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PUDLECRAZY's Recent Blog Entries

Welcomed Back to Work

Saturday, January 05, 2013

It has been hard getting back into the swing of things. I rarely think of my age, and feel vibrant and healthy, but I do have less energy reserve than I did a decade ago. Vacation was delightful and restorative, I love my job, but going back to work takes some readjustment. While I have enough energy to stay perky during the school day, I am exhausted when the children go home. I am very glad we are ramping back slowly with 2 days this past week before starting in with 5 days on a Monday. I am breathing a sigh of relief as I sit with coffee in my hand and a poodle warming my feet, enjoying a vision of the early morning sun on the snow this morning instead of hustling around getting ready for work.

One of my graduates, now in college in Denmark, and his college friend from Sweden, visited my class yesterday to teach the children how to 'create an experience' for someone. Andy was always a very sweet child and is a sweet and wonderful young man. His outlook on life, which I share, is that we have too much 'stuff' and that a meaningful gift is one of shared experience. He taught the class a way to give someone an wonderful and memorable experience, staring with researching that person's loves and interests, then building a special experience based on those loves and interests. They started the class by having us leave and setting up the classroom with candles, and bringing us in to guitar music and song performed by the student from Sweden. Then they had a guided meditation for the class, each participant envisioning a time when they were very happy sharing with people who they are close with.

I'm not certain what else they did for the next half an hour because I was then kicked out of the class emoticon for a half an hour. I enjoyed time in the hall chatting with some of the third graders who are excited about joining my class next year. Children from my class would occasionally come hurrying out of the class on a mission, saying "Cover your eyes!!!!"

How wonderful for me to have the opportunity to be the recipient of the planned experience! The children planned such cool experiences for me, a unicycle lesson while being serenaded by guitar music, tea and coffee accompanied be song and dance, and a special performance of 'Party Chris is in the House Tonight.' How fun is that!

I have to admit, my thighs are a little sore this morning as the unicycle was a bit short for me, but honestly, this is why I still love teaching.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FIFIFRIZZLE 1/12/2013 7:08PM

    What a special experience for you. Well taught, that student!

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CAROLIAN 1/8/2013 5:47PM

    emoticon what a suprising experience xxx

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ROCKMAN6797 1/8/2013 12:47AM

    What an awesome experience!

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KASEYCOFF 1/6/2013 3:46PM

    Love it! Now, why don't we have a unicycle in the emoticon list? lol...
[Close as I could get--!]

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GUITARWOMAN 1/6/2013 2:44PM

    Oh, I can so relate to the energy reserve.....it does go down, it's easier to get so tired quicker.

I think I ahve asked this before....it seems as if you are in a pretty special school...is it private?

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MEDDYPEDDY 1/6/2013 6:28AM

    Wow, lovely! Even the part that you have to be more careful with your energy when you are older... that is something I am trying to adapt to in a healthy way!

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IUHRYTR 1/5/2013 4:26PM

    Your students are the best, reflecting the care they receive from you. -- Lou

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MCGS62 1/5/2013 12:35PM

    Unicycles !!! YEAH !!
I have always liked watching unicycles and both my kids ride.

it is nice to see that you are still up to it even if it makes the legs a little tight!!

Yea for your class --to a job well done !!!!!

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WATERMELLEN 1/5/2013 9:37AM

    Lovely gift!! Nice to see the person who gives so much being recognized!!

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LMB-ESQ 1/5/2013 8:19AM

    And that story shows how much your kids love you! emoticon

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    What a great day!

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3 Year Sparkversary

Thursday, January 03, 2013

I forgot to post on my Sparkversary! I joined SP on 12/27/2009, deeply sad and needing to finish losing the 30 pounds I had gained after a few years of dealing with really hard losses.

By the end of the year, I had accomplished the weight goal I set for myself and have been on maintenance ever since. During that time, my weight has fluctuated some, but I have been much faster to react by shifting my diet and exercise habits to get back to my desired weight.

Last January I got my Fitbit, so this is my one year Fitbitversary. Since I got it I have walked 2000 (Yes, 2000!!!) miles and climbed as many floors as an airplane's altitude. I find my Fitbit very motivating, and was delighted when SP arranged that our Fitbits can be synched to our Spark fitness trackers.

You may remember that I injured my foot last March. I was in incredible searing foot pain for most of the year. Custom orthotics have helped some, but I think that foot exercises and switching the Earth shoes with their negative heels to take the pressure off of my metatarsal area have been the most effective. Finally, by the end of November, my foot has begun to feel normal. That was a long haul!

This year was also when I got to take the trip I have been wanting to take for 10 years. My sister, niece, and I went back to China, this time getting the opportunity to visit many of the places I have wanted to go to, but didn't have time or desire to last time. It was wonderful to spend time with my sister and niece, and to get to know some really wonderful people. We did quite a lot of hiking and in incredible heat. I was glad to be in good physical shape.

It has been wonderful to find such good friends here on Spark; many of you I have been friends with since the beginning, some of you are newer, all of you mean a lot to me. Thank you for being here, for reading my blogs, and for cheering me on and for fluffing me up when I need a bit of fluffing.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FIFIFRIZZLE 1/12/2013 7:04PM

    Hey there, I got unsubscribed and am just catching up.
Belated Happy Sparkaversary!

And congratulations on your fantastic weight loss.
I didn't know that you lost so much but you have been a model to me of someone who is diligently taking care of herself and showing weightloss can be maintained.
Thank goodness you have resolved your foot problem, that is a long haul. You'll be skipping along soon!

I have a big thank you Chris, on account of your encouragement to try Zumba. Without it I would have been too shy. Now it is one of my fitness mainstays. I hope it pleases you to think of your role in making me smile and laugh so much while I am sweating away trying to follow the instructor!


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FABBYMAY 1/8/2013 1:42PM

    Sorry I missed this post! Happy SPARK and FITversary!!! And thanks to you, I just celebrated my 1st Sparkversary (but didn't realize it until i read your post).

I am so glad your foot is doing a lot better - sounds like we need to start planning a girl trip to France now!

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ROCKMAN6797 1/7/2013 11:53PM

    Congrats on your Sparkversary!
I never realized we joined about the same time, what a small world!

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MCGS62 1/5/2013 12:32PM

    Congrats on the 3 year sparkiversary !!! me too but sometime later this month I dont remember the exact date.
I am also glad that your foot is healing.

we should toast ( with tea of course)) to your health happiness and LOL sparkiness!!

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MEDDYPEDDY 1/5/2013 3:06AM

    I get a little whiny after reading about people successing so well, how come I donīt when I do really try? BUT that said, I am really glad you are doing so well and I do love the poodle, reminds me of my own and I do love that you got on that trip! And I am very happy to have "met" you on Spark – happy anniversary!

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SIRIRADHA1 1/4/2013 11:04AM

    Congratulations! So sorry to read about your foot, but I'm glad you've found ways to deal with the pain.

Wish I had stuck with the program as you did! I'm back after a too-long hiatus, packing more pounds than ever, but I'm determined to pull myself back together.

China! What a fantastic trip that must have been! The closest I've ever gotten is the great Szechwan food DH cooks!


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0309COOKIE 1/3/2013 7:44PM

    Congratulations on your three year Sparkversary! I always enjoy your blogs.

Stella is looking fetching as always!

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    Thank you for your very encouraging blog! Good to read also that Fitbit works so well for you.

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KOMAL53 1/3/2013 10:16AM

    Happy Sparkvarsary!!!I've really enjoyed being your friend on Spark and enjoyed your Blogs immensely---they've helped me overcome some of the worst moments of my life!!So a very big,heartfelt "Thank You" for being my friend---and here's to many,many more Sparkversaries to follow!! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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MARY1313 1/3/2013 9:00AM

    We love your blogs and you and Stella too. Thanks for the Stella fix. I needed that!!!

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IUHRYTR 1/3/2013 8:21AM

    Chris, we need to thank you, for sharing your creativity about the dollhouses, your music, the students' crafts in your class, your hikes in pictures, and for our buddy Stella. I hope you have a new year filled with happiness. emoticon -- Lou

Comment edited on: 1/3/2013 8:21:47 AM

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JLITT62 1/3/2013 7:40AM

    Spark on, my friend!

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LMB-ESQ 1/3/2013 7:30AM

    Chris, you are inspiring! Congrats on 3 years! emoticon

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GUITARWOMAN 1/3/2013 7:24AM

    Lovely blog, Chris! So glad your foot is better!

Onwards and upwards for 2013!

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    Always ready to fluff a friend!

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January Goals

Saturday, December 29, 2012

I posted these on the Music Makers team page but thought I would post them in my blog and try to stay accountable here.

My January goals are:

emoticon Music ~ concentrate on some of the technique that has been eluding me in flamenco guitar and work on a new piece. I am deliberately breaking away from my repertoire for a while so I can change some incorrect hand position habits and improve my playing.

Learn some new ukulele strums and fingerpicking. I got a book of Spanish pieces by Gaspar Sanz adapted for ukulele to work on fingerstyle.

I forgot to add how much time in my original post. My goal is to get 5 - 6 hours of practice time in per week.

emoticon Nutrition ~ I still need to keep consciously drink those 8 glasses of water a day. After three years it still does not come naturally to me. BREAK the sugar habit! Every darn year, I end up eating more sugar than I plan at the holidays and it makes my crave sweets. Okay, holidays are over. No time like the present to get the sweets back out of the house.

emoticon Fitness ~ Continue my walking program. Get in 4 to 6 miles per day 6 out of 7 days. I have been lax with the weight bearing exercises. This month I will put weight lifting back into my routine 3 days a week. Continue my at home yoga practice.

emoticon Get the structural work done on the dollhouse I am building for the scholarship fundraiser.

My son and I built this stove for my niece's dollhouse:

It was tricky to build, some parts were so small I had to use tweezers. But it came out really sweet. Here's how it looks in her fairy house:

My dollhouse build is going slowly, but I am making progress with putting on base coats of paint and working on the faux flooring.

Until next time,

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FEMISLIM 1/1/2013 6:17PM

    Keep strong, you can do it!!!!!

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JAZZMINE 1/1/2013 4:30PM

    Nice goals! Your blogs are always inspirational!


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    That stove is darned cool!

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MARY1313 1/1/2013 4:46AM

    Happy New Year Chris!!


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FABBYMAY 12/31/2012 12:46PM

    You'd better get those delicious looking Christmas cookies off of your page background! I too am trying to break the sugar habit!


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MCGS62 12/31/2012 8:32AM

    Wow !! That's a cool stove.. it's more ornate than the one my father used to have in the basement when I was a kid.
I'll bet some of those details were next to impossible!!

Good job!

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CHALLENGER15 12/30/2012 9:08AM


Love the stove! I was just thinking that I would enjoy making a dollhouse...very odd for me, I have NEVER thought that before, and then I saw the stove, and remembered thinking that would be a fun hobby.

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KAPELAKIN 12/30/2012 8:47AM

    What a fantastic stove. Has the niece seen it yet? Bet she'll be over the moon! Great goals, enjoy!

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ROCKMAN6797 12/29/2012 10:54PM


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IUHRYTR 12/29/2012 9:49PM

    Solid goals, Chris, and another creative dollhouse. Wishing you much success with the fundraiser and with your new beginning in 2013. -- Lou

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FIFIFRIZZLE 12/29/2012 7:45PM

    Yay for you Pudle you are my inspiration. I can't get my head around goals at the moment but after a friend's son's wedding early in the year I am thinking Cura Romana to reset my habits.
Um, If sugar is plaguing you, you might try a chromium supplement if you are into such things. I found that, along with extra protein (i use harboiled egg whites) really helps knock sugar cravings on the head for me.

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WATERMELLEN 12/29/2012 7:41PM

    That dollhouse stove is just like the one at my grandfather's house: used for all the cooking and for heating hot water for laundry, baths and cleaning!!

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GUITARWOMAN 12/29/2012 7:41PM

    Good to hear from you, Chris!

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LINWASH23 12/29/2012 6:27PM

    emoticon emoticon

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Saturday, December 15, 2012

My heart is so heavy after yesterday's school shooting, it is a tragedy that is beyond comprehension. My love, compassion, and prayers go out to all of the families of the victims. Not only the families of the children and adults who died, but to everyone in the school and the community.

As a parent, a teacher, and a human being, I grieve for the victims of this senseless crime.

Helping our children deal with this is not easy. Children want reassurance that they will be safe; reassurance that we cannot honestly give them. I feel the best ways to help them are to listen to their concerns and fears, to let them know we do everything humanly possible to keep them safe, and to help them find ways to be proactive.

I wish there were clear answers. We are seeing an increase of mass shootings, and shootings in schools. There is no one answer; we live in a complex culture and a world filled with increasing violence. People want to argue the issue of gun control; a discussion worth having, but the solution has to be on many more levels than this with the commitment of the majority of our population to solve the issues of rage driven violence, hate crimes, domestic violence ~ violence against others in all forms.

It is easy to feel helpless, but we are only helpless if we expect someone else or legislation to solve this problem. We need to be proactive. I think if we ALL started with these two questions and acted on them, we would be heading in the right direction.

1. What can I, personally, do to promote a compassionate society and creative, positive, and healthy means for handling conflict?

2. How can I help the children in my life find creative, positive, and healthy means for handling conflict, and reach out to others?

Big things start small, and within each of us is part of the solution to the increasing violence in our country.

This is a time to come together, find solutions, and share with one another. What are you doing to promote a safe community, a safe world for our children? I would love your ideas.

Please, this is not a time or place to politicize about gun control, health care, etc. Out of respect for the victims of this tragedy please do not use this as a platform to express your opinions about gun control, etc.

What can we do as individuals? Because the real solution will come from us.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MARY1313 12/21/2012 11:01AM

    your blog is so poignant. I don't know the answers.

((((Chris)))) I knew you would feel this so deeply.


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MCGS62 12/17/2012 8:38AM

    The answers are with God.. unfortunately that has been politicized out of our schools also.

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    Is this an increase in violence or an increase in an awareness of it? If we did not have the communication technology to instantaneously spread word of disaster would we react the same way?
I think back to reading news in the 70's concerning atrocities on the African continent. They were in black and white, held in my hand and bit abstract. Fast forward to instant news coverage and the same atrocities hit me in the gut. They'd been there all along but were now shoved in my face that blasted me with crying women and children, tortured bodies. My reaction became more acute yet nothing had changed for these people.
I will continue showing and teaching children respect, caring for each other and love. It's all I have to give.

Comment edited on: 12/17/2012 7:58:54 PM

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KOMAL53 12/16/2012 12:28AM

    Beautiful Sentiments---and very well expressed too!!I agree with you--today's World is fast paced and stress filled.I have been reading about the growing violence all over the World.This kind of rage is something I just can't understand---and my heart goes out to each one affected by this terrible thing!!I am not an American but Life is meaningful anywhere in the World and personally I feel that being thoughtful to the needs of others is where Compassion begins.Unfortunately the Values we grew up with are considered obsolete in today's World.today i'm finding that Courtesy and Nicety are bad words----these are taken not as a Virtue but as Faults which highlight one's incapacity to stand for oneself.These are the values I grew up with and practice for I just cannot function any other way!!!I taught these same values to my daughters too---but such people who still believe in such values are few.Today these stand very little chance to survive in the World scenario!!

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    What a great blog... my heart is also heavy... You have said it all so well, my friend.

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CITYZOZO 12/15/2012 2:11PM

    i don't think you can solve this if we continue to have such access to guns.. sorry, i don't think there is a way around that fact

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ALEXSGIRL1 12/15/2012 1:33PM

    I cannot stop crying since this happened thank you for your powerful blog. We must fight the evil with our love

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SWEDE_SU 12/15/2012 1:06PM

    thank you for your thoughtful blog. i as an individual feel it is important to make my voice heard, that it should not be easy to get guns, or bullets. no one needs these weapons of mass destruction. we must also increase access to mental health care. the more voices that are raised during this time of sadness, the more likely that action will be taken. we must not let ourselves be silenced by the NRA, which supports such murders as we witnessed yesterday, yet another time. they have had their say, and the massacres keep happening.

our children will feel more secure if they know that the adults in their lives and in their governments are doing what they can to protect them - by making stricter laws to prevent people from having the weapons and ammunition that murder children and by providing access to the care that the mentally ill need, so they won't even think about picking up these weapons.

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LMB-ESQ 12/15/2012 12:45PM

    I am also in shock about this. And I'm afraid I have to stay away from the news about it for the time being, because it's too overwhelming. The news will be there to read tomorrow and the next day and the day after that.

I like your personalized approach. This is how I do most things in my life. I can't change the world at large, but I can change my little corner of it, and if everyone did that, we'd have a much better world.

And I can't agree with you, Claireinparis, that you don't have a right to participate in the discussion. You do have a right, because you are a compassionate human being. It makes no difference whether or not you are American.

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CLAIREINPARIS 12/15/2012 12:33PM

    I don't have the right to share in this discussion as I am not American, and we don't have killings like these here. I think any country can benefit from people caring for each other, caring teachers. But there is little to do for non professional people against people suffering from psychiatric problems, unfortunately.

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FIFIFRIZZLE 12/15/2012 12:26PM

    IT is hard to know what to say in the face of this terrible event.
Kudos to you Pudlecrazy for showing such leadership in your response. Coincidentally this morning I have been reading about an inquiry begun by a philanthropist into the causes of and solutions for child abuse and domestic violence and offer here a link to the website of this project which is just beginning here in NZ. Maybe something will come of it...

Comment edited on: 12/15/2012 12:58:16 PM

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Next Dollhouse Build

Sunday, December 02, 2012

My laptop has been in the shop since Thursday. This is my first attempt at a blog from my new iPhone that my DS got for me as an early Christmas present. It is nice to see how easy it is to post pictures from.

Well, after last year's fiasco with the dollhouse I built and how little it brought in at the Scholarship fundraiser, I swore I would never do that again. Then the auction committee asked me if I would consider making another dollhouse. I initially said no, but then this one was advertised at an excellent price. As it turns out, it is super easy to build. I did the original dry fit in 40 minutes.

So here we go - another dollhouse for the scholarship fundraiser. I know I'll have fun with it.

So what colors for the exterior?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MARY1313 12/5/2012 12:01AM

    awww I knew you would do another one!!!

I love the yellows, all shades and white or cream.

Happy building!!!

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CLAIREINPARIS 12/4/2012 3:40PM

    It is lovely, and I just can't wait to see it finished! What about bright yellow and pure white? :)

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CAROLIAN 12/4/2012 2:51AM

    Shades of blue emoticon

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MCGS62 12/3/2012 8:18AM

    This time you should explain to them that , just as a real house, there is a reserve amount that needs to be met before the sale is considered legitimate.

Believe me that you don't want me picking colors ---I buy all white or black socks to be sure they match LOL !!

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JLITT62 12/3/2012 7:00AM

    If you want bright & cheery, you can't beat yellow with orange trim -- that's what we actually painted our last house. It was so cheery; always made me smile. Have fun!

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PUDLECRAZY 12/3/2012 6:01AM

    I'm loving these ideas. Since it will be for a young child, I'll go with bright colors. My last build was lavender, which was charming on the little Victorian. This one will have to be a different color for variety.

I agree with Janet, it is very much like an old farmhouse. Historically it would have been white but I'm going for colorful. I think I want to get one for my own entertainment and furnish and decorate it circa 1920. That would be a fun project.

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    iPhones are strange when taking pictures on the vertical or horizontal. You'll have to play with it to see which way works best for you. I get a kink in my neck when the kids send videos of Lucas as they arrive sideways and I can't flip them!

The house looks neat. The suggested color schemes are great. This looks like the classic country house...Ma and Pa Kettle...(bet most people don't know them) and also like many of the ancestral homes I have in pictures from the 20's and 30's. I'm only guessing but they look like cream with dark green shutters, white with gray or black. That's only if you want a realistic house.
Poodle gray with poodle black sounds interesting too, but I'd end up detailing the shutters with little white poodles!.

Don't forget a rocker on the porch

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JAMER123 12/3/2012 12:27AM

    Steel blue/Colonial blue with either black or white trim. Cute little house & well done!!

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KAPELAKIN 12/2/2012 11:51PM

    Can't wait to see the finished product! I am thinking a plum/violet color with maybe a gray roof and teal shutters/door? Might as well have fun with it!

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EVWINGS 12/2/2012 11:45PM

    I have always like several colors for the Victorian type doll houses.
1. Gray with pink trim
2. Pink with brown trim
3 Yellow with dark green trim

But that lavendar sounds beautiful, too. I can't wait to see your work as it goes along!

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0309COOKIE 12/2/2012 11:19PM

    I don't know why, but lavender popped into my head.

Comment edited on: 12/2/2012 11:20:40 PM

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    I remember the last doll house you made! BEAUTIFUL! I hope this year that it is loved and appreciated for the hard work you put into it! *hugs* emoticon

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HI-NRG 12/2/2012 9:15PM

I always wanted to build a dollhouse,

Nice job!

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IUHRYTR 12/2/2012 7:13PM

    Love your creativity, Chris. My suggested color: pale yellow with black trim (like my house emoticon). I'm glad you clarified about the pictures; I was confused at what I was looking at emoticon. -- Lou

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PUDLECRAZY 12/2/2012 7:04PM

    Okay, that's weird. I have no idea why the photos posted sideways. They look like they are oriented correctly on my phone. emoticon

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WATERMELLEN 12/2/2012 7:03PM

    You are so generous with your time! I'm suggesting a Stella House theme -- poodle grey, with a poodle in residence . . .

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