Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Get it Girl: DJ K-Swizzle

About a week ago I started a post about learning how to fearlessly embrace a challenge - to have a little more "gumption" as Arthur taught us in The Holiday: 

The Holiday
I can’t think of anyone with more "gumption" than my BFF Kate. She lives and laughs louder than anyone I know (emphasis on LOUD J). I don’t mean this in a negative way. On the contrary, I think everyone needs a confident, enthusiastic friend who likes to live life with the volume cranked up! A joyful, encouraging, country-music-loving, Tyler-Perry-movie-watching, changing-her-own-motor-oil kind of friend. Kate is that friend to me.  But even Kate has a comfort zone that she needs to break out of every once in a while. This post is about the dare she took on of becoming a wedding DJ.
Always bringin' the party!

Give us all a brief background about who you are and your usual day-to-day life:
I’m a 30-year-old freelance court reporter who’s a natural extrovert (unlike my introverted hubby). I love life, my friends and family and I’m a Starbucks addict ;) And I’m extremely loud, which cracks all my friends up that my job is to sit and not speak all day long J

How did this “DJ gig” come about?
My husband’s family gets together every Thanksgiving on the west side of Michigan for four days. Most of his aunts/uncles/cousins live out of state – so it’s a time for us to just hang out and really connect with each other. And it’s a riot! 

Over Thanksgiving, his cousin, Heidi was there and we started to chat about her upcoming wedding plans. I quickly found out that they had decided to hook an iPod/iPhone up to speakers for their music. I inquired about who would be announcing the wedding party, introducing toasts and recognizing parents/grandparents, etc? She was unsure about it. So naturally…I offered! I told her to chat with her fiance Adam about it, but that it would be something I’d love to do for them. By the end of that day, I was DJing their wedding and my husband was joking that he’d be in the corner wearing camouflage! ;)

What fears did you face as you started to prepare for their big day?
One of the main fears I had was that I could really screw up. I was afraid of saying something stupid or off the wall that would either embarrass me, my hubby or worse...the bride and groom! As I started working on what to say, it became apparent to me that this was a big deal. I mean, wedding days aren’t something you can just “re-do!”

Photo Credit: Keri Harrison Photography

Did you seek any help or advice?
Yes, I did. My friend Shaun is a DJ so I was able to get some tips from him. He urged me to focus on using my personality as a platform, instead of just reading off of a card.  After meeting with him, I went home and changed a few things. I was so grateful for his advice!

The other piece of advice was to practice, practice, practice! I printed off “cue cards” of what I was going to say at different times throughout the night and I practiced my butt off! I spoke them out loud in the shower, while driving, at home when cooking – whenever! I didn’t want my head to be down and reading off of a paper when I was in front of everyone. I wanted to look people in the eye. Therefore, I tried my best to memorize whatever I could so it wouldn't seem rehearsed. I think it worked because I had people asking me at the end of the night how long I’d been DJing. It cracked me up! My response was “3 months!”

Cue Cards

Are there any fun, wedding moments you'd like to share?
Probably the highlight of the evening for me was when Rod, the father of the bride, was giving his speech. His speech was super sweet and awesome – and a little on the lengthy side ;) During it, he spoke about how much of a talker Heidi was when she was a little girl. He would go to tuck her into bed at night and she would talk so much that he wished he had packed a lunch! A few moments later, at the end of his speech, he handed me the mic and I said to him, “Well, apparently we ALL should have packed a lunch!” The place erupted in laughter and given that my husband’s family is all big jokesters, it went over pretty well! J

What did you learn about yourself through this experience? How did you use your strengths?
This may sound corny – but it really did make me feel like I could do anything! With a little bit of practice and hard work, I really felt like I could do anything I set my mind on. 

I really enjoyed putting together playlists, figuring out how to transition songs, and just helping Heidi pick out some music that was fun and upbeat - that was a blast to me. She really wanted their reception to be a fun party, and I was all about helping it be just that! 

My strength has always been my outgoing personality. I have never minded being in front of large crowds - even as a little girl. It was more typical for me to be bouncing around family get-togethers and being my loud self. So it was really awesome for me to channel that strength in a way to bless other people I care about. 

Photo credit: Keri Harrison Photography
Would you do it again and do you have a DJ name?
YES! I would do it again in a heartbeat! And yes, I made up a silly name. I've requested from here on out that everyone refer to me as DJ K-Swizzle ;)

Monday, July 7, 2014

Get it Girl: My Yearly Dare

When I turned 30, I decided to challenge myself to try something new each year. Something that made me step out of my comfort zone. It could be a small challenge or a big challenge, but it had to be something daring. I had a strong desire to experience new adventures.

Another rule was that I would accept any challenge that came about from friends.The first challenge I accepted was to join a local women's softball team. I hadn't played since my sophomore year of high school and that was just with my dad in our backyard! I should note that I am far from being a natural athlete.

We played against some serious ladies (they did warm up sprints in the parking lot as we sipped our beers). How did we do? We got dominated! We won two games the entire season and had several mercy losses the rest of the time, BUT, we got better and better as the season went on. We became tougher and had more confidence. I was using muscles I hadn't used in years and I loved it! I would have never known how good I could be if I had given up that first day that I struck out in slow pitch softball!

Photo via Pinterest
The second dare came about when myself and a friend were asked to be part of a flamenco dance for an upcoming event. I had danced when I was younger so I thought, why not?

We rehearsed every Friday night for 3-4 months. The rehearsals would sometimes last 3 hours long! I was exhausted and I had to unlearn just about everything I'd been taught in ballet. The posture and movements of a flamenco dancer are much different, but after practicing so much I finally got it! It was quite the adventure and I ended up having a blast!

Since then I've completed my first 5K, tried water skiing, coordinated my first fundraiser, gone back to school, and taken up spin classes. Each time one of these opportunities came about, I felt a bit of fear. I'm the type of person who doesn't like to take on anything that I don't have a natural talent for or that doesn't play to my strengths. Unfortunately it's my gut instinct to quit if I don't get something right away.

So... I've had to retrain my thinking. I've learned that I only get better if I allow myself to fail a few times (maybe several times) and risk the chance of "gasp" looking like a fool in front of other people! I've also learned that I would have missed out on so many fun experiences if I'd let the fear of failure or looking like a fool keep me from attempting any of these things.

This has let me to the decision to post from time to time about taking on new adventures. To dare ourselves to defy our own limitations and see what we are truly capable of doing. Don't let fear intimidate you - it's a BS-er anyway! So who's with me?

Photo via Pinterest
Next week I'm excited to begin this series by interviewing my friend Kate who took on the dare of being a wedding DJ. I can't wait to read about the adventures of DJ K-Swizzle!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Our Little Greenhouse

I've found that there is something that money can't buy and that's creativity. I've also found that the lack of money yields more creativity! I believe that DIY for me started out as necessity but has turned into a love of re-purposing and recycling old items. Thankfully I met a man who shares this same passion.

Our little greenhouse is the perfect example of this passion. Geoff had found a bunch of old windows from our house in the garage. We had been talking about making a small vegetable garden in the backyard and so the old window discovery set his mind in motion. It was only a day or two later that I looked out into our backyard to see this:

Yay! I was getting a surprise greenhouse! Who doesn't love a man that gets right to work? Because he got right to work, I don't have a detailed tutorial (smaller greenhouse tutorial found here), but here is a general breakdown of what we did:

1. We measured the length of our windows to build our base. Geoff dug and set the posts. Then he built the box frame around the the posts. We used pressure treated pine for outdoor longevity (the same wood used for decks).

2. He nailed the windows to the base and to each other on three sides. Tip: we used a nail gun to make this process quicker.

3. Geoff made the fourth window wall removable by adding a track to the side walls. A handle gives us easy access to the garden.

4. He then created two posts for the roof. He fixed one window to the sides and posts and hinged another giving us even more access.

5. Finally, he added trim with leftover wood to the outside. Now it's ready for a garden sign!

Unfortunately we don't really get "full sun" anywhere in our yard. We learned after last year's "harvest" that not all veggies do well, but the peppers from the greenhouse did amazing! This was especially true for the jalapeno and Hungarian peppers.

Since we were both gardening rookies, we enlisted my cousin Suzy's green thumb and also found Organic Gardening's Spring Planner (here) helpful. We've learned that a mix of top soil, potting soil and compost really promote plant growth in our greenhouse (and daily watering of course).

Here's a before and after shot of 2014's garden:


I'm hoping we have another good crop this year! The peppers were so flavorful last summer. My next step will be to make some fun garden markers!

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