Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Don't Glue the Wreaths to the Windows

We are entering the home stretch on this thing called Christmas, and the chaos of getting everything ready and having it all done is reaching a fever pitch. The mall is overrun, the grocery store is a zoo, traffic is jammed. I couldn't help but think back to a particular yuletide incident that happened a few years ago and laugh at how crazy Christmas preparations can make you...if you let it.

It had been one of those years when Christmas just sneaks up on you, like a tinsel-covered ninja. Before I knew it, we were a week away from the big day and I was about a month behind. I still had a list as long as my arm of gifts to buy, Christmas cards that were half addressed waiting to be sent out, and an optimistic assortment of baked good waiting to be created. The stockings were not exactly hung by the chimney with care, and not only was I stirring, frankly, I was freaking out.

Because this was just the second year we lived in our house, I made the rookie mistake of using suction cup holders to afix the wreaths to all our windows. Basically, every time I pulled into our driveway, one of the seven wreaths across the front of our house had fallen off into the shrubbery below. My daily routine was to throw the car in park, grab the ladder from the garage, rustle around in the bushes, pluck out the wreath and try with all my might to stick that sucker back into place where it belonged. And did I mention that the garland framing our front door completely refused to stay up? If the right side was in place, the left side would droop and fall, or vice versa. No, no, no: this was not the picture of perfection I envisioned for household holiday splendor.

After a particularly miserable day in my little gray cubicle at work, I came home and, for the millionth time, surveyed the wreath chaos which had unfolded during the day. A girl can only fight the suction cup battle for so long before something snaps. And I suppose it did. In a fit of what some might call rage, but I prefer to label intense holiday cheer, I stormed inside looking for super glue. Mercifully, in my seeing red, spitting nails, smoke out of my ears state, I couldn't locate any, but I did find a heavy duty glue stick that was roughly the size of a can of tennis balls and went to work. By this time, my husband had arrived home, and he watched with a combination of curiosity and horror as I zealously glued each wreath to the window on which it belonged. I can't imagine that Elmer's has ever brought anyone such satisfaction.

When I finished my glue work, I stormed to the garage and returned with a hammer and some roughly two-inch long nails--a fistful of them. I climbed our eight foot ladder and used every ounce of noel I had in me to nail the entire length of garland into place. Yes, you read that right: I nailed our garland to the side of our house, using about a dozen nails, and it felt darn good. I'm pretty sure I came inside and had a good cry at that point, but I can tell you without hesitation that our decorations stayed put for the rest of the season until I was good and ready to pry them down.

It's easy for me to look back on all of it and laugh now. I've finally realized that Christmas is coming whether you're ready or not, and that it doesn't have to be perfect to be perfectly enjoyable. No one is going to notice if your garland takes a tumble or if those cookies don't get baked, or if you use gift bags instead of spending hours crafting perfect bows for all your presents (and if they do, send them back to Grinchtown where they belong).

The fact of the matter is that it really is the most wonderful time of the year, but if you don't stop and make yourself be in the moment, Christmas will pass you by. So enjoy the lights and decorations. Wear an ugly sweater. Revel in the fact that calories don't exist at Christmas. Give yourself a break and watch Clark and the Griswolds enjoy some quality family time, or feel for Ralphie as he pines away for his Red Rider BB gun, or join Buddy the Elf as he connects with his dad--who is (gasp!) on the naughty list. Put your feet up, take a big swig of eggnog, and savor it. And no matter how great the temptation may be, don't glue the wreaths to the windows. It kind of freaks out the neighbors.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Pinterest: Decoded

It's the most wonderful time of the year. Time for baking, decorating, crafting, and shopping...which means it's the ultimate season of Pinterest.

And isn't Pinterest just the best? So full of clever tips and tricks, crafts and clothes, recipes and projects, it really is a wealth of information. Last year, around Valentine's Day, I found the cutest topiaries that I loved and just had to make for my front door. Two trips to Michael's, a visit to Hobby Lobby, and half a paycheck later, mine didn't turn out exactly the way the instructions assured me they would:

I mean, bless. Although the website promised the overpriced paint I bought would not destroy the premium Styrofoam, it gobbled it right up, and left splotchy, discolored places all over those allegedly "simple" heart shapes. The best part of the project was February 15 when I threw the whole mess of it in our curbside trash can.

I've had a few more pinning ups and downs, most recently, with an "easy and delicious" red velvet trifle I decided to make for a Christmas party last week. I had a terrible plague head cold, and so the thought of something comforting and festive, while still simple to prepare was too much to resist. Imagine my surprise when not one, but two hours passed before the confection was complete? And, upon tasting, I found this oh-so-promising red velvet trifle not as delicious as Little Debbie or as appetizing as Entenmann's. Oh, Pinterest, you got me again.

So quick and easy that I almost missed the party.

It's taken me a while, and several epic fails, to discover what exactly all that Pinterest information actually means. If you go into it naively, you will suffer greatly. Allow me to put my pain to good use and decode what Pinterest is really trying to say in those clever little descriptions that accompany each pin:

Elegant: This will look absolutely nothing like the picture. In all likelihood, it will turn out burned, bruised, smudged, smushed, cracked, and/or busted.

Quick and easy: Go ahead and make this, we dare you. Double dog dare you. And kiss the rest of your day goodbye. Watch the sun set, and then rise again, as you attempt to find the end of your crafting journey. Take a long swig of Red Bull and a big dose of patience, and pretend you don't hear that cosmic evil laugh the entire time you are working.

Inexpensive and fun: I hope you don't have any plans for the next four straight days, and that you have an excellent credit rating that can help with a low interest rate to finance your little project. From experience, "inexpensive" is a Pinterest term that only applies to millionaires or shoplifters. The rest of us are going to feel the pinch when we get that mile long receipt and have to pay in installments. But hey, isn't that all part of the "fun?"

Simple: Any idiot can do it. As long as that idiot is part MacGyver, part Martha Stewart. As my grandma was fond of saying, get right with the Lord before you try this one, because you're probably going to need a miracle.

Takes less than (insert amazingly small number here) minutes!: Based on my experience, it would be wise to quadruple the given number of minutes and use that as your base time. Add extra time if you are prone to any of the following: exhaustion, fits of rage, crying, bathroom breaks, or any type of daily routine.

The only recipe you will ever need: Likely so because the crushing blow delivered to your self esteem after attempting said recipe will result in you never, ever, cooking again and instead paying a caterer or professional to handle the culinary situation instead. Still, it's the only recipe you'll ever need. Sob.

You must try this: Simply put, misery loves company. Please try this so that you can feel my pain and enter this special inner circle of hell created just for Pinterest-trusting souls who haven't yet learned the code.

Worth the effort: Ah, here it is. The granddaddy of them all. If you attempt any project labeled this way, you are a masochist. When Pinterest-speak admits that there is effort required, you can bet it will be Herculean. Get your game face on and may the odds be ever in your favor. God speed. At the very least, you will walk away with a story to tell your grandchildren about one day.

In all fairness, I've made a few things that were relatively easy and inexpensive. I can't for the life of me think of any of them now, but I'm certain they exist, otherwise I wouldn't keep going back to the site for more, right? Maybe it's the thrill of the chase, the art of the challenge that keeps me pinning, trying, failing, pinning, cursing, pinning. While I've had cocktails fall flat, cookies crumble, cake chaos, dinner disasters, and crafts crap out, it can't all be impossible; my Pinterest hope springs eternal. If all else fails, there's always the humor section. Because nothing cures shattered domestic dreams like a Pinterest-worthy inspiring quote.

A quote from Pinterest, seemingly about Pinterest. Happy crafting!