Craft skillzzzzz

You guys, normally I am so not crafty.

I am crafty with words, yes. However, if you were to give me a few popsicle sticks, some feathers and some glue, I would do the following:
– Chew on the popsicle stick on account of I sucked my thumb for a while when I was a kid, therefore have the residual oral fixation and now chew on pen tops, straws etc. and also don’t be gross, OK. It’s a thing. Look it up. Psychology, people.
– Run my fingers along the feathers. They’re soft!
– Not even touch the glue.

Therefore, no craft made, and also maybe a gnawed up popsicle stick or two.

Thanks to Pinterest, however, and people making it look oh-so-easy to do things, I decided to be a little brave when it came time for wedding shower gifts for my ladies getting married this summer.

I saw this thing on Pinterest one day – it looked simple enough. It involved a piece of wood, nails and string. How hard could it be, right? Because people only share things on Pinterest that can be easily recreated….

My history with being crafty and talented with things that aren’t related to my job and hobbies hasn’t been great. Remember when my mom wondered where she’d gone wrong? Or when I had the most nerve-wracking painting experience of my life?

Things weren’t looking good for this outing to Craft World, but I was determined. And determination will get you everywhere in life. Except to a job as Robert Downey Jr.’s assistant/towel girl/ladyfriend. Trust me, I’ve tried.

If this were a blog that involved crafts more often, here’s where you’d get a step-by-step breakdown of the process, a la Young House Love or something. But we are still new at this over here at On Account Of so I’ll instead give you a brief description.

My friend Stephanie helped me find the wood at Home Depot. Or was it Lowe’s? I forget. Problem number 1.

I didn’t even know what kind would work best. I don’t know differences in wood. I know there’s like, plywood, hardwood, oak, 2x4s…shit, I’m just throwing things out there. Yes. I’m a stereotypical girl in that way. Sue me.

Then we bought nails. And string.

With our print-outs of the outlines of two states (Kentucky and Tennessee, where my brides be at), my associate Stephanie and I (she was recruited based on her prior experience with this craft and because she enjoys my company) got to work.

First you hammer little holes in the wood along the outline, like you would if you were carving a pumpkin. Once the holes are all in, you remove the outline and hammer the nails in the pre-made holes.

Once the nails are all in place, you freehand a heart over the city, if you’re fancy. Or you draw one on a piece of paper if you’re like me and need more direction. Trace that puppy with the nails, hammer them in and then you’re ready for stringing.

The whole process hurts your fingers like a mofo by the time you’re done, so I broke it up into a few different nights each time, or as I told the brides-to-be, “Three episodes of Justified.” (Good show, by the way. Mr. Olyphant? Yum.)

They all turned out pretty great, I think, and the girls were all excited to receive them, which makes it all worthwhile.

Below I’ve collected about as much as you’ll possibly get of the process from a visual standpoint, including wedding shower reactions. The only absence is one from Ashley when she got hers because it wasn’t at a wedding shower and I was too excited to take a picture. But the picture I have here I think sums up her reaction best.

All-in-all, a fun little crafty thing I managed to not screw up and my girls and I all are happy with the results and that’s what matters.

Now don’t go expecting to see any other crafts as awesome as these for a while. I’m still recovering.

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In case you needed another reason

Newsflash. I cannot find the charger for my camera battery. I found A camera charger, but it’s the wrong one, leading me to think mine might be somewhere I can’t go back to (cougholdjobcoughcough) or somewhere in the abyss that is my room/closet/car..

The best thing to do at this juncture would probably be to get a new camera.

One such as this:

Just sayin’.

Go shawty, it’s your birthday

Yesterday I turned 26. I don’t feel all that old all the time, but it kind of comes in spurts. Like when I chaperoned a lock in for middle and high schoolers at my church and the DJ played Blackstreet’s “No Diggity” and NONE OF THEM HAD EVER HEARD OF IT. Except of course, Baby Einstein, but Rach and I have made sure she’s cultured in the music and trends of the early to mid-1990s. That’s an older sister job. But still, how could these youth not know the song that, had I made a soundtrack representing my middle-school life, would be as high up on the mix tape as track 3 or 4? THE HUMANITY.

What was I saying? Oh. I had a birthday.

After 21 though, no age is really much different from the one before it, at least it doesn’t seem like it – ask me again when I’m 30 though..whoa. But I don’t really have anything to complain about as far as 25 goes. For me, 25 was a pretty good year. Went on some awesome trips, moved into a new apartment, bought a new car and made some pretty big changes that have continued to work out well. I’m assuming, hopefully, that 26 will be just as awesome, if not better.

It sure started great. Even though it was on a Monday – instead of Thunder or Easter like it has been in the past – it was a decent Monday. Started my day at Starbucks and got flowers at work, which was nice. Then, I went to lunch with my editor and throughout the day got lots of Facebook love (my friends are great). Dinner was PF Chang’s and then we did cake – cheesecake in my case, I don’t like regular cake at all – and opened presents. I already knew what I was getting for the most part, my family is going to see Wicked in May and since I didn’t/don’t really need anything else at the moment, I asked my parents to just go ahead and buy my ticket for me.

So, I’ve asked that they sing “Happy Birthday” to me again while we are in our seats waiting for the show to start. No one will look at us like we’re crazy, right?

Also, I got some gift cards, and let me tell you, that is one of the best presents ever. I’ll be spending some time at Half Price Books, Target, Barnes and Noble, McAlister’s and on Amazon.com in the next few weeks thanks to my awesome family and roommate.

We capped off the night at my parents’ house talking about our fears. I won’t name names, but someone feels like she’s suffocating if her ears are covered. Someone else is just as afraid of whales as sharks because you could just be swimming along and all of the sudden you see a giant whale mouth underneath you. Also, sharks can get to lakes. And boats, bears and tight spaces are no fun at all. Did I mention my family watches “I Shouldn’t Be Alive” a lot here lately?

So yeah. I like 26 so far. And it can only get better, right? 🙂

Thanks for all the birthday wishes, friends!!

25. CHRISTMAS

In 13 minutes, Christmas will be over. No more presents, no more Christmas music. I’m watching Christmas Vacation (third time in the past two weeks) on TV right now, taking full advantage of these last few minutes of this holiday. I’m unpacking my presents and thinking back on what an awesome day it was today.

Last night, of course, was Christmas Eve, where we took part in our annual tradition of getting together downstairs between services to snack and catch up – us old youth group members – and as usual we had a good time and laughed way too much. We even invited the pastor to come down and visit, it’s tradition. Then we went to the third of three services my church holds Christmas Eve.

This morning, we got up at 9 a.m. to open presents as a family. I got some awesome stuff, including a spa package, DVD player and new iHome-type alarm clock. Everyone got great stuff. Then the grandparents and my aunt, uncle and cousin came over to open presents and eat breakfast. We went to my other Grandma’s this afternoon for dinner and more presents and watched (500) Days of Summer – a great movie I highly recommend you see.

Now, I’m home, back in my apartment, unpacking my gifts and thinking about how thankful I am for all that I have. I am grateful for an amazing family, awesome friends and so many other great things. I am truly blessed and that’s what I’m happiest about this Christmas.

I hope all of you had great Christmases too – and thanks so much for reading!

We now resume regular posting.

23. Anticipation

The whole month of December is one big build-up to a one-day(ish) payoff. Starting the day after Thanksgiving – earlier than that even, for some – all people are concerned with are getting ready for Christmas, which is the reason I’m going to shop online next year.

Think about it though. All people are worried about are getting this done by Christmas or before Christmas or whatever. Then the actual day comes and it’s over so quick.

But there’s something about the anticipation, especially today, the 23rd. It’s so close to Christmas, but there’s still two days. Places are still open, because it’s not yet Christmas Eve. But it’s also time to wrap presents, because there’s stuff to do tomorrow and the day after that is Christmas. I’m excited to get presents, of course, but I’m more excited to give them. I look most forward to my family opening the presents I bought for them and seeing if they like them. I think I did a pretty good job this year.

I like the anticipation. I like getting ready for Christmas Eve and Christmas. I’m excited for church tomorrow night – I LOVE LOVE LOVE our candlelight service at 10:30 and before the service starts when my friends and fellow old school youth group-ers meet downstairs for snacks/dinner. But more on that tomorrow. Tonight, there’s stuff to be done. And stuff to be excited about. Because TOMORROW’S CHRISTMAS EVE!

20. Family

Today, as is tradition every year on the weekend before Christmas, my family had their annual Christmas party. There’s always a TON of food – and by ton I mean RIDICULOUS AMOUNTS – and we do a white elephant gift exchange. This year there were 30 people that had to steal presents from each other and fight for the best one.

I got a Darth Vader Mr. Potato Head and Juno on DVD. Some people got candy, hot chocolate, lottery tickets and my cousin got a Snuggie. I purchased a Bump-It for the exchange, which ended up going to one of my male cousins, who’s a freshman in high school. Ha.

I love my family. A lot. I have a big family on both sides – mom’s the youngest of six and dad’s the oldest of seven so lots of aunts, uncles, cousins – and am very lucky to be close with both sides. My dad’s side all lives in town so we see them more often and we have several big get-togethers during the year. Christmas is one of my favorites, because unlike Derby and some other smaller parties, it’s one of the times you know for sure that everyone in the whole family will be there. And with the exception of one of my cousins, tonight, everyone was there.

We took part in our new annual tradition of splitting into groups and singing 12 Days of Christmas. Each group gets a different day and we all take turns, of course. Last night my cousin Caitlin, my sister’s boyfriend, Chuckie and I were number 7. After we realized everyone was assigning different objects to their number – like Six Degrees to Kevin Bacon, Five Kings Burping, to which my youngest cousin, Kaleb added a little burp every time – we made ours 7 Single Ladies and did a very short version of the Beyonce dance to that song. It usually results in lots and lots of laughing, some pretty impressive creativity and about five minutes of voice warm-ups, preparation and organizing.

It’s my new favorite Christmas tradition at the family party and it gets funnier every year. And one of several of my favorite memories of my grandpa – who passed away last summer – is from that sing-a-long. The first year we did it, he and my cousin Aaron, who’s the next oldest after me, were day 10, I think. They sang “10 Lords-A-Leaping,” I think, and the best part was that every time it got to them, they sang in a very, very low voice and held their arms out like opera singers.

Like I said, I love my family. I love that we have fun together. I love that we play games like Taboo with almost 20 people involved. I love that I am lucky enough to have such a great group of people in my life. I could go on and on and on and on but it’s late and I have a Survivor finale to finish.

Seriously though. They’re awesome. And they’re my favorite every time of year, of course. But there’s something about having a group of more than 30 people who care about you that you get to spend so much time with and not mind at all that makes it great enough to be on this little list.

17. Online shopping

Yesterday in the mail I got a Christmas present I ordered for someone this year. And that, my friends, is why I like online shopping.

I have never taken advantage of Cyber Monday – and I’ve only tried Black Friday once, no thank you – but can see why people do it. In fact, I plan on buying several of my presents that way next year. With just a couple clicks on Amazon.com, or whichever Web site has the gift I need, my Christmas shopping is done – or close to it. I don’t have to fight a crowd or navigate Louisville’s roads during this time of year, both of which I hate.

Sometimes you can get stuff gift-wrapped before they send it, but due to an unfortunate incident when wedding presents were ordered and I payed for gift-wrapping services once from Target.com, I’m hesitant to ever pay for that online ever again.

And, with sites like Amazon.com, you can find exactly what you want. Meanwhile, if you go to a store, you’re stuck looking forever, fighting past people and probably asking someone that works there where the item is, when most of the time they have no idea.

So, yeah. I like my shopping like I like my trips to the dentist – quick and painless. The best way to do that is to go online. I love it.

Thank God for the Internet.

14. White elephant gift exchanges

I’m sitting in my living room staring at the back of a life-size cut out of Adam Sandler from “You Don’t Mess With the Zohan.” It was a gift someone brought to our Christmas party as part of our gift exchange – we did a white elephant swap.

If you live under a rock and have no idea what I’m talking about, a white elephant gift exchange – at least in our family – is where people get to pick a present, then the next person can pick a new one or steal one from someone that’s already been picked. This goes on until everybody has a present. We started doing presents this way a while ago with my dad’s side of the family and it’s been pretty fun. I have gotten a five-pound bag of M&Ms and other random things like that.

White elephant exchanges are just fun because you don’t know what present you’re gonna get – which you can say about any other type of gift exchange, but I think the fact that there’s kind of a game with it makes it even more fun.

Our family’s party is this weekend and we have to get a gift to exchange. I have no idea what I’m going to take. That Zohan cutout is looking like a possibility..

13. Making lists

I love making lists. As I told my roommate last week, you can wake me up in the middle of the night if you need help making a list of something.

I guess it’s the OCD and perfectionist in me, but I think making lists are sometimes the best way to help you get done what you need to get done. Take this weekend for example. I made three lists for our trip to get ready for our Christmas party. And we got everything we need to – except orange juice, had to go back out for that.

Christmas is a time for some lists. Besides our party planning lists, I’ve made a list for my family of presents I’d like (before you call me greedy, you need to know there are three things on that list – a massage, a new Bo Sox hat and a DVD player); a list of the presents I need to get for people; things I need to get for the parties I’m going to.

If you’ve read this blog at all, you know how much I like lists, so this is not new information for you. And it’s not necessarily just something I like about Christmas-time. I like lists any time of the year, it’s just at Christmas, there’s so many more that need to be made.

You can call me a nerd if you want. It’s true.