite the troubles, not one villagers was injured, no building were destroyed, and every last one of us has opted to return. Compared to others, Crabapple Crossings has been extremely fortunate. And I know I reflect the feelings of many here today when I say ‘I’m so glad to be back!'”

I didn’t truly realize until I logged on today that it has been six months since I last posted. The first two months of so of the silence has been my own fault – just not getting things photographed and posted. But the last four months or so are what really put a hold on Crabapple Crossings. In early July, our basement (where my craft room and Crabapple Crossings is located) had a flood. My husband and I were out of the state on a quick vacation at the time, and when we returned home, the basement was in a poor state. Thousands of gallons of water had leaked into the space from a cracked pipe. Luckily, our basement has a sump pump, so the water didn’t get above the carpet. But pretty much everything that touched the ground was destroyed. This meant that most of my furniture and all of my shelves, which held my collection had to be thrown away and everything on them put upstairs. While nothing got wet, the extremely high humidity in the basement did cause some permanent damage to a couple of my pieces – some of the papers buckled, remaining so even after getting back to a normal humidity level.

The worst of it is the wallpaper in the Candy shop and the exterior “siding” paper of the Porker House, a work in progress. As far as I can tell, this damage is permanent and I will just have to live with it. As a bit of a perfectionist, I am very saddened by this damage.

During the rebuild of the basement, we repainted and had new carpet installed. And it has taken longer than expected to replace all the shelving and other furniture, like my work tables and desks. Until this past weekend, everything was still upstairs in boxes. But finally, I am able to display my collection again and have the opportunity to craft again!

Despite everything being in a state of flux, I have not been completely neglecting my collecting. As soon as it was available, I had to buy the Starry Point Lighthouse. I had wanted it ever since I saw its release in Japan. 

My next purchase was a house that I’m not actually sure the name of. It’s either an older iteration of the Cozy Cottage, but I’ve also seen it referred to as the Copper Beech Cottage. Either way, I found a great deal on it. 

thrift house

I love to go shopping at thrift stores and this has been my only Calico Critters find. At one of the stores I frequent, the employees are constantly coming out of the back “sorting room” with carts full of stuff to shelve. Well, I spied this as soon as the cart came through the doors. I basically chased the employee across the store to snag it. Imagine my elation when it was priced at…$2.99! It’s missing the railing beside the door, but otherwise is in great condition. 

In the midst of everything else, my husband and I traveled to Denmark for a vacation. There are quite a few items that are available there that aren’t in the U.S., but other than the Cedar Terrace (which I desperately want, but definitely would not fit into my luggage) the only must-have was the single figure Hedgehog baby. So cute!

And finally, last week was my birthday, and I did receive some Calico Critters gifts. The biggest is the Village Cake Shop. Yes, my tiny village currently has three bakeries. But my plan is to do a tiny bit of revamping to make it into a clothing boutique. I also received the adorable Pizza Delivery Set and the School Music Set. 

So despite my collection being more or less inaccessible, it’s still been growing. And I am so looking forward to returning to the crafting part of my collecting. I have so many things I want to make, and build, and share!

 

Family Introductions: The Cheddar Family

Cheddar Family

Father Charles’s career is quite apt for his surname – he is the town’s cheesemonger. Be it aged or fresh, soft or hard, Charles knows his cheeses. His favorite right now is a barrel-aged feta with olive oil and fresh oregano. He wants everyone to love cheese as much as he does. When not sampling and considering new and interesting cheese varieties for his shop, Charles enjoys playing billiards, refinishing old furniture, and reading about current events.

Mother Charity teaches the younger students at school. Her favorite part of teaching is storytime, because of how it encourages the children to enjoy reading. She spends lots of time working on educational and interesting lesson plans for the children – her goal is always to make learning fun. She is always enthusiastic about real-world learning, so field trips are common for her class. In her free time, she enjoys acting in plays, writing letters, and scrapbooking.

Daughter Chelsea’s favorite thing to do is paint. Even at her young age, she is quite talented. She loves going outside with her easel and acrylic paints to capture the beautiful vistas around Crabapple Crossings. Her parents are very proud to feature several of Chelsea’s paintings around their house. Of course, her favorite school subject is art class. When not engaged in creative endeavors, Chelsea also enjoys going fishing, reading, and playing on the playground.

Son Chauncey’s favorite subject in school is science, and he often brings that passion home with him, doing science experiments in the family kitchen. The house rule is “nothing exploding” after last year’s vinegar and baking soda volcano fiasco. But otherwise his curious nature is encouraged by his parents. His other hobbies include doing brain teasers and logic puzzles, eating pizza, and playing checkers.

Minor Repair

Sometimes I need to return to an otherwise finished project and tweak or fix some aspect that isn’t working. The latest was a minor but annoying issue in the candy shop.

I’m not sure if it was just from the weight of the jars or whether it suffered a bit of damage in the move, but the wall shelf in the candy shop was starting to sag:

Shelf Fix 1

(Excuse the untidy background of my work table.)

The shelf was originally attached with super-sticky tape adhesive. But as you can see, the front edge was beginning to sag downward. Every time I noticed it, I would try to push it back into the proper position, but soon it would be angled downwards again.

So I decided that I needed to shore it up a bit. I measured and cut some bass wood to create a bracket at each end to help hold the shelf horizontally. A bit of paint and some glue later, the shelf looked much better:

Shelf Fix 2

So not a big project, but a good one for peace of mind.

Progress on Porker Residence

Many around the village have been curious about the large construction project in the midst of the town center. Well, wonder no more as we bring you a sneak peek of the newest addition to the downtown skyline.

Porker House WIP Exterior Front

Village grocer Paul Porker has been working closely with Blanche and Bertram Beaver on planning and building a new home for his family.

“It was time that we moved closer to the grocery, and what is closer than right up the stairs?” said Mr. Porker.

Mr. Porker was able to take some time out of his busy day to give us a quick tour of the premises.

We started one flight up from the grocery in the main room:

Porker House WIp Kitchen

“This is a nice big room, which is important for my big family. This over here is where the kitchen area will be.”

We then headed up the stairs to the master bedroom.

Porker House WIP Master

“My wife and I feel it’s important to be able to have some restful time to ourselves. With five children, the opportunities to do so often feel few and far between. But a private master bedroom should give us a bit more of a chance.”

The next door down is the boys’ bedroom:

Porker House WIP Boys Room

“We let our older son Patrick pick out the wallpaper for the room he’ll share with his little brother. Orange stripe isn’t necessarily what I would choose, but as long as the boys are happy with it, it’s fine with me.”

Up another flight of stairs we came to the attic which doubles as the girls’ room:

Porker House WIP Girls Room

“With our three girls sharing a room, we decided they needed a bit more space, so they get the entire attic. Although the sloping roof reduces the amount of usable floor-space, I think they will enjoy spending time up here.”

When asked what his planned next steps for the house are, Mr. Porker sighed. “There is still so much to be done. I think I need to first focus on getting the kitchen up and running. I thought that once the structure was built, furnishing and decorating would be short work, but to be honest, the amount of work still to come is a bit on the daunting side. If only I could just buy a box that had everything I needed for each room!

 

I have been working for the past two weeks on building the Porker residence. I always underestimate how long these things actually take to build – not even counting the furnishing and decorating! So I thought I should at least blog a bit about the process in slightly smaller chunks rather than one big reveal to at least have something new to share!

Porker House WIP Exterior Angle

This structure is my first with a usable attic space – I’ve made an angled roof before on Mr. Beaver’s workshop, but in that case it was primarily for style reasons and not usable. But I knew I needed a third floor, due to the large family. Yet I also wanted it to fit in with the overall village look. So my inspiration for this building is more or less Nyhavn, Copenhagen

As per all my building projects, the house is constructed out of foam core board. Since my last project, I bought a ruler with a finger guard, which has made a huge difference in my cutting confidence/ability.

This time, almost all the additional materials were paper. In the past I have used real wood for the floors and window sills and frames. But I’ve found that using paper keeps the costs and labor down (oh my goodness – multiple coats of paint on each tiny piece – arg!) and looks good enough to me. Yes, it is a bit flatter-looking and a bit more cartoonish, but I don’t dislike it.

I apply all of the surface papers (exterior walls, wallpapers, and floors) before I glue the structure together. It’s much easier to do when the walls are flat on my work table! I use Elmer’s x-treme glue stick to adhere the paper to the foam board, and for added adhesion I like to run a rubber brayer over the top. I have had no issues with the papers lifting.

Porker House WIP Floor 1

Porker House WIP Floor 2

For the first time, I’ve made my “hardwood floors” out of paper. I used a stamp from Stampin’ Up called Hardwood. It is the perfect scale! I wanted to give the floors a bit of texture, so I cut the stamped image into strips, trimmed each strip into 3.5″ lengths, then applied them in a staggered fashion so they looked more realistic. For the white floor, I simply adhered the strips directly to the foam board; for the brown, I didn’t want any white to show through the gaps in the floor, so I adhered a piece of matching brown paper onto the foam board first, then added the “floor boards” on top.

Porker House WIp Window

For the windows, I used Stampin’ Up window sheets. The plastic is quite thin and easy to cut, but adds a bit of realism. In the past I have made the window mullions out of wood or paper, but once again I used a shortcut. This time I used a fine-tip white paint pen to draw the mullions on the window sheets. This process turned out to be a bit tricky, and I had to remake about half of the windows – my paint pen is slightly old and leaky, and I had some issues with smearing. But in the end, I am very happy with the look, although the pictures don’t show them well.

Once the walls and floors are fully papered and finished, I glue the structure together. I have had success using Aleene’s Fast-Grab Tacky Glue. It tacks together quite quickly, so I don’t have to sit there holding it for too long. And I’ve found it to be quite sturdy over the last couple of years. 

Porker House WIP Interior

Another part of the process is making sure all the foam board edges are finished. Sometimes my cuts aren’t very tidy – the foam part of the foam board tears rather than cuts cleanly. So I like to have all visible edges covered – including the window sills. The thickness of foam board I use is the most common – 3/16″ I believe. But with the stupid Imperial measurement system, it’s annoying to measure that width. Luckily, 5mm is really close to 3/16″. So cutting at that width works perfectly for me. Just a handy tip.

In general, I am very happy with what I have created so far. Of course, Mr. Beaver’s sentiments regarding furnishing and decorating closely mirror my own feelings. Don’t get me wrong, I really do love making things, but goodness, my to-do list is a bit daunting. Of course I could buy furnishings, but that can get really expensive, and I sometimes want a more taste-specific look. But we’ll see where I am at after a couple more weeks of crafting!

Family Introductions: The Cottontail Family

Cottontail Family

Father Christopher is Crabapple Crossings’ town toymaker and he is an ace at knowing what the children of the town want to play with. He spends lots of time reviewing current tastes and trends in toys and even more time engineering and building them! He loves seeing the children’s happy faces when they play with the items he’s created. When not hard at work in his toy shop, he spends his free time growing bonsai, metal detecting, and coin collecting.

Mother Carla can tell you anything you want to know about teas – she owns the local tea room and shop. Right now, her favorite blend is a vanilla bean earl grey finished with a splash of milk. She is very passionate about her cozy shop and is always dreaming up new tea blends or dainty treats to serve. She also enjoys gardening, making quilts, and reading mystery novels.

Brother Connor loves spending time in the workshop with his father. He loves figuring out how things work and coming up with creative solutions to problems. Connor loves to work with his Dad on developing new toys. And since he has shown he can be responsible, he’s even allowed to use some of the tools on his own. His favorite subject in school is science and he wants to be an engineer when he grows up.

Sister Camille is a bit of a free spirit. She loves playing make believe and going on imaginary adventures. She enjoys coming up with fun stories to play with her friends. In the woods, she’s a fairy princess; on the beach, a mermaid. Her parents try to support her active imagination, as long as she isn’t doing anything dangerous. She also loves to draw, make dolls out of her mother’s scraps of fabric, and go ice skating in the wintertime.

Crabapple Crossings Update

Crabapple Crossings is not gone! I truly can’t believe five (!) months have gone by without a single post. In December my husband and I bought a house, so amidst packing, moving, unpacking, and home improvements, Crabapple Crossings has not been a priority. But I have missed the village so much! Making tiny cute things and writing about them is such a fun and creative process for me. I now realize that some of my wintertime funk can probably be attributed to a lack of creative endeavors. I hope that I can find my inspiration again. I’ll probably ease back in with a few family introduction posts – not the most exciting, but I have to actually make things in order to share them with you!

Around Town: Icy Fun

High up in the mountains, winter has already arrived with snow blanketing the landscape. We are so lucky in Crabapple Crossings to have a winter wonderland within easy travelling distance. The youngsters especially enjoy the skating rink.

ice-rink

We captured Winifred Whitetail and Fiona Firefox out on the ice.

“I’m learning how to skate backwards,” Miss Firefox explained. “I keep falling on my tail, but I’m having lots of fun.”

“My favorite part of skating is doing spins,” Miss Whitetail said. “I love ice skating.”

ice-rink-3

When asked if she was cold without her coat, Miss Whitetail explained that got too hot with the vigorous exercise of ice skating. “I put it back on as soon as I’m done! I don’t want to get frostbite!”

 

After a bit of a hiatus, I am back with this round of Iron Craft. The theme this time was “I is for…” so we were to come up with a project that used the letter I in terms of materials, subject, or technique. Brainstorming “I” projects was a bit of a challenge. I could barely think of anything fun that started with that letter! Finally, I settled on “I for ice rink.”

ice-rink-2

This project was actually quite simple once I settled on my theme. I started by finding a white styrofoam wreath base and a round craft mirror that was larger than the wreath’s inside diameter, but smaller than it’s outside diameter.

Using a knife, I cut the wreath base in half so that it would sit solidly on the mirror. I then painted the wreath base with some “Snow-Tex” textured paint. It was kind of weird stuff. It has almost a mousse-like texture. And because the styrofoam is quite slick, it was a bit difficult to get the textural portion of it to adhere. It took a bit of coaxing to stick; I found that a sort-of “scrape and dab” motion worked best. I let it dry for a good 24 hours, just to be safe, and it is really nice and solid – not crumbly to touch.

A lot of Christmas villages use a simple mirror to simulate a frozen lake, but I think that looks too reflective. So while the snow effect paint was drying, I traced the mirror onto a clear plastic window sheet and cut it out. I then used the finest paper on a sanding block to rough up the window sheet. I sanded all over with circular motions. This gives it a cloudy look and obscures the mirror surface a bit while still allowing some reflection. 

Once the wreath base was dry, I used a low temperature hot glue gun to adhere the window sheet to the bottom. Since the mirror was a bit on the expensive side, I decided to not permanently alter it; so the “ice and snow unit” simply sits on top of it. A folded up white towel borrowed from my bathroom and some cloud-printed bulletin board paper completed my wintery scene.

It was fun getting back into a bit of crafting after my break. And I love the effect of the window sheet over the mirror – it’s just the right combination of cloudy and reflective for my taste.

Family Introductions: The Doctors Lapin

lapin-family

Doctor Levi is always so sad when he hears that someone is afraid to go to the dentist. So he tries his very hardest to make a visit to his dental office a pleasant experience, because oral health is very important! He is very good at making jokes and keeping his patients very comfortable. His gentle touch and kind encouragement for good dental hygiene have made cavities in Crabapple Crossings nearly non-existent. When not working in his office, he enjoys playing on the town’s softball team, reading detective stories, and cooking.

Doctor Lucy is Crabapple Crossings’ town doctor. She is very adept at fixing any malady that comes through the medical office door; from sore throats to broken bones she can treat it all. As the only medical doctor in town, she is always “on-call” and quick out the door for late night house calls. When not tending to the various injuries and ailments of the townspeople, she enjoys knitting, amateur astronomy, and singing.

Family Introductions: The Cuddle-Bear Family

cuddle-bear-family

Father Carl is perhaps Crabapple Crossings’ most engaged citizen – he is the mayor. Of course in such a small village, mayor-ing is not a full-time job. So he is probably mostly known around town as teacher of the older students at the school. He loves getting to know each student’s strengths and weaknesses and encouraging him or her to be the best scholar possible. He teaches all subjects, but math is probably his favorite, because he loves watching a child’s face light up when they master a difficult mathematical concept. When not busy with teaching, caring for his children, and his mayoral duties, he enjoys beekeeping, barbequing, and fishing.

Mother Connie is almost always the first to know about current events because she owns the town’s newsstand. She gets up bright and early every day to collect the newspapers and magazines that are delivered by the earliest train. She also is the editor and publisher of the Crabapple Crossings Chronicle, which keeps all the townspeople informed of current events and activities around town. She is always soliciting stories and pictures from anyone who wishes to contribute. When not running her businesses and caring for her children, she enjoys playing croquet, dancing, and drinking tea.

Oldest brother Caleb is very focused on his schoolwork, always looking for a quiet place to study. With so many younger brothers and sisters, he often hides out at the Crabapple Crossings public library. It is much quieter than anywhere in his house. When not doing his very best in school, he enjoys doing origami, flying kites, and participating in plays with the community theater.

Sister Colleen is the twin of Caroline. She is very nurturing and loves to take care of her brothers and sisters, especially baby Calvin. She is always planning fun activities such as games and crafts for the other children. She is almost always available to babysit youngsters around town, and sometimes helps out at the nursery school for extra pocket money. In her free time, she enjoys jigsaw puzzles, rollerskating, and decorating for holidays.

Sister Caroline is the twin of Colleen. She loves the outdoors and is often found climbing trees or building forts. Her father wishes she were more focused on her schoolwork than running around outside, but she would much rather go for a bike ride than do her homework. She loves joining her dad on his fishing trips, playing horseshoes, and eating ice cream cones.

Middle brother Colin is a shy boy, spending much of his time to himself. Sometimes he tags along with his older brother Caleb to the library. He loves reading fantasy stories, and is working on writing his own. He spends a lot of time thinking about his fictional kingdom, and his side of the bedroom is covered in maps and drawings he’s made of it. He also enjoys playing games with his friends, creating scavenger hunts, and trainspotting.

Youngest brother Calvin is doted upon by all of his older siblings. He loves getting lots of attention, so can be a bit silly and very loud. He loves going to the park to play, especially when an older brother or sister pushes him on the swings. His favorite activity is feeding the ducks in the park and his favorite food is milk with honey.