Sunday, February 21, 2016

My Love Story: Part 4

I know, I know - I promised that part 4 would be posted by Valentine's Day. I broke that promise. Both of my boys were sick, so this has been my first opportunity to catch-up on my writing. Now, where were we? Oh yeah! My first memory of Kyle was him screaming off the back end of a clown car style golf cart. Right.
Years go by after that initial meeting before we have our first date, but all these "hints" of Kyle pop up along the way.
Hint #1: David - tour guide and awesome human - refer to part 1
Hint #2: Golf Cart. 'Nuff said.
Hint #3: Chapman University Office of Admission
Look, Chapman Admissions is probably the reason I'm married to who I'm married to. Not only did my tour guide turn out to be a close friend of my future husband, my first semester at Chapman I get a work study job in admissions office where I get to know David better and where Kyle works after graduation as an admissions counselor. 
Hint #4: Disciples on Campus
Disciples on Campus, or DOC as is commonly abbreviated, is a protestant Christian demoniation that I was raised in. I held a leadership role in on the youth council in Kansas City that affording me a wonderful scholarship to attend Chapman. As such, I was pretty involved with DOC at Chapman. Kyle wasn't involved with DOC, but several of his friends were. The fact that I didn't see him or get to know him more this way is literally ridiculous and borderline insanity. How did we miss each other?!
Hint #5: Theatre Kids
Not only does Kyle have a background in theatre himself, but his friends did/do, too. I got to know Adam, one of Kyle's closest friends, during one-act rehearsals.
Hint #6: Greek Life
I see Kyle a lot at fraternity and sorority events on campus.
Hint #7: Associated Students
Kyle was the VP of student house the same year that I represented DOC, so I saw him at every monthly meeting.
Hint #8: Admissions - again - I'll explain this one in a minute
I believe love is a choice. Of course, there are feelings and all the lovey-dovey that goes into that, but at the end of the day, love is an act that comes from a choice to love someone. Not all choices of love are the right ones. I could have dated others and married someone else, but I know in my heart all along that God had a better choice in mind. I'm just thankful Kyle and I had the patience to wait for it.
Love has tricky timing. I'm not sure if I had noticed Kyle during all of those hints that it would have worked out. I was young, stupid, and totally unaware. I think back to those years and I can hardly remember being truly present for any of it. I have delicious college memories, but if I had advice for my past self it would be to live more in the moment. 
During my senior year. I was asked to give an information session for new DOC students alongside Kyle. We found ourselves in an empty conference room in Argyros Forum about 20-30 minutes before it was scheduled to start. I can't remember what we talked about, but I remember feeling strange. I felt drawn to this person. He was genuinely kind, compassionate, loved life - everything about him was incredibly attractive. It was also the way I came alive around him. I remember thinking that I wished I had dated him. I quickly pushed the thought out of my mind - I was moving in a month back to KC and then onto Washington DC for graduate school.
The summer and fall that followed graduation was probably the most tumultuous of my life. I wanted so desperately for another person to be as excited about a relationship with me as I was with them. I kept swinging for the "home run" and always striking out, but strangely I didn't care and it didn't deter me. God gave me dating grit. Haha! He really did. I just kept taking punches and running back into the ring. I honestly thought that each time I dated someone new that he could be "the one". This openness and willingness to get beat-up a little (metaphorically of course) prepared me for Kyle.
He had been through similar experiences, though slightly different. I'd never attempt to tell his side of the story, but I'll say that he had recently been "friend zoned" prior to our first date. He showed up to that first date determined to establish it as just that: a date. I showed up ready to jump head first. It was the perfect timing and combination of intentions that led to a very successful first date.
To make a long story a little shorter, I went home after our date and informed my sister "I'm going to marry him." To which she replied, "Yay! I'm so excited for you! Just never repeat that again and especially not to him."

It's true. I knew it from the first date. He was (and still is) my match.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

DIY: chalkboard sign for large mantle

I've been in love with chalkboard signs for awhile now and had been plotting a way to purchase a large chalkboard with cool frame for our mantle until I saw the price tag: approx. $40-100 bucks for one I really liked.

Then one day around Thanksgiving, I was browsing Big Lots and saw this:

The dimensions of the exact framed artwork I found were a bit taller in height than this, but I snagged it for $30, took it home, and painted two coats of black chalkboard paint over the artwork (I used a very small bottle of paint and a craft sponge - CHEAP!), and this is what my DIY chalkboard frame looked like at Christmas:

After Christmas, I moved it to the entryway and now it looks like this:

Words to live by, right? That Jane Austen...



Monday, February 8, 2016

Grapefruit Simple Syrup

When we moved to California two years ago, we were lucky enough to rent a home with an incredible garden already established: four planting boxes, one grapefruit tree, and one young peach tree. Our first year here, we did nothing with the grapefruit except eat a few and give the rest away. This year, I wanted to try and get the most out of the harvest.

I think I picked about 60 grapefruits. I'm still giving some away.  ^^ that's a lot of grapefruit.

I stumbled on the idea of making a simple syrup and loved the idea for cocktails or lemonade. Here's the recipe I used (modified from Real Simple - they add ginger peel):

1 cup grapefruit juice (turned out to be the juice of 2 grapefruits)
3 cups sugar
2 cups water
6-12 sprigs of Rosemary (depending on your taste)
Zest of grapefruit

1. Heat the water, sugar, and grapefruit juice on medium until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is somewhat clear.

2. Rub the Rosemary with a spoon to release flavor. Add it and the zest to syrup. Leave and stir on medium for a few more minutes - 5 is good.

3. Remove from heat and let cool. Store in a glass container/s overnight. It will be ready to use the next day.

I left the Rosemary sprigs in the jars:

My friend, Michelle, gave me some mint from her garden that I used in a grapefruit mint margarita a few days after this.




Monday, February 1, 2016

My Love Story: Part 3

I had met my roommate and soon-to-be best friend, Megan, while auditioning for Chapman's theatre program. We decided that day that if we both got in, we'd be roommates. So unlike many first-time college goers, I actually knew who my roomie would be. It took some of the stress off of moving to a new state where I knew absolutely no one.

When we started school in 2008, both of us had long-distance boyfriends, but both of us would break-up with them by the end of our freshmen year. Now, I wasn't as smart as Megan. I was on again, off again for four years with the same person. It's not a slight to him, please don't misunderstand me. Megan left her guy in the dust and understood she wasn't meant to be with him. I, on the other hand, needed some heavy-handed, long-term God-hitting-me-over-the-head-with-a-bat intervention.

It is insane how hard God worked to put Kyle in my life and even more disturbing how long I ignored God speaking directly to me like, "hey lady, would you just look at the man right in front of you!?" Look, it wasn't a Moses and the burning bush kind of speaking, so cut me some slack. It was subtle. Persistent. 

So here we go, let's restart the story. 

We drove cross-country with all of my stuff packed into a Ford Focus. I had purchased a new college appropriate wardrobe of Chapman t-shirts, baseball hats, sweatpants, tennis shoes, flip flops, a wide variety of bathing suits, and basically all summer clothes. I didn't pack anything nice - no dress shoes, no professional clothing, nothing fancy - at all. I was living California casual now, baby! Plus, I was a serious actor. I needed clothes that could move.

It was August 2008. Move-in day at Chapman University. We had parked in a weird spot not really near where my dorm room was (newbies). The campus, unlike the day I took my tour, was cluttered with people. It seemed like everybody knew somebody but me. And all the young women were drop dead gorgeous. And they were all wearing designer clothes and perfectly put-together outfits. Looking back, this was probably not the reality, but it was all that I could see. I was intimidated and scared. I was wearing jean shorts, a t-shirt, not a drop of make-up (seriously, not one drop), no straightened or curled hair (it was probably blown dry at least), and flip flops (no pedicure, cracked heels). Put yourself in a Kansas girl's shoes for a second: no make-up, comfort casual (aka no fashion sense whatsoever), walking onto this pristine campus with a totally different definition of beauty. I thought college would be relaxed and casual. After going to Catholic school for years, I was pretty excited to not be in uniform or dressed-up, but Chapman was NOT any more casual than Catholic school and it was a bit more on the skin-bearing side of the pendulum.

As we walked across Walnut from our odd parking spot near Argyros towards the dorms through swarms of beautiful people, a golf cart full of orientation assitants/leaders drove past. I swear it was like a clown car, but on a golf cart. And that golf cart carried a familiar face, my tour guide, David! Hey, I know him, I thought. I waved shyly. Then a bald guy hanging off the back end of the cart screamed at me, "WOOOOOOOO!!!! WELCOME TO CHAPMAAAAAAN!" Tongue out, shades on.

Oh my god, they're yelling at me, what do I do, I thought. This was my introverted nightmare. I'd made a mistake. Someone turn the car around. I stopped dead in my tracks. I had to say something. Think, Erin. Dammit! "Uhhhhhh....WOOO!" I yelled back, voice cracking, cart speeding away. Oh, boy.

Let me introduce you to my future husband. He was the bald, screaming dude hanging off the back of a clown-cart.

No wonder I wasn't able to pick-up the first hint.

(I'm going to take a little break from this story to get to some other topics that have been on my mind, but I promise part 4 will come before Valentine's Day. I'm not sure how long it's going to take to tell this story, so buckle-up!)



Friday, January 29, 2016

My Love Story: Part 2

Welcome back, readers. If you read last week's entry, you know that basically the only reason I fell for my now husband was because he and his friend, David, saw a "UFO" and filmed their entire conversation about it.

I have to pause that story for a moment and provide some context that, albeit lengthy, is worth reading. We're going to travel back to when I was visiting colleges, circa 2005/2006. I grew up in a Disciples of Christ (DOC) church and had a youth leadership position that enabled me to earn a large scholarship at any DOC affiliated college in the country. At the time, I was convinced that I'd win an Oscar and a Tony by the time I was 30 (I actually made a bet with my cousin, Dena, that I would take her out for a lavish steak dinner if I didn't do those things. Folks, that bet is up in June. I could use a movie role and a starring role in a Broadway play right about now). Chapman University was DOC affiliated, had a great theatre program, a dynamite film school, and it was California - my dream - so I was determined to visit and apply.

Even though Chapman was my top choice, I visited other schools closer to home in Texas, Illinois, and Missouri. I loved everywhere I visited, but I saved the best visit for last: Chapman. The summer after my junior year of high school, we went on a family road trip to California. The trip was not entirely for the college visit, but it was on our to-do list.

We had the most fantastic drive out west; we stopped at amazing sights and enjoyed taking our time driving cross-country. The trip turned south, though, the second we hit Southern California freeways. I remember my dad was driving and cars were literally whizzing by us at dangerously high speeds. The whole car was on edge with me, my sister, and my mom all becoming back seat and passenger seat drivers. None of us knew what the heck was going on. We were fish out of water.

We finally reached Hermosa Beach late in the day where we had planned on staying that night. In our family, reservations were for chumps. You leave finding the best hotel to fate. It was always a fun challenge. Dad would drive up, mom would rush in, work her magic negotiating skills, and we'd end up in the perfect hotel room. I never remember being disappointed, except on this trip.

It seemed every decent hotel was full. Everything close to the beach was luxury priced. We were tired, hungry, and worst of all, angry. When we finally landed in a hotel room (which was our penance for so many years of good luck in finding last minute hotel rooms), we were spent. We were fortunate enough to be a few blocks from the beach. We changed and walked down to relax in front of the ocean. I was scheduled to have a campus tour at Chapman the next day.

I remember distinctly what it felt like laying on my towel that late afternoon. It was a warm, gray day. I was torn up inside. We had just come from this concrete chaos and here was this beautiful, vast, majestic thing in front of me. I should have been glad to be there, but I just felt sick. I remember saying to my parents, "I can't live here. It's terrible. I don't want to tour Chapman tomorrow."

My parents listened, but they suggested I visit to "rule it out." Plus, I had "scheduled a meeting with that Dan Oliver, guy, remember?" Mom and I would go to Chapman in the morning, take the tour, then meet my Dad and my sister for dinner, and then we'd all go to Disneyland the next day.

I was so relieved. I knew that I could never in a million years live in this crazy place. Thank God for tomorrow - I would be ruling Chapman out.

Our car ride from the Hermosa area to Orange was much the same as the previous day, but instead of ending with an exhausting hotel hunt like the day before, the second we exited off the 22 onto Glassell, I relaxed.

Orange, California was beautiful. Picturesque. 1950s, even. Be still my romantic heart - the aesthetic of Orange was so me.

We found the campus quickly. It was pretty dead during summer, but it was more of the same beauty.

Before I knew it, we were climbing up the stairs of Argyros Forum towards the admissions office on the 3rd floor. It was a friendly office. Again, kind of dead with summer time. There was one other family from Chicago there for a tour.

My tour guide was hilarious. He was down-to-earth, fun, and from Colorado! I felt so at home. I thought to myself, "if everybody at Chapman is like this guy, sign me up." I went from wanting to rule it out to unpacking-a-bag-wanting-to-stay-forever obsessed with Chapman.

Look, I know my tour guide convinced lots of impressionable young minds to apply and attend the university, but this was different. I didn't know it at the time, but my tour guide, David, just happened to be one of my future husband's best friends.


To be continued...

Monday, January 25, 2016

My Love Story: Part 1

It was all perfectly timed, really. I had just gone through a series of ridiculous, sad, and frustrating break-ups, fizzle-outs, and flat-out weird dating experience when God sent my husband to me via a Facebook video titled, "Kyle and David's UFO sighting."

Le sigh.

If you know anything about me, you know that this was the start of a beautiful, beautiful love story. The key to my heart, apparently, is this video.

On Christmas Eve, 2008, the video below popped up on my Facebook newsfeed. I clicked play, watched this video, and I immediately started falling in love with Kyle.

Kyle and David's UFO sighting
No joke. Has anyone seen anything like this before?
Posted by David May on Friday, December 19, 2008

Monday, January 11, 2016

Top 3 Ways to Tackle Craft Supply Storage

I wish I had a before picture to show you because my craft storage was ridiculous. It was like a toddler had tried to organize my craft supplies...wait...

Anyway, this space needed help. This was my failed attempt to prove to my husband that I need an entire craft room. I thought surely all this crap wouldn't fit on the one dedicated wall shelving unit for craft supplies. I was wrong.

Here are my top 3 fail-proof suggestions for tackling craft supply storage, sure to keep wives everywhere from having a dedicated craft room. Get organized!

#1: Install shelving

My husband installed these shelves the week we moved into our home (two years ago) and I'm just now organizing them. I think we got them from Home Depot for around $15. Easy to install and heavy duty!

#2: Pick-up a few Dollar Tree clear plastic containers and bins

I bought several Dollar Tree containers (spent maybe 10-15 bucks) plus a set of drawers from Target (about 6 bucks) to organize tape, glue, paper, pens, scissors, etc., and it was a wonderful decision. I created labels out of my scrapbook paper and attached with simple scotch tape.

#3: Purchase a few square canvas  containers

These are kind of expensive, which is why I have four and why only two of them are the really nice faux leather ones. I keep extra outlets and electrical supplies in one of the leather ones, sketchbooks in the other, current projects I'm working on in one of the cream color boxes, and fabric and felt pieces in the other.

I've seen a lot of convoluted ways of organizing craft supplies, but this method is 3 steps and takes up one wall space in the house.

Next on the agenda for this office/extra bedroom space is a makeover. Watch out for a future post on this room redesign. I'm going to attempt to sew a duvet cover.