Sunday, February 26, 2017

18" Vinyl Doll Much Like American Girl Dolls

African American skin tone, dark brown eyes and black curly hair
Ever wish you could find an affordable alternative to the more expensive American Girl dolls? 

I sell handmade doll clothing for a variety of dolls, including 18" vinyl dolls like American Girl dolls. 
While I think the AG dolls are really cute, I was rather amazed at how much they cost, especially when you start adding outfits and accessories.. 

I raised 4 children, and I know how tight money can be at times for young families. When you have multiple children, buying the popular, expensive toys, can just be out of the question for many budgets. 
I remember trying to find something just as nice, but at a sweeter price, for my own children!

That's why I decided to add 18" vinyl dolls to my website about 10 years ago. I wanted to offer 18" vinyl dolls that were much more affordable, but would last a long time and be just as cute as the American Girl dolls.

I call them Sweet Pea Girls.

I originally used Springfield dolls, which are sold in craft stores. I shaved off their hair and replaced it with a high quality wig, made a cute outfit for each doll and sold them at a much nicer price than some of the more expensive dolls.. 

I've had a lot of fun designing outfits for these dolls and giving them a fresh new look with wigs of many styles. The Springfield Girls really are adorable dolls, and hold up very well. They appear to be made pretty sturdy, just like the American Girl dolls, and to me, they have a cuter face. However, their hair is just so so. That is the one thing American Girl dolls have over all the competition dolls. But once I gave them a new do, they really took on a whole new life! 
Dark Biracial skin tone, green eyes, dark brown hair

Eventually I started adding different dolls to the lineup, all with new wigs and outfits. 
Over the years I've used many different brands of dolls. One of my favorite brands are the
'Our Generation", who recently came out with a new variety of BiRacial dolls with different skin tones and eye colors, plus a really cute Asian mold..It seems impossible to find these dolls in stores (at least in my area), but I guess I just happened to check their website at the right time, because I was able to grab quite a few of these unique dolls. However, since then, I have not been able to get any more of them and they are no longer offered online! But how neat that a doll manufacturer finally started offering more than just your typical skin tone/hair color/eye color dolls. 

I think those dolls are just adorable! Howver, like the Springfield Girls, their original hair is just so so and ends up being pretty ratty after being played with. Both styles of dolls also have very thin hair, so you can see their scalp through the hair. 
But once I gave them a new do, what a difference! 

The Our Generation dolls are offered with very unique and cute outfits.. They really are adorable. However, as a seamstress, I can't help but notice that they are made from very cheap materials, aren't that well made and are quickly made on an assembly line..They also don't fit especially well. The shoes are plastic and not attractive. There's nothing wrong with this, but for me, I like a well made doll outfit, one that's going to last for a long time, wear well, and even stay nice long enough to hand down to future generation of doll lovers. 
Asian skin tone, dark brown eyes, black hair
Unfortunately, after 10 years or so of offering the girls, I've come to the decision that it's time to close down the Sweet Pea Girl shop.. 
I'm getting closer to retirement, and have come to realize I need to start downsizing little by little. I'm not sure I'll ever totally retire from making dolls and doll clothing, but it is time to just let go of a few things.. 
 Latino skin tone, brown eyes and black hair.
I still have quite a few dolls left from my last batch, ready for instant purchase, so I've decided to go ahead and sell them at a close out price.. 

I originally sold the girls for $75 with a complete outfit and accessories, but have now marked them down to $45 each until they are sold out. They include everything shown with them.
I offer dolls with Light Skin tones with blue eyes, green eyes, brown eyes, Biracial skin tone, Latino skin tone, African American skin tone and Asian skin tone.  They have a variety of hair colors, hair styles and outfits. 
No two dolls are exactly alike! 

At this price, you can buy two dolls for less than one American Girl doll costs!
They are an affordable alternative to the more expensive 18" vinyl dolls like American Girl, or make great friend dolls for the American Girl. They wear the same sized clothing and each come with the complete outfit they are shown in. 

I know I will miss the girls, but know it's time.. 
I hope if you are looking for an 18" viny doll, you might find the perfect one on the 
Sweet Pea Girl website! 
If you have any questions about the girls, feel free to contact me with any and all questions. 

Light Skin, brown eyes, red hair

Light Skin, blue eyes, brown hair
BiRacial skin tone, blue eyes, golden brown hair
Asian skin tone, dark brown eyes, black hair

Light skin tone, green eyes, dark brown hair

Bitty Baby, Gotz Maxy Muffin and Gotz Pottery Barn Kid Doll Comparison

Have you ever wondered what the difference between Bitty Baby, Gotz Maxy Muffin or Gotz Pottery Barn Baby is? 

I've been making American Girl Bitty Baby doll clothes for quite some time now, along with a number of other doll clothing, and something I've noticed along the way is how similar many dolls actually are. 

For example, Gotz Maxy Muffin and Bitty Baby Twins are pretty much identical, yet made by different doll companies? I suspect they are probably made by the same manufacturer. I don't know that for sure, but they sure seem to come from the same mold. Bitty Baby has a slightly different mouth than Maxy Muffin, but the Bitty Baby Twins come in two face molds, one with the closed mouth like Bitty Baby, and one with the open mouth like Maxy Muffin. They all appear to have the same hands, feet and body style. 

The first doll is a Gotz Pottery Barn Baby Doll, the 2nd is a Gotz Maxy Muffin Doll and the 3rd if Bitty Baby. 

Here's a stock picture of a pair of American Girl Bitty Baby Twin Dolls.. One doll has the closed mouth like Bitty Baby, and the other has an open mouth like the Gotz dolls.. 
All of these dolls sure seem very similar to me, if not identical, other than skin tone, cloth body color and hairdo.

Gotz Pottery Barn Kid is listed as being a 16.5" tall, Bitty Baby is listed as 15" tall and Gotz Maxy Muffin is listed as 16.5" tall. But as you can see from this picture, they're all pretty much the same height. The two dolls with hair look a little taller, only because of their wigs. 
However, I have 3 Gotz Maxy Muffin dolls, and they all vary in size, up to an inch difference. 

Pottery Barn Baby costs $69.00

Gotz Maxy Muffin cost $64.95
American Girl Bitty Baby costs $60

I purchased a Gotz Pottery Barn Baby on ebay, for about $13 to use as a Bitty Baby Twin doll. I glued a wig on him and use him as a doll model along with my Bitty Baby Twin girl doll. The only real difference I can see between the Pottery Doll and the Gotz/American Girl dolls are the shoulder seams. The Pottery Barn dolls have a seam running down the arm at the shoulder but the other dolls don't.. That seam makes clothes fit slightly different, which I don't like. I'm not sure why they added this seam? 

I love this size doll. Their clothes are fun to make and look so cute on their body styles. 
I have purchased all my dolls as used dolls from Ebay sellers for a fraction of their original price. 
They're very well made dolls and even in used condition, they have held up for years, and though I'm not playing with them as a child would, I do change their clothes over and over again, and they really have held up well. 

If your little one is ready for a bigger baby doll, these dolls really will make a great friend for them. 
Bitty Baby is my personal favorite, and I'm 62 years young!!

Bitty Baby Twin doll clothes, shoes and socks.

Despite the difference in listed sizes, I use the same pattern pieces for all three of these dolls, and they all fit the same. 

Bitty Baby Jumpers and Rompers

This is an older Maxy Muffin that is signed on her back by Franz Gotz. She's adorable! I had to replace her hair, as the original was a matted mess that some little beautician practiced hair cutting on. I replaced it with a pig tail wig and think she is just so sweet.
I make a variety of pj's, nightgowns and housecoats for both Bitty Baby and Maxy Muffin.

Gotz Maxy Muffin always looks very cute in her outfits. Her doll clothing page can be found Here.
I offer a lot of Bitty Baby dresses. She just always looks so darn cute in dresses! I also offer a lot of shoes, socks and undies.

Bitty has a fairy outfit, ballet outfits, skating outfits and fancy dresses, all available on the Dress Up page.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Wellie Wishers by American Girl, Les Cherie, H4H, Wellie Wisher size comparison

How do the new American Girl Dolls Wellie Wishers compare in size to Corolle Les Cherie dolls and Heart for Heart (H4H) dolls? 

I make doll clothes for all three of these dolls, so thought someone else might want to see a picture of them lined up to compare their sizes. 

The Corolle Les Cheries are obviously quite a bit different in height. I've seen a lot of patterns that state they fit both the H4H dolls and LesCherie dolls. Some outfits will fit both girls, but I've found that the H4H dolls really need a slightly bigger pattern to really fit properly. 

The new American Girl Wellie Wishers and H4H can wear the same patterns, as they are very close in size. 

In my eyes, the Wellie Wishers do have more of a natural childs body, in that the legs and arms have more substance to them, the torso looks more like a young girls body, where the H4H dolls have more of a young teenagers slim body with the start of a figure. 

Since these have a suggested age group of 5-7 years old, the Wellie Wishers body style seems the most appropriate.. 

However, I do love the H4H dolls.. I've read on a few blogs that they've been discontinued, but on the Playmates Toys Website, they state a new website is under construction for the H4H dolls and will be available in October 2016. I hope this means they haven't been discontinued as they really are very pretty dolls.

I've also love the Corolle Les Cherie dolls.. Just love that serious little expression on their faces and they also look very cute in their outfits. 

You might be wondering about their foot sizes.. 
The first foot in this picture is LesCheries foot, the 2nd is H4H and the 3rd is Wellie Wishers. 

As you can see, they all have different foot styles, although they're all pretty much the same length. 

They can wear many of the same shoes, although, Wellie Wishers do have a chubbier foot. They would not be able to wear the shoes that came with my H4H doll, as an example, but I have found doll shoes that fit all three nicely (available on Sweet Pea Doll Clothes)

I started out making just a few outfits for my new Wellie Wisher, but couldn't stop! They really are adorable little dolls that look very cute in their clothing. 
Their Sweet Pea doll clothing page is located HERE.

I hope they're a big success.. They seem like a great option for girls who are too young for a larger American Girl Doll or other 18" vinyl dolls, like Sweet Pea Girls

But I do think they're maybe a bit overpriced (in my humble opinion).. They cost $60 right now, but American Girl is offering free shipping on them till the end of July. 

Their eyes do not open/close and while their hair is okay, I can see where young girls might really have a hard time keeping it looking nice. 

The outfits they come in are cute and the boots are also very cute. My Wellie Wisher is "Willa", and while I think her outfit really is adorable, being a seamstress, I look at it like your typical cheaply made outfit. It isn't lined, the fabric is a cheaper quality and of course, I think my doll clothes are made much better. lol... (they really are)..

Willa has pigtails and I've seen other blogs where people have mentioned that the hair in back is short, so her hair has to stay in the pigtail style. I took her hair out of the pigtails to see if this is true, and found that I was able to style her hair in a number of ways.. 

I combed her hair out....

 I braided it...

I put it in a messy bun..

And I left it in pigtails..

So, her hair really can be styled in many ways..

As soon as I get the chance, I'll measure all three dolls and add their measurements. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Make your own Coconut Butter

yummmmm....coconut Butter
I love coconut butter, or coconut mana, although, I don't use it like many people do... I don't use it as a butter, but rather put a spoonful of it in my breakfast smoothie, my husband puts a spoonful in his oatmeal, and I put a spoonful of it into our daily yogurt...

I love it in yogurt.. You can pour it on the top and leave it to harden, so it's kind of like that hard shell topping people eat on icecream..yummmm.....I also like to put a spoonful in the yogurt and stir it around and let it sit for a minute or two.. It creates a super creamy yogurt with a great coconut taste..

I'd been buying Nutiva coconut mana for a couple of years, but the price just kept going up and up and up.. It's now about $8.92 a jar, which is about $2 more than it was when I first started buying it.. I've also purchased a couple of jars of the Coconut Butters available. I can't tell the difference between Coconut Mana and Coconut Butter, other than the price. It has the same ingredients and it taste identical.

It's simple to make and really saves money, plus I like it better.. My handmade coconut butter, or mana, doesn't separate the way the product I buy does... When I get a new jar from my online supplier, I have to warm it and then stir it, and stir it, and stir it some more... It takes quite a bit to get it really stirred up, and to be honest, it's a messy job..

I'm not sure if it's because this type of product is made in huge quantities and by time it's shipped out, it's sat long enough that it separates naturally, or what, but my homemade product doesn't do this.. Maybe because we start using it right after I make it and continue to use it daily until it's gone.. At any rate, I like that the homemade stuff doesn't require constant restirring..

All you need is a food processor and a bag of unsweetened coconut. I use Bob's Red Mill brand that I buy from Amazon in packs of four.. I've used both flaked and shredded and either one works.. I prefer the shredded, only because it turns into mana, or butter, faster. 

I'm not a big food processor person, but I bought one just for this project. 
I purchased an inexpensive Hamilton Beach Food Processor in September of 2013 for $27. It's still working great and has more than paid for itself in the savings alone. 

All you do is pour a bag into the food processor and turn it on.. 
It turns from this, 
To this in 10 minutes or less.
Just keep processing until it's smooth, like creamed butter. 
You may need to stop half way through and clean off the sides with a Spatula, but I've found with the shredded coconut, I don't even have to do that. 
I saved quite a few of the jars from the Mana product I used to use, so I just scoop the fresh Mana into one, twist on the cap and it's good to go.  No need to refrigerate (in fact, don't refrigerate, it'll become super hard).. A jar last us 2-3 weeks and I've never had a jar go bad.. 

I get my coconut at a subscription price from Amazon. Right now it's priced at $10.22 for four bags, so a jar of this is costing me about $2.55 and 10 minutes of my time.  The price of Coconut Mana and Coconut Butter sold online varies from $7.50 - $19.00 a jar right now, plus shipping, so that's quite a savings. Plus making your own means it's fresh, I know what's in it and I don't have to deal with the seperation process... 
I've been making my own for over almost 2 years now.
It's just so easy!!

There are a lot of benefits to Coconut.. Just do a search and you'll have all kinds of info up. 

I recently discovered the Wellness Mama blog
She has a list of 101 uses for Coconut Oil that's really interesting. 
She also has a wealth of information about healthy living in general... 
I'm impressed!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Cleansing Conditioners like Wen

Cleansing Conditioners like Wen

Like most people, I've been intriqued by the Wen info commericals promising beautiful hair without shampooing.. I did some research on the product and found that some love it, some hate it, but most are very unhappy with the price. 

I went to their website to check out prices and found that the first shipment isn't that unreasonably priced.. But then I did a little search for customer feedback and found that most everyone ends up being very angry because when they purchased the reasonably priced started kit, they didn't realize they were agreeing to a automatic shipping program, where their credit cards were being charged about $40 a month. It seems people are having a heck of a time getting out of this situation, their accounts continue to be dinged even after multiple attempt to cancel. 

Wowsers! Thank goodness for customer feedback! I knew I didn't want to end up getting caught up in one of those deals, but did still want to try Wen.

My hair is very thick, curly, shoulder length and gray... The older I get, the dryer it gets. Curly hair is dryer than normal to begin with and as I age (I'm 60), it becomes dryer and dryer.. I also have a sensitive scalp and many shampoos make my head itch terribly. I had an allergic reaction to hair dye about 6 years ago and decided to go natural after that.. Since then, I've been using a lot of all natural shampoos and conditioners. Some are good, some not so good.. All are a little on the pricey side.. I thought if I'm going to spend more for shampoos, I might as well see if I can afford Wen.

So, with that in mind, I went to Amazon to see if they sell Wen without having to get caught up in a shipment program. They do sell it, but at $32 a bottle, not in my budget... 
I took the time to  read some feedback, and was pleased to discover there are alternative cleansing conditioners, and many reviewers preferred many of them to Wen.. 

Over the last 6 months or so, I've tried 7 different ones, from four different companies. I thought I'd write my experience with each, in case someone else is interested in cleansing conditioners but not sure where to start. 

First I tried 

Pantene's Cleansing Conditioners.


I was able to buy my first bottle from Walmart for about $5.  It's called 
I don't have colored hair, but they didn't have the Pro-V Damage Repair Cleansing Conditioner in stock, so I decided to give the Color Preserve a try. 
I was so pleasantly surprised! 
The product is very thick and creamy. I got my hair super wet, then aded 10 pumps of the Pantene to my palm, then started rubbing it through my hair, working it through to the ends.. I left it on my hair while I showered, then started rubbing it in to my scalp and throughout my hair. I discovered that adding just a little water created a really creamy product that felt very good on my hair.. It doesn't lather like shampoo, it just feels like a very thick, creamy conditioner.. I wasn't sure if it was cleaning my hair or not, but it did make my hair feel very sleek and smooth.. After rubbing it into my scalp and hair really well, I rinsed it.. It does take a bit to rinse it well, because it is so thick and creamy. 

It was easy to comb it out wet. It felt very smooth and silky. I only dry my bangs, then use a defusser to dry my hair a little bit, then let it air dry, as my curls get frizzy if I dry with it completely with a hair dryer. 

Both Pantenes have a very pleasant, clean scent that makes my hair smell good. 
After my hair was air dried,  it felt soft, my curls were good, and I was pleased. 
One bottle of the Pantene lasted over a month and seems like a great valu to me.

I was very pleasantly surprised to find that there was no itchy scalp, no problems at all..And my hair felt very clean! I now wash it every 3rd day, and it stays nice and fresh between cleansings.

I even found I was able to straighten my hair with a flat iron after a few weeks of using this prodcut and my hair stayed nice and smooth, which is unusual. 

I discovered that Amazon has a lot of cleansing conditioners offered as Add On items, priced between $4 and $7, so I decided to order a few of them to see how I liked them. 

I love the scent of this product. It's fresh and minty.. I was a little disappointed though, the first time I used it, as it's very runny. It's actually kind of hard to keep the product in your palm because it's so runny.. I ended up using about 15 pumps of the product, and adding more later on.. It just kind of mixes in with your hair and doesn't feel particularly creamy. In fact, it kind of feels like you aren't actually rubbing anything but water into your hair.. I did the same thing I do with the Pantene... I let it sit on my hair while I showered, then added a little water and rubbed it into my scalp down through the ends. 
It just didn't feel creamy at all. I kept adding more product thinking I just didn't have enough, but it never did feel like much of anything. 

I rinsed it out really hair felt kind of tangly, not smooth or silky, and I thought, this is the worse product ever. 
I applied a frizz ease product, then combed it out, which took a bit, then dried my bangs and defused the rest.. 
I was actually shocked because my hair did look smooth.. 
Despite my thinking it was the worse product ever, I continued to use it for weeks, and did feel my hair was looking healthier... 
Impressive, considering it really doesn't feel like it was doing much when cleansing my hair. 

I decided to try another, hoping it would give my hair the same healthy look, but be a thicker product. 

It's priced at $9 right now on Amazon, but I paid $10.99 for it, and at 12oz., it's the smallest of all the products I've tried. 
I'm sorry to say, I did not like this product at all. It made my head itch terribly, and I ended up with a flaky scalp. I have never had flakes before, so this was a bit shocking. 
Not to be someone who wants to jump to conclusions, I decided to make sure it was this cleanser, so I did give it a 2nd try later on, and sure enough, itchy, flaky scalp. 

I noticed Walmart had a Herbal Essence cleanser called 
Again, I don't have colored hair, but decided to give it a try. It was only about $5.

This product is thick, creamy, pretty pink and smells wonderful!! 
It's very much like the Pantene product and I have been happy with it. The only problem I have with it is that my hair has a more frizzy look after using it, even after using a frizz ease serum... I save this to use for days that are forcasted for rain and humidity since my hair will be frizzy no matter what product I use. lol.. I do really love the smell of this one and how thick and creamy it is.. 

Since I really liked the way my hair looks after using the Renpure products, I decided to give another one a try.

I looked on Amazon and found they have quite a few coconut products. I love the scent of coconut, so thought I'd give them a try. 
They have two cleansing products and I wasn't sure what the difference was, so I purchased both.. 

These products are called Renpure Coconut Cream Cowash and

I think these products are basically the same thing, only the pudding costs a bit more. The price seems to go up and down on Amazon. I paid $9.99 for the pudding and $7.99 for the Cowash.. I price right now is $7.99 for either.

Like the other Renpure product I used, I like the end results of these products, but they are also on the runny side and I have to use a lot of product with each cleansing. 

The Cowash has a light, fresh scent, while the Pudding has a bit of a spicy scent. I prefer the smell of the Cowash... 

The Pudding seems like it's may be just a bit thicker than the Cowash, but it's still runnier than the thick and creamy Panteen and Herbal Essence products. 

I washed my hair this morning with the Creme Pudding and I can still smell the spicy scent, which I really don't like... However, it is a clean scent and my hair feels very clean. 

Herbal Essence has another cleanser called 
Herbal Essence Naked Cleansing Conditioner
If I see it at the store, I'll be grabbing it to give it a try. 

For now, I'll be finishing off my Renpure products, but I won't be purchasing more.. 

Out of all the products I used, I have to say I think Pantene is my favorite. 
I'm glad I gave them all a try and for not a lot more than one bottle of Wen would cost, I got to experiment with quite a few. 

I do think the cleansing conditioners are better for my hair type.. Since my hair is dry, curly and thick, it feels much better conditioning my hair while cleaning it than using shampoos that strip my hair of it's natural oils, and then having to use conditioner like crazy to try to undo what the shampoo just did. 

If you've had any experience with cleansing conditioners, I'd love to hear what you think! 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Hoop House Garden

Hoop House Gardening

Four years ago, my husband put up a hoop house, the kind you see pictures of all over the internet. It was made with PVC pipes, wood and greenhouse plastic.  It sat on the edge of our side yard, facing the South..

It turned out really pretty, but unfortunately, it really took a beating every winter.. We live in Northern Michigan, and snow bent the pvc ribs every snowfall.. My husband put wood stands in it the 2nd year to help hold up the pvc ribs, but this past winter (2014) was so bitter cold and snowy, the damage was too much to save. We ended up taking the pvc poles and plastic down and have now made it a great big garden bed (looks like it has a headboard and footboard. lol).

It was a lot of work, though, and it really disappointed John that it didn't last longer. He was also disappointed in it's produce.. The first year we tried growing tomatoes, cauliflower, green peppers and green beans in the hoop house, but even though everything grew super tall, the only thing that produced fruit were the green beans.. The next 3 years, we only planted green beans in it.. 

We think it didn't allow enough ventilation because of the wooden front, wasn't getting the pollination it needed, plus the dirt just didn't seem very powerful.. We have nothing but sand here, so we had purchased a load of dirt from someone claiming it was super great, powerful dirt... It doesn't appear to be so... 

We also have a vegetable garden in our backyard, set up in large garden boxes... We've had good years and bad years, but one thing that's consistant is late frosts in June and early frosts in late August/early September.  Two years ago we had the most beautiful garden, but before we could take advantage of all the zuchinni, tomatoes, green peppers, cauliflower, cucumbers and muskmelon, an unexpected, non reported frost killed everything the 3rd week of August.. It was heartbreaking.. 

Every since then, I've wanted to put a hoop house over the entire garden space.. John wasn't too thrilled at the idea since he'd worked so hard on the 1st one.. I hinted and hinted until I was blue in the face, but he never made the move to build one. In his defense, he's been working on our new 4 season room we had built in place of the collapsed sunroom.. 
 I decided this year, if I really wanted one, I should just build one myself.. 

So that's what I did.. 

I'm not a builder, that's for sure. But I'm pretty good at figuring things out. I thought I'd add some pictures to the blog along with a description of how I built my hoophouse. Maybe it will inspire you to do the same, or at the very least, help you visualize a little bit on how to get started! 

First, I looked at a zillion pictures of DIY hoophouses on the internet and read every blog I could find on how others built their hoop houses.. I couldn't find directions on exactly what I envisioned, but with the knowledge I'd gathered from the one John built and from info I'd read on the internet, I decided to just go for it.. 

I  used the garden boxes we already have as the base.. The dimensions are 14' long x 15' wide.  John had used 1/2" pvc poles on the first hoop house so I decided to try the 3/4" to see if it'll stand up to ole man winter a little better.. 

I ran a frame of 2x4's around the existing boxes for the frame.  Most of the items I used, we already had, including all the pvc elbows and about half of the poles, so the hoop house really hasn't cost that much money..
Cha Ching... I love making stuff that doesn't end up costing us much :o)

I cut the poles to size using John's compound miter saw..Once cut to size, I attached the bottom row of poles by screwing them directly into the wood frame with two screws in each. I placed them 24" apart. The bottom row of poles are 48" long each. 

I attached the roof poles (or roof ribs) to each bottom pole using 45 degree PVC elbows.  

Wanting this thing to be as sturdy as I could make it, I added a sideboard to side pvc poles and attached them with 3/4" u-shaped clamps. 

I got up on the ladder and attached the center of the roof pvc's together, also using the 45 degree pvc elbows.. I felt pretty clumsy trying to get the first roof joints done. I'm sure I looked pretty funny.. My husband asked if I could use a hand, which made it much simpler. But once I had a couple of them together, I was able to do the rest myself.. My husband stood by saying "Are you sure you don't want some help?", but I really wanted to see if this was something a 59 year old woman could handle on her own!
 The answer is Yes!! 
Where there's a will, there's a way!

I added a  support pole down the center of the roof line.. I used pvc t-joints to add support poles that run down from the center pole to the ground, for "hopeful" support throughout the winter..I spaced these according to where the garden boxes are, and screwed each support pole into the garden boxes so they can't sink into the sand..  

I wrapped 2 or three zip ties around each of the roof joints just to tighten them up and make sure they couldn't shift. It was feeling pretty darn sturdy at this point. 

Our Rion sunroom had collapsed this past winter and we ended up tearing it down. Some of the poly windows were able to be salvaged, so I decided to use them around the bottom half of the hoophouse. In order to have a place to attach them, I added a 1x4 piece of lumber around the bottom frame, locking the pvc poles between 2 pieces of lumber, which I think should be added support for the winter. 

I started working on the front and back door frames, using pieces of wood we had available. I also attached two pieces of wood to a couple of the center poles, again to add extra support for next winter.. I used a lot of L-shaped metal brackets on corners, too... I added 1x4 strips of wood mid way up the roof line on both sides, attaching them with the 3/4" U-clamps..

We had an extra piece of the greenhouse plastic left over from John's hoophouse that's been rolled up all this time, so I decided to go ahead and use that on the top section.. John helped me get it up there and pull it tight, then we attached it to the wood strips using the electric stapler... 

 I called it a day, cause I was pooped out! But not bad for one days work. 

Day Two

I tightened the roof line wood strips to the door frames using zip ties and, what I call, steel bandaids...

I had purchased a roll of 

Warp Brothers 6CH20-C 6 Mil Clear Plastic Sheeting, 20-Foot by 25-Foot

plastic from Amazon to use on the hoophouse.. I'm not sure how well this will hold up, but we had spent quite a bit on the greenhouse plastic for the 1st hoophouse and knew we didn't want to spend that much again. Quite a few people left feedback for this product on Amazon saying they had used it on their hoophouse with good results.. 

So, the next job was to add this roll of plastic.. It's actually really easy to handle. John and I unrolled it so it was the length of the hoophouse, then we both got up on step ladders and walked it up and over the roof.. Since I planned on using the poly windows along the bottom, I only stretched this around the top half of the hoophouse.. 

I cut off the excess to use on the doorways and then stapled it to the wood frame all the way around, wrapping it around the doorways and stapling in place for a tight fit.. 

Once I had all the plastic securely stapled in place, I started adding the poly windows around the bottom.. That part was really easy.. I just screwed them along the tops and bottom of each window into the wooden frame.. The poly didn't crack and didn't require a pilot hole.. Easy peasy. Of course, if you don't have poly windows left over from a collapsed Rion sunroom laying around, just attaching the plastic all the way to the ground would work just as well.. 

I used the new Gorilla Clear Outdoor tape to seal the seams between each window (the windows are 24" x 48" each).
The Gorilla tape worked okay for this, but it is expensive.. You don't get very much on a roll and my husband had to run downtown and buy two more rolls of it for me, and that still wasn't enough.. We both went down to the hardware store to get more, but noticed they had Scotch tough transparent duck tape, so I suggested we try a roll of that instead, especially since it had 20 yards to a roll compared to only 9 yards on the Gorilla Tape for just a few dollars more. 

As it turned out, some of the gorilla tape released after a thunderstorm, but the duck tape has held tight. I redid all the windows with the duck tape. So far, so good.. No leaks or split seams. 

I still had to do the doors, but first wanted to get everything planted.. We didn't have much luck last year with our plants.. They grew, but just kind of fizzled out and didn't produce much. We decided that "powerful" dirt we purchased was most likely the culprit, so we decided to invest in several bags of Dairy Doo.. 


I don't know if other states carry Dairy Doo, but it is fantastic stuff!! 
It's bascially cow poo.. 

It's sold by Morgan Composting, Inc, which is a family owned business here in Michigan. 

I dumped a bag of the Dairy Doo in each box and mixed it in well with a hoe.. Then I planted the veggies we had purchased at a local farm market. 

The lettuce in the black container came up voluntarily, as did the flowers in the center box.. Looking at the picture of that box last year, I don't even see these flowers.. I'm really not sure how they came to be, but they are beautiful!

This was as far as I could go because we had a granddaughters graduation and a family get together in Southern Michigan to attend.. 

The following week I had lots of orders to work on so I didn't have time to get back to the hoophouse for almost two weeks.. The weather channel was reporting a threat of frost (on June 13... REDUNKULOUS), so I had to get the doors up fast.. We had a grandson's graduation party to attend on the 14th, so I had one day to get the job done.. 

I decided to make simple roll up doors, both because they would be fast to get up, and also because I want the hoophouse to be really open all summer so lots of ventilation and bees can get inside.. 

I put up identical doors on the front and back, using 2 sheets of the plastic for double protection. I attached PVC poles along the sides and bottom of the doorway with screws, and attached the plastic door along the top with the staple gun. I then put a thin piece of wood over the plastic and screwed it in place for a tight fit.. 

I have a bright pink roll of velcro that I never seem to use, so I decided to use it for the doorways.. The longer strip is on the inside of the door, and is the soft side of velcro. The little strip across the top is screwed into place and is the rough side.. I've had the doors rolled up now for 2 weeks and the velcro is holding great. 

When unrolled, I attached pvc clips (purchased from Amazon), clamping the plastic tight against the frame, keeping the cold out! 

From the inside, it looks tight as a drum. Should make a good seal once the weather turns chilly this fall. 

I closed up both doors and we left for the graduation party.. The greenhouse was closed up for 2 days.. When we got back, the doors were still tight as could be, even though there had been high winds here, and all the plants were snug as a bug in a rug.. 

Two weeks later and everything is looking great.. 

Of course, time will be the test. We'll see how the plants do and if we get a good crop this year. I'm thrilled knowing I can start closing the hoophouse up mid August and not have to worry about a random frost doing in the garden.. 

I also want to see how long we can actually grow things up here in Northern Michigan. I've read that other people have continued growing in their hoop houses through November. I've already purchased another roll of plastic, which I'm going to use as another layer on the hoop house once we start getting chilly weather up here. We also have a little heater we plan to use in there once it gets chilly.. 

Crossing my fingers the hoop house will provide us with lots of fresh veggies into the fall and provide us with enough canned produce to use all winter long!