Share the love

Hi friends! It’s been awhile.. I have been inspired by lots of love around me and am hoping to hop back on the blog bandwagon in the coming weeks.. so, come back for more!

Here’s a LOVE-ly tutorial on a gift I made my sister and her husband for Christmas.. great for any married couple, any time of year.


  • Old frame
  • Photo mat (available at craft stores, photo framing stores)
  • Maps of the places the happy couple met, got engaged and was married
  • Tacky glue or other adhesive like spray glue (be sure to read instructions!)
  • Exacto knife
  • Alphabet rubber stampers, optional

This idea was inspired by projects I had seen on Pinterest and I had a lot of old frames lying around from estate sales. It certainly took a bit of patience but was not time-consuming in any way.

  1. Cut your chosen matting to fit your frame with an Exacto knife, or have it cut at the framing shop (they’ll often do this for free and give you any matting that is leftover)
  2. Trace and cut out your three cities from the maps; choose a layout you are happy with and glue away! (I chose to trace my maps into a heart shape freehand, but use a heart cookie cutter or something similar if you want a specific shape.)
  3. On some scrap paper, stamp out or write out “We Met”, “We Married”, “We Live” and glue under the matching hearts.
  4. Pop your matting into the frame and enjoy!
  5. Optional: Go to your local frame shop and have them back the matting in the frame once you are done so it will stay securely in place; I did this because all I had was an empty frame with no backing.. essentially all you need is some strong core board or cardboard, hook and eyes and some wire and you can do it yourself. Take it one step further and have a piece of glass cut for the front as well at your local glass and window shop!

Share the love, friends.


A DIY Christmas

I’ve been tweeting all month and posting on Facebook about #DIYdecember, an idea that popped into my head at the end of November and I had a blast finding new projects and coming up with creative and alternative gifts.  The idea behind it all was simply to look around at all the things I already have and create meaningful & useful gifts that are low impact and high style.

I’ve been neglecting the blog and haven’t posted any DIY’s all week and so, to ring in a new year, here are all of the secret DIYs I put together for gifts and some that I received.. enjoy!

A daily calendar/journal, divided into months with postcards. My mom can write down one sentence or thing to remember every day over the years for the next 10, 20, 50 years.

Created out of maps and with an old frame and some matting, I cut out the places where my sister and brother in law met, married and live.

Using old Scrabble tiles, cork and glue, I made coasters for my brother to go along with his growler of beer from the local brewery.

For a few of my West Coast friends, I put together craft boxes out of old cigar boxes filled with supplies for creative freedom.

Using Scrabble tiles again, I made wine charms out of some old charms that had broken.. all we needed to do was drill holes in the tiles and assemble.

From my friend Farmer Al, I received a package of homemade/handmade goodies including soap, vanilla extract, chocolate bark, apple butter and carmelized onion jam.

My brother's girlfriend knit this headband for me from a pattern she found online, complete with polka dot ribbon to tie!

For a tutorial on the daily calendar, visit DesignSponge.  I’m hoping to post tutorials on the Scrabble coasters soon but feel free to comment on this post with any questions about the projects. Most of them are super simple and require just three to four materials, easy as that! A happy and crafty New Years’ Eve to you all.. cheers to 2012!

Treasure Hunting

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I have a passion for repurposing.  Whether its old jars, a metal rake, doorknobs or a vintage suitcase, everything can be given a second life with a little bit of elbow grease and imagination.  With a garage full tables, chairs, vintage toys, Ball jars and other treasures awaiting a new coat of paint, varnish or some serious reupholstery, we almost never need to buy anything new and have a constant flow of projects to keep our minds sharp.

Turn a banged up old pot into a planter or a luminary.  Use the head of a garden rake as a wine glass holder.  Clean up some old frames and install lace in them to hang jewelry or your child’s artwork.  We don’t need to go out and buy all of these things that commercials tell us will make our lives easier.  Our lives are complicated enough and we don’t need to get bogged down in stuff, though my garage is full of it.  The next time you see a garage or estate sale, take a look around.  Don’t be limited by what the object is conventionally used for.. what could you make it into?  Over the next few weeks, months, and years (?) I’ll share some how-tos of the projects that I’m working on.. stay tuned!

Is your life too plastic?

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To use a Pacific Northwest weather term, I’ve been in quite a fog the past week or so as I battle illness in the form of a cold. I will prevail, by lots of tea-drinking and wishing for warm weather. Onward for updates…

It’s been a busy few weeks at SOLV, when isn’t it busy? Spring planting season is certainly underway and we are busy with Green Team schools; our Women in Science Day event is this coming weekend.  We have some great female mentors in science fields who will be talking with the young female students who are attending and we will also have a tree planting with everyone after the presentation and discussion.  Its amazing to me the amount of young students who are already so interested in this environmental movement, whereas it took me until the age of 19 to figure it out.

Miles, Meghan and I went to a min-conference on Friday at Portland State University about engaging minority and indigenous groups in the sustainability movement; the professor who presented had done research on her home island of Molokai in Hawai’i on youth involved at an organic farm.  While her research was not entirely pertinent to what we do with SOLV, we took a lot away from it as I am hoping to re-establish our Equipo Verde program that existed last year with Spanish-speaking students from a local high school.  Long term stream restoration and community stewardship of a site provide students with a sense of ownership over a place and I do hope that starting this program up again will be successful in engaging students.

In non-work related news, I met Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea and Stones into Schools and the founder of CAI, on Tuesday evening.  My housemate Chris and I drove up to Longview, WA (which looked a lot like Ridgewood, NJ.. hmm) to hear Greg speak at a high school there; the auditorium was filled with a lot of little old book club ladies, parents and community leaders.  He spoke about his books, his life history as a mountaineer-turned-education advocate and school builder.  To merely be in his presence was so inspiring, but it was easy to see how exhausting his position is; he is travelling constantly, speaking to over 140 schools a year and going between the US and Pakistan/Afghanistan to oversee school builds there.  He labels himself as shy and not a great public speaker, he admits that he doesn’t really even enjoy it and still, people put him on a pedestal and treat him as a celebrity.  He truly is just an ordinary man trying to spread peace through education of children in remote areas of the world who would otherwise not have access to resources and literacy.  Greg shared with us a statistic that was truly eye-opening: in 2000, about 800,000 children (boys) were literate in Pakistan and by 2010, over 8 million children are literate, including nearly 2 million girls.

If you educate a boy, you educate an individual–if you educate a girl, you educate a community. (African proverb)

Through their scholarship support of girls going to high school, building primary schools and women’s vocational centers, CAI is truly embodying their mission of promoting and supporting community-based education, especially for girls, in remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan.  According to their website, CAI has built over 145 schools and educated 64,000 students, 52,000 of them girls.  Read more about their projects here.

So you know how you get a plastic bag to carry out your lunch or to hold your toothpaste you have to buy in a hurry? That bag is free right? Think again..  Another FANtastic adventure I had this week was with my friend Kim from Fairfield who now lives in Portland (win!) and some of my housemates; we went to the premiere of the documentary Bag It, a film by Suzan Beraza.  Bag It explores the issues of plastic bags as they exist in our world to be used for just a few minutes.

In the United States alone, an estimated 12 million barrels of oil is used annually to make the plastic bags that Americans consume. The United States International Trade Commission reported that 102 billion plastic bags were used in the U.S. in 2009. These bags often wind up in waterways or on the landscape, becoming eyesores and degrading water and soil as they break down into toxic bits. Their manufacture, transportation and disposal use large quantities of non-renewable resources and release equally large amounts of global-warming gases. Ecologically, hundreds of thousands of marine animals die every year when they eat plastic bags mistaken for food.

Senator Mark Hass and Representative Ben Cannon, the sponsors of the Oregon Bag Ban bill, were present for a talk-back after the event.  I recognized some people I have worked with through SOLV and it was great to see such strong support for a bill that would ban plastic bags statewide in Oregon, which would be the first state to do so.  Senator Hass mentioned that much of the delay or friction in passing the bill comes from the plastics industry not wanting statewide bans because that will encourage other states to pass the bill as well.  The American Chemistry Council, who did not choose to be interviewed in any way for the film, is the creator and proponent for plastic bags and has even gone as far to create committees like the Progressive Bag Affiliates to promote recycling of plastic bags.  This just fuels (pun intended!) the creation of more bags and it is a scientific fact that plastic bags don’t degrade at the rate we need them to; they merely dissolve into smaller and smaller pieces of plastic over time, making them prime targets for marine life who mistake them for food.

I learned so much from this movie and the partners who put the event on; check the Bag It website for screenings and bring Bag It to your school or community!

A few more nuggets to share with you before I depart, an environmental news roundup! Wahoo!