Month: January 2016

Family Introductions: The Whitetail Family

Whitetail Family

Father Walter is the station master of the Crabapple Crossings train depot. Since his job is to make sure the trains run on time, he takes great pride in being punctual at all times. He loves to schedule and organize things, and tends to be a bit strict about such things. He is a big believer in “a place for everything, and everything in its place.” These qualities are wonderful in a station master who must keep track of all the goods coming into or leaving the town. Luckily for him, his wife Wanda is similarly organized and tidy. Despite his sometimes rigid personality, Walter is ultimately friendly, and is often the first smiling face visitors to the town encounter. When not ensuring the efficient running of the train depot, Walter enjoys running, planning community events, and crossword puzzles (both solving them and creating his own.)

Mother Wanda is the librarian at the Crabapple Crossings public library. Like her husband, she enjoys organizing – which is wonderful for cataloging all the books, newspapers, and periodicals at the library. She appreciates it very much when the patrons do their best to be respectful of the library – she is never shy to “shush” when things get too noisy. Despite her preference for quiet enjoyment, she does enjoy it when the little ones of the town come for story time – she makes sure to do all the voices, which make the babies giggle with glee. Books are her passion, so even when she isn’t at the library, she is always reading the newest books and improving the library’s collection. She loves to curl up in a comfortable chair with a hot cup of tea and a good book.

Daughter Winifred rarely uses her full name, to friends and family she is “Winnie.” Although she is punctual like her parents, Winnie is definitely not the tidy type. Her bedroom is a bit of a “lost cause” to her parents. But Winnie claims that she knows where everything is…somewhere. To her mother’s delight, Winnie is a big reader, with her nose almost always buried in the newest library acquisition. She has a flair for drawing, and hopes to become a children’s book author and illustrator when she grows up.

Son Wesley loves visiting his papa at the train depot and watching the locomotives go by. His favorite activity is playing with his blocks. He is very good at stacking them into tall towers – taller even than him – and then knocking them over. His parents hope that this is a sign that he will be an architect when he grows up. He loves to eat strawberries and is often covered in berry juice, so Winnie is always telling him not to touch her books or drawings so he won’t leave sticky streaks everywhere. So sometimes Winnie makes little books just for Wesley which he can get sticky prints all over and still enjoy the stories and drawings.

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Mr. Beaver’s Workshop

Local citizen Mr. Bertram Beaver is happy to announce the completion of his wood workshop. He has been working diligently to create this dedicated workspace for his woodworking business.

Interior

His wife, Mrs. Blanche Beaver is thrilled with her husband’s new workshop. “I am so relieved that he now has his own place to work in peace and quiet. And my living room is no longer full of projects, wood scraps, and sawdust!”

Mr. Beaver built his workshop with his own two paws and says that he believes the shop is a great showcase of his skills as a builder and woodworker.

Mr. Beaver offered a short tour of his shop.

After-Exterior

The shop itself is one story and has a cottage-like feel. It has a red wood door and five large windows.

The walls, floor, and roof are made of foam core. The door and window frames are bass wood strips: cut, painted, and glued. The windows are clear plastic. The siding and shingles are made out of cardstock paper.

Tour-1

Mr. Beaver is especially proud of his wooden door. It took a lot of finessing to make it look just right!

I stalled out on the door for a very long time. I initially wanted to use more foam core, but I found that it buckled too much when painted. I eventually settled on balsa or bass wood. I was so nervous about it not working, but it turned out great. The door knobs are just simple wooden beads. Probably the biggest expense of the entire wood shop was the door hinges. One slight downside is that the door doesn’t generally want to stay closed. I suppose a bit of tape could work, or I could try to create some sort of latch. I haven’t quite figured it out yet.

Tour-2

Just inside the door is Mr. Beaver’s wood scrap bin. He built the bin himself. It helps keep the workshop tidy.

Also, I can mention here that the floors are a textured cardstock with a crackled look – I thought it looked a lot like crackled poured concrete.

Tour-3

Over here is his peg board for his most used tools.

The peg board is a piece of foam core covered in cardstock. I drew on the peg holes and used sequin pins for the nails. The tools are charms I found in the jewelry section of a craft store. Also, I should mention that the walls and interior window and door frames are made out of adhesive-backed real wood veneer. I am totally addicted to the stuff and highly recommend it. It is so easy to work with. I wish I could buy it in bulk!

Tour-4

Mr. Beaver is most proud of his work bench, which he also built. It is the perfect height for working on his many projects.

It’s a bit hard to tell, but I added a faux vice to the end of the work bench. I made it out of some small wood scraps and a toothpick. I thought it added a small level of realism to the space.

Tour-5

Finally, in this corner Mr. Beaver keeps his tool box and shelves with jars full of fasteners. His tool box is always at the ready for when he needs to head out to a job site.

The tool box and tools are purchased miniatures. The shelves are made by me. The jars are real glass and are from the dollar store – they originally held nail glitter. I filled them with some mini screws, some sequin pins that I cut down to size with a wire cutter, and some teeny tiny nails that came with the door hinges. I was too nervous to use them on the door in the fear that the wood would split. Also, I made the jar lids out of paper circles. I will certainly be using these jars often in my projects. (And at 8 for $1, they are a great deal!)

After-Interior

“I welcome everyone in the village to come take a look around to see what I can do. There is no project too big or small for me to undertake, and I am so happy to offer my building services to the Crabapple Crossings community.”

Overall this project was a rather time consuming, but I am so happy with the result. I felt that Crabapple Crossings definitely needed a workshop for Mr. Beaver so that he can help build the other critters’ homes. The only additional things that I am considering adding are some blueprints and maybe some paint cans and paint brushes. I was having some trouble getting the thick dowels I want to use to cut nicely, so that will be a project for another day. But as it is, Mr. Beaver is quite pleased with his workshop and looks forward to spending lots of time working in there.

Customizing the Li’l Woodzeez Bakery

When I first started collecting Calico Critters, I have to admit I had a bit of sticker-shock when it came to the buildings and environments. Not only can they be rather hard on the pocketbook, the line can seem quite limited. Right now the bakery available in the U.S. is more like a market stall than a full bakery, and isn’t really to my taste. However, a newish line of Critter-like toys called Li’l Woodzeez is quite widely available at Target stores and the playsets run about $20. I was initially turned off by the Woodzeez line because of the (to me) overly bright and cartoon-ish look. But on closer examination, I became interested in the “bones” of the structures and the wide variety of accessories that the playsets came with. So I purchased the “Tickle Your Tastebuds” bakery with the goal of renovating it to fit more with my aesthetic tastes.

Let me give you a sample of the “before and after” before I begin explaining my process and getting into the nitty-gritty.

Before and After

Let me say first off that this customization was very detailed and tedious. It’s probably only a way to “save” money if you don’t put a dollar value on your time. (So what I’m saying is that the official Calico Critters environments are not overpriced if you like how they look. The cost of materials and time to customize the cheaper Li’l Woodzeez version is most likely more than what you would pay for a Calico Critters playset.)

I didn’t think to take pictures of my full process, so this will be text heavy until the end.

(more…)

Family Introductions: The Porker Family

Porker Family

Father Paul owns Crabapple Crossings’ grocery store. He loves being able to provide fresh and tasty food for the entire town. The best part of his day is getting to chat with the many townsfolk who stop in to pick up the ingredients for their daily meals. He also is quite adept at negotiating with other vendors in the town so that he can sell their products in the grocery. When not stocking the store’s shelf or balancing the accounts, Paul enjoys taking restorative mudbaths, playing board games, and spending time playing with his children.

Mother Patty has a special knack with children. Not only does she have five of her own (including a trio of triplets) she also runs the Crabapple Crossings nursery school. She is very patient and kind with all of the town’s littlest citizens and always has time to kiss a boo-boo or lend an understanding ear. She spends most of her time caring for the children or coming up with educational and fun activities and lessons for the nursery school. In the little free time she has, she enjoys relaxing in the mudbaths and baking delicious pies.

Oldest son Patrick would spend all digging in the dirt if left to his own devices. Like his mother, he is a wonderful caretaker for the little ones, and is often found lending a hand at the nursery school. The tots love climbing all over Patrick and getting him to join them in the sandbox. His favorite subject in school is science and he enjoys finding new specimens for his butterfly collection in his free time.

Oldest daughter Poppy pretty much dances through life. She is obsessed with ballet. She is frequently seen practicing the different ballet positions. So of course dance class is the highlight of her day. When not helping her dad at the grocery store (while practicing her pliés) she can often be seen sketching dance costumes or at Fabric and Frocks making those sketches a reality.

Baby Petal is the oldest of the triplets. She thinks older brother Patrick is the most wonderful critter in the world. She is constantly following him around the house or the nursery school whenever he’s around. When Patrick is playing outside, Petal wants to play outside. When Patrick wants to go looking for butterflies, Petal wants to help, too. When not shadowing her older brother, she enjoys coloring and eating applesauce.

Baby Primrose is the middle triplet and the shyest of all the Porker children. She likes playing by herself with her toys, especially her stuffed animals. For the last few months, Primrose has been annoying everyone in the house by licking things – not just food, but also furniture, toys, and other family members. Everyone is sure that she will soon grow out of this silly phase.

Baby Percy is the youngest Porker child and is the goofball of the family. He loves making his triplet sisters laugh. He is a pro at making silly faces and doing silly dances. He is a very active tot and loves to climb things. “Get down from there!” is now a common refrain in the Porker household. His favorite food is carrots.

Family Introductions: The Mouse Family

Mouse Family

Father Mortimer is the town baker. He loves to wake up before dawn to get a good start to his day. He starts by brewing a hot cup of tea, which he likes to linger over while he plans out the day’s activities. His pastries are very popular in Crabapple Crossings, so he has to get to baking so he can give his customers their favorite breakfast treats. But he always takes a few minutes during his busy morning to take a basket of the warmest, freshest pastries upstairs to Mitzi, Millie, and Martin so can they have a tasty breakfast, too. When he’s not working on new recipes or practicing new cake decorating techniques, he enjoys reading a good book and playing on the town’s softball team, the Crabapple Crossings Crustaceans.

Mother Mitzi loves the outdoors, especially nature’s abundant flowers. Her flower cart is a mainstay in Crabapple Crossings’ town square. She loves to work in the garden growing various blooms and picking out the best specimens from her neighbors’ gardens. Collecting and cataloguing rare and unusual seeds is also a passion. As president of the Crabapple Crossings Gardening Club, she enjoys putting on the annual flower festival and getting to help decide all the winners. Although not unkind, one of her favorite activities is staying up-to-date on all the town gossip, which she gets to hear a lot of at her flower cart. All the denizens know that any information told to Mitzi will soon be known to all!

Daughter Millie loves all things sweet, much like her father. She loves to help him in the bakery, especially when she gets to taste! A bit of a dreamer, she doesn’t have the highest grades, but she is known among her classmates as especially kind and helpful to others. She loves playing with her dolls, having tea parties, and wants to be a princess when she grows up.

Son Martin loves nothing more than playing outside and getting dirty! His mom knows she can always rely on Martin’s help when she needs help digging or weeding in the garden. He is not very studious – it is hard to sit still though those long school hours! His favorite subject is recess and he holds the school record for farthest jump from the swings. He loves anything with wheels and his toy train is his most prized possession. He wants to be a train conductor when he grows up.

Family Introductions: The Beaver Family

(The Beavers were the first family I purchased as an adult for my collection. So it seems appropriate for me to feature them first.)

Beaver Family Brighter

Father Bertram is the town builder, a real jack-of-all-the-building-trades. An early settler of Crabapple Crossings, he has had a paw in building almost every building in the town. He takes great pride in his work and never turns down a request to build something new, no matter how big or small. He sometimes seems to spend all his time out in his workshop or at a job site! He can look at almost any drawing and make it a reality and especially loves making his wife’s visions come to life. When he’s not working, he likes swimming with his family, going fishing, and taking afternoon naps on the couch.

Mother Blanche is a planner through-and-through as the town’s chief architect. She loves seeing her husband make her designs a reality. She is also the school’s volunteer swimming coach and is great at motivating the children to do their best. She can be tough, but is always very fair. She loves spending evenings playing board games with her family and in her spare time she enjoys practicing painting. Although she is a great architect and drafter, the more free style of painting is a new and exciting challenge for her.

Daughter Beatrice goes mostly by her nickname, Bebe. She is a boisterous, bubbly girl, but with a bit of a competitive streak. She always is the first to raise her paw in class and it is hard for her when she doesn’t receive the top grade. She makes friends easily, but can be a bit on the bossy side, especially when it comes to her baby brother. She is a naturally talented swimmer, but truly excels under her mother’s coaching. She loves photography and sometimes gets her pictures printed in the Crabapple Courier newspaper. She wants to be a photojournalist and world-traveler when she grows up.

Son Benji is still a toddler, but quite the handful nevertheless. He loves spending time with his Daddy, often “helping” in the workshop with his own little hammer and blocks of wood. Much like the rest of his family, he loves the water and could spend hours splashing around in the shallows. He is generally a cheerful little guy and is much adored by sister Bebe, even if she sometimes denies it.

Welcome

Welcome to the village of Crabapple Crossings. From the fish-filled waters of Crabapple Creek to hiking the surrounding verdant forests, Crabapple Crossings is wonderful for outdoor adventurers. If you prefer indoor fun, our library is a great spot to curl up with the newest novel and our tea room is a perfect spot for a hot cup of your favorite beverage. Or do a bit of shopping at our various shops for something special. We are so happy to have you visit and hope that you will stay a while in our little hamlet.