Wednesday, November 11, 2015

October 2015 Energy Usage - Still Good

I know I haven't been posting here much lately. I am still in crafty mode. That will change substantially after Christmas. I've got to get a new kitchen done in Kathy's house, then it's time to work on new kitchen at my house as well. Both kitchens will be gutted to the studs because I want to insulate and air seal the outside walls better. One rate limiting step is that my brother will be making the cabinets. The good news about that is that I will get really nice custom cabinets for a very low price (in my house the only cost will be materials and the cost of John's co-worker, Mike). The bad news is that he has to make them on his weekends off which takes a LONG time. It's ok though, because I'm not speedy about the stuff I do either. Several of my little cardboard Halloween houses took a month to do.

Ok, so here is the excellent report on my October energy use from Duke Energy.

Ok, remember my sister and brother-in-law moved out at the very end of September last year so this graph shows my energy usage with only me (and my animals - 6 cats, 1 dog) in the house. I put a continuous layer of insulation in my attic that adds up to about R-20. I also air sealed fairly well up there. That's the only change from last October. 

The insulation at this time only goes between the attic joists so I do have thermal bridging from wood joists. The plan is to add a substantial amount of cellulose on top of the current batt insulation when I beef up some of the roof framing. I don't know when that will happen, but I plan to have it done well before next summer. 

I am often amused at the suggestions Duke Energy lists to make your house more efficient. Usually I've done these suggestions long ago as in choosing an Energy Star washing machine.

I don't consider this month's recommendation for spray foam insulation amusing, however. I also don't understand the current fascination with spray foam as insulation as noted in this month's report. It has so many significant drawbacks that I would never consider it as an insulation material. 

The serious disadvantages are:
1. Cost - very expensive insulation
2. Flammable - it's highly flammable (
reaching flashover conditions in 44 SECONDS as opposed to cellulose which did not reach flashover conditions after 15 minutes.
3. Oil product - it's made from oil rather than some much more environmentally friendly material such as cellulose
4. High Global Warming Potential - known as GWP. That means that the gases it gives off as it cures contribute to global warming far more than regular carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels
5. If not installed properly at the right concentration and temperature, it can give off aggravating fumes that can make a home if not unlivable, certainly very unpleasant. 

Here are some articles about spray foam insulation and why to avoid it.

2. National Fire Protection Association Testing of Various Types of Insulation in Wall Assemblies - NFPA286 2006 testing You tube video

3. 475 High Performance Building Supply has several articles on avoid foam insulation and why it is important to do so. 

4. Green Building Advisor article on lawsuits against spray foam manufacturers

There are multiple questions on the Green Building Advisor website from consumers who ask what to do about the problems they have had with spray foam insulation.

Well, that's it for today. I will continue to post on this blog, just not so much during craft season (where I post mostly on my other blog -

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

August 2015 Energy Reports

I haven't been doing much stuff on my house because I am still building my little cardboard houses for the Head Start Fundraiser.

I do have my most recent energy report from Duke Power for August 2015. And John brought me his report as well. It's kind of interesting the comparison because we use almost exactly the same amount of energy. I'll talk about that in a minute.

This is my report for August. Still doing very well. We are still very much in hot summer mode, still requiring air conditioning frequently. I am very interested to see what will happen in the winter with my improved insulation though I have probably 2 months before I will use any heat.

The chart shows things better than the graphic above. You can see that I am WAY down from last August but there were 3 people living here at that time.

Ok, so here is John's report from his new highly insulated house. My house is about 2000 sq ft and I think his is about 1300 sq ft.

So why did he use almost exactly the same amount of electricity as me? Well, he keeps 3 TVs plugged in while I have none. My computer and router are on power strips that are turned off when I am not using them. But most importantly, he keeps his house at about 65 degrees all summer where I pretty much only use the AC at night to sleep and I turn it down to 74. When I am cooking I may turn on the AC for a little while, mostly to combat humidity.

Ok, so here is John's energy chart for the past year.

John did not move into his house until the middle of September 2014. We were over there a lot in August and September painting, doing the floors, but no one was actually living there so that explains why his energy usage is higher for this August and September. John asked me why his electricity usage was higher than the energy efficient homes in January through March. It took me a second to figure it out - his all electric house is being compared to NON-ELECTRIC homes for heating. We'll have to call Duke Energy and get him in the right category.

That's it for now. I finish my fundraising project in early October, then it is back to air sealing and insulating more on my house.

Thank you for reading.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

New blog - With Glue and Glitter

I finally decided that trying to have crafts and energy efficient posts on the same blog just doesn't work very well. I feel like my serious intent to work of energy efficiency is diminished somewhat when I post the crafts I like to make. And then the crafts that are really a lot of work seem trivial on this site. So I started a new blog for the crafty stuff - With Glue and Glitter. I think this will help me write better for each site and be less disconcerting for the you, the reader.

No posts yet on the craft site, but I will put some in the next 2-3 days.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Latest Cardboard House Finished

I know this blog is kind of schizophrenic -s ometimes heavy into energy efficiency and other times heavy duty crafting. That's just a reflection of what interests me at the moment.

My little cardboard houses are basically an artistic form of recycling that I continue to have a lot of fun with.

Here is the final product of probably a month's worth of serious crafting - the Black Hat Inn - FINISHED (except maybe a pennant or a bat or a skull at the top of the Black Hat Inn sign).

I worked really hard to come up with a way to support the spinning witches. You have to spin them with your finger, but the movement is still pretty cool. I also worked hard to make the sign curved. The spooky tree is a die cut that has been glittered with glow-in-the-dark glitter. I made the cauldron out of polymer clay. The brooms are toothpicks and unraveled sisal rope. The ghost doorman holds the sign "Welcome to the Black Hat Inn". I found the font online - it's called Lumos, similar to a Harry Potter font. Everything except the brooms are glued down. I may leave them free so people can pick them up.

Close-up of the spinning witches and the Black Hat Inn sign.

Better view of the base of the Inn.

So now I have 19 houses done for the Head Start School fundraiser. I was hoping for 50 by October 1st, but I keep getting caught up in artistic expression (which isn't likely to translate into increased donations) and that slows me down. I am having fun building these houses though. I hope at least some of you enjoy looking at them.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

July Energy Usage

I am still seeing incredible benefits to the insulation and air sealing that I did in March through May of this year.

Remember, though, that I had 3 other people here last July with 3 TVs and the computers and routers were not completely switched off.

I don't think I set the temperature lower last year because my sister and her husband got cold in the house and my brother lived in the basement where it is 10 degrees cooler. This summer has been substantially hotter than last summer. The chart  below shows some July temperature averages from the past 15 years. The lowest temperature for July 2015 was 67 degrees, the highest 98. The lowest MAXIMUM temperature was 82 while there was a day last July where the high was only 69. This year's average high temperature was 91.9 and the mean temperature was 82. Last year's mean was 77.9. It has been much hotter this year which makes the drop in energy use even more impressive.

I will continue to monitor the energy use. My brother moved into his new home in September 2014 and my sister and her husband moved away in October so I should have better comparisons for one person living in the home after that time.

Also, remember that I insulated only to about a level of R-20 just over 1/2 of the current code requirements of R-38. When the weather cools off, I will be up in the attic again making some structural changes and increasing the insulation to around R-50.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Home Construction in the Wild West - so you want to buy a home in the Southwest

I decided to write an article about recent posts on Green Building Advisor (my favorite website) which covered examples of construction practices on homes in Arizona. The initial author of the posts took pictures of several homes during construction and they are absolutely horrifying in terms of quality. I suggested to this author that there needs to be a website (Facebook, blog, whatever social media that will reach people) showing these practices as one method of educating future home buyers. When homebuyers start looking at homes in these areas, this website will come up during their computer searches and become a source of information on buying a safe, secure home. So in an effort to back up my suggestion with action I decided to write one or more blog posts about this situation. That is what follows.

If you want to buy a home in the Southwest, you will be looking for an attractive home that will be comfortable and safe for your family. This article covers some of the construction details that you need to look for or ask about when you buy a home. It shows what is hidden details that you wouldn't be able to see.

One of the most important issues in making a comfortable home in this area of the country is energy efficiency. You want to be protected from the elements which can be brutal. For example in Phoenix, Arizona July 2014, the high temperatures reached above 100 degrees every day. The lowest temperature during the entire month was 80 degrees. Your home has to protect you or you will spend an exorbitant amount of money air conditioning the home.

How does a home do this? By the building enclosure also called the building envelope - the parts of the building the separate the inside conditioned part of a building from the outside elements.

The photo below shows what is called "open framing" where the the wood structural panels are only on the corners to prevent the home from moving. The walls in the center will be covered with a weather resistant barrier and covered with a one inch foam sheet, then stucco on the outside. The inside consists of fiberglass and drywall. In other words, there is not much separation from the elements. Also you see the flashing around the windows? Flashing is supposed to be taped to something solid so that any water that gets behind the siding will drain away from the wall. If the tape just hangs in the wind, it is unable to direct water away from the components in the wall. We call this "air flashing" or a waste of tape.

Photo courtesy of Green Building Advisor 
A better view of "Air Flashing" a Window
Air flashing as seen from the inside of the home
You can tell that the air flashing will not stop any water from getting into the wall of the home.

And what about things like bugs? Does this construction method keep bugs out?

Interior wall detail showing air gaps and the green pest tube
You can see light at the base of the wall. The paper is not remotely secured to the wall. Bugs have an easy time getting into the walls. So how do you fix that? "Pest tubes" are hollow tubes where high pressure insecticide is sprayed into the walls. I would prefer a more robust wall to keep bugs out in the first place.

Addendum 7-26-15: My cardboard halloween houses are more secure than this. Do you see daylight leaking through the seams? Even the windows are sealed all around with glue and tape.

How can you tell if you are purchasing a home built so poorly? It may not be easy. You might get distracted by the pretty finishing features like granite countertops, but you need to try because these construction details significantly impact how comfortable you will be in the home. You can push on the exterior wall and see how easily the wall gives. When you tour the home, see what the temperature is set on and what the inside temperature is. If the air conditioners can't even reach the set temperature, that's one clue that the home isn't built to energy code standards. If there are completed homes in the neighborhood, you may be able to ask the power company what the average home's electricity bill is in that area. Ask the builder how is the home insulated and is it insulated to at least building code levels. He (or she) will be shocked that you even asked, but that will be a good thing.

This is a just a brief introduction to poor construction in the Wild West. Other examples to follow, but also we will cover some excellent building practices in the west as well.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Black Hat Inn Continued

More photos of the Black Hat Inn - it is really coming together.

This photo shows the paper mache base with the top off so you can see where the tea light goes. When I finished this step, I was worried that the paper roots wouldn't really look like roots, I was counting on the paint to convey my idea of tree roots.

Here's how the Black Hat Inn fits on the now primed base. The door is temporarily in place. I'm thinking at this point that the roots are starting to look like roots.

And here is the first coat of paint on the base and I do think they are looking like roots. I will add some darker color for shading and contrast to look more like tree roots. Obviously I have to repaint the hat because I got primer on it and I have to paint the area around the hat rim black. The door is still temporarily in place. I will put the entire base on a larger piece of cardboard to give me more room for signs and a fence and decor for the Black Hat Inn.

That's where I am on this hot day in the South. I should go walking now before it gets into the 90s again.

Monday, July 13, 2015

When it's hot like this, you need to stay inside and CRAFT.

This is my excuse for my continuing obsession with making my Halloween houses - it's too hot to do anything on the real house so we work on pretend houses.

Here is the latest house called the Black Hat Inn - still in progress.

I am going to put the round base on some cardboard and then paper mache around it like it's a tree stump with roots. The hat comes off the base so you can insert an LED tea light to light the triangular dormer windows. 

I posted this idea on the Halloween section of the Cardboard Christmas forums  and one of the very kind members of the forum suggested that I make some flying witches for the hat. I've made a rough prototype that won't fit on this house, but it's kind of cool though still a work in progress. 

It's an automata - a simple machine that makes the design move. There are 2 cams in the base that rotate the stick in the middle. It's pretty rough but fun. I have to do more work on it before I incorporate it into the house. 

I'll try to post a video that shows it in action.  

Not quite working yet.

This one is much better. I had to secure the center dowel in a straw so it wouldn't fall out of place and crash like it did in the above video.

What do you think? I think it's kind of fun.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Energy Benefits from Attic Insulation - June numbers

I got my Duke energy bill yesterday. My electric usage continues to be much, much lower than last year. I did have 3 more people here last year though. The one point I would like to make about that though is that none of them really ran the air conditioner more than I would have. My sister and her husband got cold in my house and my brother lived in the basement which is substantially cooler than upstairs. There were 3 TVs in the house at that time that was probably a significant energy drain. I don't have a TV. Also my computer and my router are on switches that are turned off when I am not using them.

Anyway, here are the numbers from June which was a very hot month. Days were often right at or above 100. I was very comfortable in my home.

Usage less than half compared to last year. I am very pleased with that and the improved comfort level.

More Halloween Houses

I know this can get kind of tiresome, but I continue to have lots of fun making my little halloween houses. I am planning on stopping for a few weeks so I can catch up on some other stuff. I've got 18 done and I hope to have 50 by October 1st. We'll see.

First is the Flying Witch House with the witch actually flying. I had to buy a retired Martha Stewart punch to do the flying witch. I have to put a little glitter on this house and around the base where the hot glue shows and then glue the house to the base. I am always so hesitant to glue the house to the base because I think I may come up something new. I also need to "decorate" the house a little more with some pumpkins, etc on the outside.

The next house I call "Clock House on a Frosty Morn". It's my first time including a clock on one of my houses. It will not be the last. This clock is courtesy of Paul Race's Cardboard Christmas website  on the page with printed resources. The frosty morn part comes from the fact that I think the glitter on the fence looks like frost.

I'm not sure I like the glitter on the fence because I think it detracts from some of the detail of the fence. But the fence was too black compared to the house so I felt like I had to do something. The other design flaw with this house is that the base is too small for the house and the house is obscured by the fence. Again, it doesn't ruin the house, it's still pretty cool. I am getting better and better at details like getting the windows right, centering the roofs, stuff like that.

Ok, now my brother calls this house "the Artsy Fartsy House" because it is more abstract, less literal for Halloween. I had some keyhole punches that I wanted to use somewhere so I decided to make the doors and windows keyholes. Then I needed to make them stand out somehow, so I put locks and keys around the windows and doors. I had a lot of fun making and aging the locks and keys. I mostly used metallic tape that is used to seal ducts (not duck tape, but real true metallic duct tape). Then to give the keys and locks more dimension, I glued several layers of cardboard together followed by the distressing. Some of the distressing was inspired by my friend Lynn's quilts which have a lot of stippling in the quilting. Ok, here goes. And I call the house "Steampunk Lock and Key House" not the artsy fartsy house.

The keyhole door does swing open. Several of the keys jingle and rotate. The metallic roof was embossed with a brick embossing folder by Tim Holtz of Sizzix then distressed with black acrylic paint and some burnt umber paint smeared on with my finger. The key and lock dies and punches are from everywhere - Sizzix, Spellbinders, EK Success, etc. Most of them are made up of about 4 layers of cardboard. I am going to put a clear acrylic coating on the scrapbook paper at least to make it a little more durable. I don't intend to do any glitter on this house. I also don't think I am going to put any specific halloween elements on the house. I think it has enough going on.

I didn't take a photo of the back but I put a distressed and stippled metallic oval tag there that swings open so you can insert a LED tea light easily. It looks really cool too.

So that's where I am today. 32 more houses to go. And you will be relieved to know that they will not all be posted on my little blog. One other point I would like to make is that these little cardboard houses are all made up of scrap cardboard. Yes, I have used lots of other supplies to make them, but basically they are scrap cardboard so there is some recycling going on in this process.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Another House with Glitter

This is my new favorite house. I call it the "Silhouette House" because of the cut out pictures in the windows that let light through and cast shadows. This house is painted rather than papered and partially glittered. I put too much glitter on the roof so I will get a little brush and scrub some of it off. The body of the house hasn't been glittered yet. You can't really see the bat in the middle or the spider in the lower right window.

Here is a little bit about the design process.

First here's the basic house. I did a much better job with the windows this time than I did on previous houses.

This is the window insert with the cutouts. It's a little bit difficult lining them up so I tape them temporarily until I am sure I have them properly aligned.

These are the side window cutouts. See how the eye socket has been cut out. It's looks kind of spooky letting the light through. I need to color the edges where the white part of the paper shows through.

I will layer these inserts between clear sheets of acetate to protect them so they will be more protected and then glue them in the windows. I've got to glitter the base part of the house first because if you don't, the glitter sticks to the acetate. 

That's the latest house. Thank you for reading about my glittering adventures. More to come (and later in the month another blog post on energy efficiency).

Candy Corn Glitterhouses

Still making little glitter houses and still having lots of fun doing it. It's kind of like being a kid again.

I got the idea to make some houses based on the shape of candy corn. I thought it might make a good house for little kids to enjoy. Here is the design process (including the design fail - the wonky circular base). Design no. 1

Ok, so I wanted the house to be relatively simple to make so I drew a simple gable house and covered it with white, orange and yellow paper. I cut out a candy corn door and some windows. The windows were kind of wonky so I lined the windows with orange and white baker's twine. I'm not really very fond of how it looks so I will not likely repeat that design element.  For the base I cut out a bunch of circles and glued them to several layers of circular corrugated cardboard with the center cut out. The center is large enough for a LED tea light. When I glued all the circles together they got all wonky (my new favorite word - for me it means warped and not straight and not the way I intended) and look like a warped vinyl record. I have to design a better base.

Design no. 2 - didn't even make it to the prototype phase. I was basically a triangle house and was not interesting.

Design no. 3 is much better. I love the rounded top. Still having trouble cutting out good windows though. I may line them with a thicker layer of glitter to obscure the uneven cuts.

Design no. 4 is a variation of above, but I wanted to roof to have a better overhang so I made the base, the yellow portion, have straight walls.

I also cut the windows better on this one. Another difference here is that I painted the house rather than covering it with paper. I don't think it is much easier. I finally found some orange glitter that I really like so that made the orange color more prominent. On the previous houses I just used a transparent glitter.

So those are the Candy Corn Glitter Houses. Next is what I call the "Silhouette House" because all the windows have pictures in them so that the light shines through them. It looks really cool. I am very happy with this house. I'll post it later.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Attic Insulation - May Energy Report - Proof that it WORKS

I could't get my scanner to scan so I had to make do with an iPhone photo. 

In March and April I spent many hours in my attic air sealing and insulating hoping that getting the insulation to an R-20 level would make a difference. I have plans for putting in 10-12 inches of blown-in cellulose in the fall after I do some more work up there such as beef up the rafter supports for one thing as my roof is only held onto the house by a few nails toenailed to the rafters.

I elected to use denim because I was SO tired of itching from all the mineral wool insulation which I love, but I do not love the itch that comes with it. Denim is a dream in terms of installation compared to mineral wool. Still mineral wool, specifically Roxul (Carlton, my carpenter, calls it Roxie), is my all time favorite insulation. Just remember that even when I talk fondly about denim as an insulation material.

Anyway, I got my May energy report from Duke Energy and I used about 15 KWH per day for a total of 428. Though on my energy report it shows only 368 for the month. They must have used a different interval for their report.

I have saved all my energy bills for more than 10 years, but I can't find the complete collection for a better analysis. I do have some from this year and last though for comparison. My sister and her husband lived with me from December 2013 to October 2014. Also my younger brother lived in my basement while we were building his house from sometime in 2013 to September 2014. You can see the drop in consumption in November with only one occupant, but I was above the green energy efficient home during the winter, probably from heat loss through my attic until I started insulating the attic in March.

So I have graphic proof that just getting my attic to R-20 has made a big difference in energy use. I will tell you that the house is so much more comfortable.

One of these days I hope to show a chart of energy use correlated with the work I've done on the house - metal roof, 2 inches of polyiso under the HardieBoard siding, new windows, attic insulation, etc, but that will take some research.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Halloween Glitterhouses - Flying Witch House, Flying Bat House

The house above is called the "Flying Witch House" only I don't have the witch installed yet. There is a little hole above one of the gables where I will install a wire and a witch in front of the moon. I am waiting on my flying witch punch to arrive. See the little broom - that was fun to make. The pumpkin is a sculpey pumpkin that I made. I just discovered "Distressing Ink". That's also fun for Halloween houses. Again this one is not glittered yet. I will either use mostly clear or black glitter for this house.

You can't see them very well at all, but there are 6 flying bats on this house, 3 on the wire attached to the turret, one in front of the gable on the left and one in each window of the turret. The obvious name for this house is the "Flying Bat House". The doorway is in the shape of a coffin. The other thing I am tickled about on this house is the stonework on the turret. I drew and hand shaded each stone.

I am doing some stuff on my real house, the house I physically live in, which will be in a later post. Thank you for indulging me in my crafty sidetrack.

Friday, May 22, 2015

More Glitterhouses

You may be wondering why I am making so many Halloween glitter houses. Well, first I mostly want to make houses. I find it an incredibly fun endeavor. So I had to come up with a reason to make them without filling up my already too cluttered home with more craft items. My idea - make them to sell to support our Head Start school at Christmas. Every Christmas the hospital department where I work provides Christmas for about 140+ students at a school. It is a blast getting gifts for these kids and then seeing the Christmas show they put on for us each year. Last year we had some trouble finding enough people to cover all the children. I think if we sell these Halloween houses before the Christmas crazy rush, it may be easier to make some extra money and make sure we can fulfill the Christmas wish list.

Ok, now you know the why, here are some examples of the next generation of little Halloween glitter houses. These are (almost) all my designs - drafted by hand the old fashioned way with a ruler, a pencil, and graph paper. Most of these are not really decorated yet. They will get a base, some glitter, and some halloween decorations later.

Brenda Walton Sizzix special order die called "Country Cottage". I thought it was a little bland so I made a "book" (which doesn't open) as the base. I will decorate it with some kind of spooky title.  It looks pretty good. I made the pumpkins and mouse out of Sculpey clay and the tree is a Tim Holtz spooky tree die which is retired and was very hard to find.

I call this house - 3 Gable Gothic. I wanted the gables to be exaggerated to have a gothic look. Pretty happy with this design. I used purple tissue paper in the windows to let the light from an LED tea light through.

This is 5 Gable Gothic. I like it much better. It is one of my best designs. For the window panes I started using the clear hard plastic which a lot of products are wrapped in. You know the kind that it's almost impossible to open. You have to get scissors to cut the edge open and then you cut yourself. It really lets the LED tea lights shine through.

Below is Bat Wing Gothic. It took a long time and is kind of design fail. I couldn't get it to look enough like a bat. But I think when it is decorated it will be acceptable.

Another slight design fail because I made this one too pretty. I needs to be "spooked up" somehow. I don't have a good name for this house. The idea for this house came from the Cardboard Christmas website dedicated to glitter houses. The link is included here. I've since painted the base so it looks like rocks which helps some. I never can seem to center the doors very well. (Addendum - I think I will add a black vine with tiny black tissue paper roses or something like that to make it look more like halloween.)

The next house below is a modification of the above design which works much better. 

I really like how the shingles came out. There is a hole at the top of the roof to put a moon and a witch or a bat on wire there. 

I have one more that I don't have a picture of. It is my current masterpiece. Maybe I will post it later today or tomorrow. I am very pleased with this next one.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Building Houses without Insulation

I have been building houses lately, but they don't have any insulation AT ALL. I did not expect to ever say that, but it is true.

I am building Halloween Glitter Houses - also called Putz Houses. I started this project just because I wanted to do something crafty after working in my attic for many days in a row. I am enjoying it immensely.

Here are a few examples of my little houses in approximate order of building. I initially made a few houses from Howard Lamey's patterns on Little Glitterhouses just to get an idea of how they go together and what all is involved. Almost all of his houses are painted and then glittered, but I've been covering my with scrapbook paper or card stock. They will get glitter and more decor later. I thought I would do a big glitter day all at once so I'm not continually covered with glitter.

 This is my very first house. Alison decorated it for me. She's a pro at stuff like that.

The second house is not yet on a base. I haven't decided what to put it on. Alison also decorated this. The chimneys are not glued on at this time so that's one reason they look a little wonky. Both of these houses are based on the Twin Peaks pattern off Little Glitterhouses website by Howard Lamey, an incredible artist. 

This little house is a Sizzix die cut pattern designed by Brenda Walton. I think it is a little bland - that's why I made a fake book as the base for it. It is also not glued on yet. I am experimenting with trees and little clay pumpkins, mice, etc.

I actually made this pattern myself though I did copy it from something I found online at Ally Scraps the blog. Obviously this house is designed for kids. I even made candy corn from polymer clay. I have some more decorations planned for this house. The base is a large ribbon spool just like I made for the first house. 

Ok, now you see the Spider house below - one of my very favorites. It's got a black fence made from a Martha Stewart deep edge punch (which I have since broken - I have to fix it because it is too cool.) That's a spider hanging from the portico in the front. The house windows are made of tissue paper so if you put a small LED light inside, the house windows glow.

Here is another house from one of Howard Lamey's patterns called "Little Charmer". If you look at Pinterest or Etsy or Flicker, you will see many examples of this house.

I glued a little ghost on the inside of the door. There is another ghost peaking around the corner playing hide and "ghost" seek. I am really proud of both my rock work on the front portico and the shingles on the roof. My hand hurt after drawing all those details.

That's just a small update for today. I'll show some more of my more advanced designs tomorrow or the next day.