Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Dr Potter's Medicine Show

Six weeks.

That's impossible.


I recently mentioned the fun I had crafting up stuff for the cool cosplay photo shoot we did a few weeks ago. One of those projects was making up bottles of the Chock-a-saw Sagwa Tonic which is the snake oil/patent medicine/horrible alchemical nightmare from Dr Potter's Medicine Show.

That is diluted Lipton tea in there and not actual laudanum, etc. with a bit of "tobacco for color."

The bottles were purchased from Specialty Bottle and came with those hinged metal, ceramic, and rubber tops. I just pulled the metal out of the holes in the top of the bottle and used corks from my craft stash.

I used modified, free clip art of an old vanilla label, other free clip art, downloaded fonts, and Photoshop to design a printable label. Spray adhesive sticks it to the class, and matte decoupage medium (Martha Stewart brand) waterproofs the ink.

These have been fun to have around the house, too!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Dr. Potter's Medicine Show

Even though February 2017 seems far in the future, the release of Dr. Potter's Medicine Show really is not far off at all. ACK! I spent November on two major projects: preparing the house for our moms to spend Thanksgiving weekend with us again this year and preparing for a *Dr. Potter's Medicine Show (DPMS) photo shoot!

One of the many thing neither of us knew when Eric started this literary journey is that new authors and/or non-famous individuals are required to do a lot of their own promotion. Eric has had great support from his agency and publisher - but you know I had to get my crafty hands all messed up in this, too. So I had the idea to do a cosplay-ish photo shoot with Eric as Dr. Potter! We just happen to have a generous and enthusiastic neighbor, Bob, who has a small Old West town in his backyard AND who spent his career as a professional photographer. Not only did he agree to let us use his town, he agreed to make the photos, lent us some props and costumes, gave lots of helpful and insightful suggestions, and just helped take it to the next level. Well, more like a couple-three levels up the chain! Our dear neighbor Carla, also contributed costumes!

A daguerreotype-ified shot by Randi.

We also recruited several other neighbors & friends to be "townsfolk" and they came out on a December Sunday to stand around outside in the Montana weather wearing what they dug out of their closets and what others brought. We. Are. Damn. Lucky.

A sepia shot.

Bob shot in both color and sepia. Because we knew we would ultimately use the photos in non-full-color, we were able to cobble together simple costumes for all our volunteers more easily: color coordination be damned. Eric's friend, Randi, was able to make the color photos look like daguerreotypes, too!

We knew we weren't likely to use color images as-is, but we thought it was a good idea to have them. Either way we did not consider color-coordination when dressing. Ahem.

Then afterwards we invited the whole "town" up to our place for a warm lunch and cool beverages. Not everyone could make it, but we nearly finished it all anyway.

I got to make and design **lots of cool stuff for this, too! But I will post about those things separately. Probably. (see below)

*Well, I spent the first week of December finishing up preparing for the photo shoot, too. Also, tidying up the house after our moms' visit and decorating for the holidays. I also dyed my roots. [wink] This is why no one got a holiday card this year... no time to make them, didn't send any.

**I'll just give you a list preview... because I know you're dying to know. I made Eric's suit and vest, customized the store-bought crate, designed and applied the Sagwa labels to the bottles, designed and painted the banner, & made some bonnets.

ADDENDUM: I'll add links to the various projects as I post them. I am nothing if not accommodating... about showing off my crafts, that is.

Chock-a-saw Sagwa Tonic Bottles
Promotional Banner

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Monday, December 19, 2016

Last Week of #BitterrootAutumn : The First Big Snow of the Season

Our clothesline snow gauge... NOT the deepest snow around here!
As often seems to be the case, we get the same weather system as our friends & family in the Portland Area, but just several hours later. That seems to be the case with last week's Snowpocalypse. We're already running out of places to pile the plowed snow and winter doesn't even officially start until Wednesday!

But it surrrrrre is pretty. Impressive, too.

Let's have a picnic!

You may have noticed this birdbath in the little video up top, but wait'll ya' get a gander at the other birdbath!

This birdbath is just about buried already! I do not know if they are different heights, but I think they're pretty dang close.

Shoveling the deck like cutting up a big sheet cake at an office party.

Boy, am I glad that I got all (but one) of my holiday packages shipped off on Monday and Tuesday! And all of them (but that one) have arrived, according to My USPS, as of Saturday evening.

UPDATE: Long Winter's Nap

A bad throw of the ball by mama, but easier to find than when it goes in a snow bank! At least for mama.

Now that Delia has fully integrated her fireside dog bed into her lounging and napping routine, it has come to the attention of certain other members of our household as the choice spot for cold mornings. Well, maybe not as choice as the people bed where Delia goes immediately after breakfast, but choice for someone who doesn't go back to bed.

Animal activists, not to worry. Shortly after this photo was taken Eric let her have her bed. She chose to join us in the living room (under blankets) anyway.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Friday, December 9, 2016

Getting Cozy

It's OK everyone! Do. Not. Worry. There have been non-Dr Potter's Medicine Show-related activities around the VME. Not many, but some.

I finally made these door decorations... I've have the unfinished monogram for year and picked up the smaller snowflake a few weeks back. 

It lifted my spirits a bit just to have something seasonal and cheery on the front doors. I mean, that's real glass glitter on the "F" and everything. Check those nifty little silver beads in the grooves on the mini flake! If that doesn't lighten a mood for even just a second, there's no hope.

Speaking of cheeriness, we've a few new lighted decorations for Christmas...

Lights on the alternatree!

A lighted garland on the new stair rail courtesy of my friend, Lisa!

A purple tinsel tree for the redecoration-in-progress-bathroom, courtesy of the 2nd annual 50-mile Garage Sale last summer.

Delia has fully integrated the fireside bed into her nap routine.

Next up? Probably more Dr. Potter's Medicine Show projects and news.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Dr Potter's Medicine Show

Eric's publisher is finalizing some dates for the "World Tour of the Pacific Northwest" during the second week of February. After that he is hoping to do some events at some of the local bookshops in Missoula and Hamilton. So we put together these postcards for him to take with him when he visits with shop owners and managers. FUN! They fit in a standard envelope, too.

I took the file to a local copy shop to have the color book cover printed on to card stock (2 per page). Then we can print whatever is appropriate on the back. To start, I did a half dozen of these.

FEB 7, 2017!


For the next 4 days we're preparing for big doin's on next Sunday. I can't wait to share that!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Dr Potter's Medicine Show

There's still something to be excited for at our house and it is this:

Fun Facts: I didn't know this, but apparently in the US new book releases come out on Tuesday. In the UK it's Thursdays, so that's why Dr. Potter's Medicine Show will hit the shelves on Feb 2 in the UK and Feb 7 in the US. I chose to go with the US release for our countdown since that's when we'll get to see it in person.

Right now this little chalkboard tree is living on the wainscot ledge in the little hall off the kitchen with the mock up of Eric's book I made a few weeks ago.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Hard as Hell Being Green Anymore

Remember how excited I was about having closer options for more recycling? Well, that's dead now.

Obviously I can take it to their facility in Hamilton, but I so rarely have any reason to go that way - it would be wasteful to make a special trip. So, I'll probably mostly be taking it into Missoula, but I have to verify where that place takes, because I'm not sure it's the exact same selection.

You might also remember that a couple other recycling options were killed earlier this year, too. Damn it, what a drag. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

What a Difference a "Year" Makes: Fourteen* Months of DIY

My Spring/Summer To-do List still has some things on it. Things that I probably won't even get to this autumn. So, I've been feeling a bit like I failed. But THEN I looked around the place and saw all that we have accomplished in year (and two months)... it's A LOT. So you know that I'm going to list them here to make myself feel good.

1. September 2015. We installed a kitchen island. MOST of this work was done by carpenter extraordinaire, Renaissance Handyman Nick. I just finished it.

2. September 2015. I built that gorgeous wood shed. Well, most if it.

3. Sept 2015 & June 2016. Painted and restrung the clothes line. Also made one end of it into a snow gauge.

4. October 2015. Repainted and replaced the name sign at the bottom of the private road.

5. February through July 2016. Did a major surface remodel of our kitchen. There are many posts about it through those months. In fact most of the posts in those months are of that. And September 2016, refinished the stovepipe.

6. April 2015. Made a few funsies or accessories projects for the kitchen remodel, including this magnetic cap catcher bottle opener, a bag drying rack (that's right, I wash and reuse freezer storage bags), and a paper towel holder.

7. June and August 2016: Painted all the exterior window trim and the balcony door and its trim.

8. July 2016. Rebuilt and refinished the picnic table.

9. July and August 2016. Picked up where I left off with remodeling and redecorating the downstairs bathroom. Still plenty of work left to do, but it is getting there.

10. July 2016. Replaced a few truly rotten deck boards.

11. July and August 2016. Hauled the non-recyclable and non-reusable rubbish left by the last owners to the transfer station. Two trips down, probably at least two more to go. Sigh.

12. August and October* 2016. Finally installed a handrail on our staircase.

13. September and October 2016. Painted front door and new stop & brick moulding for it. Finished new interior door moulding. Renaissance Handyman Nick reset the front and back doors so that it would have enough clearance for us to finally have a door mat inside like civilized folk.

All this while taking care of life's general and typical requirements and events, various creative projects, cancer treatment and end-of-life care for Betty, and Eric getting his publishing deal and all that goes with that. In conclusion: we really kicked some butt!

No wonder I'm tired and feel like I need a break from house projects.

*Well, more like fourteen-and-a-half months. I had expected to get the handrail done by the end of October, but it took until the end of the second week of November.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Hold On! Just Two More House Projects

I have been trying hard to wrap up the house projects for the season while also focusing on preparing for winter* and also some more crafty-type DIY projects.

Renaissance Handyman Nick has finished our exterior doors! We can now have a doormat inside the front AND the back/mudroom door! And someday I'll find some really great looking, super functional, cost-effective door mats. For now I have super-functional and cost-effective, at least.

He reset the whole door and frame up about 3/4" so while he was at it we got new brick- and stop moulding which I pre-painted. It'll be next spring before I can fill and paint the jamb, though. On the inside we got new weather stripping and new moulding!

Look! Even the view through the window is better! Note that you can see light both above and below the door in the before shot? Sheesh!

I don't know that they insulated AT ALL when they enclosed the back porch to create what we call the mudroom. So dealing with this door was less about weather-proofing and more about varmint-proofing, being able to open the door all way, annnnnnd have a doormat. Time to clean the doors!

Nick also taught me how to figure out the angle of the stair rail so I could build it the way I want it and finally get the rail installed.

After all that and it just looks like... just that. At least the next time one of us has an injured leg we'll be more stable on the stairs.
I wanted a "return" and I wanted the bottom, flat part of the handrail moulding to remain roughly parallel to the floor. My carpenter friends in Oregon enlightened me to the fact that I'd have to level out first, so I knew I'd need Nick to teach me how to figure out that angle. And then as I was playing with some scrap pieces I realized a couple of things: I didn't like the way that looked at the bottom of the stairs and It was really challenging (i.e. scary and probably leaning towards dangerous) for me to cut small pieces with my beloved, beautiful compound miter saw. Then I watched a YouTube video on the This Old House channel to see about how to assemble all these parts and saw that they just did a simple 90-degree return, flat part of the moulding being parallel with the floor be damned. Well, screw it, if it's good enough for Tom Silva, it's good enough for Tara Fields. **Eric Fischl won't even notice, you can count on that.

Look at all that spackle! Filling all those holes and divots! Yeah, yeah... I'll get to it.

Months and months ago I searched and searched for handrail brackets that I liked. It's probably usually not such a big deal that they have a certain look, but since we can look right at them from the sofa, I wanted them to be an appropriate finish and style for the rest of the updates we've made. Also months and months ago, I discussed this project with my dear friend, Dale, who had been a finish carpenter for years and years and he suggested that I match the angle of the handrail to the angle of the stair wall/moulding on the living room side, rather than the stairs. BRILLIANT. I mean, it's really close to the same, but maybe not exactly. Walking up or down the stairs with your hand on the rail you wouldn't notice a slight difference in angle, but you sure would see it from the sofa!

Here's a close-up shot of the last owners' pink paint and not-great DIY texturing of the wall.

A LOT of time, effort, and planning went into this project and I must say that the finished project is underwhelming. After months of on and off work, sourcing, research, phone calls, emails, IMs, psyching myself up and down it just looks like it should've looked the whole time... like a normal, up-to-code, handrail. At least I got those cool, pewter finish, cast iron rail brackets. Sigh.

*Preparing for winter includes, but is not limited to, the following:
Ordering firewood for delivery, then stacking it in the woodshed.
Getting the canopy back on Bert, the pickup truck, loading the sandbags & tire chains.
Putting away all the patio furniture, hoses, etc., like people everywhere.

**Until/If he reads this. Or I tell him. Which I did.

UPDATE: Long Winter's Nap

Delia mostly kicked the blanket off herself in a fit of nest-making, so I finished off the job and now the fancy new store-bought dog bed in the "new" kitchen is nekkid.


I added a new page called Glossary and Cast List. I started putting it together ages ago and had a heckuva time "publishing" it, but suddenly last week I spotted a button I hadn't noticed before in a place I didn't expect one to be and it finally is out there. It's up there in that bar under the title if you've been dying to know what some common abbreviation is or are otherwise interested.

Monday, October 31, 2016

A Little Bit of Halloween Fun

Even though we're mostly skipping Halloween this year, because it just reminds us too much of Betty, her fantastic costumes, and integral part of the holiday, I finally got around to starting the Halloween Apothecary I've been collecting and hoarding for over the last couple-few years. It's stashed in the niche above our pantry doors for now, but might just stay there all year.

I had so much fun coming up with the various "ingredients," making the labels, and decorating the bottles that I took two pictures of each. And you lucky so-and-sos get the opportunity to see all of them! If you choose to continue, that is.

Bat Brains, Flying Gunard Dorsal Scales, Scales of Arctic Sea Lion

Dollar store rubbery brains, cheat grass seed heads, pine cone scales.
Mystery Lady and Authentic Bearded Whale Whiskers

Some part of pine cones, seed pods from something in the yard

Patagonian Su Tail Fur and Mummified Lamprey, Whole & Complete

Samara-type seeds and a poppy seed pod.

Cone from Pine of Siam (in a font called "Symbols"), Flutterbi Wings, Scales of This Guy or These Guys

A mutant, double-tipped pine cone that I jarred too soon, so it moldered, pine white butterfly wings found on the ground, pine cones stripped of their scales by the local squirrel gang.

Authentic Lung of Unicorn

The spent seed stalk from the hen & chicks growing in the yard.
Scales of Old Salak, Authentic Mermaid Underarm Hair

Pine bark found on the ground, moss/lichen also found on the ground
The labels were put together in Photoshop using Dover Publishing clip art and downloaded fonts. They're printed on paper with some little bits in it, then tea stained, and decoupaged onto the jars. Various kinds of cloth, mostly also tea stained for the tops, except those that are painted tissue paper. Some are applied with wax, others tied or decoupaged. Watered down acrylic paints are used to further distress the tops, labels, and jars. All the natural things were collected on our property. In fact,I didn't have to buy anything for this project so far, which was pretty satisfying. All the fabric was from scraps, jars from foods we'd finished, wax was from making fire starters, paper has been in my stash for at least a decade! I even already had the clip art and fonts! I think I'm even going to consider this true upcycling, because I think these things are better than were as just jars and just stuff on the ground - maybe all the plants that didn't get to grow would think differently, but they can get their own blog or leave negative comments if they want to.

I have a few more that are alllllmost done to add this season, but these are only about half of the total specimens in jars I have. The rest will have to wait until next year, at least.