I'm in the zone now, things are just cruising right along...
I glued in the beams and stone surrounds that make the columns which support the porch roof...well, they look like they're supposed to, they don't really. The top of the columns are cut at an angle to match the angle of the ceiling, and notched around the beam. I couldn't find hardwood square dowel in 3/4", which is what I needed to fit inside the stone surrounds, so I got balsa columns. Because I want the balsa to withstand some wear and tear the columns got a couple of coats of wood hardener in addition to a couple of coats of stain.
I also glued down the supports for the porch flooring. Even though you won't be able to see under the porch when I'm done, I glued sand and stones between the support beams, then sealed with a matte gel medium. I feel better knowing it's not unfinished, even if nobody else will ever realize it's been done.
I used nasty gorilla glue to fill in the slight gap between the beam and and square of stones...plus, I cut the columns too short, they don't reach the base. (I glued and clamped the tops in place while the gorilla glue dried.) It was a sticky, foamy, icky mess, but it got the job done, those beams aren't going anywhere. The glue slightly discolored some of the stones where it foamed over and had to wiped off, but once the rest of the courses were laid and the stones were sealed it wasn't noticeable.
While I was waiting for that mess to dry I put the last row of
shingles on the sides of the house...I had to wait until the roof was
glued on so that I could butt them against the bottom of the roof.
After I finished laying the rest of the stones, I cut the floorboards and marked them for nail holes. I used the same wood for the porch floor as I used on the kitchen floor, for continuity...it's easy on the eyes and gives a nice flow when the door is open.
I sanded the boards smooth, drilled holes through them where the nails will go, sanded them smoother, then gave them two coats of stain. Once the stain was dry I sanded the center, where the traffic area is, then gave that area a wash of black to dirty it.
I left a little space between the boards when I glued them down, for water drainage when it rains, even though it's not going to rain...though I see now the board closest to the house shifted a bit. Once the glue set I used a little hammer to pound in the short quilting pins I used for nails.
While the glue set I used spackle to caulk the topmost course of bricks on the columns and house...again, to protect against rain that's never going to fall...but it helps the realism.
I flipped the house upside down again to finish the beams on the underside of the eaves. I ran short on material, so had to piece together a few of them. I made sure to use whole pieces outside the window and for the first couple of rows nearest the porch, placing the pieced together beams where it won't be noticeable.
Once they were sanded smooth and stained the seams pratically disappeared.
While the glue was drying and the house was upside down I coated the ceiling on the inside with a coat of matte polyurethane sealer. I managed too, at various points along the way when the house was right-side-up, during drying times, to sand and seal (three times) the floor on the inside with satin polyurethane.
Once I was sure all the glue and stain was completely dry I sealed the whole exterior with satin polyurethane. It was tedious to do on the shingles, I had to brush it every which way and kind of scrub it into the millions of little corners while making sure I didn't leave any glops...but I didn't do all that shingling work to leave them unprotected.
The sealer really brought out the colors in the stones...I was expecting that, but wow, it impressed me. Check this out, I took a picture halfway through...
I'm feeling really good about where I'm at now. I could, in a pinch, throw the furniture inside, decorate, and enter the contest as is, if I absolutely had to. I won't have to, I'll be able to finish, but it's comfortable to have an emergency fallback position.
I need to shingle the roof, make a sidewalk, lay grass, install the windows and put on some house numbers to finish the exterior....oh, and a front door would be nice too. I'm going to work on the interior today though, there are some things to do there I'm ready to tackle.