Thursday, November 24, 2011

i'm thankful for

Today I am thankful for my family. The family that is so giving that they have graciously allowed me to spend this holiday with the one I love and his family (I promise we'll be with you next year!) I'm also very thankful to have a partner in crime whose family is so welcoming and loving that they make me feel that I've been a member of the family for years.

I'm thankful for the cold weather of Atlanta that makes it perfectly acceptable to sport a rust-colored blazer and cozy plaid scarf (this is not so appropriate attire in the frustratingly-warm November weather of Florida.) I'm thankful for the vibrant colors of the fallen leaves that remind me of childhood Thanksgiving trips up to North Carolina. I am thankful for laughter and wine and dessert, and for the precious pup that has officially turned me into a "dog person."

But most of all this year, I'm thankful for the people around me that have encouraged me to consistently follow my dreams. I've certainly made some big moves in the past year, but life is simply too short not to take risks. It's also too short not to grab seconds, which is why I'm thankful for the comfy leather couches that will await me after what I expect to be a food-coma-inducing, pant-unbuttoning, deliriously scrumptious meal. (I'm also thankful for the Sadler women who are far more domestic than me and who manage to whip up the most delicious food I've ever tasted every time I eat with them. God bless them for their patience with my rudimentary entertaining skills.)

Lastly, I'm thankful for you all reading this, because your comments and words of support keep me writing - something that makes me infinitely happy, as it turns out. I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving with your family or friends, and let us all be mindful of the many things we are thankful for.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

the adventure begins

Remember that whole blog post about following happiness wherever it leads? Yeah... well low and behold, here I am, in the midst of its pesky grasp.

Today is an awesome day because I'm beginning a new adventure in my life. Again. (Yeah, when I told you I had life ADD, I really wasn't kidding.) It's a move that I've made with many weeks of careful consideration and contemplation, and one that many of you may not understand (or even agree with.) However, for those of you that have been reading this lil blog from the beginning, it's probably clear to you that I value happiness and creativity above all else, and this move is one that will allow me to maximize both.

As of today I will be joining to help manage client relations and marketing strategy in 2012.

Now you may be scratching your head. Yes, this is the company that my boyfriend, Jason Sadler, started in 2009. And yes, this is the same boyfriend that I live with. And yes, I'm aware that it is a scenario that has the potential to be absolutely disastrous.

But I don't think it will be, and here's why.

Before I ever knew Jason Sadler the person, I knew IWearYourShirt (IWYS) the company. You could even say I fell in love with the business long before I ever fell in love with the man behind the business. When I first heard of IWYS, I was president of our advertising club, Ad Society, at the University of Florida in early 2010. I've been passionate about advertising and marketing since my freshman year of college (though my parents could argue it's been longer as I was making up silly commercials and jingles from the time I was young.) I've also been passionate about social media since around that time. I think the constant evolution of both advertising and social media lends itself well to my restless attention span. Anyway, I remember hearing about Jason's idea and being completely intrigued. I truly believe he's pioneering a new form of advertising where it becomes less about what companies want to say about themselves, and more about what people want to tell their peers about a company.

As I became friends with Jason, somewhere along the line we began a personal relationship. Because of that relationship, I've been able to see first-hand what it takes to run IWYS behind the scenes. I've been lucky enough to help out on everything from strategy and brainstorming to even some design and administrative stuff. But honestly, I was always a little sad that I wasn't able to do more. Having a full-time job as a Social Media Manager took up quite a chunk of my time (as those things called "jobs" tend to do... ugh) so I never felt that I was able to help the business as much as I wanted to. Until now.

I feel a little bit like the luckiest girl in the world because I've always wanted to be a part of a company where every ounce of my hard work is being poured into something where I can see the benefits directly. I am so passionate about this idea, this company, and especially all of the community members and friends that Jason and his team have managed to acquire. While I've always felt a close connection to that community, now I finally get to spend the time interacting with it that I've always wanted. Like I said, luckiest girl in the world.

Jason and I both know that this is unknown territory. It's impossible to keep the line between personal and professional completely clear, but we are committed to doing our best. We both respect each other's opinions, and in this new professional capacity, I definitely respect him as the boss. At the end of the day it's his company and I just want to do everything I can to help it succeed. (Not gonna lie though, I'll make sure he remembers that when we're "at home" he most certainly is not the boss. :) )

Anyway, thank you to my family, Jason's family, my friends and the IWYS community members that have expressed their support. I'm the happiest I can be when I'm doing what I love, and this is proof of the fact that I truly do follow my heart wherever it takes me. It's simply who I am.

Now with that said, if you'll excuse me, I've got to get to work.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

copycraft: scrabble coasters

There was a time when I would have considered myself a formidable Scrabble opponent. I had this English teacher in 10th grade that would whip out her 12 or so Scrabble sets a few times a year and we'd all play instead of reading from whatever the archaic assigned novel was. And I'm here to tell you, when it came to Scrabble days, I whooped butt. I mean like, I seriously thought that Scrabble was my calling in life.

Now I realize that this is coming off a little full of myself (a substantial departure from my typical, and preferred  self-deprecating humor.) However, I find it important to mention just how hot to trot (yep, I just used that phrase) I thought I was because it proves more entertaining later in the story.

Enter one Jason Sadler.

When Jason and I first started dating, I can remember one specific night that we had gone out on a dinner date and returned back to his house to hang out. We sat on the couch and I asked him what he wanted to do, suggesting maybe a movie. To my surprise, instead he asked if I wanted to take him on in Scrabble.

Now, all you women out there, let me take you through what was going on in my head. My brain: "Scrabble? Why yes... I'd love to play a game where I can be playfully competitive while also demonstrating my expansive vocabulary. I must warn you though, I suspect that after I beat you, you'll simultaneously respect me for my intelligence and find yourself irresistibly attracted to me for my ability to challenge you on an intellectual level. Just know that you've been warned..." 

I'm just saying, this is legitimately what I thought. Okay, so maybe I didn't think this was my shot to win him forever, but at the very least I thought it was my chance to impress him. I mean, this was my calling. So you can imagine what happened next, right?

He kicked my ass.

And pretty much has been kicking my ass every time we've played since. Unknown to me, apparently it's been a family tradition for him since he was like five. His mom has been playing with him since he could read, and the whole family is seriously a group of Scrabble savants. They know all the two and three letter words, and every time I try to call Jason on one of his ridiculous plays, he retorts by spouting off the definition of the obscure word he's playing verbatim. (In case you were wondering, yes, "ixia" is a word, and it's a plant native to South Africa. And so is "qaid." One of the few q-letter words without a "u" in it. It's an alternate spelling for "caid." Which is a bird. Seriously, people, he could go on for days!)

Anyway, the point is that I thought I loved Scrabble, but I was wrong. The Sadlers LOVE Scrabble, and especially Jason. I've been wanting to make some Scrabble coasters for him forever, and this weekend I finally got the chance. Here's my inspiration photo:

It's an extremely simple project, and if you're a board game fan, I definitely recommend some version on this project. We bought two Scrabble sets for $10 each, and decided to do one set with letters and one set using the board itself. (Big shoutout to Kim for helping me cut the game board. Lord knows with my clumsy ways I could have easily hurt myself!)

With not alot of supplies, one might think
I'd keep the table relatively clean...
Quick cameo by Kim's hands. FYI, cutting the game board
is probably the hardest part of this craft.
For the tiled ones I simply hot-glued the tiles onto squares we pre-cut out of the game board. For the board ones, I hot glued them on top of some cork squares to give it some sturdiness. For both, I simply painted a layer of Paper Glaze over and it gives it a protective coat while also giving it a kind of shiny, finished look. I especially love the finish on the board coasters because they almost look like ceramic tiles.

We picked out our own letters clearly.

This is the one we did with a little space in between the letters.
 Looks less "perfect" but lays flatter. 

Ohhhh.... Shiny......

They look like little tiles. Love em! 

Two sets of four each!
I think the game board coasters are especially cute as a gift for someone using whatever their favorite board game is. My only recommendation is that you glue the letters down with a little space in between because we tried it both ways -- both with space and without -- and the ones without kind of bowed up a little bit once the glaze dried.

Hope you guys like them, and feel free to comment below with your favorite board game, or maybe your favorite obscure Scrabble word!

By the way, one would think I couldn't make a mess.
And one would be wrong.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

spreading the (blog) love

Funny story about starting this blog. I probably worked on the layout/look of it for over two weeks before I ever wrote a single word. (You have no idea how indicative this is of my personality.) When I finally sat down to write, I was so unsure of what I wanted to say that I think it took me like three days to publish the first post. THEN, it took me a couple posts after that to work up the courage to tell people I had even started a blog.

The point is, this is my little piece of the world. It's personal, it's important. So when it finally hit me that people were reading (and what's more, actually enjoying) what I had to say, it was incredible. I get so much joy from sharing my life with you guys and showing you what crafty little things I cook up. And I couldn't be more grateful for those of you that comment with your feedback and encouragement.

Which brings me to the purpose of this post. A friend of mine, Aubrey, that I worked with at my first job in Durham, North Carolina, has bestowed upon me and my little blog a wonderful honor called the Liebster Blog Award. For the meaning of the award, I'll take it straight from Aubrey herself. (Lord knows I'm an expert at getting things lost in translation.) 
"The Liebster Blog Award is given to an up and coming blogger who has less than 200 followers. Liebster is a German word meaning dear, sweet, kind, nice, good, beloved, lovely, kindly, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcomeTo keep this award going, pass the award along to 5 other new deserving bloggers who have less than 200 followers."

The rules for the Liebster Blog Award are:
1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
2. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love, too!

I can't tell you what an awesome surprise it was to have Aubrey mention me as one of her 5 Liebster Blogs. Hopefully I can keep writing and keep this blog worthy of such an honor! That said, I'm now excited to pass this award on and tell you about some of my favorite blogs. But first I'd like to thank Aubrey and tell you about her little spot on the internet.

Aubrey is one of the few from NC that I have stayed in contact with (thanks mostly to Blogger and Twitter), and she's one of those people that just seems to enjoy life and live it to the fullest. She's got a great sense of humor and her home-making skillzz definitely have me taking notes. If you like food, crafts, and adorable slice-of-life posts filled with humor and charm, check out her blog, Those Darn Eckersons. Oh, and she's got a pretty hilarious husband too, and they are too cute for words. Thanks, again Aubrey!

Now on to my 5 Liebster Blogs!

Young Alumni / Sierra Kelly

Sierra and I went to school together at the University of Florida and were both in the advertising club there. She is AMAZINGLY creative and her blog is what mine wants to be when it grows up. She posts regularly (even daily, I think) and has a wistfully romantic and effortless writing style. I admire her discipline in continuing to exercise her creativity and I'm hoping I get to see her later this year when Jas and I head down to West Palm Beach. Check out her blog for amazing photographs, great recipes, and beautifully written posts you can get lost in.

Pink Kale / Margaret Kelsey

Margaret is one of my best friends from college. In fact, I would go as far to say that she's the one friend I met in college that I feel like "gets me" the most. She has an old soul at times like me and a thirst for adventure that I totally relate to. Her blog is mainly focused on delicious recipes (she treats food like an art form, which it totally is), but more recently it has been about her cross-country road trip with her equally adventurous boyfriend, Chet. She doesn't get to post all that often, but when she does, it's totally worth it. I love her to death and her blog is one that inspired me to start my own.

Carbohydrates and Conjugations / Allison Markow

I've actually never met Allison in person. Her husband and my boyfriend, Jason, met in the Austin airport two years ago and have become great friends. It's amazing how you can feel a friendship or connection with someone without ever really talking in real life. I think she started her blog around the same time I started mine, and I always enjoy reading her posts. The thing I love about her writing is that it is 100% real. She tells it like it is and pours her heart out honestly in her writing whether she's feeling worried, inspired, funny, (or hungry! The girl loves great food and I like that about her too!) Allison and her husband, Jason, are coming down to hang with us in December so I can't wait to chat her up and talk about bloggy things... and maybe have her teach me a thing or two in the kitchen!

Incantare / Bridget Kennedy

So... I technically haven't met Bridget in real life either. (I SWEAR I leave my house. Swear.) But again, she's one of those people that I feel like I know already. I pretty much enjoy anything she tweets about and I like to live vicariously through her adventures in advertising in Chicago (love that city.) One of these days Jas and I will head up to the Windy City and Bridget and I will talk celebrity gossip and ad strategy over a couple of cocktails, but until then I'll continue enjoying her blog.

Muses Fled / Aliera Peterson

Aliera and I work together at the Dalton Agency, both as Social Media Managers. Before ever meeting, we were casual Twitter friends, and after working together for almost a year, I can honestly say she's one of the most interesting people I know. She has so many different interests, bits of knowledge, stories to tell. Her blog is relatively new but I have no doubt it will soon be filled with an array of different things. She's a great writer and has super eclectic taste - social media, comics, anime, art, literature, science fiction, fantasy, video games, and crafts to name a few - so if you check out her blog there's no doubt you'll find something unexpected.

Well those are my five and I look forward to what each of these people have to say every time a post goes up. I hope all of you will check out their blogs, and I hope they continue to pass along this award to let their readers know about their favorite blogs! Enjoy!

Monday, October 31, 2011

where happiness leads

Can you boil down your entire sense of self and outlook on life into one single sentence? Is there one driving force in your life that ultimately leads you in each of your life-altering decisions?

Think about it. It's pretty hard to shave it down to just one thing, right?

Well, given my indecisive personality and the fact that common self-evaluating tasks like "describing myself in three words" give me unimaginable amounts of anxiety, this would seem like an impossible task for me too. However, I was thinking the other day just how hilariously ironic it is that when it comes to this one thing - my personal motto - I have somehow managed to develop a very strong, singular position over the course of my life thus far. (Seriously, it's the ONLY thing I can decide on when it comes to who I am.)

If there exists such a thing as a life mantra, mine is this: Where happiness leads, I follow.

Seems a little silly, I know, as pretty much anyone would admit that they aim to follow their happiness. I mean who would really choose to be unhappy, right? Well silly as it may be, and obvious though it seems, it really is the one thing that I find constant in the many twists and turns my life has taken thus far.

You can ask my close friends and family, and without a doubt they will agree, personal happiness is the one guiding principle that ultimately determines where my life's path will veer. It's not financial gain, not social approval, not even long-term success.

I've made some interesting decisions in my life thus far, decisions that not a lot of people understood at the time I was making them. Ending relationships, switching jobs, taking certain opportunities while passing up others, choosing to order the peanut butter cheesecake despite my near-state of a food-induced coma (That last one I'm sure plenty of you out there understand.)

Decisions like these have never been easy - in fact many of them have caused me sleepless nights of worrying and wondering. That worry, of course, can be blamed on my sense of pragmatism and logic. (Mom, I swear it exists.) But each time I've encountered a fork in the road in my life, I take a step back and silently listen to my heart. In most cases, it becomes clear to me that it has already decided for me. Which path will make me happier than I am right now? Whatever the answer, that's where I let life take me. I believe that no matter what the future beyond that point holds, I'll never look back and regret a decision I made knowing that it was going to make me happier. I just won't. And that's why I trust this one solitary mantra above all other guiding principles.

Now some people may not agree that this is a great way to build a life that will be full and plentiful down the road. And to that, I'd have to say that I agree. But I decided a while ago that basing my life on what might be down the road if I just "put in my time now" is a surefire way to be miserable. And who really wants to be miserable? Not this girl.

I've heard it said that people are afraid of being truly happy. I don't buy that. Nobody wants to be unhappy. What I do believe, though, is that people are terribly afraid of the risks that it takes to pursue their happiness. Maybe it's fear of giving up the stability of a normal job, or it could be fear of disrupting your life and routine to end a relationship that isn't right. Or maybe it's just the simple fear of the unknown. There are always barriers to happiness and most of these can be attributed to comfort. But hey, it's no crime to want to stay in your comfort zone.

Here's the funny thing I'm learning about myself though: my comfort zone is breaking out of my comfort zone. (Sorry to go all Inception/Chinese proverb on you, but it's true.) I find myself thriving when I'm pushed beyond my comfort level, beyond my routine, beyond stability, which is where I hope to always find myself. The more I think about my future, the more I want to make an adventure of my life - whatever that might mean.

Call me an idealist. Or call me young and naive (it's fine, I get it all the time.) But I accept those words as compliments because they are the things that continue to make me strive for the ideal, to push beyond what is accepted and what is complacent. As cheesy as it may sound, I truly believe that nothing can stop me from creating the life I see for myself in my dreams. And one day, hopefully many, many years from now, I will look back on the whole of my life and smile, knowing that every crazy thing I did and every seemingly nonsensical move I made, was all in the name of a simple thing called happiness.

Photo Credit

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

hey fall, thanks for showing up

Being a Florida resident has its seasonal downfalls. For instance, sometimes the date on the calendar has a tendency to be at odds with the temperature in the air. This would occur when it's, oh, say, 94 degrees in the middle of October. Don't get me wrong, I'm immensely grateful that I don't have to wrap myself in twelve layers of wool to walk to work in the morning, but still... a couple of leaves on the ground and a brisk chill in the air wouldn't hurt anyone.

Which is why I was extremely excited when we got our first real cold weather of the season a few weeks ago, and I've had fall on the brain ever since.

Fall has to be my favorite season. There's so much to look forward to. It conjures up all these warm, rich memories for me: football gamedays, family roadtrips to the Carolinas for Thanksgiving, and comfort foods. One of my favorite feelings in the world is when the air is cool but the sun is at its peak, shining on everything. It creates the most magically comfortable temperature in the world and it makes me itch to spend all my time outside. Let's also not forget how much fun it is to wear fall clothing (I mean I've been practically begging every weekend for an appropriate temperature to bust out my fall scarf collection.)

Anyway, last weekend we participated in what I think is the first ceremonial ritual of the fall season: pumpkin carving. It's the first time I've actually carved a pumpkin as an adult and had a front door of my own to place it in front of, so I was pretty excited.

Jason, his sister Kim, and I went last Saturday morning to a local pumpkin patch to pick out our pumpkin canvases. Of course I had to pick out one of the biggest, heaviest ones that I could find. (Thankfully I managed to convince Jas to carry it back to the car for me. I seriously thought I was going to have to roll it.)

Kimble with her awesome pumpkin! 
This pumpkin is in fact quite large, but apparently it
dwarves in comparison to a 6'5" gorilla-handed man.
(That's not a derogatory comment, his hands are seriously
the same size as the gorilla hand prints at the zoo.) 
The whole way home I was trying to think of what I wanted to carve. I looked through some of the templates that were in the book that came with our carving tools, but nothing really struck my fancy. In the end I just decided I would do something free-handed and see where it took me. I had seen a pumpkin before with the word "boo" and I thought that was cute/simple enough that I could start there and experiment with the rest. I also wanted to play around with the whole "shaving" technique because I love designs with the lighter color orange and the darker orange.

The part that I had apparently blocked out of my memory was scooping out the gross innards of the pumpkins. I'm not going to lie, I was a bit of baby at first. (Sorry, but it's the gooiest, grossest feeling EVER to scoop out stringy pumpkin guts.) I will officially state, however, that Jason is quite possibly an even bigger baby than me when it comes to getting his hands dirty. Kim practically cleaned out his entire pumpkin before he'd even think about carving it. What a wuss.

Our command center

I pretty much had no idea where I was going from here.

Humble beginnings.
We had a great time with the whole thing, though. We listened to music, threatened to fling pumpkin guts at each other, cooked up some pumpkin seeds (delicious, by the way) and went out to eat after.

I think they turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself. I love Jason's shark, even if I am a little jealous that his is cooler than mine. I make myself feel better by saying mine was more "intricate." (Come on, free-handed flames deserve just a little bit of credit.) After we were finished, we set them up on the front stoop as the sun went down. We must have walked out there twelve times to admire our handy work in every shade of lighting.

Okay, fine, it's cool.
(Jason has been referring to it as "the shumpkin.")

Still in-process at that point...

Kim's haunted house!
Da crew.
Pumpkin carving is such a great tradition and it's one that I hope we'll continue. When Kim left to let the dogs out at her house and Jason and I were left alone, there was a moment amid my carving that I looked up and realized we were both just standing there, completely immersed in our carving, not saying a word. This is what happens when you put two creative people together and give them a project. It was one of those great moments I definitely took a step back and smiled to myself.

Anyway, I put some more in-process shots below and definitely be on the lookout for some more fall crafting. I fully intend to soak up every second of the season, and I can't wait for Thanksgiving to get here!

(I'd also like to let it be known that I'm continuing my relentless pursuit for something fall-ish to hang on our door. I kind of like the fact that Jason refuses to support a wreath because it forces me to get more creative. Let the creativity begin...)

Monday, October 17, 2011

copycraft: chevron wall mosaic

One of the first decorating footholds I nabbed in our house was creative control over the guest bathroom. (Yes, guest bathroom, this is how uncertain Jason was of my decorating eye at the time - he gave me literally the ONLY room in the house he had no reason to enter. Ever.) Still, I'm happy to have one room in our house of blended tastes where I can do whatever I want. 

When I came into the picture, the bathroom was completely bare. I'm talking white shower curtain, two white bathmats and a bar of dial soap. There were a few mismatched white(ish) towels and that was it in the way of "accessories." The huge white-cabinet vanity was topped with some version of plastic faux marble, with ample counter space and nothing to live there. Top it all off with a huge rectangular mirror and some fluorescent lighting, and we had ourselves one cold and stark bathroom. (I wish I had had the foresight to take a picture, but now our wall art is up and hung and getting Jason to take the thing down and rehang it for one picture would probably require cashing in a chip that I'd rather save for a rainy day so... my incredibly vivid description will have to do.)

Anyway, for a while I was stumped on what I wanted to do because the thing lacked any sort of starting point whatsoever. The one thing I did latch onto was the gray color of the walls. I actually really liked how it matched up with the white of the plain shower curtain, giving it a sort of modern color palette. When I stumbled upon this bath rug on sale at West Elm (read further about my love affair with WE in this former post), I knew it was perfect. Plus since the moment I joined Pinterest, I kind of feel like the chevron pattern has been everywhere just screaming to be incorporated into our decor somehow. I adore it. 

The mat definitely spiced things up, but once it was in there it just made the walls look so bare. And I simply could not have a mullet of a bathroom. (Ya know, business on the walls, party on the floor? No? Yeah, it was a stretch.) Anyway, here's the inspiration photo for what I finally decided to do:
via Spunky Junky
Love the asymmetry of it, but also love how the pattern virtually matches up so your eye travels from piece to piece. This blogger used old shoe boxes (awesome recycling idea!) but I decided to use cool brushed metal frames that went with the rest of the hardware in the bathroom. I printed out her pattern and followed the simple steps she had on her blog.

First I laid out my frames in the pattern I wanted across some sheets of thick poster board (I wanted something sturdy enough to be painted on.) I went with an asymmetrical look like the inspiration photo using different sized frames, but of course you could just as easily do any arrangement you like. 

Marking where each frame would line up with one another (and numbering the positions as well as the frames so I'd know how to put them back together), I transfered the pattern by tracing it with a thick permanent marker and taped off the pattern.

Using acryllic paint (I simply mixed black and white to make a gray to my liking), I painted over the tape, making sure to cover all the areas that would be shown in my frames. 

After the paint dried, I cut out each section (based on the previous lines I had marked) and put them in the frames. If you look closely, you can see some of the lines became a little jagged due to imperfections when I lifted up the paint. To fix this I simply went back with some white/gray and touched them up so it would be crisp and straight.

The bathroom is definitely not done, but it's certainly an improvement. Some new crisp white bath towels, along with dark gray accent hand towels and washcloths help tie in the bath mat and mosaic. I especially love how you can see the reflection of the mosaic in the mirror from the doorway. I hope to get some pops of color in there eventually and some more accessories (not to mention ripping out the off-white toilet, awful vanity and terrible tile...), but for now I'm happy with how it looks. 

If you're as obsessed with chevron right now as I am, I definitely recommend this project! It's a fun one! 

(To keep your eye on future copycraft ideas, feel free to follow my Crafty Pants board on Pinterest.)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

one thousand days

One thousand days ago today, my boyfriend started wearing t-shirts for a living.

Everyone always talks about what a great idea IWearYourShirt is. I wish I could come up with an idea like that, they always say when I explain what he does.

And it's true, to make a living working for yourself, to film fun YouTube videos every day, and to basically make a career of being you, it does take one great idea. But looking back on all Jas has accomplished in the past 1,000 days, it's not the idea of IWearYourShirt that makes me beam with pride. It's the vision.

Jason's always been a creative person. I know this because I've listened to story upon story from his mom, his dad, his grama and grampa, his sister and his friends, about the creativity that has been apparent in him since childhood. And from the moment I met him, it was not just that creativity that I admired about him (though I could sense it immediately), but it was this indescribable quality that he has to break the mold. No matter what boundaries are presented or what rules are provided, it is a pure, inherent instinct for Jason to push beyond what is generally accepted. I know that these are the qualities that have enabled him to not only come up with a great idea, but to believe in the vision that stems from that idea (not to mention they are the qualities that keep me around despite his vehement refusal to partake in the watching of any romantic movie whatsoever. Trust me, I'll break him eventually.)

IWearYourShirt is not about wearing a company's logo on a t-shirt; it's about turning advertising on its head. It's about recognizing the fact that people don't tend to believe words anymore when they're written by, planned by, engineered by, perfected by, and paid for by the company that benefits when you buy their product or use their service. You know what words people do believe? The ones that come from people they like. Honest people. Transparent people. People that communicate those words in a way that's less of a brand message, and more a form of entertainment. (Yes, I'm aware that as an advertising professional, this makes me a bit of a hypocrite. However, I'm also a social media professional, which I think still allows me to support this position while also being in advertising. Whatever helps me sleep at night, right? Right.)

I knew Jason as "the t-shirt guy" before I knew him as my boyfriend, and I was an IWYS fan before I could even call him my friend. I would tune in at 3pm to see what he was up to, and find out about the daily sponsor. (Jason hosts a live internet TV show on Ustream every day at 3pm EST, for those of you who don't know what the heck I'm talking about. He talks about the company he's wearing a shirt for, but mostly he just has a conversation with everyone watching. There is a chat where all the viewers can talk to each other and talk to Jason. It may sound a little odd, but it's fun to hangout and it's always entertaining.)

Those first couple shows I watched, I never said a word. I would just casually watch the show and laugh when Jas would do something or say something ridiculous (this was often.) But before long, I couldn't help it - I had to join in. That's just how engaging he is, and it's too much fun to miss out on by sitting on the sidelines. There was another thing that struck me in those early days, and that was just how much Jason knew about the people watching his show. He knew their birthdays and their interests, where they were from and how they found out about him. How did he know all this information about virtual strangers (literally strangers he met virtually)? He asked. And he remembered. It absolutely blew my mind how much he cared about people that he had never even met before. I think that is the key to what has kept him successful, wearing shirts for 1,000 days straight. He cares about the people that make up his community, and he makes it personal. That's why they keep coming back, and that's why companies will pay to get their names in front of them. Where else can you say people come in swarms every day to actually hear or see an advertisement? It's rare. He's created something special, and he's worked day and night without stopping for almost three years because he believes in it.

And from the day I met him, I believed in it too.

I couldn't be happier to say congratulations to my best friend and the hardest-working person I know, on this milestone of a day that deserves to be celebrated.

1,000 days of shirt-wearing, 1,000 days of a vision worth believing in.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

copycraft: shadow box clock

Holy Pinterest gods, I've done it again. We actually managed to complete another Pinterest project, and it's a doozie. This one even involved injuries, if you can believe it. And not by this clumsy gal (surprisingly), but I'm jumping ahead.

I'll start here: One of the very first things I found on Pinterest was this photo of an awesome wall clock made out of shadow boxes.

Link to my original pin
I just loved it. I loved the imperfection of it and the drama, and I also loved how modern it looked. And when I saw it I thought, this could be something Jas would want to help me with. (Despite his ever-supportive disposition, there are some crafts for which he simply must put his foot down. Among them are wreaths, which secretly hurts my soul because now that Fall is upon us I want desperately to decorate our front door with a cute yarn wreath. Ugh. Pick your battles, right?)

Anyway, once Jas was on board, I knew it was on. He's a take action kind of home-improver (as you might recall.) I'll even credit him with the idea of where exactly to put this ambitious craft project of ours. I originally wanted it on a smaller wall next to our front door, but after taking a look at the size of our clock hands, he made the astute observation that it would end up looking cluttered when it was all said and done (did I mention he's brilliant?)

So then what did we decide upon? Apparently it had never occurred to me that we have a completely humongous blank wall in our house that happens to be directly above the TV in plain sight from our living room couch which is, you know, just the most popular angle that one might be gazing toward if they were a guest in our home. Seriously... I had never even realized said blank wall, but once Jason pointed it out to me, the gaping emptiness just seemed to get bigger and bigger.

Ahhhh! It's huge! And it's empty! Make it go away!
So the project began. First we had to purchase the clock hands for a cool $40. (A good set of clock hands is actually harder to come by than one might think.) At our local Hobby Lobby we were able to find exactly 10 shadow boxes (not 12 of course because that would make our lives far too easy and lord knows it's not a good craft project unless you have to go to multiple stores to get supplies.) Anyway, we found the final two at Michael's and told ourselves that the hodge-podgey-ness of all the mismatched frames actually added to the great personal quality that the final product would have (instead of realizing that we really didn't have any other choice than to buy the motliest crew of shadow boxes you've ever seen.)

Supplies in hand, we headed home to get our crafty pants on. Little did we know that the glass in all the shadow boxes was actually fixed in the frames, so the first step was getting Jas to hammer out all the glass. For the record, I wouldn't recommend going about it the way we did...

Look at this highly sophisticated glass breaking apparatus. What's that? It looks a lot like a cardboard box? No...
Somebody cut themselves. I'm not really sure where he gets his dramatic flare from... 
Now that we had the frames, our next step was to decide exactly where we wanted the clock on the wall. Now I'm not really sure what my plan would have been if Jason wasn't around, but before I even had a chance to hurt my brain with the math involved in centering this massive "art piece" on our diagonal wall (difficulty level: high), Jas told me to go get a tape measure and I could tell he was doing some sort of math in his head. We measured the same height from the top of the stairs up the wall (can't remember now, but let's say it was five feet) and marked it with a pencil. Then we measured the same height from the bottom of the stairs (five feet again) and marked that with a pencil. Holding a tape measure against the two dots, we made one final mark exactly equidistant between both spots, and that's where we mounted the clock hands. HOLY MOTHER OF MATH, ARE YOU STILL WITH ME? Yeah, picture my blank expression as Jas is just telling me where to hold the tape measure (it was very late at this point, as all our projects inevitably end up taking well into the night.) So there, now it's starting to resemble a clock!

Who you callin' a blank wall?
Now on to the less mathematical portion of our program. From here we decided we'd mark a light circle around the clock hands so we'd know about how far to hang the shadow boxes, but after that we were on our own. We would eyeball each shadow box from there and mount them based on where we thought they looked best. Jas's nifty solution to that? Just a shoestring with a pencil tied to the end of it to draw a perfect circle. It was starting to feel like we were working on an eighth grade geometry project. 

Pencil and a shoestring? He's like my own personal McGuyver
Once we had our circle, we decided to lay out our shadow boxes. Disclaimer: honestly this was one of the most time-consuming parts to this project because we had to agree on where we thought they looked best and they're different shapes so you want to give them some sort of balance. Anyway, this is the configuration we decided on. 

Perfectly imperfect. 
And so we began the hanging. 

First, the main four as you might expect. 

And then we filled in from there. 

(I'd like to take a moment to point out that it is Jason in all of these "installation" photos and that is for a few very good reasons. 1) SOMEONE had to be taking photos for the blog. Duh. 2) I was the ever-important A little to the left, a little to the right girl making sure all the frames were level, and I took my job very seriously. 3) Nick and Vanessa's wedding special was airing on TLC and I'm a sucker for wedding-themed celebrity television. Our TV is directly below the stairs so I managed to pull this off fairly well, until of course I stopped answering Jason and started getting all weepy eyed during the vows.)

So this is what it ended up looking like on the wall. 

We were so proud of ourselves. However, there was just one problem. The more we started looking at it, we really didn't like all the different colors/finishes on the frames. The original inspiration could rock that look because the color in the shadow boxes could balance it out, but we had our hearts set on black and white photography in these frames. So of course, mid-project, we made the decision to take them all down, spray-paint them a semi-gloss black, and rehang them. 

Ahhh yes. Much better. Now the only thing left to do was actually put something in the frames. We had talked about a ton of different options for what we wanted the photos to be of, but in the end we decided to go with pictures we already had. I have been begging Jason for months to sit down with me and pick out some of his photos to put up in the house. He's an incredibly talented photographer. I swear he just has an eye for things that amazes me. He's taken pictures in every place we've been together or by himself, so he picked out his favorite 20 or so and we sat down and narrowed it down to the final 12. It's like our own personal gallery of art and memories all at the same time. (I also love that as one of his favorites he actually chose a picture that I had taken. It sits at number 6. Pretty sweet.) And here is our final clock! (Forgive the grainy photos... this is before I got my new camera!)

I couldn't be happier with the way it turned out and it's one of the things in our home now that I'm the most in love with. It feels like the most "us" if that makes sense. I'm a little proud of us for taking on such a dramatic statement of a project in the house and I'm proud of Jason for tackling it head on. It's definitely a fun conversation piece when people come to the house! Hopefully this will help inspire any of you out there toying with your own big wall art projects that you've been wanting to try! 

As a follow-up, we also recently bit the bullet and painted our banister black because I loathed the terrible light wood finish. I think it really makes the whole clock pop even more! 

I keep telling the banister she looks at least 10 years younger!