Friday, March 29, 2013

Fake Grapes and Gold Spray Paint

I know over the past few years I have written posts about the fun, unusual, and sometimes ridiculous things I get to do, and sometimes have to do, for my job.  This is another such post!  Several weeks ago at The Well we asked students to bring items to donate to a food pantry on campus, and we made it a competition between the Class '16 small groups.  Whichever group brought the most items would receive "an awesome prize" at the next large Class '16 event.  That event happened to be the Monday after we got back from spring break, and time just got away from me.  As of 5:00pm that Monday not only did I not have a prize to give, I didn't even have a solid idea as to what it should be!  I headed to Goodwill hoping to find an old trophy or something random I could spray paint gold and turn into a silly prize.  There were no trophies, no weird figurines, nothing.  Then I saw a child's toy shopping basket and I had a plan!  I would get some fake fruit, fill it up, paint it gold, and viola!  The Golden Shopping Basket - the perfect prize for food-related contest. 

At this point I had about an hour and a half to get everything I would need, go home, assemble and paint the basket, get dressed up (it was a tacky party), and make it back to the office to get set up.  So I rush off to Wal Mart to hopefully find some cheap fake fruit.  It turned out to be almost $2 a piece.  I would need several pieces and didn't feel like spending that much money on a silly prize, so I decided to try the Dollar Tree which was thankfully super close.  I made it to the front doors of Wal Mart when I realized I still needed gold spray paint, so I turned back around and super-speed walked to the paint department.  I got my paint, checked out, flew to Dollar Tree and made a bee-line to the fake fruit. 

Once I got home and starting messing around with the fruit in the basket I decided I needed a few other things in it, to make it look like an actual shopping basket and not just a fruit basket.  I went into the kitchen and dumped my recycling container on the floor, sifted through it and found the perfect size jar.  Then I started opening my cabinets.  There was a box of orzo that was also just the right size, so I dumped the rest of the orzo into a container and took the box.  I arranged and rearranged all the items a few times until I found what looked best, and then used a combination of super glue, tacky glue, and toothpicks to hold it all together.  My living room floor was a mess, but 13 minutes after walking in the door, I had created the prize basket.

Now I just needed to spray paint it.  It was raining outside so I couldn't paint in the parking lot, and there wasn't enough room out on the sidewalk/front patio, so I made the logical choice to spray paint it in my kitchen.  It said to paint in a well ventilated area, such as a garage but I figured a kitchen was close enough if I opened a window, turned on the oven vent and the ceiling fan in the living, and brought in a little fan.  I laid down my drop cloth and started painting but quickly realized the little fan was blowing the paint residue directly onto my refrigerator and cabinets.  And the last thing my outdated, mismatched little kitchen needed was gold accents.   But instead of moving the fan, I rigged the drop cloth and got back to work.  The end result was a golden shopping basket that I was quite pleased with!  There were also lots of moments throughout the whole process where I thought to myself, "This is nuts!  Why am I doing this?!"

While the paint dried I put together a very tacky outfit, complete with bright blue eye shadow and a purple scrunchie.  The crazy, whirlwind of an evening was worth it though, because the winning team loved the prize!  I think they said they would keep it out on their leader's coffee table for the rest of the semester!

Getting ready to reveal the winning team...

Number one!

Who wouldn't want this beautiful basket on their coffee table?!?

All of the tacky lady leaders of Class '16

My tacky outfit was made complete with my new rain boots.  Post about them to come soon!

And can we just take one more moment to appreciate the transformation from Goodwill, Dollar Tree, and recycling bin finds to one snazzy looking golden shopping basket?  I swear, add gold spray paint to anything and it becomes magical and impressive!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Spring Break '13 - Atlantic City

This year for The Well's spring break mission trip we went to Atlantic City, New Jersey to do relief work from Hurricane Sandy.  There were thirty-four students and six adults, and early Friday morning March 8th we loaded a trailer full of luggage, sleeping bags, air mattresses, tools, and food, piled into a van, mini bus, and car and set out!  We arrived in Egg Harbor Township late that night, where we would be staying for the week at Greentree Church. 

Saturday morning we got right to work!  We were split into three teams, and I had ten students on my team.  We were the only team that got to work at the same house all week, and that was a huge blessing because it allowed us to form a really good relationship with Mel, who lived at the house with his mother and son.  When you first walked into the house you wouldn't have known that anything was wrong, because it looked pretty normal, but after the hurricane there had been two feet of standing water in the downstairs of the house.  Everything under the floors and behind the walls was starting to mold, and it would all need to be replaced.  The first few hours of work were the most fun I think, because we all got to take crowbars to the walls and tear down all of the drywall.  Then we pulled up the linoleum in the living room, hardwood floors in the kitchen, and started tearing up the sub-flooring, which was the most difficult and time consuming thing we did all week.

On Sunday morning we went to church at Greentree, had our lunch there, and then spent the rest of the day and evening in Atlantic City.  It was kind of odd to have our "fun day" at the beginning of the trip, but that's just how it worked out this time.  It seriously took us about 25 minutes to find somewhere to park our bus and van together, and at one point Seth got out of the van and forgot to put it in park.  It started rolling backward, I covered my eyes and sort of quietly screamed, and one of the guys sitting in the first row had to dive into front and slam on the brake with his hands!  That was the highlight of the early afternoon.  Once we found parking, the first stop for my little group was the boardwalk and beach.  It was strange to be walking on the beach in boots, a coat, hat, and gloves! 

Even though the sun wasn't out, it was still bright, so we're all squinting.  In the sand we wrote #atlanticcity2013, which was the hash tag we all used whenever we tweeted about the trip.

Me and Ashlynn, one of the girls from my Class '16 freshman small group.

And Lauren and I.  She was in my Class '13 small group, and now she's graduating in May!

In front of us everything was gray.

And behind us everything was quite colorful.

After the beach we went into one of the lobby areas of a casino to get some Starbucks, and then to a little mall sort of place where we saw two guys getting arrested for shoplifting.  That was the highlight of the middle afternoon.  Then we headed for the outlets; we went to J.Crew, Gap, H&M, Fossil, Life is Good, Nike and Famous Footwear and I managed to only buy one thing!  A pair of shorts at J.Crew for $25.  For dinner we went to Sack 'O Subs, a popular sub shop.  I thought my sub was just ok, but my table split orders of regular fries, spicy curly fries, and pizza fries, and they were amazing.  Definitely the highlight of the evening.

Lauren got really excited about the revolving doors at the casino and took pictures of everyone going in.

These are the two shoplifters, handcuffed.  We were a floor up, looking down.

And here's our whole group.  I'm in front making a horrible face.

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday were more or less the same.  Get up, eat breakfast at 7:30, pack a lunch, leave the church by 8:10ish, and go to our work sites.  We'd eat lunch there and then return to the church anywhere between 4:00 and 5:30.  On Monday my team finished tearing up all the flooring and sub flooring, which involved busting up tile with sledge hammers!  We also installed new insulation in the walls and treated all the floor joists for mold. 

Lunch break!
Alex, Haley, and Debbie.

Ashlynn and Kelcie.
That's mold on the walls, behind where the cabinets, fridge, and stove were.

We had to wait a little while for some more supplies, so we got to play with Mel's son's dog, Bolt.
I actually worked too! 

My team! Alex, Martin, Ashlynn, Mason, Lauren, Mel - who's house it was, Ashley, Haley, Tiffany, Debbie, and Kelcie.

I only had the camera with me on Monday, so I can't show the rest of the progress, but over the next three days we finished tearing up all the flooring, installed insulation in the walls and floors, and laid down new sub flooring.  You could also say we installed insulation in the floors several times, because we all kept stepping through it!  Until all the sub flooring was down we had make shift walkways, but we still had to do lots of walking back and forth just balancing on the floor joists.  The insulation covered the wood up though, and it was easy to miss-step.  Thankfully no one was seriously hurt, just some bruises and minor scrapes.   

On Tuesday, before we put in new insulation, we all wrote a message to Mel on the floor joists.  It was so neat to glance up from working and see students scattered throughout the living room, awkwardly crouched between the wooden slats, writing prayers and Scripture.  Even though I knew those messages would most likely never be seen again, I loved knowing that the house would literally be founded on the Truth.  Mel wasn't at the house when we did this, and so later we just told him about it.  The next day, when he got back from the Dollar Tree, where he works, he had two pieces of poster board and a pack of markers.  He told us that since he would never be able to see what we had written, he wanted us all to write it again on the posters, and that he would hang it up to remember us by.  It was then that I realized we were doing so much more than just working on his house, we really were touching his heart.  I do not think that Mel knows Jesus, but I know he saw Jesus through our students.  And for me, that is why this trip was a huge success!

*Shout out to Lauren Ray for these photos!

The church that we stayed at was very nice and accommodating.  We had a commercial grade kitchen to prepare all of our meals in, and a gym to eat and hang out in.  We slept in classrooms and had plenty of room.  There was only one shower for the guys and one shower for the girls though, and they shared the same hot water heater.  So needless to say that resulted in long lines for the showers, which were often quick and cold.  But we made it work and it really ended up not being a big deal.  One night I waited until pretty late to shower, so I could have a somewhat long and hot one.  And everything was going according to plan until the lights went out!  The bathroom lights were on a motion sensor, and I'd been in the shower long enough that the sensor didn't pick up any movement.  Thankfully all I had to do was step out for a moment and they came back on!  

It was the church's missions emphasis week that week, and on Wednesday night they had a mutli-cultural dinner.  They had little stations set up all around the gym with authentic food from different countries, and we could sample whatever food we wanted.  My favorite was the matzo ball soup from Israel and the dish from Poland which had sausage, cheese, and potatoes.   It was also a fun night because after three days of wearing work clothes and looking kind of rough, it gave us a reason to "dress up" and feel nice.

Lauren curled my hair with one of those curling wands.  I need to get me one of those!

All of the ladies of the trip.

Friday morning we got up, packed, cleaned, loaded everything back up and headed back to Tennessee.  So it really was an incredible trip.  The students were great - everyone got along and had great attitudes, and we accomplished great things for the Kingdom of God!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

East Tennessee Weather

The weather here is infamous for being strange and unpredictable.  For example, during the second week of January it was warm enough outside for me to go running in a t-shirt and shorts.  And then today, the 25th day of March, five days into spring, six days until Easter, and it snows all day.  Not only did it snow all day, it snowed in the most bizarre patterns I have ever witnessed.  It started out just as flurries, then it snowed, with the snow blowing in horizontally.  An hour later it all quit and the sun came out.  Then it started snowing again, coming down from all directions this time, all while the sun was still out.  Then everything turned gray.  So gray and foggy that I couldn't see the dorm 100 yards away!  Then it stopped snowing and then it started and then it stopped.  Then the fluffy white clouds came out and the sky turned blue, and then it started snowing again! This randomness went on all. day. long.  We got practically no snow last year, so the winter weather has been nice this season; the key words being has been.  I am ready for warmer weather now! 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

I'm Still Here

Another two week lapse in blogging.  Ugh, I hate it and I'm sorry!  But it's March, and March is horribly busy for us at The Well, and therefore my life is a little crazy right now.  How crazy?  Well as I'm writing this I'm wearing tall argyle socks, work out pants, a button-down shirt, and an apron.  Completely random, but summing up my life this week.  And what items are somewhere on my bed right now?  Bazillions of clothes, a camera, laptop case, books, and safety goggles.  And I slept with all those items on the bed last night because I was too lazy and tired to move them.  This is real life people.  It's messy and disorganized, but hang with me and I should have some great posts coming your way next week!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Box of Sunshine

I have a sweet friend who needed some cheering up a few weeks ago, so I sent her a little box of sunshine!  This was an idea I pinned a long time ago, and more recently started working on.  As I've been out and about I've kept my eyes open for cute, little, inexpensive yellow things and eventually had a whole bag full.  When the opportunity finally arose, I chose enough items to fill a small box, drew a happy sunshine on it, and off it went!

The sunshiney items:
Peanut M&Ms
Yellow buttons
Face mask
Tangerine hand sanitizer in a yellow "Anti-bac pac" from Bath & Body Works
Yellow nail polish
Burt's Bees lip balm
Yellow note pad

When I started this little project I knew I wanted to include Burt's Bees and yellow nail polish, but those were my only specifics, after that I just picked up random stuff.  Everything included in this package came from the cosmetics section and check-out line of Wal Mart, and the dollar section of Michael's - two stops and that was it!  This was a fun and easy way to brighten someone's day (look at me, I rhymed!) and I can't wait to do it again!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Snowy Weekend

It's been snowing off and on since Thursday, and I haven't minded at all!  Sure, it's been cold, but there hasn't been any ice, so driving conditions have still been fine, and the big, fluffy, white snowflakes are beautiful.  It's been the kind of snow that flutters down from all directions and I feel like I'm living inside of a snow globe - it's wonderful!

This was leaving Grace Fellowship Church Friday afternoon.

And this was heading to church Sunday morning.

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