quilt-in-progress, people.

i am the slowest quilt maker ever. layla's and judah's both took me a year to complete...with massive clumps of months of complete neglect mixed in.

in that esteemed tradition, i planned out my next quilt and got the fabric for it back in march. i think i worked on it twice in may and maybe once in the fall.

well, i picked that baby up last night after finishing a zirgle-million etsy christmas orders and was dying to sew something for ME. 

it is now my goal to complete this beauty over christmas break. we'll see...

 the pieced top. i used a layer cake of lotta jansdotter's echo collection, using all of the prints. i love it HARD

and i am getting the back put together now. 

i cant wait to make this our #1 stunna living room snuggle blankie. i am attempting to make my own christmas present. i better not let me down. 


under the misc.-eltoe

here are a bunch of bullet points of brain-nuggets on my mind.

-holy lycra! yall had some OPINIONS about the legging/tights/pants imbroglio i presented you with. the way overwhelming consensus is that tights do not a suitable pants-pair make. noted. if the butt is visible, it better at least have pockets on it. otherwise, your shirt better be crazy long enough so that no crotch/cheek swoop is seen at any time. i also made a run to H&M to get one of their staple long-ass tanks to be my underlayer in crises like these. i feel safer all around...thanks team!

-did yall see the gemenid meteor shower last week? i dont think i have ever seen a shooting star for sure, but we saw many fat daddy ones blazing hard across the sky. my space-buff friend, abby, tweeted me into the know about it and it was a mega kodak moment; bundling up outside in our front yard watching chunks of space rock blaze into nothing. this may of may not have led to some adult trampoline shenanigans that crossed several items off of our sexual walkabout bucket list (yes, it would be REALLY easy to pun-ify a bucket list. i know). front yard: check! trampoline: check! under a meteor shower: check! in the freezing cold: check!

-guys, we have a mouse. jesse spotted it yesterday morning. we have NEVER had rondentia in our house and i am shaken to my core. confession: i have fully judged my friends who have had mice. no more. i know for a fact that our house has never been cleaner and yet, here comes mickey. we used to live in a far deeper state of squalor and never had 4-legged visitors. i've posted SOS on facebook and set a few traps...though they dont have the best amazon reviews now that i look, and the overwhelming majority say, where there is one mouse, there are many more and that makes me want to swoon (and not in the charming southern belle way). they also say that the old school neck-snappers are the best kind of traps (or paying a fortune to the pest folks) but i have toddler hands in the house!

 i am PRAYING this is an isolated mousketeer, seeking shelter from the rain and that he has gratefully moved on in his voyage. the traps have remained un-engaged all day, despite my epicurean bait. 

have yall had any mouse-periences? tell me! can it be just one mouse and problem solved?

-i would have for SURE added this to my christmas list post if i had known about them in time. my friend started his own woodworking business and he's kind of an artist about the whole she-bang. his first product to hit the store is this awesome wood wallet made from reclaimed cherry wood and upcycled bike tire inner tube. it's earth-friendly, design-o-gasmic, sleek, unique and even comes with a warranty. best believe i'm getting one for my business cards and feeling awesome about it. use code WOODWALLET at etsy checkout for 25% off! i am pretty sure you can still get these in time for christmas too. 

-at our small group's white elephant party last night i won a free brazilian wax. my friend and wax-moses (she led me into the promised land), nikki contributed it to the pile o' gifts and i was the lucky soon-to-be-plucked duck who snagged it. merry christmas to me (and jesse). i love our church!

abrupt transition from silly stuff that doesnt really matter to something that really shouldn't go unmentioned by anyone.


what can i say or feel that hasnt already been? i feel like my brain is a frantic spider scrabbling up against a brick wall looking for a way through, a way around this devastation. there isnt one. i cant logic my way to a place where this sits easy. shockingly, we have friends here locally whose close friends lost their child on friday at sandy hook. even being twice removed personally from something so earth-shattering makes it seem even real-er. our prayer has been for jesus to show us when we have opportunities to show his love to folks who have these kinds of demons or are on a path that could lead to such destruction. i know that this seems to be an instance of mental health that is far beyond what i know or could "cure" but still, i bet in this story there is hatred involved somewhere. you never know the impact that one connection, one relationship could mean in someone's path (and you might never). if i believe that his love redeemed me, i have to believe it can always be enough. 

the only thing that sort of starts to settle my heart down in the midst of this turmoil, especially at christmas time,  is remembering another child whose utterly innocent blood was shed. we broke this world. god didnt do it; our sin did. but he came down from his throne and into this dark place to bleed and die and rise for us so that we can make the reverse journey one day. as much as so much of this makes no sense to me and makes me want to get pissed at jesus, i have to come home and rest on the fact that his blood, just as innocent--more innocent--was shed even more senselessly (hard to imagine) so that those kids and i  would leave the brokenness behind and get to live eternally before the throne after the sin-soaked and hatred-infected portions of our story here on earth are over. 

i am clinging fast to the knowledge that the victims dont miss this world at all and that those of us left behind  missing them have unlimited access to a God who very much knows the unbearable pain of losing a child. 

are there any words of wisdom or comfort you have heard/read/seen that have helped you with this tragedy? please share...i think we could all use a little help in this department.


in a tight spot (fashion SOS)

i loved this look from the moment i pinned it (from my super stylish/hot friend who would rock it all night long).

having all of the components, i tried to wear this today and eeeeeeeeeeee, i couldnt pull the trigger. even with the long undershirt, we are dangerously close to visible crotch/underbutt.

what i am wondering is: is that allowed? i always thought tights were like pants, but not a direct substitute.   from the thigh down, you can get away with a shorter overlayer if you have them on underneath, but you cant treat them as independent bottoms: there must be something on crotch and buttcheek duty whether it's a tunic, a skirt, a dress, whatever.

but then again, i have seen chicks wearing tights like they are pants without the longer-than-crotch outer later and it looked fine. even in the above inspiration photo, she is technically covered, but is she bends eve one degree more acute than full upright, something has to give and you will see--front or back--where those 2 leggings become one. but she looks fine! it just looked so weird when i went to do it myself.

i realize we live in the age of jeggings, yoga pants and all sorts of clothing that leaves nothing to the imagination, i'm just trying to get a bead on the general thoughts of the public. 

is it a matter of tight thickness? like obv panty hose arent okay to go solo down south, but a nice thick legging that wasnt just basically showing your every curve, just in a different color, maybe could hold the fort. 

or is it a matter of the person? like skinny chicks can do it but maybe we curvy ones cant/shouldnt?

someone advise me.


these are a few of my favorite things

after picking favorites from other bloggers' gift guides, i had an itch to create one of my own. so i threw together a quick selection of things (almost all of which we already own ourselves and heartily approve of or are gifting this year) that are all available on amazon and can get to you in time for christmas morn (with free shipping too).

we are so excited to give judah this awesomely authentic brass telescope. we may even arrange a treasure hunt to find this bad boy because it practically screams, "YAR! a pirate buried this here!" it comes with the most perfect little wooden box, has leather-looking binding and REALLY WORKS. 

judah actually already has this melissa & doug latch puzzle board. we got it for layla for her birthday but she doesnt really have the dexterity for it yet and judah LOVES manipulating all the sturdy metal latches. 

this set of pantone swatch coffee mugs is pretty much amazing. they come in a few different color sets and in espresso size as well. if i saw someone drinking from these i would let them design my website or kitchen instantly

after drooling over it when we were browsing a paper shop last december raechel got me the 2012 version of this dabney lee calendar last christmas and it has cheered up on every single entrance to work i have made this year as i see each gorgeous month beaming at me from the wall. the 2013 edition does not disappoint.

for the literal heart: i want to gently encourage jesse to exercise without having to lose him during the defcon parenting daylight hours. solution: run after the kids go to bed and stay safe in the dark by wearing this reflecty-blinky armband. it works so well, it's mega-lightweight and is the best night-running accessory i have tried (i've tried lots). if only he could look as cool as the rollerblading model.

for the figurative heart: UNBROKEN. cant believe i am saying this but: this book is better than harry potter. it's a true story and i read it in one night and didnt miss the sleep one little bit. if you dont love this story i will give you your money back*

 layla is getting both of these and i know she is going to flip. the first is a set of magnetic dolls whose many outfits and accessories she can switch out and mix up. like paper dolls, but durable and way easier to use. i think this lil set will get lots of use in the car and at restaurants as a quiet, brain-involving toy.

this wooden mailbox set might be the one i am most excited about. wooden postcards with velcro-able stamps, a real lock with a key to open the box and different width slots for dropping the letters in. the potential for imagination play, the craftsmanship and durability and the prettiness of this toy have me looking forward to having it in the house (rare).

okay, super-attractive confession: stress-induced cankers happen up in this house more than we'd like to admit. and we are babies, jesse and me, and cant cope with their debilitating pain.  orajel lasts about 5 minutes and numbs the rest of my mouth so we had just resigned ourselves to living in pain until one of these monsters bore its way straight through the side of our face. i was really skeptical about all the rave reviews of this canker-rid remedy, but after using it for a few months whenever a mouth-crater erupts we are hardcore believers. the relief lasts seriously for about 12 hours. i'll never be without a bottle of this mess in our house.

i had always scoffed at these herb-snippers as a kitchen tool for richies that was ragingly impractical. then i cooked like 85 things in a row calling for fresh cilantro or green onions and i caved. these save time (and stress cankers too in the mad rush to get dinner made) like whoa and rarely miss a dishwasher cycle in my house since they are in use so often. 

if you like the "wheel of time" or "a song of ice and fire" series, you will love the way of kings. (i'm showing a little bit of my nerd side here, but let's just embrace it). for weeks after i read it, i kept finding myself missing the main character and wondering when volume 2 would be published so i could reunite with him.

and for a less-than-literal nod to katniss, this arrow necklace says "i'm from district 12" when youre at comic con, but also says, "i'm just stylish and awesome" when youre in less geek-friendly environs. youre the girl on fire...but under cover. (actually nectar is offering a version of this necklace for free with any scarf purchase this week)

there you have it. my favorites under the tree this year.

*not really though.


up to our necks

if you replaced each leaf with one task or responsibility or stressor in my life right now, this is about how i'd feel. 

the kids and jesse have been taking turns getting sick (2 cold, 2 ear infections, and now the FLU) for the last 10 days. ominously, i am feeling a suspicious tickle in my throat right now. i'm hoping its just hysterical empathy and that none of the instances of the kids coughing in my unsuspecting mouth have taken root as infections. and i think it was just an allergy attack, but one day last week i sneezed over 80 times. you know the old saying that a nseeze is like 1/10th of an orgasm? well, at that conversion rate, that day should have been way more fun for me than it actually was.

i have twenty christmas sewing orders to turn out for customers this week plus making gifts for lots of folks in my own life. i know there was a point in my life when i sewed for fun, but it's as distant as the last time i saw my abs.

there are so many things around the house that need to get done (including, evidently, RAKING the back yard. we have the michelle duggar of oak trees and it just never stops raining down its fertile bounty on us).

sadly the blog seems to be the first thing to go in times like this, but i am gleefully stuffing my sorries in a sack because i am in love with this period of our lives right now. the kids have never been more fun, it's CRIMUS time, my husband is my #1 human on the planet, i love our church and small groups, i have a hobby that makes money for our family,  i've started running again, and a ka-google other things that i am thankful for. 

so i am hunkering down in this gigantic pile of life and enjoying being right here right now. 


gift guidance

i love a good gift guide. 

when you stumble across someone with your same style (or in my case, a style that is far superior but that i would love to just copy), and they have done all the hard work of finding and showing off some of their favorite gifts...it's just like cherry picking. 

BlogHer has compiled a series of gift guides and put them in one handy dandy place for your drooling/perusing pleasure.

a few of my faves: 
-almost everything on this list of gifts for the shutterbug in your life. these all have such a cool aesthetic and say, "oh hey, you're better at cameras than me. good job with that! i love you and, hey, merry christmas."

-i am just smitten with the charitable gift idea of sponsoring a woman entrepreneur in a developing nation. $30 a month provides training through Women to Women international. talk about the gift that keeps on giving! 

-perfect for gifting (aka, something i want myself), this "gifts for the crafter" list includes at least 2 things that i want so bad but can never justify spending money on. if youve got a crafter on your list, spoiling them with treats like washi tape or pretty baker's twine seems like a slam dunk.

take a look around at all of the gift guides and see if you spot something that can knock a few loved ones off your list this year.

This post is part of BlogHer's Holiday Gift Guides editorial series, sponsored by Open Road Media.


my new loo

one of the few areas of the house that was untouched by the scorched-earth upgrade war we have waged over this past year was the master bath. or, as it shall henceforth be known: "my bathroom" because jesse was exiled to the guest bathroom a few months after marriage as a relationship-preservation measure. 

turns out i am a psychotic morning creature and cannot get ready with anyone closer than 5 feet from me. also, walking unprepared into the after-air of a grown man's bowel movement is apparently my hulk-trigger and turns me into a hate monster who wont stop until hearts are broken. 

well, the bathroom's ability to be good "enough" to escape my new eye for upgrades finally fell short last month. like most of the stuff in our house,  it wasnt that bad, as you may have seen in many a stitch fix self-photo post. here she is:

the room was wallpapered (i die) when we bought the house and we havent the cajones to take that stuff down correctly, so we just painted it grey (i think this is a deadly sin in the DIY world, maybe?) back in the year of our lord 2006 as newlyweds and called it a day lifetime. 

in addition, this room has 20 ft ceilings and a trapezoidal window way up high so painting, much less de-wallpapering, wasnt something we wanted to relive as 30 year olds with 2 kids.

so the grey would stay (which obviously was fine by us since almost our entire house is grey-walled) and the upgrades would work around that.

more before:

i loved the red/navy/grey combo of the original decor when i was a blushing bride, but now it just looks like a yuppie 9th grade boy's bathroom to my more mature, classy 30 year old retinas.

more stuff i hate: the cluttered look of all those bottles and labels, the slightly off-white sink, and the 4th grader painting i made which is the room's only "decor."  

oh, actually, i am just now remembering that in august of 2011 i did have a brainwave that was prophetic about how much i hated the original cherry cabinets in the bathroom and so we painted them. here's the true before:

painting these white was a trial run for seeing how hard painting the kitchen cabinets would be (answer: hard enough that we delayed THAT process until june).

but like a raging dingleberry i didnt use true white paint. i was a little gun shy about going full on #FFFFFF and so i picked a slightly warmer tone. BIG mistake. huge. the cabinets were no longer wood colored, but they also were clearly a darker white than the white counter, the tile and the sink. failbot. every time i sat in the tub and stared across at the 6 different shades of white staring back i me, i had to fight off a rage-seizure with everything in me.

another hideous before detail:

apparently satin nickel AND brass were sexy hot back when this was installed and the builder just couldnt bear to choose BETWEEN them. so that mofo doubled down with this monstrosity. dont ask me how this escaped my wrath for 6 years. and the complimentary two-tonedness of our bulbs really finishes the look.

and the real belle of the ball:

seems like a great place for a little attempted murder.

so with all of these BEFORE situations, i made a list of general problems i had with the room and set out to find the cheapest and easiest way to fix them:

1. the room has no soul or personality (much like a 9th grade yuppie boy)
2. the room is too dark and heavy
3. there is no pretty or even functional storage (remember, the maximization of vertical space is my love language)

so the first step was repainting the cabs ultra white. this was really easy since the color i was painting over was already a shade of white. that was like a 1 hour project and made a HUGE difference in the look of the room and in my cerebral integrity.

next was a pinterest project i have had my eye on for over a year. $18 bucks at home depot later and some sweet-talking of jesse into doing it and we had a framed out mirror! (heres the tutorial we used).

once the mirror frame was in, i felt a huge difference starting in the room. it just felt more expensive and more like a quality space, rather than just "cookie cutter bathroom version 2C96H4." 

the only other thing i knew for sure was that i wanted this shower curtain and would build the rest of the scheme around it, trying to avoid going too nautical. 

eleventy billion trips to target and home depot later, this is what is in now effect and making my swoon every time i enter:

and of course, after i took all of these pictures, i finally talked jesse into letting me get a new sink basin. so this isnt even the true AFTER.

the old one was beige and had been cleaned so many times with really abrasive cleaner that it had lost its enamel coating and was just so porous and rough that it was impossible to keep clean and repulsive to touch (think fine grain sandpaper). a shiny glossy white new one from HD was only $29. 

and rather than spring $60 to replace our faucet, i thought i would give my lover, oil-rubbed bronze spray paint a try at the job, and he CRUSHED IT!

here is the real sink. superimpose it over the old one in all of the following pictures, please.

so can i show you around some more?

i finally decided on "curry" as my accent color to go along with the gray and navy. target has a nate berkus collection with this color right now that provided the bath mat and hand towels with a rich pop of color for just a few shekels.

another target bathmat by the potty for some texture and more grey variation

i just couldnt make myself buy 2 new trashcans (theres another behind the toilet) just to throw out my current ones. they may have been fire engine red, but they held trash like allstars! a little tape and a can of navy spray paint and its new!

here you can see the bright white cabs and the oil-rubbed bronze spray-painted light fixture. 

plus a new medicine cabinet for storage and visual interest (the 2nd hand towel holder i had over there before made NO sense and accomplished nothing for that space) relieves a lot of the storage pressure on the tiny closet which had just become a constant avalanche risk for anyone who opened the door.

i'm artsy to show you this one. i just wanted a good snapshot of my color/pattern/texture inspiration.

again, i couldnt bear to spend $10 on new curtain hooks, so i sprayed the old ones.

a much more friendly and happy toilet alcove. the new cabinet is stuffed with about 500 tampons and 10 rolls of toilet paper.  i still need some more flair for the shelf. TBA. and $4 fresh mums in my 50 cent yard sale vase make me feel like a rich oil-baron's trust fund daughter (i dont have fresh flowers in the house very often, so that may be going too far).

oh my countertop accessories make me so giddy. they are all from target except for the striped tumbler from west elm.

again, the tissue holder was red until it got the ORB spray paint treatment. a $5 target basket holds the extra hand towels and washrags. the gilded urchin (can we please start calling me that?) and frame and nate berkus  from target too. they were more than i wanted to pay but i love them HARD and they carry on the yellow and stripes thing without being matchy matchy or literal.

i solved the bottle issue in the corner by putting them all in a dark brown basket that came lined with a pretty gray and white floral fabric. you can still see the bottles, but not all the busy labels and shapes. and if the duchess of canterburyshire stops by and i need it to look super classy, i can just stick the whole she-bang under the sink lickety split.

the towel holders (over the door and wall-mounted) got painted and i got the white with gray accents towels at walmart for $4 each. i was thisclose to springing for really nice white towels (in the name of investing in quality things for once) but realized i needed to know myself and our family a little better. a plush $20 bright white towel could never survive in the dukes jungle and would just make me crazy until it got stained or torn and then bitter every time i looked at it afterwards.

i love this room so hard now. and i am kind of proud that i came up with the general look of it on my own rather than using a pinterest photo to start from (which i almost always do). it gives me hope that some little creative seedling in my head is taking root and that i can actually bring to life something that i love using my own brain! it's in there somewhere.


boobs before the tube

proof that dressing smart doesnt necessarily mean looking smart. 

is the TV coma face something i should be worried about, or is this standard?


a lamp unto my hall

here is a riveting and comprehensive pictorial history of our hall:
left: builder's white from 2006-2009 right: simmering mochachino (made that one up) from 2009-2012

back in the fall of 2009 i was JUST getting started doing and making and being crafty and creative and this quick paint project made my little heart so happy. well, 3 years and a much different style aesthetic later, i had come to HATE the doo do brown hallway. its horribly lit anyway and the brown was not making things better. if only i was a proctologist, this would be just the living end for me.

so we finally bit the bullet and used a recent date night to tackle the painting of this bad boy. we chose the same gray that is in our sexy new living room just to keep it simple and take away the risk of a brand new color. (if youre keeping score: thats 6 rooms in the house that are gray and 2 that are blue). 

i have also been stockpiling cheapo wooden frames from goodwill and spray painting them white in hopes of putting together a gallery wall made of naptime diaries scripture prints.  i struggle reading my bible and memorizing scripture so having it as visible and eye-drawing in my house seems like a win on several levels.

when the paint was dry it was time to find the gorgeous prints new homes. 

i've seen the pinterest tutorials for gallery walls where you make paper cutouts of all your shapes and practice the layout. that is a million percent the opposite of me. i just start pounding holes into the wall and go from there. so things are a tad willy-nilly (and i will keep adding...ran out of hanging hardware) but i LOVE it.

 another view with the two on the other side of the hall entry (i told you the lighting situation is undesireable in there)

 the view coming out of our bedroom (and into the fray)

 my most favorite frame/print combo (its not dingy, i'm just dumb at cameras somehow)

ALL of the children in this house must walk in the word. even those made of cabbage

 i feel like keeping our eye on the jesus ball is going to be important in raising this one. so...this is fitting




i needed a very non-thanksgiving meal last night. we have been eating mayflower-ish food since wednesday the 14th (at judah's preschool feast) all the way through this weekend. we had 5 different events that were for the season in 11 day, with several belt-notches worth of leftovers bridging the gaps on off-days.

now, if i see another casserole i will probably casse-hurl.

so i made my [newly] reigning favorite sandwich of all time (just discovered a few weeks before the turk-pocalypse). 

the sweet & spicy caramelized onion BBQ grilled cheese (recipe here):

y'aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall... just, yall. 

somehow, there is no bacon on this thing and i dont even miss it. but it's probably also the only extra ingredient i would allow someone to suggest adding without being offended in my soul. because, this thing....it's perfection as is.

just eat it.


tutorial: cheap and easy DIY rustic tealight centerpiece

. .
got wood? well, you will after reading this post. because it's that awesome.

this is another tutorial born from a friend's pin that i thought would link to a project but really just spit me out adrift and free-floating in the cytoplasm of the internet (tastes like LOLZ!). 

after searching thoroughly, i couldnt find the post anywhere and decided to just wing it and jump in by myself, making it up as i went. it turned out well, so i took some pics of the process. and here we are, you and me.

i'm not a big fancy lady. well, i am a big lady, but fancy? not s'much. martha stewart might as well be a comedy writer based on some of the shenanigans she recommends DIY'ing for her endless inane parties. ("make a unique st. patrick's day wreath using wool spun from the hair of actual leprechauns! what's that?  you cant afford to buy the hair in diagon alley? tee-hee looks like you gotta catch 'em all!" or "hollow out the cloven hoof of a silver unicorn; wrap in burlap and serve over $57 prosciutto slices. you're guests will stroke out with adoration!"  note frome martha: good luck ever pulling off ANY of these make-believe projects pictured here, you middle-class knaves!)

in my lifestyle magazine the word "tablescape" will only be used sarcastically (though "manscaping" will be dead serious). so i dont focus a lot on presentation. but at the ONE party we host every year, out thanksgiving potluck, i do usually marshal all of my inner-contessa for and put forth one centerpiece. 

for the past 6 years it was easy and wonderful: a bag of fresh cranberries in our pretty tiffany crystal bowl (a wowzas wedding gift) with floating tealights mingled in. easy, festive, crowd-pleasing. 

then, a few months back jesse, that ham-fisted neanderthal, BROKE our bowl. i was all, sackcloth and ashes! the nicest, classiest thing in our house was gone. it's like it couldnt bear the shame of its tiffany-ness living in our dukey squalor any longer and just jumped--shattering its crystal heart into a google of shards all over our kitchen.  the bad news for it is that we never washed it, so it's unbaptized and is destined to spend eternity in house-object hell (along with wire hangers, jumanji, and everything from the oriental trading catalogs...so many grosses). 

so i needed something to put on the table this year.  here's where we ended up:

i think if an alien species made its first contact with the human race via pinterest, they would assume that we had trees brimming with free wood pallets and seas abounding with vinegar.  these two things are ALL OVER pinterest. the vinegar apparently should be used on every surface you encounter in life, ever and always!  VIIIIIIIIIIINEGAR, people!!!

but the pallets perplexed me. all of these projects made it seem like i should be tripping over these unwatned, free pallets at every turn. but i never seemed to find any! it's like the universe was disqualifying me from pinterest by not dropping scads of unwanted pallets in my lap.

the one day this summed, we joined the ranks of the chosen. we saw a bunch of pallets stacked up beside the water treatment plant near our house and pulled in to ask about them (no one was asking me if i wanted any, so maybe i had to ASK them...i dont know! there's no pin on FINDING pallets!). we scored 4 of these beauties and have been roosting on them awaiting inspiration.

this project is the first time we have used one (and we really could have used any wood).

what you'll need:

-power drill 
-tea lights 
-1.5" flat bore drill bit
-measuring tape
-a piece of pallet wood*
-20 minutes (knock this baby out while you're waiting for your orgasmo to firm up!)

* or similarly sized plywood, branch, or plank. ours was about 40" x 5" x3 /4"

 here's the bit i got for a few bucks in the hardware section of home depot. 

 some pallets seem to be made of really processed plywood, but luckily, one of the ones we got had these awesome, untreated pieces with the bark still on the edge. score one for rusticity! we went at it with a crowbar and mallet and it surrendered up this gem.

 lay out your tealights atop the piece of wood getting the spacing arrangement and layout you like (the original pin had these not in a line but in a zig zag...go for it!). 

i spaced mine by placing one at the linear center lengthwise and then spacing the centers 5" apart in either direction. 

use a pencil or score a little mark with your drill bit where you will want the centers of your tealights to be.

 attach that drill bit. feel like a scary badass with your new weapon.

line up the pointy tip of your bit with one of the marks you made. stand on either side of the drill on the wood for stability...this can get rowdy.

 starting SLOWLY, get the drill spinning. the pointy tip of the bit drills a pilot hole ahead to keep everything centered, and then as it gets deeper, the boring edges come up against the wood.

 think of the bit as a scraper and less as a drill. pushing down really hard to speed things up doesnt help with this guy. you want to apply a little bit of downward pressure to keep the hole being dug, but not too much. they key is to stay centered. if you started pushing down too hard off-centered, the thing will go crazy and start to try to buck you off as it gouges a wonky, un-level hole. slow and steady and centered is the path to righteousness here, folks.

since my wood was only 3/4" thick and my tealights were 1/2" (and i wanted them to sit all the way down in the wood), i knew i would have to let the center tip of the bit actually drill THROUGH the wood before the scraper/borer part would reach the desired depth. to keep the tip from drilling up against my garage floor, i needed to elevate my wood.

lacking 2 identical blocks, i went with the next best thing:

two copies of the red tent

you know how there's that weird fact about assassins all being found with copies of "catcher in the rye" on them? well, this book is my version. i LOVE the red tent and have read it maybe 10 times. i have given this book as a gift to at least 5 friends and so now whenever i find a copy at goodwill that is in nice condition, i snag it up for  my stockpile.

fear not, world leaders, the only thing i plan to assassinate is many plates of cheese fries.

so if you get a copy of this book from me and find wood shavings in the pages or footprints on the cover, this is why.

 elevated by literature. it should be so with us all.

 when i get close to my desired depth, i check the side view. once that tip emerges, you need to be careful because you can bore clear through the piece of wood if you keep going much farther. (which wouldnt be tragic because you could still put tealights in the holes, but when you picked up the wood, they would be left behind). the pointy tip is the harbinger of the scrapers. heed it.

you have now created a nice circle hole and a quite pleasing pile of pencil shavings.

 blow off the chaff and you're left with a lovely little inverse tinker toy seat for your candles to relax in

i removed the little metal casings from my tealights to make the look more rustic (because in the days of yore, you best believe the chandlers didnt case their tealights...just ask johhny tremain.). its a perfect little fit!

repeat the process for the rest of your marked locations.  dont stress too much about perfect spacing or depth. you can get away with almost anything that is branded as "rustic!"

 light that bad boy up and feel awesome that no leprechauns lost their locks in the service of this little holiday gem.

and hey, maybe keep an eye on this thing at all times when it's lit...because uh-doy, wood + fire, yall. 

go forth and conquer! feel like martha, but without that pesky house-arrest monitoring device tan-line and the billions of dollars!

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