I finally read through the ENTIRE thread! Here are my responses to some stuff. Btw Taehl, the pack looks amazing as ever. I wish i was as talented a pixel artist as you are. I really love the creeper idea. Sorry for such a long post.
I wish you could craft wool stairs and half-blocks. Then we'd be able to do better furniture. Oh well. And, for that matter, I wish stairs would give you back a stair block when destroyed, instead of a regular block.
There you go. That mod lets you have stairs of nearly every blocks type and when you destroy stairs they drop stairs. It adds a lot of other things, any of which can be disabled through a verrrrrrrry long config file.
Some nice ideas there. I think what would go best with the overall theme of TTP would be a pretend backpack (or at least a gunny sack) the players keep their stuff in (an actual backpack item was suggested to Notch at one point, which I highly support (it could go on the chest slot, preventing armor from being worn while using it!), but Notch didn't go with it). So some sort of cloth for the inventory screen, maybe brown like hessian. Rough-hewn wood for the workbench. Wood with bits of metal and amber for chests (keeping in theme with the block itself). Smoothstone for the furnace. Cobblestone for dispensers.
Can't do custom water until Notch lets me. Lower-res artwork looked terrible.
I think the HD Patcher actually allows you to do higher res than 16x animated water.
And there actually is a safe way to use mods now. You just install Modloader which creates a 'mods' directory in your .minecraft file, and you can place .zips or .jars into it to use certain mods. However, this won't work with mods that edits default .class files, such as a.class, aa.class, ab.class, etc.