Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Jesse Tree Ornament Exchange

Crafting is like solving word problems or cake baking for me.  Something freezes over in my mind and all the channels lock up, which is why I ignored an email from a sweet friend - twice. When the email came to my inbox for the third time proclaiming it's need for more crafters, I caved. It's what we do for friends.    I was too late to pick an easy craft, so the "Altar of Fire" (this account can be found in I Kings 18,) became my responsibility.

My personal craft supply is pitiful.  That would mean a trip to Michaels, where beads, florals, fabrics and who knows what else, abounds. I sniffed out the felt isle. That's all I know. Felt, pipe cleaners and a glue gun. Eureka! Did you know there's textured felt now?? I chose "cobblestone grey" and the fun began.

After deciding how big I wanted these puppies to be, I started my assembly work by cutting out 25 rectangle altars, 25 rectangle bases and puddles of water, and then I cut out pieces of "wood" from a floral ribbon I found. The fire, I made from tissue paper and the twine to hang this ornament came from scrap bits of burlap I had when I washed   a few yards of burlap fabric. Don't ask.

The day of our ornament exchange arrived quickly. (The fly on the wall was most likely amused at my disheveled appearance, hunched over piles of felt.) My not-cute, messy pony tail barely held my hair in place as I scrambled to get the last 13 ornaments complete. The smell of banana bread wafted through the house, but apparently not strong enough because I never noticed that it was over baking.

This took me about 4 sittings, 8-10 minutes per ornament. Yes, I timed how long it took me to finish one!

I was so excited to package these up!

Hopefully, my ornaments turned out better than the banana bread, which ended up being left at home to feed to my boys (almost like feeding the dogs). In the place of banana bread I threw a bag of tortilla chips and a jar of salsa into a tote and headed out the door. I am notorious for this.  Though more notorious for bringing my failed baked item. At least I have learned to leave that at home.

Once I arrived and saw all the different ornaments, one for each day of advent, I was over taken by feelings of inadequacy and nervousness. Who wants to disappoint their friends, knowing how much time they spent on their ornament? But I also felt excitement to visualize our Rowden family Jesse Tree, heavy laden with these gifts. The realization that each one represented the loving hands of a friend became clear and made every minute of work worth it!  I looked around the room at everyone visiting and smiled to myself. Did they have little ones clamoring around while they worked on theirs? Did they work late into the night to get it done? Were they nervous too?  I wanted to hug each woman. But I didn't. Some of my friends are not huggers you know.

HOWEVER, the special lady who spent a lot of time organizing this event?! Well, she definitely deserves a big hug for gathering all the ladies, scheduling and re-scheduling!

And I think I'll give myself a hug in the form of chocolate. A convert to the world of crafting I'm not, but I am very glad I did this one!

Have you participated in an advent ornament exchange?

Below are the pictures from our set up, followed by more up close pictures of the ornaments. Enjoy! And happy creating. :) By the way, the inspiration and guide for these ornaments came from Ann Voskamp's, "Unwrapping the Greatest Gift".

Where Love Grows, the Earth, Serpent in the Garden,  Count the Starts,
Gift of Laughter (sandal), Ram, Jacob's ladder
A little closer, so you see the sparkling "stars"
Commandments, Rahab's Rope, Wheat (Ruth & Boaz), King David, Light in Darkness
The fruitless tree
This one has a candle inside to emphasize the "Light"
"God Remembers" Angel, Esther's crown and scepter, Watchtower, the Whale, & Wide Awake Dreams

Jonah in the belly, with sand, seaweed etc
This one came after the party.  Hmmm, wonder what it is?
"Thunder in the Desert"
Joseph's coat, Carpenter Nails, the Manger Scene, Star of David

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Organizing a Photoshoot - That's a First

Yeah. That's about how the day went. Only, for some reason my folder isn't in my hand at this moment with all the shots organized. ------------------------>
But, I'm getting ahead of myself here.  
When a small group endeavors to accomplish big things it takes tons of prayer for inspiration, direction and unity, lots of time and work,  and a little bit of faith. This photoshoot is a very small part of a much bigger adventure. With the launching of a revised women's group at our church, we would need pictures for the social media world most of us live in.  

 So my first order of business would be obtaining the right photographer and I already had someone specific in mind. This young lady had taken our family photos, so I knew she would easily pick up the vision.  The catch? We had no budget at this point.  Would our photographer friend be willing to donate her precious, valuable time for this venture? 

"Morgan Alligood with Morgan Mechling Photography, would you be our pro-bono photographer for a day?"


Where would the shoot be held at? Outside.  Done.

What props would we use? My neighbor makes farm tables and other pieces of furniture as a side business. Would he lend us a table?

Rob & Patti Furniture
Now we needed the living bodies, which would be no easy feat considering all the differing schedules!   I set about gathering contact information on any ladies who I thought would be interested and sent out a group email.  The response was fabulous with only a couple "yeah, I don't think so's". 

The scheduling was the most daunting task for me and I spent a few afternoons working out all the kinks. There were some who were available in the morning, others for the afternoon and some for all day.  The time would be set from 9:00-2:00 and we would just have to do the best we could! 

Next? Should I give them a guide on what to wear? Why Not?

Thank you pinterest for making my life easier. Sometimes.

More planning was needed. What backgrounds did we want? 

 I met with sweet Morgan and we walked the properties we intended to use and discussed each shot. Then I went home and wrote up a checklist. 

Next, I enlisted my husband to load up table and chairs into his truck and deliver to Morgan's home. 

The day finally arrived, and I was like a tornado blazing in and around my house loading up more props, some of which were mine and others that were borrowed.

Friends pitched in at just the right moments so that we could get everything set up on time. We even had a clothes rack with accessories, tops, etc in case we needed wardrobe changes. 

Ladies began arriving. I squared my shoulders.  We prayed and then the fun began.

Another surprise for the day was Dawn who ended up being a big help!

I hardly noticed the time passing, as we went from one "scene" to the next. The ladies were fabulously flexible, as they were pulled to and from or asked to wait for long periods of time.  Morgan and I never stopped for lunch, but we did shove muffins in our faces when we started fading.

Towards the end, I think we were both tempted to say "it's a wrap" but we knew there would be no other photo shoots for some time to come. We had to get it done!

And the result? Oh my goodness. Well worth the sacrifice, sleepless nights and craziness.  I left tired but feeling so emotionally charged and full.  

And here are a few edited pictures from that day...

Our chalkboard Artist and other cuties...

Kristin, Amanda, & Lauren, our Artist. :)
And we had a lot of signs...

Ministry Team: Amy, Danette, Darla, Mandy, Kim, Me
I have so many favorites...

Our Theme for the day: We Need Each Other

This was everyone by the end of the day...

In closing, I think I found what I want to do when I grow up! And when I went home that day I found this email from one of our "talent" waiting for me...

"Wow!!! How awesome it was to have had the privilege of spending time with all those wonderful  ladies! I am so blessed to have been a part of that. Thanks to you and the team for putting this together. More importantly, thank you for having me!" Titi O.

To Pineville and Beyond

Our adventures for today, landed us in Pineville, NC, just about three hours from us. Our purpose? A "go see" for my middle child. And that's exactly how it goes down. You go and they see if they like you or not. Typically I do not drive a total of 6 hours for auditions, but I said yes and at that point there is no going back.

I was dreading this trip, but a last minute scheduling surprise landed my mom right into my mini-van. Let the good times roll...all the way to Pineville Mall.

There doesn't seem to be an end to new experiences in this business for us.  We have gone from goat farm in the middle of Atlanta to a department store in the mall.  The instructions were very specific. Go through the employee entrance, use this code, go up elevator, turn right and then follow directions through the warehouse. That's where it felt a little freaky.

"you go first Mom".  

"No. Collin, you go ahead..."

That's all we could see. No sign of a studio. But we all finally stepped in, like characters in the Wizard of Oz with arms linked, walking through the maze until we saw light coming from an open doorway.

Who knew this was back there??

And in less than 10 minutes we were done! So, to no feel as if we just drove three hours for 10 minutes we decided to walk around the mall for a few minutes...

...grab coffee

...take pictures

This day will now be filed under "Time Well Spent". And if anyone is curious, the owl shirt I'm wearing was purchased at a Harris III, the Illusionist show. "It's now how you look, it's how you see."
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