The Den of Slack

Turret House stain & paint

Since my last post, I have spent a lot of time staring at the Turret House. It came with windows and exterior doors but no other trim, which I guess is good because I can make it look how I want. But I also have to try to figure out what the builder intended to do. It’s a challenge to complete someone else’s vision when I don’t know what that vision was.

The Turret House looked like this when I got it:

I already have several light-colored dollhouses, including the Victorianna, the Gull Bay, the Little Belle, and the Queen Anne Rowhouse. I want the Turret House to be bold. I did some searching and came across this inspiration house on Pinterest. I envision the Turret House being more red than this one, but I love the dark blue trim and the gold accents.

(I can’t figure out where this picture originated, to give credit for it. If you know, please post in the comments!) This is the Bair-Stokes House in Arcata, CA, built in 1888. has some historical pictures with other color schemes. I like the bold colors best.

While I was waiting for some orders to come in the mail, I started by staining the shingles with Minwax Ebony. I’ve always stained shingles before gluing them on, so the fact that the shingles are already attached made me nervous. I’m not complaining — gluing on shingles is tedious and I’m glad it’s already done! But stain doesn’t cover glue, so I wasn’t sure how they would turn out.

Not bad! There are some spots where the stain didn’t take, but I should be able to mask those with black paint or a wash.

I have to add shingles to the left side of the gable, but I’ll stain those before gluing them on. I’m not as neat with the glue as the person who started this house!

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Half scale Turret House (a bashed Queen Anne Rowhouse)

In November I saw a bashed version of American Craft’s 1:24 scale Queen Anne Rowhouse kit on eBay. I already have a finished Queen Anne Rowhouse, as well as a kit in the box, but this one intrigued me because of the modifications that had been made to it.

I kept looking at it, but priced at $499 plus shipping, it was too expensive. But after a couple of months had passed with nobody buying it, I thought I should make a lowball offer and see what happened…

In January I made a $300 offer that was rejected so quickly it must have been automated. I didn’t want to go higher than that, so I decided it wasn’t meant to be. But as the weeks passed and the auction stayed up, I kept going back to it…

When it still hadn’t sold a month later, I made another offer for $400 that was also insta-rejected. I messaged the seller to ask if they were actually taking offers and they replied the lowest they would go was $429.

Okay, so that’s expensive. BUT the shell already had siding and shingles applied, and it included all the windows, and it seemed well built, and the bash was *really* unusual, and my birthday’s coming up…

You know how this story ends. I bought it!

The house, which I’m dubbing the Turret House, is fully enclosed with hinged panels on the sides and back. It has the same basic floorplan as the Queen Anne Rowhouse, but with an added turret, front porch, attic dormer, and front gable over the bay windows. This post has photos of the Turret House along with photos of my Queen Anne Rowhouse, so you can see how the Turret House has been modified.

I bought the Rowhouse in 2012 as an unfinished shell. It isn’t actually an American Craft kit, but a scratch build that the builder based off of that house. All of the components and trim were my own additions.

In the Turret House, the roofline has been pushed back to make room for a gable above the bay window. A porch and turret have been added, and the window that’s normally above the front door has been closed in. The house also came with small loose gable — the only place I can see to put it is next to the turret, but I’m not sure if it belongs there. What do you think?

My purchase included fourteen Victorian windows and two plain windows. The plain ones are probably meant for the gables, but I like them better in the turret.

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Mary Engelbreit Mother Goose crib cover kit by Bucilla (a review, sort of)

My childhood best friend Michelle had her second baby in December. For her first child, I cross stitched an Animal ABC afghan from a Dimensions kit. I liked stitching the afghan and wanted to do another one for the new baby, but after much searching I couldn’t find a cross stitch design that I liked as much as that one. Everything I found was very wholesome and cutesy (not in a good way).

There seemed to be more options in stamped cross stitch, which I’d never done before. I’ve always had the (snobbish?) impression that it’s easier and less elegant than counted cross stitch, but I decided to try it.

Bucilla’s ABC Baby kit caught my eye first. Still resistant to doing stamped cross stitch, I thought I could use the chart to stitch it on afghan fabric instead.

But I soon learned that the charts for stamped cross stitch aren’t on a grid, which would be challenging to cross stitch, and the line art like the elephant would be impossible.

I tried charting a couple of letters using the kit chart as a guide, but wasn’t happy with the results. I also decided that even though this blanket is for a different baby, the new blanket should be something other than the alphabet.

(Also, I didn’t notice until after I bought it that “hippopotamus” is misspelled in the product shot! It’s spelled correctly in the kit I got, so Bucilla corrected this at some point, but I saw a complaint about it in a user review, so it seems there are still “hippotamus” kits in circulation. Awkward.)

So I tossed that kit in the closet and went back to Google. That’s when I came across this 2009 post about two Mary Engelbreit Mother Goose kits from Bucilla. The one on the left is a 45″ x 45″ lap quilt, and the one on the right is a 34″ x 43″ crib cover. (Click the picture for a bigger version.)

The fact that the blog post was dated 2009 and I was embarking on this project in 2020 was foreboding, but you can find anything on the internet, right? I searched around and did find the crib cover on the Plaid website (Bucilla’s parent company) as well as a few other vendors. But I couldn’t find the lap quilt anywhere, and that’s the one I really wanted. I liked the composition of the design better, and the inclusion of more characters.

It was already late July and the baby was due in December, so I decided to buy the smaller one. I set up a saved search on eBay and was prepared to start over if the lap quilt turned up soon after I’d started.

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