Monday, April 28, 2014

Employee of the Year

I won an award this year. It took me a long time to post about it for a couple of reasons - I wanted to have the trophy to show you, and it took me a long time to get comfortable with talking about it. I was kind of embarrassed in the beginning! I like attention when it's about showing off my crafty stuff, but somehow when it came to this I got really shy!

I absolutely love my job. In case you don't know, I work for the US Army and I run an Arts and Crafts program. I really believe in the power of arts and crafts for stress relief, family bonding, and the general well-being it gives. I believe every person has a spark of creativity inside them. Everyone has a different type of creativity from art to drama to music and everything in between. Our job is to provide an environment that inspires people to try new things and find the one that brings them joy. Seeing so many people learn to sew, or paint, or frame, or throw pottery makes it a joy to go to work every day!

My job is to do all the behind the scenes stuff to make sure the program grows and is successful. In the last two years we were able to get the program to the point that if the military decides not to fund Arts and Crafts centers anymore that we would still be able to stay open because we are self-sufficient. Without boring you, there are two types of money - tax payer money and self-generated money. It was really important to me to not have to use tax payer money. So our customers fund the program themselves through their purchases and class attendance.

SOOOO.... to wrap it up, my boss put me in for the Recreation Employee of the Year award. I won at Europe and thought that would be it. But low and behold, I won at the Army level! I was so astounded and flattered! There is another award called "Career Employee of the Year" for employees that have worked for MWR for years and done awesome things. The lady who won that was from Europe too, so the region decided to present our awards at the theater awards ceremony called The Toppers.

So we went! Rob got to go with me and we had a blast!

All these photos (except my iphone pic) are from Martin Greeson, the official photographer.

The Toppers are like the Tony's. They award best plays, actors, actresses, costume designers, makeup, the whole works!

In between every award was musical numbers! It was really entertaining! The acts were GOOD!
I was like a giddy school girl up there. It was kind of embarrassing! And I couldn't stand there gracefully because the award was SO heavy! Haha!
 The lady standing there with me is the Regional Director for my organization! It was really neat to have her do the presentation!
 This is our Stuttgart leadership. Left to right is our Command Seargent Major, my boss Oliver, our Deputy to the Commander, me, and our Garrison Commander. They all got to present awards to actors and stuff, so they were going to be there anyway. But it was super neat to have them all there! There were also lots of people from Stuttgart because they were there to support the plays and actors that were nominated for awards.

The crowd was EXCITED about these awards! They went nuts every time their play was nominated for something! It was really fun to be there.

This is the lady that won the Career Employee of the Year. Look how graceful she looks! Her trophy was also stunning!!

I have had people joking with me for days about what to use the trophy for. Fruit bowl, candy dish, fish bowl... I took it to work today and had even more jokes. So after lunch today I filled it with fruit! It really is a beautiful trophy!

I'm really grateful for my boss for putting me in for this and for all the people I have gotten to work with over the years and work with now. I'm not alone and there is no way I could be successful at my job without amazing people working with me. I really do feel like this was a team effort that spanned over the last nine years. This isn't a cheesy "I want to thank my ... " speech. I really do love what I do and I'm flattered that I got an award for doing it well!

If you want to see more pictures from the event you can see them on the website for the official photographer here: (Just so you know, the website doesn't work right on iPad)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wilton Certified!

I've been dabbling with all things baking related for quite some time. I've had some successes and some big time fails! If you just search cake on my blog you'll find several examples of cupcakes, cake balls, and even a few cookies. It's fun, it's creative, and you don't have to worry about storing your art because someone eats it!

So we had a cake decorating instructor at the store for a little while and the classes were very successful! But she left. And we haven't had anyone Wilton certified since then. So I applied, and got accepted, and now am authorized to teach Wilton cake decorating classes. Crazy, right? 

So I poured through training videos so I would be able to teach their curriculum. The section on royal icing flowers was really fun! I piped the flowers with white icing because I didn't want to mess with so many colors if they were a disaster. 
But they turned out ok! And then I wished they were colored... So I hand-painted them with icing colors. (food coloring)

Now I want to hand-paint a cake! This was so fun and relaxing. I was really surprised!

I tried to use my favorite buttercream frosting for piping pretty flowers, but it was a disaster. The pure buttercream gets too melted when you try to pipe fancy stuff. 

So I tried the shortening version, but I used the butter flavored shortening. I did a taste test today and everyone at worked liked it.  I know the difference, but I guess it passed the taste test. 
 The shortening just really holds up against piping for a long time and holds its shape better than pure butter frosting. I tried the technique where you have two colors in one bag to make the flowers above.

The funny thing about the frosting is I had a super hard time keeping the CAT out of it! He normally won't come near the baking, but there was something about the frosting that he couldn't resist!
I think he licked the bowl at some point because I caught him doing that thing that animals do if you feed them peanut butter! The cupcakes themselves were safe by that time! Don't worry!

So anyway, I got my Wilton Instructor box in the mail the other day, so now I just need to read through the instructor books and start scheduling classes! One more skill in the crafty toolbox.

PS. Mary Allen - if you still read my blog, you should get certified too!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

March Recap

I know it's already the middle of April, but I still wanted to do a March recap post and share some fun things that happened!

First up, I got picked to be a pattern tester for Made By Rae! This was really fun! The pattern will be available soon and then I will post the pictures of what I made. Of course if you follow me on Flickr you've already seen them!
 I enjoyed some time with my colleagues and good girl friends for Long Night at the Museum. At the end of the night Martha and I caught the new Dunkin Donuts closing and giving out free donuts! It was seriously like 2 am and we were standing there in the train station stuffing our faces!
 We got together another night for dinner and a movie. Dinner at our favorite Greek place, Taverna Olympus. YUM! 
At work March was National Craft Month. We tried something new by taking crafts out to public places and inviting people to craft with us. We called them Craft Flash Mobs. We had one successful one and some flops. We probably won't do it again, but at least we tried!

 Teaching was busy too. I taught fabric nesting bowls, 
 and the Swoon pattern. 
There were a few other classes, but I either don't have photos, or already posted them. 

I also went to the Quilt Guild meeting for the first time! I can't believe I've been here 12 years and never made it before! 
 And lastly, Stuttgart discovered the Rainbow Loom! We're only a little behind. :) We are now carrying the original Rainbow Loom which is really exciting because we are the first military facility that got the original one!

I really like the Rainbow Loom because it's something crafty that Ethan enjoys and it can be complicated enough that I enjoy it!

March was seriously busy but it was full of joy and fun!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Clover Pants

I ordered my first pattern from Colette - the Clover pants

Colette makes patterns that are designed to be flattering on curvy women. The construction was easy and had easy to follow instructions. However I should have made a muslin first. According to my measurements I should have been a size 14, but they were way too big! It's possible because I made them out of super stretchy denim. I ended up cutting them apart and making them smaller, but then got them too small! LOL! Since they are stretchy though they are still wearable. They are jeggings now! I ended up putting a yoga band waist on them with a 3" wide elastic. I have never used the seam ripper as much on one item as I did on these pants! 

I don't know how long they will last, but I will wear them until they fall apart and then make another pair. I'm thinking I might try to make a pair out of floral fabric and give that trend a try. They'll be my muslin. :)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

New Backpack

I LOVE my old backpack but I thought it was a little big. And of course new fabric came in that was perfect for my second backpack!
 I used a different pattern this time and it's a little smaller.
 I made it exactly according to the instructions, with only one change: a key hanger. Oh, I lied... I did add one little zippered pocket for the unmentionables a woman needs to carry. But other than that the pattern was great as is!
The front pocket has little credit card slots, which I would never use for actual credit cards... but it's nice for little things like my name tag and usb stick. It would probably be fine for loyalty cards too, but with only a velcro closure nothing is going in there as valuable as a credit card!
 The fabric is a super lovely new line from Riley Blake called Vintage Verona.

Pattern is "Got Your Back Backpack Purse" from byAnnie.

So I was cleaning the sewing room today and found a whole huge piece of soft and stable! I wish I had found it BEFORE I made the backpack, but that's ok. I ordered more for the store so I can recommend it if I teach this as a class. So anyway, I just wanted to say thank you to whoever left it behind!

This past week was Spring Break, however we spent it at home rather than our planned trip to Paris. Someone fell off his bike at the bike track and broke his arm. This kid. He said he was laying on the ground and didn't cry or scream, but yelled "dangit! I broke my arm AGAIN!" Poor thing. So he's in a cast again. This time it's his left wrist. I spent one day watching "how to fall" videos on YouTube with him to try to get some tips on how not to keep breaking bones. Sigh.