Planting Sequoias

In which I blog about a life (hopefully) well lived.


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Friday Flashback: Quilts (in which I write about winter stuff in the heat of July)

This qualifies as a flashback post because this picture was taken, oh, around October. You know how I know? There are pumpkins in our apartment, and that hasn’t happened in…a while. Also. That terrarium has been dead for months and we’ve since framed that map and stained the coffee table darker.

Anyway. These quilts? Were made by my grandma. The top one was a graduation gift (twin-sized) and the bottom one was our wedding gift (queen-sized). Each one is an incredible work of art that perhaps I’ll show you someday, if you behave. She intricately pieces the top using her crazy sewing machine but she hadquilts the top, batting, and bottom together WHICH TAKES MONTHS.

We are so blessed to have these magnificent quilts, but more than that, we’re so blessed by our grandparents–all of them! I grew up across the street from one set of grandparents and the other set have taken to full-time RVing and camp out in my parents’ backyard sometimes. Kenny’s grandparents are pretty swell too. It’s the best.


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Our Christmas Card 2012 (in which I stretch the chalkboard theme to a new area of our lives)

Going along with the unofficial “theme” of the past few months of our lives, Kenny and I thought it would only be appropriate to send out a chalkboard-looking Christmas card. Actually, Ken didn’t have much say in this and was just fine with that.

Presenting our 2012 and very first Christmas card as married people:

Christmas Card 2012

Well, mostly. Imagine a “the baumans” under the “love” right there. I just wanted to show the nice mock-up before I dazzled you with my photography skills of the real thing.

P1020626

Inside, we put one of our favorite pictures from our wedding. It’s hard to believe that it was already more than 4 months ago!

Kenny and Annie

I ordered these cards from Cardstore. There are a ton of online card companies, but I’ve been consistently impressed by the quality of Cardstore’s prints, and their selection of designs are phenomenal. It doesn’t hurt that they frequently offer fantastic deals on Christmas cards and will ship the cards for me.

On the inside, we (I) wrote:

We wish you a Christmas filled with the wonder of the birth of Christ,

the warmth of the Holiday spirit,

and the love of family and friends.

We appreciate your presence in our lives!

With much love,
Annie and Kenny

Even though we couldn’t send this Christmas card to everybody, if you’re reading the blog, consider yourself one of our Christmas card recipients. #warninggettingsappy… I’ve had a lot of fun blogging over the past few months and have even made a few blog friends along the way!

We’re excited to see what the new year will bring, but it will be hard to top 2012. We are so blessed.


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Honeymoon Outtakes (in which I sacrifice my dignity for your entertainment)

Ken and I are awkward individuals. It’s a fact we’ve come to accept in each other and in ourselves.

I think it has something to do with the fact that our names are Ken and Anne and we are, in fact, not an 80-year-old couple.

Ken and Anne.

We’ll fit right in when we’re 80.

Anyway, on August 11 we got married. It was splendid. The next day, we embarked on a grand adventure. We road-tripped to Niagara Falls, Vermont, and Boston for our honeymoon.

Most of the time we pretend to be normal individuals and try to mask our awkwardness around others, but pssshhht, when it’s just us? We just let our awkwardness run rampant.

And unfortunately, it is evident in the pictures we took.

Even more unfortunately, I am going to share some of the best (worst?) ones with you here. If you need to sit this one out, feel free.

We’ll start with a sort of normal picture of the two of us. It would be great if we could have actually fit ourselves into the frame of the picture, but I’m still impressed that we took any pictures at all.

We took this while hiking in a place called Devil’s Hole. It was pretty super–it is upstream from Niagara Falls and it’s this deep gorge with rapids at the bottom that we hiked down to. When we got to the bottom, there were no guard rails or anything, which was awesome in theory, but when I almost lost my new husband, I realized it was less awesome.

Here’s the picture I took literally about 2 seconds before Ken slipped on the wet rocks and almost went over the Falls. Almost. Luckily, his natural grace and dexterity saved him and we both remain happily alive and married.

On our honeymoon, we feasted on excellent food every day. I will spare you most of the food pictures, but one night we had the great idea to pose with  our meals to make them more interesting. Again, it would have worked better if we were not so awkward and if either of us had any picture-taking skills whatsoever.

I’m not sure what made us crouch over our food and take such close-ups of each other. Also, it looks like I’m about 5 years old and eating at the adult table for the first time. I honestly don’t know how I scrunched myself that small over my food–I should start doing limbo at the roller rink more often. Perhaps I’ve gained some new crouching skills in my advanced age.

Update: my husband just told me that this picture makes me look like a bobblehead. Thanks, honey.

Ken convinced me we had to golf on our honeymoon, so in the interest of documenting our trip with pictures, he took this good one of me:

and this one, at a waterfall in Vermont (guess I’m trying to hitchhike?):

At least I got this one of him trying to look threatening in Boston.

We’re incapable of taking nice pictures by ourselves. Our wedding pictures are probably the last good pictures we’ll ever have of each other.

That is, until we get our photo taken for the church  directory, which we’ll do in a few weeks. I wonder if the photographer will have me put my hand on Kenny’s shoulder as I stand behind him or vice versa? I have matching outfits planned, so at least we’ll look good no matter how we’re posed.

Don’t worry; I’ll order extra wallet sizes to give to all of you.

If you’re lucky, I’ll even write a nice note on the back.


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Wedding Memories (in which we practice how to get married)

Once upon a time, we got married–and it was FANTASTIC. Now, while we’re living out married life (so great), we get to remember our wedding weekend as the photos continue to make their way to us.

Kenny’s Uncle Bob is a fantastic photographer, and we knew we’d want him to take some photos at the wedding. We hired a photographer so the pressure was off for him, so these are just him having fun and shooting the photos he wanted to take. I’m so thankful he was there for the whole weekend, not just the ceremony and reception–as you can see, he captured many special moments that we had–we are so thankful. Here are a few of my favorites from the rehearsal at our church and rehearsal dinner (at Leo’s Restaurant) that he took.

Psalm 100 is one of my very favorites–how appropriate that it is gracing the front of the sanctuary of our church?

Kenny’s aunts and grandma supervising.

Practicing that long, long walk down the aisle.

Pastor Lou Lotz did a great job of explaining the meaning of each part of the ceremony.

Pastor Trygve Johnson did a great job of making everyone laugh–just as necessary!

At Leo’s, for toasts and prayer. Father in-law and Pastor John.

Beloved Geneva friends.

And more friends here.

My Bronkema grandparents.

Mike, doing what he does…best?

Laughter–reunited again!

We are so, so blessed. What a great night filled with happy memories!


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Brooch Bouquet Tutorial (in which I create an elaborate analogy between marriage and crafts)

This post will probably contain more details that you ever wanted to know about making a brooch bouquet. If you don’t care all that much, just glance through the photos and marvel at my super-awesome cell phone picture-taking skills. Because they’re that good.

As I, uh, teased here, I made a brooch bouquet for me to carry at our wedding.

Stunning Brooch Bouquet! Underside has draped pearls around a ribbon-wrapped stem.

(Like this? Pin it!)

The story begins one winter day while I was browsing Pinterest. Of course.

As I often think while I browse this treasure trove of time-sucking projects, I thought to myself, “I could do that!

Little did I know what an enormously stressful project this would be…but one that had such a huge payoff. And here’s the thing: you can do this too. Here’s how.

First, figure out if you are actually committed. This is almost as big a decision as the one you made when you decided to marry your guy, so think it through. Brooch-bouquet making, like marriage, is not for the faint of heart. I began this process in January, oh, about 8 months before the big day.

Then begin the fun process of collecting your brooches. This will be the honeymoon phase of your relationship with your bouquet. You’ll be blissfully unaware of what is ahead and will dreamily assemble a lovely cast of trinkets.

Here are some tips:

  • Ask your mom, your mother-in-law-to-be, your grandmothers.
  • Don’t keep your brooch-bouquet making a secret, because people will be on the lookout for you and it is awesome.
  • Also, comb thrift stores and craft stores. I set a personal rule to not spend more than $3 on a brooch, and if I spent $3, I had to really love it.
  • While you are assembling your brooches, think outside the box. Large clip on earrings? Perfect. Pendants for necklaces? Those’ll work.
  • Oh, and you’ll probably want to decide on a color scheme before you embark on this journey…my color scheme was gold and silver and pearls. (I do realize that “pearls” is not a color. Just go with me here.)

This was a haul my mom got at a thrift store. Because I’m cheap, I love the fact that big earrings are 2 “brooches” for the price of one. Mmm.

Most of these are from my family’s stash of jewelry from grandmas, aunts, moms, etc. These are the ones that have the most meaning for me. 🙂

As you are collecting, you can now move on to the exhausting process of making all of your lovely brooches into flowers. Here’s what worked for me:

1. I first put 3 (ish) strands of 14″ wire on each brooch, twisting the wire together under the brooch to create the stem. You’ll probably want to use a pliers to do this to save your delicate fingers. And pace yourself; spend a little time doing this each day. You’ll get tired of it soon and your fingers will want to fall off your body. I used silver floral wire from Michael’s (yup, used a coupon). Each brooch is different, so you might have to get creative for how you attach the wires.

There is really no excuse for the quality of these photos. Or for the fact that we still had Christmas decor up in February. Or for the fact that I eat frosting straight out of the can by the spoonful.

2. After I had created the wire stem, I wrapped each stem with floral tape (I used white), beginning right under the brooch and working down to the end of the “stem”. You couldn’t see the floral tape in the final product, but it did add bulk to the wire-y stems and made things more secure.

No pictures of this, because I am that awesome.

3. Once I had floral-taped the stems, I then took 2 fake rose petals and hot-glued them underneath the brooch, creating a sort of bud. This will help with the final product because it softens up each brooch and disguises the fact that your bouquet is indeed made out of metal.

You guessed it. No picture.

4. Do steps 1-3 over and over and over and over and over. My final bouquet had about 80 brooches/earrings/pendants. It helps to have a very supportive roommate to whom you can express your deepest fears to (that it will all be for naught and look terribly tacky) and who will encourage you when those deepest fears come true (“I know you can do it! Keep trying! That, uhhh, looks good!”). Said roommate is also useful to borrow a hot glue gun from (Laura, my bouquet owes its life to you. Thank you.)

If you have made it this far (either in making this bouquet or in reading this epic post), you deserve a high five for sure. Stop right now and get one from your roommate.

Now, you can do the “fun” part! Simply grab your bouquet and go!

Just kidding. It’s not that easy.

First, hydrate. Take long, deep breaths, and begin assembling your bouquet. You’ll have to position each “flower” exactly how you want it to fit into your bouquet. It’s like a really difficult puzzle that makes your hand cramp up frequently. As you position each flower, every 5 brooches or so, wrap the overall stem with floral wire to keep things together. Unless you have like 8 hands or the dexterity and hand strength of a surgeon.

Keep an eye on the overall shape of your bouquet. You don’t want it to have a flat top, and you probably don’t want it  to curve down too quickly. If you’re like me, you want a smooth dome shape that is about 8 inches wide. I had to take my bouquet apart multiple times and redo this step.

Here’s an optional bonus–I also dropped in a few fake flowers in my color scheme to soften up the harsh metal of the bouquet and add some color. I didn’t want the fake flowers to take center stage, so I usually positioned them slightly lower in the dome than the brooches.

Remember, keep wrapping  the ever-growing stem with floral tape to keep things together.

Eventually, you should have something like this:

Here you can see the floral-tape wrapped stems. You can’t see the floral tape that is keeping it all together, since I just did that at the top of the stem. Oh, here is that picture:

You can also see the way I created the “buds” out of the fake rose petals here.

After this, I added a few fake leaves at the bottom of the dome to soften up the bouquet and clipped the wires to be a uniform length at the bottom.

The stem of my bouquet at this point was a bit to spindly for my liking, so I bulked it up a bit with sticks. Yes, I literally went outside and got some sticks and then clipped them into 8 inch (ish) chunks and mashed it all together on the stem. I used duct tape to bulk it up too and make it super strong.

Next, I pinned loops of 1″ wide ribbon up under the bouquet to cover up the wire mess that was visible from underneath. I also covered the bottom of the stem (which was a bit larger than a quarter–maybe a fifty-cent piece in size) with a cardboard circle and 1/4″ wide ribbon. The only unfinished part now was the stem itself, which I then wrapped with 1″ wide ribbon beginning at the top and working my way down to the end. At the end, I folded the raw edge of the ribbon back and used 3 pearl pins (like the type used to pin corsages) to secure it.

It will probably be the beginning of summer by this time, if you’re anything like me. You’ll have spent many sleepless nights mentally rearranging brooches and trying to figure out what your back-up plan is.

If you’re not content with how your bouquet looks, keep tweaking it. I thought mine was a little too smooth and dome shaped, so I added some texture and visual interest by jabbing pearl pins into the fake flowers. I also thought that the bottom was a little boring, so I draped some pearl necklaces and bracelets from the lowest layer of brooches. These are easily removable if I ever want to wear them the normal way.

Here you can see the leaves, the way I looped the ribbon and pinned it to the underside of the bouquet, the secured ribbon wrapped around the stem, the pearls I jabbed into the fake flowers, the extra necklaces and bracelets I looped on the underside, yada yada yada…

And voila! It’s done when you say it’s done. I had to put mine away so I would stop tweaking it. 🙂 Oh, and don’t forget to plan the rest of your wedding.

Also, don’t forgot to do those arm workouts before the big day. This bouquet is a monster. It probably weighs about 5 pounds, but I haven’t scientifically measured it yet. The day after the wedding, yes, my arm was SORE. But still. WORTH IT.

brooch bouquet button edited 1

Now go forth and make your own. 🙂

Questions? ASK AWAY! I check comments frequently and would love to help. I can also take more pictures of my bouquet if you’re a visual learner. Just let me know!

Update: Here’s a better photo of the underside of the brooch bouquet:

Underside of Brooch Bouquet--Looped Ribbon