give me details

Up down and around six times and all for what?  It seems, more and more, that people are driven to fill their schedules with work and dates and trips and projects and whatever else comes to mind.  The end result? We’re experimenting and working and leading lives that are, well, busy.

And busy is better than boring, right?  The old saying goes that ‘if you’re bored, you’re boring’ and no one wants that. 

I had brunch with friends this weekend and phrases like ‘I don’t know where the time goes’ and ‘there’s just too much to do’ popped up throughout the meal.  Worrisome words, if you ask me, because there’s not much time for focusing on the details when you’re rushing to and fro.
And the details are the important things, right?  Don’t just have a conversation with your friend, listen to what they say and how they say it and leave space for a big laugh or three.  When you’re baking a cake, enjoy the process and make sure you share a piece or two with a neighbor. And when it comes to work?  Take your time on projects and note how you could do better or improve your process. Image
There won’t be time for everything when you slow down and focus on the details.  And, if you ask me, that’s a good thing.  Thoreau says we should “simplify, simplify, simplify” in order to focus on things that fill us with passion and give us purpose.  I couldn’t agree more – quality over quantity every single time.  Image
I made valentine’s for friends the other day, and I was thinking about quality and quantity in relation to social media.  Social media isn’t one area where we’re encouraged to simplify, is it?  On the contrary, it’s constant parade of connections and follows and friends and likes.  We might have 1,500 friends or 17,000 followers, but how do we judge the quality of those relationships?  Could you send all your online friends a handmade valentine? Image

the chaos of stars

Lucky for me, my husband doesn’t read this blog.  That means I can say anything I want about him.  You won’t tell, right?  Okay, good, because I’m too excited to keep this a surprise.

For better or worse, Jon’s birthday is December 26.  Year after year we spend December 25 eating cookies, opening gifts, sledding, playing with the dogs, and running around in the snow.  The morning after, for Jon’s big day, we sleepily sing happy birthday and try our best to eat cake (except we’re usually too filled with cookies to do much damage).

My sweet husband is as humble and kind as they come, and he never complains that everyone is gone for his birthday (friends fly home), that he only gets half the gifts (not from me, of course), or that everyone (including him) is too tired to celebrate.
I started Christmas shopping for my favorite man well before Christmas, and I made sure to get him a variety of practical (work-related) and fun (baseball-related) gifts.  When it came time to wrap, everything got tied up with a red, green or white ribbon.  And then, of course, I panicked — what would I do for his birthday?

Well, well, well.  You see that collage up top?  I made it with an app on my phone, and it got me thinking it might be fun to put photos on canvas for the apartment.  A few minutes later I started playing with a video app and thought it would be neat to make Jon a film.  And then, voilà!  – I decided to make a collage combining out favorite memories and inside jokes.
Jon is turning 29, so I printed my 29 favorite photos of us, wrote sweet notes on the back, and then pasted the images onto a canvas.  So you’re wondering how he knows what I wrote, right?  Don’t worry- that’s where the video comes in.  Before I pasted everything, I made a video explaining why the pictures were important to me and what was written on the back of them.

What do you think?  Will he like it?

the art of failure


Embrace failure.  What’s the worst that could happen?  You might fail?  Great odds, considering you will fail without doubt if you never even begin.  The good news is that every failure creates an opportunity to begin again with additional knowledge.  The second time you attempt something you will be in a better position to succeed, likely creating something much more successful than you attempted in the first-go-round. 

Failure lets you know that you can do better.  It’s the personal coach inside your head telling you to push forward and strive for your best.  Do you need to add something to your vision, or take something away?  What mistakes were made the first time, and how can they be remedied?

Failure presents dazzling opportunities for growth and creativity, and, if you play your cards right, success. 

To make failing easier, more of a routine, perhaps, I pledge to 1) Recognize failure as a growth opportunity; 2) Learn from mistakes and shortcomings; 3) Apply new knowledge to all future attempts;  and 4) Remember that I haven’t truly failed until I’ve given up.  

I spent the day creating a baby gift for a dear friend, inspired by the welcome wreath that I made my sister.  My hands and my mind were  clearly up to different things, right?  The thing is, I’ve been spending a lot of time contemplating my current situation, my future goals, and different ways of shortening the gap between the two points.  When I’m busy working with my hands, my mind takes the opportunity to wander freely.  Hope you don’t mind the disjunction between the are of failure and the art of crafting 🙂

As for the wreath, the entire thing was made from colorful papers, glue, and a little tape.  I wanted to put a unique spin on the traditional baby gift, and so I went with a “welcome to the world” shadow box.  You can see the process below:Image
I began by sketching the globe and making notes where the ‘welcome to the world’ would be written.Image
The second step was to create cut-outs of the necessary continents on colorful paper:Image
Tape your circular globe to a plane sheet of paper:
And then stick your continent cutouts to the globe —  I used a thick tacky glue so that they would pop off the sheet just a bit:Image
Simple as draw, cut, & glue:

do you carrot all?

An easy way to find out if your friend ‘carrot alls’ is to ask them to watch your puppy for a weekend.   For some reason, ‘carrot all’ made me think of ‘carrotalls’ – like carrot overalls, and I ended up drawing this picture:

But, dear reader, what we’re here to talk about today is not carrot alls, but thanking people with carrots.  Jon and I are going out of town for my birthday, and I sent my next-door-neighbor a text to see if she would mind puppy sitting for me:

I know, I know, she is the best.  She said presents aren’t necessary, but I disagree 100%.  I figure everyone loves carrot cake, and what could be nicer than carrot cake in a mason jar?  An ‘Eat now or save for later’ sort of thing?  I decided to fancy-it-up a bit and do three layers: caramel,  carrot cake, and homemade cheesecake frosting.

I used a box cake:
Made the cream cheese frosting from scratch:Image
Put caramel bites on the bottom of the jar:
Added the carrot cake:
nd then topped the cake with the homemade cream cheese frosting:ImageImage

Lastly, I gave Kinzie a bath to prepare for her weekend away.  Here is the during and after photo:Image

rub a dub dub

My DIY projects last week left made me want to sing along with Vanilla Ice to “can’t touch this…”  Perhaps I’m biased, but I thought thought the mason jar flower vase and makeup brush holder would have Pottery Barn executives calling me to learn all my secrets.  Especially when they realized I was doing all my crafting for less than $5.

The only shortfall, as far as I could see, was that I didn’t have a matching set to make it look organized.  I decided to change that by crafting a matching toothbrush holder and soap dispenser.  Like magic, I now have the entire line of mason jar bathroom products.

The toothbrush holder is the easy-as-pie design that inspired the makeup brush holder.  To replicate, simply fill a mason jar with white sand, and stick your items inside:



The mason jar soap dispenser is a little more complicated because it takes 3 steps instead of 2.  For this, simply use a pushpin to make a hole in the top of the mason jar, and then stick a pump from another soap dispenser inside (I found a soap dispenser at the dollar store for, you guessed it, a dollar): 
To add a country chic feel, spray paint mason jars to match the decor of your house, and then fill with flowers.
You can see how I made the makeup brush holder here, and instructions for the mason jar flower vase are here.

Let me know if you have any other questions, and enjoy the simple project 🙂