Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Technology Waits for No Man (or Woman)

I've been cleaning up the blog a bit today, removing broken photo links and defunct gadgets, and generally marvelling at how much things have changed since I started this blog. When I took on the mantle of "The Cardboard Crafter," I was a stay-at-home-mom with a five-year-old just starting school and two-year-old twin babies trying to preserve my sanity through Any Means Necessary. Now my oldest is in middle school and the little ones have been known to steal my clothes... I'm back in school full-time myself pursuing a new career, but also about to start a job at the bottom of the totem pole earning half of what I did in my last position.

Not only has my life changed significantly (I'm like 3 jobs later), but so has technology and design. Everything is white and bright with clean lines, a little green here or there, and large, beautiful photos. And here I am in my little corner with my dingy brown cardboard and my granny doilies.

I have never been on the cutting edge of things (unless you count the fact that I started gaming on a Commodore 64 computer back in the 80's playing "Little Computer People," the precursor to Sims). I feel like I'm always playing catch-up, learning new things just behind the curve. I was not the first person to start a blog, join Facebook, get a smart phone, or send a Tweet. But, I do know how to do all of those things, thank you very much. And although I don't enter the Twitterverse very often, I have been paid admin to six different FB pages, plus the two I maintain for myself.

Old people think I'm amazing, young people think I'm awkward... I think with Google and girl power, I can do anything. It just might take me a bit longer to get the job done -- the first time. After that, I'm golden. 

Monday, January 2, 2017

Everything But (and including) the Kitchen Sink

I have been obsessed with miniatures for as long as I can remember, and a big part of that obsession has related to functional miniatures. If you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that I was inspired early on by books like "The Indian in the Cupboard" and Beatrix Potter's children's books, both of which feature tiny creatures living in tiny, functional houses. And while Beatrix Potter's forest creatures find humans to be a nuisance at best and generally hazardous to one's health, in "The Indian in the Cupboard" the little boy works diligently to help his tiny compatriot build a functional longhouse, feed himself, etc.

I've often imagined what it would be like if one of my dolls came to life or if I found a little mouse that could talk and wished to live as people do, how I would renovate my dollhouses to accommodate, what tiny food I would give them to eat, etc. Finding the tiny kitchen videos that other people have made online resonated with that part of me that still dreams of these things. And finding a toy stove that ACTUALLY WORKS has been a lot of fun.

So, of course, I want more. I have scoured the internet for a tiny refrigerator, but the smallest that I've found are still much too big for the scale of my Little Chef stove. So I decided I would make an icebox out of a small styrofoam cooler. This project is still in progress (waiting on materials), but I have completed it seven different ways in my head :)

I feel like I have made decent progress on the ice box. So, of course, I have started another project. Because of course you can't have a working kitchen without a sink.

In my head I designed a sink made from a repurposed fish tank pump and a Wolverine tin toy sink with tiny metal plumbing fixtures. However, I don't have any of those items, and the cheapest Wolverine toy sink I can find on eBay is $20, and it's very hard for me to spend money on myself.... so, I filed that away in the back of my head for later.

Then I found a tiny desk fountain.

For $5.

And I bought it.

So, in my head I used the tiny pump inside this fountain to turn a Wolverine tin sink into a functional sink for my kitchen.....

And then I got impatient. And I opened the box. And I took a hammer to this fountain to get rid of the extraneous pieces and get to the guts of it.

And then I thought, okay. I will wait until I can order a Wolverine tin toy sink and put this in the bottom of it, and re-plumb it so the water can circulate....

And then I looked at the box this came in. And thought, "That's about the right size that a kitchen cabinet should be..."

And I did some things.

I cut out the back of the fountain box so that I could have an access panel for the plumbing. Then I found a little bowl that I thought might make a decent sink basin.

Not just for salsa.
Once I measured and cut the hole for the drop-in basin, I of course used hot-glue to reinforce the box.

The only gun I'll ever need.
Then I got the bright idea that I would drill a hole in the plastic to fit the plumbing parts. Plumbing parts being pieces of a super silly adjustable straw that had rubber joints and plastic straw pieces that you could customize in all sorts of ways. Which I just happened to have lying around. Which also happened to fit the little fountain pump perfectly.

Seemed like a great idea.

However, the plastic shattered...
So, Plan B. I still used the little traitorous plastic salsa bowl for the sink basin, but I decided I would cover it, and the top of the sink, over with plaster. Even though the shape is wrong, I thought I might try to simulate one of those farmhouse sinks that has a white ceramic edge that comes down over the side of the cabinet.

Waiting for it to dry....
I used a layer of aluminum foil between the cardboard and the plaster in an effort to keep the cardboard dry and preserve it's structural integrity. I will have to cover over the plaster with another layer of something to smooth it out and make it waterproof (possibly the bondo I will use on the fridge?)

I'm hoping the drain hold I put in the plaster will be more successful than the one I tried to drill in the plastic. Cross your fingers! I'm totally improvising here. Any ideas or suggestions would be appreciated - I promise, I read all the comments, even i I don't always have a chance to respond. :)

See you next time in Cardboard Craftland!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Tiny Kitchen Renovation

Tiny Kitchen has been out of sight - but not out of mind. I had to take it apart and relocate it, and it's been a couple weeks since it was operational. I've missed it! We took a few minutes to put it together today. This may not be the final configuration, but it's starting to feel more like a finished kitchen :) See below:

The green desk and cupboard were a gift from my mom :) She's had them for
years and thought they would be perfect for our tiny kitchen.

We haven't figured out the lighting yet, and I'm not sure that I like the
white walls or the faux marble floor - but it at least looks like a kitchen
in need of a renovation - and not just a random collection of kitchen
equipment. Still no sink or refrigerator... a girl can dream.

We also bought some tiny food! These were the three
smallest potatoes we could find. (27 cents)

Here's the smallest pumpkin grown in our garden.
One of the girlies painted a face on it.

Some other small food items we've found. Tiny
pumpernickel bread, tiny garlic bagel slices, and
the smallest apple at the store. (apple - 21 cents)

The prettiest darn pumpkin we could find! (65 cents)

Stay tuned! We've got some tiny food - time for more tiny cooking!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Chicken Soup - For the Wee Folk

Video 4 is up on the new YouTube channel. I think we learn something new every time. Maybe (at about video number 20 or so) we will have these polished and professional-looking. We'll see.

What I learned this go-round:

-Captions! I can now add them.
-"Tiny Kitchen" name has already been taken. Need to come up with something new!
-If you speed up sequences to 4X instead of 8X, they look better, but you get squeaky audio from all the kid chatter.
-We definitely need a new camera (or to find the charger for my actual camera) so we can film the entire video without having to stop and dump footage on the computer to make room for the rest.
-We need to get our kitchen set up in a more permanent location so you don't see all my house mess in the background when the kids want to change camera angles.

What I need to know:

-Are the videos better with or without the chatter? Should I try to be entertaining??
-Is 8:00 minutes an okay length?
-Do I need a little mascot in the kitchen - like a stuffy, or a doll, or a gnome? (The kids suggested the cat, but the idea of cat hair in the food gives me the shivers.)
-Can I adjust the sound levels so music is louder/softer in comparison to ambient audio? (I will just need to google this or play around some more.)

I'm sure there's a lot more - I just need to think for a bit. No time now, though.
Until next time!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Tiny Kitchen - Video 3: Kebabs and Dogs

Video number three - we thought we'd try something different. I told the kids, "Sure you can talk in this one. And you can help by handing me the things I need." I did not give them permission to fart, but they took liberties. (I may have edited the flatulence out...)

So, review of our tiny grill. It sure was cute! Looked great on camera. Was terrible at cooking. I'm not sure if it was an issue with the candles, or the grill itself. It was made out of that manufactured metal stuff that seems like it's compressed powder or whatever. So, in order to ensure the chicken was indeed edible, we cooked the kebabs in the skillet on the stove top, and for good measure, I zapped it in the microwave for 30 seconds. The hot dogs, as one of the kids mentions on the video, (unless I edited that part out), would have been fine to eat cold as they were pre-cooked when purchased.

My ten-year-old was cameraman for the first part of the video, but lost interest when I had to dump the video on my computer and delete from the phone to make more room, so the girls switched off at the end. They kept trying to get me in the video ("No, kids, mommy doesn't need to be on camera!"), and most of that I was able to edit out as well. We had 28 minutes of footage, shrunk down to 8 by selective editing and zooming through repetitive parts.

Did I mention I found a free video editor that actually does the editing of the video? Windows Live Movie Maker. This was my first time playing with this program, so I didn't try all the features, and I did kind of pick a random "movie" theme. Expect things to get a bit cleaner and sharper as we learn and grow. (Both in the production and editing of the video).

I can't wait to cook the next thing! I have set aside a small bit of a pork chop from today's dinner. Time to do some thinking and try new things!

Stay tuned! <3

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Tiny Cooking Video - Second Attempt

This is our second attempt at cooking in the tiny kitchen. The recipe uses a lot of the same ingredients as our first video (Beef Stir Fry), with added complexity.

My cameraman was the other 7-year-old daughter. 1st daughter - who filmed last week's video - was the DJ. For some reason, she decided she wanted to listen to country music.

We are still working out the kinks. Our kitchen is in a temporary location and we still don't have a full set of dishes. Some of my ingredients (like the taco seasoning and cilantro) didn't yet have a tiny container to serve them out of, so I tried to keep the large packaging off camera.

This video is also somewhat long, and I tried to edit it down some, but I am using a very glitchy program and am just learning this stuff, so it's kinda rough.

All that said, I hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Tiny Cooking Videos - A Meditation

So I've recently become obsessed with these tiny cooking videos on YouTube. As you know, I have a thing for miniatures. I have always been fascinated with the idea of functional miniatures - ever since reading such things as Beatrix Potter, "The Indian In the Cupboard," "Thumbelina," etc. It's a thing I am definitely into. So when I discovered that there are people out there cooking real food using dollhouse miniature pots and pans and tiny ovens I became enamored with the idea. Watching these videos is so calming and peaceful, it was almost a meditation. I watched every miniature cooking video I could find on YouTube - and was so disappointed to learn that there is a finite amount of them.

So then, of course, I spent some time on eBay. First I tried to find a little oven that I could place a candle in, like in many of the tiny cooking videos already on YouTube. There were a lot of tiny iron stoves on eBay. But not very many that I was sure I could cook with. And I really didn't want to end up spending $20-$40 on a non-functional item when functionality is the whole point. I already have several different kitchens worth of non-functional dollhouse furniture. I wanted something I could actually cook tiny food with. And then I discovered the Little Chef oven.

There are several variations on the Little Chef, including the Wolverine brand and the Susie Homemaker Brand, but basically it's a tin oven with a built-in FUNCTIONAL hot plate. Made for children. In the 1950's. This, of course, was another eBay purchase. While I was trying to decide if it was really okay for me to spend this much money on myself, my sweet husband found one that was still functional and in really good shape and bought it for me, only telling me afterward that it was on its way. Not knowing so much about scale, he also bought me some 1/12 size metal pots and pans and cooking utensils... the Little Chef oven is about 14" wide. So, not quite to scale, but love his heart, he tried.

I didn't tell him "I told you so;" I just sent him this picture. #truelove

So, since my Little Chef arrived, we have spent the last week scouring dollar stores, Goodwill, and every else we've been looking for other items for our kitchen. It's kind of an odd scale - a bit larger than Barbie/Joe (1/6), a bit smaller than American Girl (1/4). We've had to improvise, and compromise a bit.

Pots made from potted meat and Vienna sausage tins, tiny tupperware from various dollar
stores, little shelf and mugs were a Goodwill find.

And then... I looked through my stash of doll items and had a few lucky finds. Also, I came across a perfectly functional, if a tad large, frying pan in the kids' room. And I've been dying to try it out for more than just boiling water or melting American cheese - but my refrigerator was bare after spending most of the summer away from home. But today - TODAY! We went to the grocery store and bought some groceries! I still would not call our mini kitchen well-stocked, but... I daresay it's FUNCTIONAL, in a bare-bones/bachelor pad kinda way.

We still haven't worked out any aspects of our videographer game yet, really, but we did manage to cobble together our first video! My seven-year-old daughter was the camera man. I was the chef. Both girls were our official taste testers, and enthusiastically enjoyed the cuisine as it was finished.

Some things I learned: 
--Need to clear phone memory before we start videotaping.
--Need more counter space.
--Need tiny pot-holder.
--Need to have cameraman on my right, as I am left-handed and block the food.
--Should probably remove rings when cooking.
--Best to hold the camera the other direction (so the video is wide and not tall). 

I hope you enjoy our initial attempt at our own tiny cooking video! And hopefully, there will be more to come!