Monday, July 18, 2011

i'm a youtuber, yall

So... remember how I talked about Baby's First Home Improvement Project? Yeah, well this might trump it: Baby's First YouTube Upload. I'm embarrassed to say (considering the fact that I'm a social media professional), I did not have a YouTube account prior to last night.

Truthfully, though, contributing to the everlasting blackmail supply that is the internet has always terrified me a little bit. I mean, sure I've made the occasional giggle cameo in one of Jason's videos (the real giggles kick-in around 2:15 if you're interested), but that was only after ample begging and extensive negotiations that typically included three days of not having to unload the dishwasher (yep, I'm not above haggling away household chores. Have you seen these delicate hands?) Come on, these things live for eternity for pete's sake! But alas, I have finally caved and decided it's time to jump on the YouTube bandwagon.  To find my brand-spanking-new channel, you can search "carokelso." (Not the easiest thing to remember, I'm aware, but when you wait five years to hop on a social network, your options are a little limited. Word to the wise.) And now, for your viewing pleasure, I present to you my inaugural foray as a YouTuber. All I have to say: Hide ya kids, hide ya wife, yall.

First, let me say I can't take credit for the video idea. A friend of Jason's (and I suppose a friend of mine, too, by association...) has a very unique and interesting style of art. He's super talented and creates art pieces composed entirely of text. He goes by TEKSTartist and a little bird told me he has a very unique project launching next year. (You can get the skinny on it here.) Anyway, he does these amazing time-lapsy videos showing the process, and it inspired me to record my own videos during some of my projects.

So when it was Grama's birthday last week (well, it's Jason's Grama actually but she's just "Grama" to me), I told Jason I wanted to make a card for her. (Again, you all know my affinity for hand-made cards.) Jas had the fun idea of doing a video-card for her as well so we decided to incorporate a time-lapse of whatever I decided to make.

Well a while ago, I found this pattern on Pinterest (if you're not acquainted with the sweet gift of the gods known as Pinterest, feel free to brush up by reading this post) and was instantly inspired. I love how it seems somewhat organized but free-flowing too, and I think the intricacy is beautiful. I thought it would be fun to try something similar and see where the pattern took me, which is exactly what I did. If you can't tell from the video, I really had no plan (except for the words Grama, of course) - so I just let my markers do the leading. I'm a sucker for color so to add some interest I used three shades of blue (the third one a dreamy turquoise), and I progressed from dark to light as I drew outward.

Jas edited the footage together along with a video message to Grama. I was so glad to hear she loved it, and I can't wait for her to see it in person when we send it this week. In an attempt to keep our message private, I had him teach me how to download the original video, edit out the message in iMovie, and repost with just the art part. (I'm well on my way to posting videos of cats!)

I'm really excited to post future projects because while I'm in the middle of a doodle or a craft project, I kind of get lost in it and have a hard time remembering the winding path that preceded the final product. Videos are such a cool way to see the evolution of an art piece in a short amount of time.

Anyway, this piece will be getting a lovely white mat and a nice white frame, and we'll be sending it off to grace Grama in person very soon. I'd like to wish a very happy birthday (albeit belated, by the time this is posted) to Grama if she's reading this - you are a wonderful woman and I'm so thankful that you've instilled in Jason a sense of adventure and a sense of humor. Thanks for all you do and have done!

And with that, if you'll excuse me, I need to find something to autotune. Until next time!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

copycraft: wine cork letters

Okay friends, it's official. I've got the bug.

(Sorry, that's a little misleading. I'm not sick, nor have I actually captured a bug in my midst because, let's be honest, that's very difficult and my hand-eye coordination is never really fast enough to accomplish this feat, so I end up looking like a lunatic grasping at random pockets of air. But, as usual, I digress.)

What I mean is that I've got the craft bug again. And the decorating bug. Dangerous combo for a person with a strong affinity for hot glue and online purchasing (Yeah, I see you, PayPal.) But this is great news for those of you who like the craftier posts (as opposed to the rant-y or the sappy which I also specialize in.)

It all began with my new websession (that's a combination of the word web, as in World Wide Web, and obsession. I know, very clever. Thank you, I'm aware.) It's a little gem of a site called Pinterest and if there are any of you out there lucky enough to swipe an invite (frankly it's not hard, a Google search and quick blog surf was all it took to get mine), then please indulge my addiction by posting the link to your account in the comments below. You can follow me by clicking here. However, I must say, proceed at your own risk because I'm 100% serious when I use the word addiction. They should have a name for the cult following of Pinterest addicts. Oooooohhh I got it: Pinheads. That's good right? (*Ugh, just did a quick Google search and apparently someone already thought of it. It's cool if you want to tell people I made it up though. It will be our little secret...)

So during my initial pin-frenzy I was looking for some inspiration on what to do in our kitchen. We just ditched our old, ugly island for a beautiful light-wood butcher's block buffet thingy (from the exotic country of Ikea, as Jason says) and we now need some cool art to go above it. I, of course, took this as a welcomed opportunity to claim ownership of just one wall in our home. (I currently have none, but in my initial invasion of the Sadler man-cave I thought closet space was more important a battle than wall space. Still very confident that it was the right strategy.)

So anyway, I was looking for fun craft ideas or pieces of art. I have this vision of a collection of different pieces and prints arranged in a geometric-ish pattern, but right now it's still just a vision. (Look for the finished product in a future post.) As I was looking for potential ideas, I found this pin to the right. (Credit to the original source, a craft blog called The Elephant's Trunk.) Cool, huh? Being a bit of a wino myself, and considering the fact that Jason's mom keeps an entire drawer full of corks at home (God bless her, she loves her some wine too!), I thought it was the perfect idea for the greater art collection I have in mind. It's kinda crafty, but still pretty clean/simple and it's personal too.

So below we have my version. I added the frames in order to give a little more sophistication and geometry to the overall look.

Once they are included in the collection of things I'm picturing in the end, they'll look a little less... letter of the day a la Sesame Street. I can see the final product in my head so I can't wait until I can bring it to life (and share it with you all of course!). Anyway, the project was super easy and I'm confident anybody could do this, crafty or not. 

Here are the quick steps to replicating my look:

Supplies List: Large satchel of wine corks, two shadow box frames, large letters to trace (could also just be printed out templates or freehand letters), pencil, hot glue gun, possibly a tiny screwdriver, crafty pants playlist of your choosing

  • Find someone you know that likes wine as much as myself or Jason's mom. Steal their corks. 
  • Purchase two shadow box frames (shadow box is important if you want to hide some of the depth from the corks, which I did.) Please note: I suggest looking closely at the color of the frames in the light at the store because even though you think they might be black when you get home, you could realize they are actually dark brown, in which case you might return them, but then you might be too excited to craft and not want to wait to return them, which would lead you to convince yourself that you in fact now like the brown much more than the black. (But, really, don't you think the brown looks lovely?)
  • Remove the glass or plastic or whatever from the frames and recycle. (This may require unscrewing very tiny screws on the back of the shadow box and you might be terrible at unscrewing things so feel free to enlist help from the nearest burly man with a screwdriver that looks like it belongs to a Barbie.)
  • Take the backing of the frames and trace your large letters with a pencil, centering them on the board. 
  • Arrange your corks within your outlines, doing your best to avoid big gaps. You may have to play around with the spacing a bit before you get it right, which is why I suggest arranging them before you glue them down. 
  • One at a time, place a dab of hot glue on the wine-side of the cork and place them within the outline on the board. Make sure none of the stringy cob-web hot glue strings are hanging off the cork before you put them down - this could end up making the whole thing look sloppy. 
  • Do this to both letters and once all corks are glued down, place something heavy on top allowing them to dry and set. 
  • Finally, place the backing with the corks into the frame and take a step back. Pat yourself on the back for a craft well done. 

Hope you all enjoyed my overly verbose tutorial and look for many more crafts in the future. After all, I do have the bug. And don't forget to leave your Pinterest links below. If you have anymore fun cork crafts, feel free to leave your ideas in the comments too! Happy crafting!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

happy birthday, take two

Quick disclaimer: Mom, if you're reading this, I know you well. Do yourself a favor and grab a tissue. 

I honestly debated even writing this post because it occurred to me that any meaningful words I'm able to string together will still never convey the love and appreciation I have for the shining example of a woman in my life, my mother. Still, I've decided to try, and my only hope is that it inspires one of you reading to call your mom and tell her how much you care, and that it brings a smile to the face of the woman that raised me.


It was my mom's birthday last week, and for me it was an incredibly important day - a day I had been waiting for since almost exactly a year prior. You see, this time last year I had just moved to a new city. I had just started a new job, at a new agency, where I was struggling to find my footing. I had started dating a new guy, had moved into a new apartment, and had begun the calculated conquest of my decade of self-discovery, my twenties. If you asked me then, one year ago, what day of the week it was or likely even my own birthday, I would have struggled to come up with an answer, my head swimming with due dates for bills and deadlines for presentations. Now I explain all of this to you not to claim any sort of excuse for what I'm about to tell you, but instead to set the stage for what would be one of the biggest, most stunning mistakes I have ever made as a daughter.

One year ago last week, I forgot my mother's birthday.

How in the world could this happen? This woman - the woman that has never forgotten an important day in my life's existence, not a test, not a science fair, not a trip, not a dinner, the same woman whose lessons have navigated me through my short but tumultuous life thus far - this very woman only received a phone call from one of her children on June 30th last year, and that child was not me. Again, how could this happen?

I sit here almost brought to tears thinking about that day for her. It pains my heart to think that even for a moment she felt the slightest tinge of under-appreciation or a lack of gratitude. And if some of you are thinking this is a bit dramatic, (well frankly I hope you know me well enough by now to expect a little of that, but) you have to understand that in my family, birthdays are not presents or parties. Birthdays are simple gestures of love and acknowledgement and that is how it has always been. It is all we ever need or expect. So to forget a phone call is in fact a big deal. And for your mother, who (at that time) had just watched you graduate college and had learned to let go so you could begin your adult life, it is a VERY big deal.

Despite this glaring oversight, though, she never once made me feel guilty or selfish, and all has certainly been forgiven since then (it is her nature after all.) Even though I admit I'm still a bit mortified, we've moved on and I know she will probably never mention it again.

Now let me take a moment to say, forgive me for the somber start to this post. I'm well aware that the title of the blog is clumsy, crafty, happy, not clumsy, crafty, guilty, and I really never intended for this to read like some sort of Oprah special (though if it were, I envision it with some whispy title screen that fades into black and white with a huge header reading, A Daughter's Regret. Besides the point of course.) My intention with the aforementioned backstory was simply to provide an honest context for you when I move on to the real point of this story: this year's birthday.

Before I begin, let me give you a brief introduction to this wonderwoman that I call Mom. (It's true that pretty much all of you reading will never meet my mom, so I understand if this is where you stop reading. Because in all honesty, I think we can agree this post isn't for you. It's not even really for me. It's for her. It's a public declaration that of all the moms I could have been born to, I'm glad it was her.)

When I think of my mom, Patty, there are a few key things about her that come to mind:

A giver's heart. When my brother and I were growing up, she would write simple and beautifully worded messages in Hallmark cards and leave them on our beds to find when we got home from school. She said it was for no other reason than to remind us that she cared. (Perhaps it's where I began to understand the power of words and the impact a well-written card can make.) Mom, you'll never know what an impression those small gestures made on Matt and me. We didn't have a lot of money or luxuries growing up, but when I think about my childhood now, there is not even a hint of wanting that I can detect from my memory. Why? Because she gave everything within her so that we never felt disadvantaged in any way. She would gladly hand over her last dime to us because that is the giver she is and it still shows in everything she does. Everything I know about being selfless I have learned from her, and I'm so incredibly grateful for all that she's sacrificed over the years.

A fighter's strength. I've met a number of strong women in my life, but none as persistent as my mom. There have been many times when life has dealt its blows and her motto has always remained, One small bite at a time. It may sound simple but it's something that has been so helpful for me to remember throughout life's many tough moments. When I'm feeling overwhelmed or down on my luck, a quick call to her is all it takes to remind me how to press on. And more than anything, when there is a problem, by golly this woman will find a solution. She's a solver, and I haven't encountered a conundrum yet that she hasn't found her way out of. Thank you, Mom, for giving me the will and the way to always keep my head up.

A traveler's soul. She has always been, and will always be, somewhat of a wanderlust. In her youth, and even young adulthood as a flight attendant, my mom circled the country and the world visiting new and exciting places. I don't know if her early travels had anything to do with how open-minded she would become, but it is something I have always admired about her. I know as life has gone on, she hasn't been able to travel as much as she'd like. For years now I've been dreaming of the day that I'm finally able to take her on a fabulous trip to some carefully selected spot across the world where we can eat amazing food, drink copious amounts of wine, and get lost in a city together, breathing in the culture and the people. One day.

But for now, on this birthday, something smaller did just fine. Last week, on June 30th, I arranged for us to meet at a new restaurant in St. Augustine she'd been dying to try (thanks to my stepdad for the excellent reconnaissance!) After work, Jason and I drove to downtown St. Augustine to meet her and Tom, my stepdad. Even though it had been raining earlier in the day, the wet streets and dripping branches created kind of a magical and cozy feeling as we walked into the restaurant. The moment I saw my mom, her face lit up with excitement, and I silently released a huge sigh of relief - I knew she had had a fantastic day. It brought me such joy to know that on this birthday, she felt so special and happy. Something else about my mom, she has this way of hugging you with such purpose that she makes you feel as though you're the most important person in the world. I just love that.

After we chatted and caught up at the bar for a few, we were finally seated at our table. Let me pause and say this restaurant was perfect for her too - The Floridian it's called, and they use fresh seasonal and local ingredients to make incredible Southern dishes. (I mean, they serve you your water in a mason jar. How stinkin' cute is that?) We drank wine and the four of us laughed so hard we cried (okay, only Mom and I did that, I'm realizing it actually might just be a genetic thing.) But all in all, it was a great birthday dinner. Then, the kicker. After our meals, I slipped her one of my home-crafted cards. Making cards instead of buying them for special occasions is one of my great joys. (If I wasn't such a dummy I would have taken a picture before. Sorry guys!)

Now as I've mentioned, if my mom expected anything at all for her birthday, a card would have been the very most. Which is why giving anything to her is such a satisfying experience, because she never sees it coming. In the weeks leading up to her birthday, Jason and I had arranged a trip for her and Tom to visit one of our favorite spots, the Jekyll Island Club Hotel. The first time we went there all I could think was, this place has Patty written all over it. And of course each time we returned she talked about how she would love to go there someday. We reserved the weekend of her and Tom's anniversary in October, and I knew that her traveler's soul would be absolutely elated. So as Mom finished reading her card, hugged me and whispered in my ear, Thanks, darling, I simply whispered back with a huge smile on my face, There's more. She pulled away and looked at me, puzzled.

And then, I dropped the bomb.

It was like she froze. Her expression was one of disbelief. We all were holding our breath and waiting for her response. (Later, Jason told me during this long pause he legitimately thought she didn't like our gift. I laughed because in that moment, I could read her silence like a book. I knew she was over the moon.) She smiled and slowly brought her hands up to her face. I could see tears welling up in her eyes. It took everything in me not to cry too (yup, I'm a sympathetic crier) but instead I just wrapped my arms around her and said, You deserve it.

No one ever wants to see their mom cry, but it was okay for me because I knew what it meant: Utter happiness. Gratitude. Excitement. Relief.

Again, there are no words to accurately describe how full your heart can become from giving something to the person who has given you the most in life. That Thursday night I left St. Augustine feeling overcome with happiness. Because even though my mom doesn't get to travel as much as she'd like, in October she will get to escape for a weekend because of us. And even though I royally screwed up last year, it's a new year. And my mother, the woman who has made all things possible for me, felt special and appreciated.

And from a daughter to a mother, that is all I could ever want.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

our home, improved

Preface: While this little project was completed two weekends ago, there's no way I'd let myself continue posting without recounting the tale of my first home improvement project. It's like the semi-adult equivalent of Baby's First Christmas or something. Plus I think if you squint a little you could technically file this under "crafty," a topic which is seriously lacking in representation on this blog. So hey, that's reason enough to share.


You know you've really hit a benchmark on the road to domesticity when you find yourself at Home Depot at 8:30 on a Sunday morning (I suppose when it's midnight and, mid-project, your partner in crime asks, Can you lookup what time Home Depot opens on my phone?, this shouldn't come as a huge surprise.)

A few weekends ago Jason and I decided to refinish our bedroom furniture. Now, when I say "we decided" let it be known that it was more like we talked about it twice in a wouldnt-that-be-cool kind of way and next thing I knew it was a Saturday morning and I was holding a power sander. (Sidenote: This is a shining example of the nature of my lovely boyfriend - while the world is swimming with thinkers and dreamers and wouldnt-it-be-coolers, he manages to be a thinker, a dreamer, and what's better, a doer. He does things. Thankfully most of them don't involve power sanding, but still, I strongly believe it is the root of his success and it is one of a slew of qualities with which he inspires me.) 

Anyway, Jason's mom gave him a beautiful, quality set of bedroom furniture some years ago. Now while we can certainly appreciate the gorgeous maple wood and the deep cherry stain, there wasn't much about the furniture that said...well..."us." Jason's style is pretty minimal and modern, while mine is a more "homey" version of modern I guess, but either way we love clean lines and simple design. Cherry wood and big wooden knobs don't exactly fit the bill. And we're not really in a position to be buying new sets of bedroom furniture. So we figured, why not just refinish them. Easy enough right? After seeing a beautiful piece in our local West Elm (my official favorite home store of the moment) and for some ungodly reason thinking we could replicate the look, we decided a nice gray, translucent stain was what we wanted on our bedroom furniture. When we saw the piece it was like a no brainer. We both agreed it looked amazing and it would go perfectly in our room. (Yes, perfectly. THAT piece. Designed and manufactured by professionals.) 

Now I don't know how those sneaky West Elm people did it, but whatever technique they used was certainly not what we attempted (see photo.) It was a minor (read: major) detour in our little project - one that we would pay for with many additional hours of sanding. (Sidenote: I'd like to add that I'm thoroughly convinced an angel above - somewhat resembling David Bromstad to give you a visual - took Jason's style and my style and somehow perfectly combined them, thus creating the almighty West Elm.)

Well, I'll spare you the dusty details (literally, a film of old dusty wood finish blanketed our entire garage for a few days), but it took three people (thanks Kim), two power sanders, 12 hours of sanding, one wrong stain color on one ugly nightstand, six more hours of sanding aforementioned ugly nightstand, two hours of polyurethaning, and one attention-starved dog to complete this project. I will say that if you're wondering whether you're compatible with someone, might I suggest refinishing some bedroom furniture. Exhaustion from physical labor and lack of sleep + finding middle ground on what the final product should look like + differing opinions on seemingly trivial details like drying times or number of coats needed = the ultimate exercise in patience and compromise. So...The family that sands together, stays together? No? Okay. 

Check out the pictures below and let me know what you think. After the great stain debacle we actually decided we were in love with the natural maple, so we went with the "naked" look. Just two coats of polyurethane is all she needed. And I love the modern chrome pulls. Only problem now, my doer of a bf has decided we need to "finish" the room. Home Depot, old friend, it's safe to say I'll be seeing you shortly.