Planting Sequoias

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

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Mason Jar Soap Dispenser (in which I make a valiant attempt at “artistic” photography with my point-and-shoot)

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed it, (HAHAHA), but all of the pictures on this blog were taken using my trusty old point-and-shoot camera.

I also have the good sense to use our ratty apartment carpet as a backdrop to these photos.

Perhaps someday when I get older I can be entrusted with a DSLR camera. Perhaps.

But I digress. Since Christmas is over (weeping/gnashing of teeth), I can now share a few of the gifts I’ve been working on. For my mother, I made a mason jar soap dispenser. IT WAS SO EASY. And bonus: I even got to use a hammer.

Here’s a picture of (some of) my supplies and our plush carpet. I got the mason jar from the thrift store for $.25, so this was an affordable craft. It’s also a sweet odd size, somewhere between a pint and a quart. Oh, and since my mom lives on our farm and actually does a lot of canning, this gift does not look out of place at all in her house.

I began with one hole centered in the mason jar lid and a closeup of the carpet.


Then I got rid of some anger by doing it a bunch more times.


Then I used my sister’s needle-nosed pliers (that I borrowed to make my brooch bouquet and have yet to return) to sort of rip the metal away. I sound like quite a beast, don’t I? But it was actually pretty easy. You can kind of see that I bent the metal downward as I ripped it off…which, now that I think about it, probably doesn’t matter at all. (Don’t you hate it when you have a thought and then you realize it is not actually a good/logical one? Yup. Happens all the time to me.)


Then I slipped the dispenser part of a lotion bottle into the hole. I had periodically checked this as I ripped apart the metal, so it is pretty snug, like you want it.

For this shot, I thought a blurry shot would be best.


Just kidding. Actually, what I was going for was the “water droplet” look like this since I’d just washed the lotion off the dispenser.

rose with water drops

Picture obviously not taken by moi.

I did have to trim the “straw” part of the dispenser to fit in the jar. If you keep it angled (which it probably was in the first place), it can still suck up almost all of the soap.

Next, I got out my trusty hot glue gun (NEW! This was it’s inaugural run!) and glued the pieces together from the underside of the lid. It’s not going anywhere soon, and it’s sort of sealing the jagged edges of metal, so my theory is that it won’t rust as easily.


Then I ditched our carpet backdrop and took these artsy photos of the dispenser in what could be its natural habitat in a bathroom.

This is actually a pretty normal photo, but the photo shoot quickly devolved from here.

Also, that drippy paint on our mirror? It drives me nuts. Don’t get me started. Our shower and counter/sink area is bright white, our walls are yellowish-cream, our outlets are almond-beige, and our industrial plastic baseboard is gray. It’s almost as if an amateur decorator like me designed this bathroom.


And here where this post derails and my artistic photography falls on its face. True confession: I can’t be trusted with any camera, much less a nice one, because I take pictures like this.


And then I gave this to my mom and she liked it.

Finally, if you don’t hear from me in a few days, it’s probably because I’ve been thrown into photography jail.



Christmas Craft Party 2012 (in which I boast a little about my talented friends)

I have some very special friends.

We’re all in very different places in life, but there are a few common denominators that tie us together:

1. I’ll just get this one out of the way first: we are all drop-dead gorgeous (just stating the obvious, here).

2. We are all have impeccable taste and incredible talent, as you will soon come to find out.

3. We all have VERY VERY fond memories of one special place called Camp Geneva. Somehow we don’t really remember the exhaustion, bodily fluids, and homesick campers much any more. Although we do have some pretty great stories on those topics.


We began a tradition a few years ago of having a Christmas craft party, done secret Santa style.

We give ourselves a limit of $10 and craft our hearts out for our assigned person and then bring our wrapped creations to one wonderful get-together.

Sidenote: Do you SEE that hexagon art on the wall in this picture? Yes. My friend Beth made it. Told you I have talented friends.


Before we dive into the crafty goodness, though, there is much catching up and eating to be done.

This year we went “healthy” with a baked-potato bar and salad. Oh, and French bread and chocolate chip cookies and mini caramel/chocolate cheesecakes with pretzel crusts, so I guess we can’t quite get the hang of healthy yet. Nor do we really want to. The craft party is a time for much food, fun, and fellowship.


And crafts, of course.

After about 3 hours of eating and talking, we got down to the business of opening the gifts.

This year we recorded the whole gifting part of the party for our missionary friend Emily. She is one of the moms right now to a whole bunch of abandoned/orphaned babies in South Africa and was very missed. She really loved seeing us do this via video and it is a pretty great memory for the rest of us to have forever.

Here you can see a smidgen of the crafting genius of this group of girls. Please allow me to break it down for you: on the left, there is a super cute last-name sign for hanging on the wall. That’s my wrist in the picture, along with some homemade honeysuckle orange laundry detergent, a knitted (crocheted?) headband (I am ashamed that I cannot tell the difference), and a corner of a photo-transferred canvas (of a picture taken at our wedding, incidentally! Recognize that lighting?).

fruits of our crafty labor

Other gifts included infinity scarves (a popular craft this year!), granola, dryer balls, a candle holder, a wreath, one of those frame earring holder things (I desperately need one), and more that I’m probably forgetting.

I’m intentionally remaining a bit silent on the gift I created, because I may have created its identical twin that still remains to be gifted. More details on that to come, however. Don’t despair.

I know I say this all the time, but I really am so blessed. I could probably not function without this group of girls and would probably decide to never emerge from my bed if they did not exist. Kenny can back me up on this–this group is my therapy for getting through life.


Sweater-Sleeve Mitten “Tutorial” (in which I detail the correct way to make really ugly, non-functional mittens)

I like to think of myself as crafty and resourceful, good at repurposing items for whatever I need or want.

But lately I’ve been having to rethink my whole crafting identity.

It all began with thrifted sweaters. (Yes, there were two.) I used the first for this sweater pillow and these leg warmers with moderate success.

All that success went to my head, though, and I became a little too confident and decided to make myself a pair of mittens.

Part of the irony of this post is that I (along with my Grandma D) have cut and sewed and sold HUNDREDS of pairs of mittens out of sweaters (the kind with the 3-part pattern and a cuff) over the past few years. But I decided to deviate from our normal pattern and go with something a little different.

“It will be easier,” I thought.

“They will be cute,” I thought.

“It could revolutionize the way I live my life,” I thought.


WRONG. I was so, so wrong.

Here’s the story, in pictures (and some words, because hey, I’m a writer).


I took the sleeves of the sweater and cut them off.

I then repurposed a political flyer and created a pattern for my hand. I censored the guy because this blog is not about politics and I didn’t want to hurt his feelings in case he saw what I did with his nice mailing. I also thought this could make a nice blog post title. “Mitten Tutorial: In which I propose an alternate use for mailed political flyers.” I have begun to put way to much thought into these titles.

I then began to sew, oblivious to what was to come.

Things were looking good at this point. In my mind, it closely resembles a mitten.

But then, once I trimmed up the seams and insided it out, I was horrified to find this:

I’m not sure what it looks like, but it is definitely not something I would wear in public (which is, of course, the mark of a successful craft).

So, yeah. Back to the drawing board on this one. I might blame it on a number of things, like the chunkyness of the sweater or my ancient sewing machine, but it really is because I do not have the proper skills nor motivation to tweak this into something wearable at this point.

Lesson learned. I need to stop the sweater madness. Or at least spend more time on making a successful end result.

At this point, all this mitten is good for would be losing it in the woods:

Please tell me someone else has heard of this book?

At least this book is really cute, even if my mitten is… slightly less cute.