Christmas Presents

Every day we learn survival skills. Every day we apply the same principle to humanity. Like caring for your friends and family wherever they are or will be in the future.

a year ago

Latest Post 30 years and counting by Victoria Esposito public

I know what you are thinking... It's not Halloween yet! And in normal times you would be right on the skull. But nowadays things are different, for example when I thought of making my own iPad stand, who would ever think that a total number of strangers would have advocated for Steven, a kind soul of the NW that they never met, they don't know who he's with the exception of the reference made in some of the posts!

This all journey has been a surprise, when we created the site originally it was just a handful of friends visiting, then we hit a hiccup with the move and we slowed down the blogging until we figured how to proceed in accordance with our new life and locals unwritten rules. And for quite some time the traffic toward the site was very low. But we didn't stop and kept editing and posting our life moments as we have always done before. Two months ago we crossed the 1200 daily users and mostly from the Pacific Northwest. Last night we have to wash our faces a couple of times to make sure that we were not dreaming. As we officially entered 3540 active users, 89 paid subscribers, and one sponsorship in the discussion!

What has become even more of a surprise is the fact that Steven's iPad stand, has pushed us to create an Etsy store account where we now sell those iPad stands, custom made to order. Steven doesn't plan to use it because he's honest but we are still making it because we love him very regardless. Like the rest of our NW crew.

When we built the first one, we didn't think we would ever sell even one, including to our family members because we thought "who would care?". Not to mention the fear of ending up as Microsoft Zune.

Then one day while I am returning from my night walk, I hear a screaming lady "you won't believe what just happened!". That screaming lady being the WIF-I lady of the house and the news was that someone from Oklahoma, had read that post forwarded by a friend of her and she ordered one stand for her husband Jim that was returning from a deployment in the middle east.

After checking, no it is not spam. Yes, the credit card is valid and money has been received, sending a request for the engraving details and promptly receiving an answer, plus lots of compliments on the content of the site... we were in for business!

As I write this post, we made 39 unique stands! To the point that we purchased a dust collector for the heavy-duty tools we use. This effort has become a little business that we might expand to other custom things we learn to make.

This project all started with the idea of "let's make some unique Christmas presents to bring back to Seattle".

Every creation starts with a Kiawe tree branch.

Find the right log

We cut the piece to size, polish it for milling and then start shaping it via multiple tools. Here is how we built Steven's.

Cut the log

This type of tree has a wonderful mahogany look and they are unique for their curvatures and shades. The hardest part is to find something as straight as possible.

Cut the Pinocchio

Based on the size of the tablet, the most request seems to be for the 12" type, as they say, size matter... the log is cut to size and then clean up with an ax.


Once the bumps, the bark, and everything else that can affect the making of the next piece of love in your home or hands are removed, it's time to slice and dice the log for having a butter-like log. And you know that whatever you cook, butter is that element one that starts everything. This is the part of the process that is the most tedious because the branch has bumps and cutting it straight requires lots of experience and a few Italian words from the time that Italy sailed a lot.

the back of the stand stays the same as the log was found while the other three sides of the butter cube are shaped to fit and needed.

After that is time to cut the slot where the tablet sits. It has to be cut at an angle that allows good viewership while seating next to it or in front of it.

Chisel away my boy

Then with a chisel, the cutout is removed and the base smoothed but not enough to make it look industrial, the general sentiment behind the making of those pieces is to mix nature and modern in a mix that feels just like any Apple product, gives you good vibes.

deep thinking mode aka "I hope I don't fuck it up"
thoughts: wow, I didn't actually f-up


At this point, it's time to remove the top skin layer, for some logs, not all have the same structure. Sometimes they have a film of very soft wood (yellow color) that would deteriorate over time. We remove it so that we get close to expose the dark core.

then it is time to sand and spit. Mostly sanding though 😄

based on the order we cut the semi-final product at the size of the request/tablet. In the case of Steven, during our regular stay in touch phone call, I asked what he had recently bought from Apple.

Then we make the cut for the charging cable or as some customers called it "the spot" - I will be honest that when I read it the first time, I had not realized the reference was: the spot on the pad. When I kept seeing customers pointing that line I had to ask and someone finally brought it to life for us. #weird

Some orders request extra support for either the center front or the back. Typically the back extra support is for people that have large cases and the front support is for folks that prefer a smaller ratio of the butter log.

I keep calling it the butter log and now all I can think is food...

best Japanese cheap saw ever

I cut those supports using a Japanese saw and sometimes the wood is so hard that it requires some extra mighty power...  My friend Deborah from Sicily used to train me for Barre and I find that now those efforts are paying off 😄

Check her on Instagram

After that much workout, the notch is done. Steven's stand has a special design because the notch is foldable. I am not showing what it looks like since it is a Christmas surprise and he will have to act surprised at least on something  🤪

When it is all polished a finished, I look for spots where some special can be added and where to place our branding.

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that is if your companion remembers to hit the record button

Steven's Edition

He said he won't be using it because he has already spent top dollars for an Apple magnetic stand keyboard but will that marvel of made in China, designed in California he bought have his MTBiker nickname epoxyed into it?! NO, IT WOULDN'T because Apple doesn't go in the woods to find branches for Steven, that's why!!

I normally use bitmoji but since it's an iPad thingy I am using memoji...#nerdmoment

Some orders come with very strange requests, however, some come with very interesting add-ons. Jason from New Jersey requested to keep the blocks be cut from the external sides of the original block. When I asked why he wanted that, he said "when I zoom they see my big chin. I want it to stay higher but not all the time".

Genius Jason!

I used it for reading the news while I have breakfast on the deck but the more we make of those the more I learn so many more use that people do with these types of accessories. One order recent is for "bathroom holding" that is going to be super fun to make 😁

For our visit back home for Christmas we are planning to make unique pieces, no, not all iPad stands, something original for everyone to experience made of the wood in our nearby woods. Something to hold in their loved spot, toss in the fire in case of emergency, or trade as a White Elephant gift. No matter what they will do with it, our love will travel along, and all those hours spent in crafting will be someone's inspiration and treasure. bLife has no boundaries and no definition but happiness as a foundation.

More stands to go...

The beauty of nature is inside of us and often we don't even see it. Who would ever think that an ugly log, cracked and apparently destined to rot in the red iron dust would hold inside this level of beauty? And that one day would bring the greatest of its history and its people around the world!

on the left the rest of the branch. On the right is the milled part.
more pieces collected for future projects
Mario Esposito

Published a year ago