I have a draft blog post somewhere... I really should make 2016 a year to organize things, including an inventory of my miniatures and projects. (Marie Kondo's decluttering book is sitting on my beside table.) At least I did find the "lost" 1:12 tiles in my closet, now it's just figuring out where I put the printer fabric sheets that my sister was hoping to experiment with around Christmas.
I have a bad habit of getting to about 80% completion for projects then setting them aside. The almost finished list includes the 1:12 Hogwarts roombox, 1:48 Jolley's bakery/tearoom, and the 1:48 Petit Palais hotel. There could be more, I haven't even included the forgotten birdcage which requires a second floor and interior decoration and the half-finished storefront.
For some good news, I did finish my part in building a dollhouse for my young cousin. It was supposed to be a joint project with cousin G and my sister, but somehow I ended up doing the bulk of the work. G requested a 2 room house with shingles and sis wanted to get her the Primrose. However, it was sold out so we went with a Sugarplum instead. The three of us went shopping at Ross' Treasure House and she bought a 5 piece living room and 5 piece bedroom furniture kit. Those were assembled and painted a basecoat of white. G also picked out some scrapbook paper at Michaels to use for wallpaper.
You can see from the photos some of the changes that were done: removing the top floor fireplace (for better furniture placement) and front door settees, using brick paper and therefore cutting off a bunch of the front trim. Trouble I ran into:
  •  a few tabs needed trimming and at least one had to be cutoff altogether
  • wallpaper was applied before construction and so the front gable and window bay had sides that needed covering

Plain strips of wood were added for baseboard and a watered-down wash of grey and silver paint was put on the floors. I tried to lineup the heart wallpaper but wasn't completely successful. All in all, I'm pretty satisfied with it. G's Dad has been left the task of shingling and the option of the front window box.
Now I'm attempting to finalize plans for the Orchid. I've started painting and have most of the furniture. Issues that are stumping me: wallpapering before or after gluing the shell, and what to do about the windows (I really dislike the flower pattern)? To date, I've already changed the trim color 3 times and am up to option C for the bathroom.
My order from Petite Properties arrived and I'm slowly constructing the Palais. It isn't a normal family house, I've made it into a hotel. The main floor has an eating room, foyer, and lobby. The other two floors have bedrooms and one bathroom. If there's space I'll put in a computer area on one of the landings and maybe a wardrobe for linen storage. I painted and papered most of the rooms in advance using the measurements in the instructions as a guide (74 mm for the room on the right and 60 mm for the hall). I found the images online and resized them but I sort of took a guess at scale. I ran into a bit of trouble as I started gluing things together - I did some clamping while gluing but maybe it wasn't done properly so as I went to the add the floors I discovered that the room dividers were a smidge too high. So I had to shave down the floor tabs and clamp them to position them properly. I also had to cut down the walls in the stairwells, otherwise my hallways would have been larger than expected and I needed to take into account the wallpapered areas. In quarter scale, one or two millimeters off can make a big difference.
Clamping the carcass. The front edges still need painting.
Here are some stickers and name tags I found at Michaels to decorate the ceilings. I painted the bronze 3D stickers white. (Sorry about the flash, I need to take more time to produce better photos.)
Next I'll tackle the roof. I already have most of the front wall finished and there's more mistakes to report there! I'll need to remember a sign for the hotel somewhere.
Some work on the storefront: I bought a box from Michaels when they were on sale and cut a hole in it to fit the storefront. I'm undecided on covering the front sides but rather like the interior and won't wallpaper over it. The shop is supposed to be a Venetian mask shop so the Parisian theme of the box throws that off. Since the bottom of the flap was looking raggedy I used some athletic tape on it. The box itself is just cardboard covered with paper so it was fairly easy to cut with only an exacto blade. 
Box with cutout
For the front itself, I cut out the center window dividers to better display items. I stained the door and painted the rest of the storefront. To build a counter behind the windows for the displays I cut a block floral foam and glued fabric around it. I think I have enough items for display, now it's just figuring out the best way to arrange the masks.
Storefront set into the box
In other projects, I put away the Willowcrest to concentrate on the Orchid. You can see the size difference in the boxes (although the side flap of the Willowcrest is open on the left). 
The Greenleaf Orchid box on top of the old Willowcrest box.
More progress has been made with the Petit Palais but there's a slight hiatus as I wait for more supplies. I'm hoping things will arrive from the UK quickly and I can do further construction. Here's where I'm at now, with papers printed off the internet. 
Since my last post I've been through a period of not working on miniatures, joining a local miniature club, refining my project list, selling some of my extra mini furniture/accessories, and starting a new collection (Lego). Plus I've attended 3 miniature shows - in Seattle last year and this year, as well as the 2015 West Coast show close to home. I've been meaning to gather all my show purchases and post a picture but that hasn't happened yet. It was also at the 2014 Seattle show that my sister began to get into dollhouse miniatures, so it's been great to have someone to share the hobby with.
One of the great booths at the Seattle show this year
I have some photos on my phone of a few of the exhibits but I might as well link to the proper blogs or websites with better images: the MCBC project shown on miniatures.about.com, Green Dolphin Street by Elizabeth of Studio E, and the French country house by minworks.

So what am I currently working on? The almost finished Hogwarts roombox (I know, I know); the 1:48 scale Petit Palais from Petite Properties, and my mask shop roombox. A Willowcrest purchased off ebay is in the planning stages, too. I was inspired by the art nouveau version on the blog Petit cabinet de curiosites. If anyone knows where to source the jewelry findings they used over the windows please let me know. I swear I've seen them on Etsy ages ago but cannot find them now.
The idea of a French dollhouse has been preoccupying my mind for a few weeks now. After browsing some blogs I found some great links for building components:

Goliath Miniatures

The Ironworks & Black Country Miniatures see Small Talk's post about them here

The Lawbre Company and Architectural, Etc.

Lawbre items can be found on other websites as well. One disappointing feature to their website is that it doesn't have photos of everything, and the catalog is $12. This is one thing that gets me about the internet - sellers, please upload photos!

Here's a (bad) collage of possible windows (from the Dollhouse Junction, Lawbre, Houseworks, and Goliath):
So I haven't decided on a plan yet, although if I purchase components from the shops above then it'll be 1:12 scale. I'm thinking the yorktown windows won't work, despite liking the arch they have. I'd like some fancy wrought iron and an oeil de boeuf window. I'd also prefer that some of the windows open; some of those pictured are non-working. I'm tempted to add stairs but they'll add to the cost and size of the dollhouse...what to do?

Links for inspiration:

A Lavender Dilly

Une Petite Folie

Creating Dollhouse Miniatures - videos

My Miniature French Chateau - dead blog but shows an interesting start

Chateau Margaux Dollhouse

You can also
google La Maison de Reves and Petit Tresor (I didn't spot blogs for them, although pictures are available on pinterest, etc.)
Despite planning to be finished the Hogwarts roombox before the end of the year, that didn't happen. I did install the gothic windows but ended up cutting the stone wallpaper too large around the window. After a brief debate between using egg carton stones instead, I reordered more wallpaper and am now waiting for it to arrive. As you can see from the quick phone pic I took below the gray color I painted the window will need adjusting too.
In the meantime I need to do an inventory of what furnishings and accessories I already have and maybe do a rough schedule of what else needs to be done. I'm attempting to focus on one or two projects at a time (but am already having a hard time doing this!)

1:12 projects:
  • Hogwarts classroom roombox
  • Haunted Newberg
  • Rustic birdcage
  • Storefront
  • Custom French townhouse?
  • Chinese restaurant roombox?
1:48 projects:
  • Jolley's Emporium
  • Crooked Stick
  • Halloween birdfeeder
  • Gingerbread House
  • English townhouse by Sue Herber
  • Art Deco house
  • Custom mini Hogwarts
  • Birdhouse complex/woodland themed house
  • Small custom Venetian palazzo
Maybe half have been started already, with Jolley's closest to completion. I was going to put myself on a ban until I had finished the kits I have on hand but bought the gingerbread house from True2scale during the holidays and the storefront from local Ross' Treasure House since it was on sale. Once I was home from Ross' I ended up pinning a ton of photos on Pinterest and hunting down items for the window display over the next few days. I've put in some custom orders on Etsy and will have to be patient until things slowly arrive.
From Paris, we headed to Bruges for a night. Here's a picture of the bathroom and the combo tub/shower. We stayed at Novotel Brugge Centrum and managed to get ourselves lost despite it being a small town. Luckily, a nice local walked us back to the hotel. There was some great architecture but I could have done with less rain.

I've been neglecting miniatures and this blog but now I'm back...sort of. Back to the blog but just starting to work on my miniature projects again . A 3 week vacation, changes at work, and the death of a pet are the main reasons for my absence. In lieu of dollhouse news, I'll do some postings on my trip. I've got a ton of photos that I'm still sorting through!

My first destination was Paris for a few days. It's been years since my last trip there and I enjoyed the city more this time. 

Last weekend I ventured down to Seattle with the boyfriend (see his blog here) for the NW Dollhouse & Miniature Show and a little event called Emerald City Comicon (more on those in another post). Luckily, we had some time to see the Lego exhibits and even stop by the Lego store in Bellevue. If I had seen these displays before hitting the store I would have bought something for sure! As it was, I was too indecisive and went home Lego free. That's probably a good thing considering the unfinished miniature projects I have piling up.

First up, the Shire by Michael Kuroda:
And now the amazing Hogwarts by Alice Finch:
Such creativity encourages me to get on with my Hogwarts projects...any year now :P
I've considered calling the birdcage Crow Cottage for awhile now. Except, I'm now wondering how much it looks like a cottage. I took it to my parent's house one night to work on and my mother said it's gaudy. I'm happy wih parts of it, but it can be difficult to evaluate when it's still a work in progress. Next steps are to glue in the door and make the second floor. 

The mdf walls have been painted and wallpapered, I did some touch-ups with wood filler, the windows completed with trim, and ribbon has been used for baseboards. As I do things, I often think here's the first and last time I do a shell floor, the first and last time I do oval windows... The end product works out but there's some swearing in the execution.

The floor was a bit of a project in itself - the main components are mdf, shell pieces bought at Michaels, and Richard Stacey Mortar grout mix (cement based adhesive). I had bought the grout mix for Hogwart's stone tiles but decided to use it on this instead. The first time I laid out the pieces, puzzle-like, it didn't take long at all. However, transferring that pattern from the cardboard to the same sized piece of mdf didn't quite work and the second time the layout was slower going. I sealed the mdf with a coat of watered-down glue before gluing down the shells. The mdf simply rests on top of the birdcage bottom tray. You can see some of the steps below: 

Laying out the shells
Shells glued down on the mdf floor
Grouting in progress
Shell floor in place