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DIY Candle Holders for Valentine’s Day


A couple of weeks ago, on a rainy Monday afternoon, The Girl and The Boy and I got to work on a Valentine’s art project. I love a good craft project, but, for some reason, we don’t do this often enough. As part of my search for JOY this year, I want to create more and to spend time creating with my kids.

This time, we made Valentine’s themed tea light candle holders from reused glass jars.



Variety of clean jars, labels removed (these used to hold jelly, artichokes, capers, and clotted cream)


Sharpie Oil Based Paint Markers


Mod Podge (I put plastic over the top to keep the lid from sticking)

Other supplies not pictured: tissue paper (I just used the cheap kind you wrap presents in), foam brush (for applying Mod Podge)

What To Do:

There are no real instructions – just have fun and create whatever designs you want! It was cold and rainy, so in addition to Valentine’s hearts, we were feeling like snowflakes and swirls.

Here are a few ideas:

snowflake jar candle holder

1. Snowflakes. Silver Sharpie paint marker. This was technically The Girl’s candle, although she didn’t want to do any of the actual drawing – she just wanted to direct me in my drawing. “Two lines of snowflakes with two snowflakes each. Then a heart on the bottom. Then repeat on the other sides.” Her nickname of “The Scout Master” continues – running the show, directing the troops, making things happen.

hand lettered jar candle holderhand lettered jar candle holder

2. Hand Lettered. Black Sharpie paint marker. Simple and pretty.

tissue paper jar candle holderstissue paper jar candle holder

3. Tissue Paper Hearts. Cut hearts out of light and dark pink tissue paper, attach to jar with Mod Podge, then cover with another coat of Mod Podge. The Mod Podge gives it a cloudy finish, which looks beautiful with a glowing tea light inside.

heart cutout tissue paper jar candle holderheart cutout tissue paper jar candle holder

4. Tissue Paper Cutout. Using a strip of tissue paper smaller than the height of the jar, fold the tissue paper in half and cut out a heart shape. Spread Mod Podge on the back of the tissue paper and wrap around jar to attach. Apply a coat of Mod Podge over the top to seal.

DIY  jar candle holderDIY jar candle holder

5. Free Draw. The Boy was excited to make his own jar, so he went to work with a red Sharpie marker, free-hand drawing designs on the sides of the jar. The red Sharpie made the coolest shadows when the tea light was lit:


And here they are, tea lights glowing:

DIY Jar Tea Light Candle Holders

A simple, pretty project that we all enjoyed working on. Maybe we’ll make some for every holiday!

(St. Patrick’s Day candles are a thing, right?)

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Craigslist: A Love Story in Three Point Five Acts (The Final Act)


Um, yeah, so, the last time I talked to you about this project, it was April. I was feeling like it was probably September or October. I searched through my blog archives in the fall, but I didn’t find it. Because I was wrong. It was actually 9 months ago!! These are the things that make me feel old – when time seems to be passing by so quickly that I can’t even keep track.

Have you been waiting for months to read the conclusion of this beautiful saga??

No? You have no idea what I’m talking about? Okay, go read the first part of this here. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

And now for the final act.


I have always wanted a big round pedestal table for a coffee table. I mean, BIG. I wanted enough room to play games and do puzzles and spread out projects and books and coffee and ALL THE THINGS.


When I saw the Craigslist ad for the pedestal dining table and chairs, I knew it was perfect. Use two chairs for the front porch, use other chairs for our existing dining room table, and then figure out how to turn the dining table into a coffee table.

In April of last year, we decided to tackle it. I hemmed and hawed about what to do, but Husband just went for it with a hand saw.

cut down pedestal table

That’s how we roll. We are a good complement for each other.


No turning back now. Amazingly, it was perfect.

cut down pedestal table (2)

We reattached the table top to the base.


My plan was to eventually paint it, but we brought it in the house to use right away – just couldn’t wait to have a place to set my coffee in the morning since we bought a sectional on Craigslist and the den had become our morning hangout spot.

Wait. I haven’t told you about the sectional!


Our den was empty for a couple of years. Well, there was a desk with a computer, my Hoosier work space, and, for a brief period, an armoire in the corner where Husband kept some of his clothes. (The things you do for storage in an older home….)

Then one day, my neighbor told me she had found a Pottery Barn sectional on Craigslist and she was on her way to pick it up.

What?! Why had I never thought to search for a sectional on Craigslist? I actually went home and immediately searched for HER sectional on Craigslist. It was fantastic!! Lovely slipcover, great condition, Pottery Barn! Lucky duck!

And so began my search (read: obsession) to find the perfect sectional for our den. (Husband wasn’t sure we actually needed a sectional in the den – or any couch, really, considering we didn’t have a TV, any other furniture, or even a plan for the space. I said, “What if I find something for $250?” Sure, he said, doubtfully.)

The one I loved was pricey for Craigslist standards – $600. I messaged and offered $250. (That’s what I had to work with!) The owner responded kindly that it was a very nice sectional in really great shape, and they just couldn’t take that little for it. It dropped off of Craigslist a few days later.

Then, when I was searching a couple of weeks later (see: obsessed, above), it was back! And for $300!

I messaged and offered $250 again. He accepted!

I was thrilled. Of course, I enlisted the help of Fake Adopted California Dad to help me out. He loves these outings, and he’s always up for an adventure. We drove into Sacramento, optimistic that everything would fit in the back of his truck.


All the cushions had to be removed and put into my car. This is how I drove home.


We had to play Tetris with the main pieces, so this was my view of Fake Adopted California Dad’s truck on the drive home. But, miracle of miracles, it fit!


And it fit in the den perfectly, too. (We misplaced that middle cushion for a couple of days, but it turned up in the back of Fake Adopted California Dad’s truck.)

(Note the lack of table.)


Even Molly liked it.

ACT III (continued)

So, after cutting down the table, we moved it into the den. It was great. I still hadn’t decided on a paint color, but it was totally functional.

Except every time I wiped it, varnish flecked off. And one time I found pieces of it on The Girl’s face and in her hair. (Who even knows??) And it was just kind of yucky.

Two weekends ago, I decided it was time. I would sand this puppy down and leave it raw. I still hadn’t decided on a paint color, but I was tired of the flaky finish.

How hard could it be?


sanding table

First I attacked the top surface with the electric sander. I had to stop shortly after I started and bike to the hardware store to get a tougher grit. And keep changing hands. And taking breaks.

I sanded. And sanded. And sanded.

Then it was time for the side of the table top and the pedestal and the legs.

scraping off finish

I used my favorite orange stripper (last seen here) and an old pharmacy rewards card (like a credit card) to scrape away the finish. It worked beautifully on the flat surfaces, but not so much on the legs and claw feet.

This is were Husband came in. He worked tirelessly to sand the legs by hand. We bought a different kind of stripper (which required us to wear fancy orange chemical gloves). We used toothpicks and toothbrushes and kebab skewers to clean out stripper in the grooves. We sanded. And sanded. And sanded. And then Husband sanded and sanded and sanded some more.

When we finally got all of the old finish off, I was in love with the look of the raw grain of the wood, so we decided not to stain or paint. Instead Husband rubbed Danish oil (3 coats) into the wood to bring out the wood grain and keep its natural color.

husband reassembling

reassembled base

Two nights ago, Husband brought in all the pieces and reassembled the table.

The results?


Perfect. I love it. I love the legs and feet. I love the bead trim around the side. I love the beautiful grain of the top. I love it.


And I am so so so happy to have our coffee table back. It’s beautiful and it’s the right height and it’s big and WE DID IT and it’s just perfect.

Except maybe now I think it needs a rug.

I guess I’m off to scour Craigslist! I’ll let you know what I find….


PS – This is what I found yesterday morning when I got back home after dropping The Boy off at school. Husband does not handle clutter very well. And, admittedly, I’ve been hoarding library books the last few weeks and leaving them everywhere around the house. This was his solution. Ha!


DIY · Home · It's Not Rocket Science


Apparently, I’m still focused on our SUPER TINY en suite bathroom.

(Do they call it “en suite” because they hope the fancy French wording will make you forget that it’s barely larger than a closet? That’s probably just our house….)


Last summer, Husband and I painted the bathroom, which made a HUGE difference in my feelings toward this literal Water Closet.


Then, a couple of weeks ago, I accidentally realized I could remove the amber tint of the light fixture globes, and I liked this room a little bit more.

The biggest downfall to the smallest bathroom on the planet is, of course, storage. As in, we have almost zero. We have the tiniest bathroom cabinet known to man under our sink – it holds almost nothing – and the original medicine cabinet from when the house was built in 1961. That’s it.

In the years we’ve lived here, Husband has taken to storing bathroom supplies on the window sill. Mouthwash, shaving cream, toilet paper – everything. As you can imagine, it’s lovely to look at. And the view of that window from my back yard swing is equally beautiful. :)

So, a few weeks ago, when the storage situation was starting to drive me bonkers, I thought, WWID?

Yep. That’s “What Would IKEA Do?” Because when you think tiny bathrooms on a European size scale and very creative solutions to storage problems, you think IKEA.

Are you like me? Do you wander the aisles of IKEA and find solutions for problems you never knew you had? Do boxes and bins and hanging organizers miraculously jump from the displays and land in your insanely-difficult-to-maneuver IKEA shopping cart? Every single time?

I love IKEA. I really do. I  love spending a morning perusing the aisles. I love the free coffee. I even love the Swedish names of the products. (You thought I was going to say Swedish meatballs, didn’t you?)

(Side note: did you see this video of puns on names of IKEA items? Love it. So much.)

Well, IKEA showed me that my solution was a well-placed shelf. But it turned out IKEA didn’t have the correct size/style well-placed shelf, so I took my WWID inspiration to my local hardware store.

ace bracket

This isn’t rocket science, friends. It’s a board and some brackets. I wanted the board to be wide enough to hold roll of toilet paper. A Costco-sized roll. So I went with the 1×6 that was 4 feet long and a couple of very simple L-brackets.

I debated whether to put the shelf over the bathroom door or over the window. In the end, I went with the window because it allowed for a bit more storage space. I think it’s What IKEA Would Do.

After I (read: Husband) sawed off about an inch to make it fit, I sanded and painted the board and the brackets the same color as the walls in hopes of making the shelf disappear, visually.


The Girl offered to help me sand in between coats. Can I tell you that she HONESTLY is a better sander than I am?? She is much more patient, and she’s more meticulous. (The Boy helped find the right screws when it came time to attach it to the wall. It was a full team effort.)


We hung the shelf last weekend. And I’m thrilled. Cutting the clutter from the window sill makes this tiny room feel more open and light.


I can still see the multiple bottles of mouthwash way up there, but they just don’t bother me when they aren’t blocking the window.

And that papier toilette de costco has a lovely new home as well.

C’est vrai! Everthing does sound better in French!