Monday, August 25, 2014

When Stories Happen

I'm an ardent fan of the story that springs from some mundane circumstance or casual connection. And that's just what happened on Sunday when I went into Simple Finds to stock and fluff my booth. As always, when I come in the front door, I greeted all the peeps manning the front counter. No one is ever at a loss to say something nice or welcoming. The place has good chi.

Anywho, Cathleen stopped me. "Remember the piece of wood that you sold, you know, the one with the mermaid and 'Home Sweet Home' you painted on it? Well, Rick made it into a memorial. You've got to see what he did. He's here today. You must find him." No sooner than she'd said that, Rick rounded the corner. He's a fellow vendor, one I've never met before. I introduced myself, and once he knew who I was, zipped out his phone and proceeding to show me a picture of my art-on-wood. Here's his story:

He bought the piece (really a sign to be hung) for his brother's birthday. His brother had recently lost his wife to cancer. When she was alive, and before the diagnosis, she had a dream to have a beach home. The couple wound up buying a cottage on St. George Island, FL, and the house became her haven and passion. A gate leading onto their property had a mermaid on it, and the mermaid theme was sprinkled throughout the home. Not long after they bought their little piece of heaven, they found out that she had cancer. It took her life not long after. The husband decided to keep the beach house; memories of her were in every nook and corner, every view from a window, even the mermaids throughout the home seemed to dance and swim in honor of the life she gave the home and everyone in it.

And so when Rick saw my sign, he knew it would be the perfect addition to the beach house. He took it to a local artist in his hometown of Conyers, GA, and had her add "Remembering Meg Johnson. 63 years of love and laughter." And under Home Sweet Home, the date she passed and truly went home.

I couldn't ask for a better story for this piece of wood I found on the beach during one of my vacation walks on St. Helena Island, SC. That it will grace the wall of a beach home and be a constant reminder of someone loved and always missed. . . Meg, this is your story.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Pool Noodle "Candle" Centerpieces

Christina Pugh, one of Harleigh's dearest friends and a photographer
also works at Camp All-American.
She plays a big part in the planning and set-up of the end-of-summer CAA banquet,
attended by all the counselors, staff, supporters, and host families.
She asked if I would help her out, and I offered to create the table centerpieces.

What I knew to be true:
1) The tables would be round banquet tables
2) Black tablecloths
3) Figuring on roughly 300 people, 30 dining tables
4) Dinner — buffet style
5) The huge room would be on the dark side most of the dinner and subsequent program
6) After dinner, everyone would help break down the tables and move everything off the floor to make room for dancing.

I knew I wanted candlelight. It's elegant and would make the evening feel special
for a ton of people who had worked their tails off all summer.

I also knew that the centerpieces had to have some substance.
Didn't want something small swimming in the middle of a large sea of tablecloth.

The biggest challenge was that the centerpieces would have to be easily moved 
when the room was converted into a giant dance floor.

I came up with the idea to use pool noodles to create "candles."
How kitschy. What a nod to summer. And how easy a craft to tackle!

I debated using real tea lights, but with the centerpieces having to be moved right after the dinner program, I didn't want there to be liquid wax spilling. So I opted for the battery-operated flickering tea lights. I purchased these from Amazon, and they were amazingly real and bright.

• I purchased 60 pool noodles. It took 2 noodles to make one centerpiece.
• Cut the noodles into varying lengths with a super sharp chef's knife, careful to make a straight cut on one end. Some of the ends I wanted slightly angled to give them the look of a real, melting candle.
• Then, with an exacto knife, I cut a circle in one end of each noodle. The circle was the width and depth of the tea light (I wanted only the flame of the tea light to show, so the depth had to hide the plastic base of the light). I made sure not to cut them any larger width wise. At the same size, or better yet, even a tad smaller, the hole hugged the tea light nicely, keeping them intact, but still easy to be removed for turning on and off.
• After I cut the circle, I made another cut at the base of the first cut so that the circular piece of noodle could be lifted out to leave a hole for the tea light.
• I cut out 30 pieces of  13" x 13" sturdy black card stock to glue the candles onto. This would make them easy to move (and the black blended in with the black tablecloths, so you really didn't even see the board).
• I then glued the noodle pieces together with a small string of glue between each, and glued each on the bottom. I could have just glued them on the bottom and onto the card, but I wanted them super sturdy, and I didn't want gaps between them. I tied a piece of string around the grouping while they dried to keep them together, then cut the string off when the glue dried.

Here is the finished product.
I had some leftover pieces of noodle that I used as single candles 
and in small groupings on the buffet tables.

Here are just some of the 30 centerpieces in my garage ready to go to the banquet.

Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures of the banquet room with the lights down and
all the centerpieces lit. But let me tell you . . . it was spectacular, if I must say so myself.
And everyone loved them.

I did shoot this video at home so you can see just how great the tea lights are!

The tea lights are going into the church event stash.
And I plan on taking all the noodles apart; camp can use them next year for a game or something.

This would be a great idea for tables at a pool party.
Or for a kid's summer birthday party.

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