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!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

rainy day romance

I don't know how things were this weekend in your neck of the woods, but it was pretty darn gloomy all weekend by us. Earlier in the week I toyed with the idea of heading to Gainesville for the weekend to go to the Gator game with my college girlfriends, but given the fact that Jason had a week off from shirting (yep, you read that right, and it makes me giggle every time) as well as the fact that I was coming off of two very jam-packed weeks at work, I decided to stay home and enjoy a relaxing weekend in Jacksonville. However, as Friday approached, I started feeling more and more like I was missing out by not being in Gainesville. (Growing up, my mom always told the story of how I didn't sleep through the night until I was like two years old and she swears it was because I felt like I was missing out on all the fun the family was having without me. Sorry about that Mom. I suspect this is the adult version of that.)

Anyway, to compensate for this feeling I told Jas I wanted to "do something fun." Now this is a dangerous request because, depending on my mood, this could be as simple as heading to a movie (throw in some popcorn and Sour Patch Kids if we wanna make it a party) or it could be as elaborate as finding a random kid's birthday party and crashing his bounce house. (Okay, I'll be honest, I've never done that, nor would I dream of ruining a little kid's birthday, but boy oh boy does it sound fun.) The point is that to Jason, this was a rather nebulous request. He told me to plan whatever I wanted and we'd do it. And of course that was the only green light my over-active imagination needed to spend far too much time day-dreaming about our picturesque weekend together.

I had big, BIG plans. On Saturday I wanted to take a day trip down to St. Augustine. I imagined grabbing some lunch at a cute place on the water and spending the day taking artsy photos of the bridge, the quaint shops, the aimless-looking tourists. Or I thought maybe we'd drive down to Orlando, crank the music up loud and fly down the highway with the windows down, the sun beaming in through the sunroof. We'd get ourselves lost in IKEA, me mentally decorating our house and Jas probably picking up random objects to poke me with (this is VERY entertaining evidently.) Can't you just see me laying this whole thing out in my head? Of course you can because I'm an insane woman and this is what we do best! Yep, I've come to realize that I just dream up these perfect scenarios in my head so that reality can then come behind me, selecting to remove that one pesky side-Jenga-tile that sends my carefully crafted tower of dreams tumbling down. (I will sleep well tonight knowing I was able to work a life/Jenga metaphor into this post.)

Friday rolls around and it is a full weekend of, you guessed it, rain. Not even like moderate drizzly rain, either. I'm talking full-on, thunderstormy, wind gusty, scary lightningy rain. When I woke up on Saturday morning to a gray sky, our driveway under water, and the faint rumble of thunder off in the distance, I could feel my big, BIG plans dissapating before me. Jenga.

But hey, let's be honest here. There was no way any weekend I had planned was going to play out the way I envisioned anyway. The scenarios never do. For one, I'm certain my better half wouldn't let me get away with such an idyllic day of casual romance. (In fact, I'm positive the phrase 'idyllic day of casual romance' is slightly vomit-inducing for him. Hell, it's a little vomit-inducing for me.) Jas has got his own ideas of romance and it's what I love about him. And that's exactly what our weekend ended up being - unconventionally romantic.

We went to a morning showing of Drive, a gritty, stylistic drama starring Ryan Gosling as a getaway driver. (No secret that the romance there was Ryan Gosling's beautiful mug.) I'm just kidding - kind of - because as you may have read before, there is something so fun to me about a Saturday morning movie and it's become a sort of tradition for us. I think in a relationship it's so important to have at least one interest (hopefully tons more!) that you truly enjoy and share together - movies are that thing for us and I love driving home after every movie talking about what we really liked (the baller soundtrack) and what we didn't (awkward dialogue, moreso a Jason dislike and not a Carol dislike). We spent the rest of the weekend watching football while we played speed scrabble (a forced ruling because I typically take a MINIMUM of eight minutes per turn, usually for a whopping 14-point word, and it drives him crazy), working out thanks to our new exercise-at-least-once-a-day-for-ninety-days-so-we-can-have-bangin-bods regiment, playing with our precious pup, Plaxico, and cooking some delicious healthy Paleo cookies.

Now again, this probably sounds like an utterly lame weekend to most of you out there. And if you would have told me two years ago this is what my idea of fun would become, I wouldn't believe you. But the truth is, when you're with someone that makes you laugh, that is as equally weird and quirky and perfectly satisfied with the simplicity of life as you are, well then really anything can become romantic. Including a dreary, bleak, non-idyllic weekend of Scrabble. We cozied up on the couch, the three of us, listening to the dripping branches outside our window, and I realized that my perfect tower of daydreams and wistful romance was no match for my pile of scattered Jenga blocks. Hey at least they're real, right?

Yep, bring on the rain.

I lost by over 100, in case you were curious. 
Just my boys, gettin comfy on the couch

Oh, hello. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

oh, hey. remember me? that blog you once read?

I'm back. Not by popular demand of course, because, let's be honest, in the world of blogging if you go long enough without posting, people kind of just forget you exist. And I would be fine with that. Only I'm not fine with that.

I promised myself when I started this thing that I would power through my ADD-like disposition and actually stick with a hobby/interest/anything for once in my life. I was really feeling pretty good about it for a while - posting fairly regularly, feeling the urge to rush home and jot down ideas for a post, getting great feedback from friends and family. Yep, I thought I had broken the curse.

Well, as it turns out, old habits die hard because I got busy with work, life started flying by, and then it just got to a point where posts started piling up. The list of things I would have loved to write about but instead merely recited in my head on the way home from work each day (I just wish I had something that transcribed my thoughts into blog posts. Really, Apple? There's NOT an app for that, and I'm wondering why the heck not) is as follows:

  • My twenty-third birthday. A lame milestone, but a milestone nonetheless. Jason and his family surprised me with a be-a-utiful new camera which I'm still slowly but surely learning how to use. Add that as hobby number two I hope I can stick with.
  • Crafty thangs. I actually accomplished two projects from my Pinterest inspiration boards and managed to find a sensible place for them in our home. Mark my words, these posts will see the light of day because each of them took hours from my life and each was an excruciating exercise in patience that must be paid homage to. 
  • Stress. Yeah, I realize the title of this blog has happy in it for a reason, but I've felt my internal stress levels reaching new heights lately and I feel that some bloggeral introspection could be cathartic for me and potentially helpful for someone else that gets as stressed out as I do. (And yes I'm aware that bloggeral is not a word, but I'm of the opinion that blog was once a made up word too and thus in some sort of meta-logical way, all is fair in the realm of word creation via blogs. How's that for a bit of Carol-logic? Just roll with it.)
  • Jason being gone for a full ten days and me wondering if it makes me a pathetic, dependent girlfriend for wanting to simply fall asleep and only wake up when he was back in town. Okay, that topic could use a little shortening, I know, and perhaps that is a bit dramatic (who me? dramatic? no way!) but seriously ten days was too long. It's always a great reminder though that someone is truly your best friend when they leave and you keep thinking how each thing you do would be infinitely cooler if that person was there. Yep, call me pathetic, call me dependent, but it's true. Long story short: I survived. 
  • Getting in shape. Jas and I are back on another health kick. Surprise, surprise. I'll save this gem of a post for when we actually find something we can stick to. So far we've managed to workout three of the last four days AND it's been three days since my last drink. Of Diet Coke. There is hope. 
I think that about covers it for now. But you have to admit - we've definitely got some stuff going on. Hopefully if there are those of you out there that find any of this mildly entertaining (besides my grama, Betty Jane. Hey Betty!), you will forgive me for the re-cappy nature of this post. I promise to post some crafty/clumsy goodness soon (lord knows it's only a matter of time before I have something in either of those categories to share.)

Again, thanks for hanging in there with me, although next time you catch me being this delinquent with my posts, I'm fully expecting and hoping to get angry tweets and/or blog comments telling me to whip my butt back into blogging shape.

And with that I will leave you with one of the six pictures I have taken with my new camera that are not blurry. Humor me - I've got a lot to learn.