Crocheted Elf on a Shelf Dog Costume #SydOnAShelf

Last year Dane was deployed for Christmas, New Years and Valentines Day. When I moved to Kansas, right before he came home, I decided to recreate each of the holidays that he had missed. (Some day I should really do a post on that very fun hybrid holiday). The only problem was that I’d moved there in February and it is absolutely impossible to get stockings in February. So… I taught myself to crochet.I bought tons of this chunky red yarn and made both of us giant stockings, which I hung on the bar I’d transformed into a construction paper fireplace.

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Construction Paper Fireplace– Christmas 2013

A year later, I still have plenty of red yarn, so when he got sent on a trip to Guam at the beginning of December, I decided to break out my winter hobby box to crochet a little Christmas cheer for myself.

My instagram feed has been full of the clever ways that my friends hide their Elf on a Shelf to entertain their kids. I do not have kids, or an Elf, but I do have a very small (semi-tolerant) dog and I love to entertain myself.  Thus my brilliant (maybe slightly bored) idea of #SydOnAShelf was born.

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I’ve loved taking my little elf along with me every day to tour the Christmas hot spots of Okinawa.  It’s also been a huge hit with the camera-happy locals.  Sydney, however, remains less than enthusiastic about the whole experience and is looking very forward to 2015.

Making Your Own Crocheted Elf on a Shelf Dog Costume?

Here is the pattern that I based it (loosely) off of, along with a picture tutorial for the stitches I used to change it. However, the key to pulling the whole thing together was the free “Santa Hats” app by Appdicted. They have a dozen free santa hats that can be shifted and sized to fit just about any little elf head!

I loosely followed a pattern I’d found on pinterest for an easy XS Dog Sweater. The whole pattern is mostly made up of HDC (half double crochets) so it’s quick and very easy. The only problem was that although the pattern says it should fit a 6lb dog, my five pound yorkie was SWIMMING in it, even after I reduced the number of stitches it called from 36 to 30 to make up for using chunky yarn. I also ended up joining the rounds after four rounds, rather than continuing as the pattern calls for to make it smaller.

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Because I wanted the sweater to resemble the classic “Elf on a Shelf” costume, I added sleeves, by simply adding two rounds of DC’s (double crochets) to each of the arm holes. IMG_1133

IMG_1134I finished it off with a round of single crochet in white around the edges of the arm holes.  IMG_1147

For the collar I wanted a pointed edge, (again similar to the original elf on the shelf doll) so I finished it up with a triangular edging stitch.  You can see below that I started by adding a white SC (single crochet) to the perimeter. For round two, you will SC in the first stitch, SK2 (Skip 2), then in the next stitch 3DC , CH3, 3DC (3 double crochets, chain 3, 3 more double crochets) all in the same stitch. This is what forms the point. Then skip 2 more stitches and do another SC in the third and fourth stitches. Skip two more stitches after those two SC’s and continue the 3DC, CH3, 3DC pattern. This will give you the triangular edging shown around the neckline of the elf on a shelf dog costume.

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String Art Map: Our First (Almost) Home

Since instagraming a picture of the String Art Map we have hanging on our living room wall, I’ve had several friends ask for directions to make their own. You will be happy to know that it is super easy if you have a printer and a drill. (Without a drill it’s still easy, just takes a little bit longer).

As per usual, I started strong, but then forgot to take pictures as the project went along, so I’ve done my best here to recreate it for you. I put the heart around Kansas because it was the first place we were both supposed to call home. Naturally life came along and changed our plans and Japan turned out to be our first home, but Kansas will always hold a special place in our hearts, and now… on our walls.

 Step 1: Wood. Find a piece of wood you want to work with. I would recommend a soft wood like: pine or poplar, especially if you plan to paint it. I used a piece of birch, which is much harder, mostly because we had an extra 2×12 laying around and it was about the height I was looking for. I Cut off 18 inches, so the total size of our string art map is 18×12. If I’d used a softer wood I might not have needed the drill, but it made the project go by so quickly and made spacing a breeze, so I would recommend it no matter what kind of wood you are using.

Step 2: Paint/Stain/Polish or Sand. I found a pre-mixed paint in the mismatched 80% off bin at Home Depot a few years ago that is a light greyish white. I fell in love with the little brush mark of color on the can while I was in the store, and my love for it has deepened with every project I’ve used it on. Broke a little bit of my heart to leave it behind when we moved! Because I liked the look of the birch, I just dry brushed one coat over the wood, giving it the same barely-there look I sometimes use milk paint for.

Step 3: Print. Print the map or any other image you would like to use as the outline. DO NOT scale the image or “fit to page”. If your printer settings give you the option to “Tile” the image, this is the easiest way to do it. You can see below that I tiled my image on four pages and just taped the pages together to create the full size map. If you do not have an option to “Tile” the pages, you will want to “print selected area” and highlight the image by printable quadrants.

Step 4: Drill, baby, drill. Drill holes around the perimeter. I used some scrap wood to do some test holes to make sure that I wasn’t going so deep that the nails would sink in. The nails I used were size M, or 5d, which are 1 3/4 inches, so I just drilled about 3/4 of an inch in and then hammered the nail in the rest of the way.

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Step 5: Sand. After all of the holes have been drilled, take a sanding block to smooth out the edges of your holes.  IMG_4350

Step 6: Hammer time. With all of the holes predrilled, it’s easy now to just place the nails and hammer them in a couple of times until they stick. If you have accidentally drilled in too far, (which I did twice) fill in the hole with a little bit of wood putty and wait for it to dry before hammering in the nail. IMG_4347

Voila! Now just pick the spot(s) your heart belongs and you are ready for the fun part. IMG_4352

Here comes the string art part of our string art map. I used a silver grey sewing thread, but you can use whatever your little heart desires. Because I forgot to take pictures of this part, I am going to demonstrate with a navy blue thread so that hopefully you can see each step.

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Step 7: Knot it. You only need to tie one knot to get started. I started around the tip of Texas. After your first not is tied, you just wrap each additional loop around the nails- keep it tight but don’t worry about tying it off until you need a break.

Step 8: Wrap it up. There are two ways to wrap it. One is in straight lines back and forth between the heart and the map:  IMG_1641

IMG_1639 The other technique is systematically chaotic. Personally I prefer this way because it has a more opaque look when you get finished. Just start somewhere (I started in Texas) and connect nails to and from the heart as well as all over the country.

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IMG_1645I continued until the whole country was full of zig zagging lines with no real pattern, and then did it again, and again and again. Because I wanted the map densely filled, I continued running string about four layers deep.

After all was said and done, I felt like it needed just a tiny bit of color, so I used nail polish (acrylic paint flaked off) to paint the very tops of the all of the nails that made up our heart around Kansas.

I’d love to see the String Art Maps you create on your own, and if you are not into doing it yourself, we are going to start selling customizable string art maps in our etsy store (after we open it in the new year!)

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The Secret to Life… According to Sydney

I’ve been a little bit too glued to my phone recently. I know this is a worldwide issue and hundreds of blogs have been written about it, so I am not about to write another one. Frankly, I’m a little bit sick of hearing about it,  but for the sake of the story, I will mention that yes: it’s been a problem.

I finished up a painting I’d been working on just after midnight last night and decided to take the little one out one last time before bed. It wasn’t really a “walk”. When it’s that late, I just take her across the street to the hill  where all of the cats lurk at night. We have our late-night routine down: she sniffs around for a minute or two and pees a dozen times in the process. I scroll through instagram to make sure I’m not missing any pictures of my friends’ kids or cups of coffee as they’re waking up back in the States.

Last night was no different. I was looking at my phone. I could see her out of my periphery sniffing around, exploring every new smell. All of a sudden a bright light shot across the sky pulling my eyes away from a picture of a swaddled baby and it occurred to me- I was missing shooting stars over the China Sea to look at an app. Ridiculous. Shameful even. Rather than a wish, I made a promise on that shooting star to break my phone addiction. (If there’s an app for that, let me know.)

I spent the next few minutes staring up at a clear black sky, littered with constellations I have never seen before. I am on the other side of the world and this sky is brand new to me. The night was just cold enough to cross my arms and cuddle into my sweater. I listened to the waves breaking wildly over the jacks and into the seawall. I just stood there, breathing salty sea air and soaking up all of the beauty around me. And suddenly it occurred to me, I hadn’t seen a certain little dog move in minutes. She was just standing there, about 15 feet away from me. Not sniffing in circles, not moving at all. This is not a part of our routine.

It’s dark in Japan. Dark in a way that is difficult to find in Florida and impossible to find in New York. I pulled my phone back out and used the flashlight app (hey, it was necessary) to see what it was she was so interested in.
She looked up at me as soon as the light hit her, wagging her tail and licking her chops. While I’d spent the last few minutes overwhelmed by the beauty of the Okinawan night sky,  making a renewed commitment to breaking my phone addiction… my dog had been eating cat vomit.

As I took in her happy little face, bright eyes, and furiously waggling tail, I realized that she too thought she had just discovered the secret to life.

Quick and Easy DIY Christmas Canvas: Glitter Makes All Things Merrier

My holiday decorating style has always been highly supportive of the idea that glitter makes all things merrier and and oh-so-much brighter. The last couple of years I have spent Christmas in flux, so I haven’t decorated nearly as much as I have in years past, but tonight I’ve got a little time on my hands so I decided to harness my festivity with this quick and easy DIY Christmas canvas.

It’s finally starting to feel a little more Christmasy in Okinawa. Mostly because the temperatures have been hovering in the 60’s for a few days and people are finally trading in their tank tops for scarves. In addition to the cold front, it’s been dreary and rainy, which has meant a lot of candles, cozy clothes and crafts in this house.

One of my goals this weekend was to organize the “craft closet” which is laughably full of painting, sewing, crocheting, scrapbooking, woodworking,  calligraphy, and you-name-it art supplies. In the process I discovered some things that I had completely forgotten about… including these gold glittered letters. I remember buying them two years ago, with the intention of making a “Merry & Bright” sign, but I never got around to it. But, tonight, (after the closet was finally boxed and labeled to my satisfaction) I decided it was time to give these little letters a life.

I love a quick and easy painted canvas project and this is one of the quickest and easiest I’ve ever done! You just need a blank canvas (or you can repurpose an old one for something like this), painters tape, spray paint and some fabulously glittery letters.

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Because my chevron painted carpet used up the last of my painter’s tape I just used masking tape. And because it wasn’t exactly the width I wanted, I trimmed it and layered it so the trimmed edges faced one another and smooth sides formed the line I’d be painting along. (If I wasn’t so lazy I would have just gone out and bought the right width. That would be my advice.) IMG_1465

I’ve been on a black and white kick lately so I went with those colors. Both are also a good background for gold, so I knew simple stripes would work. I used spray paint to save time both in the painting and the drying process, but if you are using a more customized color than you can find in a can, I’ve done a very similar project with a brush as well. IMG_1466

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The perfectionist in me ALWAYS has to go back and fix any little imperfection with something like this. I like using an acrylic primer for touch ups because I find that it covers up better than plain white acrylic.  IMG_1472

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Although the letters are self-adhesive, painted canvas isn’t my favorite surface for bonding so I used hot glue to reinforce them. IMG_1476

From start to finish the whole thing took less than an hour. (Gotta love quick dry paint!) And now, we finally have something festive on our walls!

I know you are likely sitting back focused on how jealous you are of our Japanese wall paper, but try to tear your eyes away to look at our cute little sign! Wouldn’t you agree? Glitter really does make all things merrier!  IMG_1477

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Dining-In Adventures: Fish Markets in Okinawa

Dane’s been gone for a little over a week, so I have been starving to death. I kid, I kid. I can whip up macaroni and cheese with the best of them. (Still kind of kidding… but really- I do make a mean Kraft mac and cheese.)

I can hold my own in the kitchen. I have a few signature dishes (most involve seafood, tomatoes and feta) that I make on a semi-regular basis. I can follow most any recipe and feel confident that it will to turn out well, but leave me in the kitchen without a plan or recipe to follow, and I can guarantee: You. Will. Get. Pasta. (possibly Kraft). Maybe a salad if a tomato inspires me.

Dane on the other hand, never measures anything and never follows a recipe yet everything he touches is delicious. He’s like a genie. It’s made his status within our circle of friends legendary. Everyone has their favorite “Dane-dish”. We’ve had people give requests a week in advance of a dinner date. We’ve gotten text messages from people offering to throw themed parties- and the “themes” revolve around the dishes they want Dane to bring. I think some people befriend me just so they will have more opportunity to come over for dinner. People obsess over his food. (I like to think they also really appreciate how well I can open a bottle of wine.)

Since he’s been gone, I find myself obsessing over his food too. I’ve noticed that I miss him the most right around dinner time. I love chopping the garlic, preparing the salad, and keeping his wine glass full while he creates magic in the kitchen. That’s my role and I am more than comfortable with it.

When we found out we were moving to Japan, one of the things we were most excited about were the fish markets in Okinawa. Kansas has a lot of things going for it, but the availability of fresh fish is not one of them. Now, as I stated earlier, I am not particularly adventurous in the kitchen. I wouldn’t even know where to start if you handed me a squid or an octopus. But luckily for me, Dane is not so easily intimidated. We walk into that market (almost weekly) and he picks something new every time. Sometimes I recognize it, sometimes I don’t.

I see a rainbow fish and think, “Pretty! I should instagram this.” Dane thinks, “This would be good with a lemon garlic sauce.” I see the Japanese fishermen across the street reel in a giant squid and think, “What a very funny-looking head.” He walks over to find out what kind of bait they are using so he can catch one of his own.

I’m really grateful for these differences… Especially when he’s gone and I remember exactly how boring my routine was before him. So until I can eat his food again, I will just reminisce over a few of the iphone shots I’ve taken while I sit back, sipping wine, admiring his kitchen prowess.

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If he’s gone much longer, maybe I’ll write a post that reveals the real secret behind “slurpable” macaroni and cheese (more milk and less butter). Or maybe I’ll write a post declaring that salt, pepper and olive oil are the only ingredients you actually need in order to make the best seared salmon of your life. I might even add that that same salmon can be served with a side of wilted spinach, served over a salad, mixed with pasta in a red sauce or a white sauce,  eaten cold and alone out of tupperware on your way to work… I mean, really… the salmon possibilities are endless! But don’t worry… You will be spared my cooking posts. He’ll be home next week.

 

Settling In: Newlywed Nesting in Okinawa

We’ve been breaking down boxes and shuffling around bins for exactly three weeks now. I had expected newlywed nesting to be about three full days of unpacking and a week of settling in and arranging things. This has not been the case.

It’s the first time we have moved our stuff in together and “adjustments” have been necessary to get everything to flow. Dane’s last apartment was decorated in mostly dark wood and leather. Mine (well, three places ago) was light, beachy and bamboo. Merging these two styles has been a challenge. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING,  has been safe from my paint brush. Furniture, frames, even an old carpet is freshly coated in paint. And it’s finally starting to come together in a unique blend of both of our styles.

In addition to trying to get everything to match, we’re both more than a little  OCD, so rather than just getting everything put away somewhere, we want everything to be put away in the “perfect place”. The biggest problem has been that when you are moving American-size furniture into a Japanese-size apartment, there is no perfect place for some of this stuff… And so… we build it.

Or, more accurately, Dane builds it.

Here’s how the last three weeks have been working:

1) As I am unpacking and organizing, I realize that we need a new piece of furniture.
2) I consult pinterest.
3) I find the perfect piece and email it to Dane with the subject line, “Can this be done?”
4) He responds with, “Of course.” (And only later decides exactly how it can be done)
5) After work he goes to Makeman (the hardware store) and then to the wood shop to build.
6) I continue unpacking only to realize there is something else that we need to build.

*back to step 2.

So far he has built:
– A table for behind our couch
– Shelves for the laundry room
– A Murphy craft desk for the office
– An entry table
– A raised wooden floor for his bathroom
– A hutch/vanity for mine

The boy’s been busy.

My goal was to have everything done before Thanksgiving. That didn’t happen. We both seem to start new projects more quickly than we unpack boxes- so while the going’s been slow, it’s also been so much fun!  The new goal is to be done by Christmas. But if we are not- we will just keep walking around the boxes and taking on newlywed nesting projects!

 

 

 

Swirls, Twirls and Sparkle: Fondant Cupcakes for a Baby Shower

During one of my first lunch dates in Okinawa I started dropping hints that I love cake decorating. And by hints, I mean I came right out and said: “If you ever need a cake decorated- I’m your girl.” It just so happened that one of the girls I was eating lunch with is a baker who doesn’t decorate. I love could decorate all day,  but I’ve always been a boxed-cake kind of baker, so it was a match made in heaven. As fate would have it, the second girl at lunch that day  is expecting her first son in February and her baby shower was a couple of weeks away. So that is how I got my first joint cake decorating gig in Okinawa.

We had it all planned out. Kelsey would bake the cake and prepare the frosting. I would take over when  the “yummy” was finished and cover it with “pretty”.  All was good, until we found out they wanted cupcakes. Not a cake. I love cake decorating (as stated) but I had no idea how to do  fondant cupcakes.

We met twice to discuss possibilities.  We both wanted our first public presentation to have a “WOW” factor and I had no idea how to do that with cupcakes. The best I had come up with was to do cupcakes on tiers and then decorate a fondant cake on the top tier.

<Enter Pinterest>

As per usual, I finally closed my computer feeling inspired. I could do this. Fondant cupcakes? No problem!  I had my weekend planned out- and the whole thing revolved around fondant… until…. we finally got the email we had been waiting for for months. Our furniture was arriving that Thursday.  This threw a little kink into my plans, but also meant that all of my icing color would be here before the big day, so I adjusted my plans (something I’m getting a lot of practice with as a military wife) and after two days of unpacking and a full day of rolling fondant, here are a few iphone pictures of the finished cupcakes.

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Someday when I am not rolling fondant surrounded by unpacked boxes stacked around me,  I will take pictures of the process, but for now… I will just explain how we assembled these little lovelies.

No two cupcakes were the same and I pretty much stuck to the theme of swirls, twirls and sparkle. Because we were showering the mama of a baby boy I wanted blue to be the central color, but given that it was a tea party- there was no way I wasn’t going to be using at least a little pink!

I used quilling techniques to create all of the swirls and twirls. Then I used a couple of fondant cutouts to punch out dozens of flowers from rolled fondant in a variety of colors. I knew I wanted to stack the flowers so I used several shades of purple, blue, pink and white for this part. Punching out the shapes was easy. The obstacle was to give them dimension. I didn’t want them to all lie flat atop the cupcakes. I have no idea what the professional technique would be, but my DIY solution was to create rings out of aluminum foil and place the flowers inside so that they could dry with their petals pushed up. I created the tea cup & saucer and all of the roses by hand. I let the pieces sit over night to stiffen up, and the next morning the last step was to assemble them.

First I created the blue fondant cupcake covers. It’s important to do this right before assembling so they are still pliable and can be draped over the cupcake easily. I sprinkled the blue fondant with edible shimmer, then rolled it out with a patterned glass bottle which gave the coverings a beautiful sparkling texture. (You have to look closely to see it in the pictures.) The last step was to create unique patterns using the cutouts, the quilled scrolls and the roses.

All in all, it was a very successful Sunday. The cupcakes had every bit of the wow factor we had hoped for, we got several birthday party cake requests from the shower, and I conquered my fear of fondant cupcakes. The only downside was all of the clean up I had to do before I could continue unpacking our kitchen.

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Celebrating our success as a baking/decorating duo

Hostessing in NYC: That Time I Met Patrick Swayze’s Son

This is my favorite story from the 17 days that I spent hostessing in NYC. Warning: This story doesn’t end well.

So there I was: It was late afternoon on Fifth Avenue and I was working that hostess stand like a rockstar (or so I told myself… more than once). I was doing exactly what I got paid to do: Smile. Oh and greet people, get their information, and show them to their tables. You know: all that jazz.

It was slow. Really, really slow. And sometimes, the slower it is, the more likely you are to make a mistake (Oh! Foreshadowing!!!) So, in walks this guy, deep in conversation with a blonde lady. He glances at the stand and signals: two. I asked if they had a reservation (part of the script). He said no and started to walk toward the (half-empty) dining room. However, I throw him off his game by remaining at the computer and asking for his name. (Also part of the script.) We do this at our establishment in order to improve the guest experience by customizing it to their preferences. Oh and also so that we can keep track of their spending, tipping, and ordering patterns and Google them later to find out if they are “Someone”.

Most people are still on the other side of the large and somewhat intimidating host stand at this point, but this guy is not, he is standing right next to me, watching me position my fingers on the key board waiting for his answer.

He is standing close enough that he has a clear view of my computer screen. I’ve seen the head maître d’ tilt the screen away from guests before, but I have never been in the position that I’ve had to do so, and it feels rude, so I don’t. He looks back and forth between me and the screen as if he hasn’t heard my question. Now he’s thrown me off my game, but I keep my smile steady. “Can I get a name for the table?” I repeat.

His eye contact is making me a little uncomfortable. It’s as if he knows I am going to Google him when he walks away. “You can put the table under Beau,” he says. “Can I get a last name?” I chirped, as if my purpose and passion in life is seating people at swanky lounges. “Swayze,” he says. My first instinct was to say, “Spelled like Patrick?” but in this particular city, and during this particular interaction, I decided maybe that wasn’t a great opening line. I just peered at him out of the corner of my eye, trying to see if he had particularly good hair, and typed something into the program.

For the record, I know how to spell the name “Beau.” I went to high school with a guy named Beau. But like I said, he threw me off my game, and was peering so intently at my screen that I got nervous. So I stopped thinking and just typed BO. Yes. B-O.

“No,” he corrected me, not unkindly. “B-E-A-U.” Feeling exactly like the idiot I looked like, I just smiled again and said, “Oh, Beau.” And he looked at me as if it almost made him sad how stupid I was. “No, just Beau,” he said. I was mortified, and when I am mortified, I talk too much. “No, I didn’t mean, ‘Oboe’ like the instrument, I meant like ‘Oh… Beau’ you know, like I hadn’t heard you well before, or… you know?” The blonde lady tried not to laugh as she rolled her eyes at her phone.  He just smiled and nodded. Yeah. He got it.  I retyped his name correctly, feeling (accurately) like this was not the best time to ask if I could add a phone number to the reservation.

I grabbed two menus and a wine list and quickly walked them down the stairs, into the dining room, wishing, the whole time that I was invisible. I quickly retreated back across the restaurant praying, “Please do not let that guy be related to Patrick Swayze. Please do not let that interaction be my only connection to my favorite Dirty Dancer.” As soon as I reached the safety of the hostess stand I googled him.

Patrick Swayze did have a son. And he named him Beau. Awesome.

I wish there was a happy ending to this story and I could tell you about how I redeemed myself with a clever joke and we laughed together over my great wit. I wish I could tell you that we later became friends, maybe even went out dancing. But there just isn’t any coming back from that, so rather than try, I just pretended I had something very important to find and ducked into the coat closet as they left.

Later that week I sat Larry King. And I spelled L-A-R-R-Y like a champ. He wasn’t looking, so it wouldn’t have mattered had I misspelled it… But, for the record, I got it right: on my first try.

Welcome to New York: You Need A Job

From the first morning I woke up in New York, one phrase had been stuck on repeat: You need a job. You need a job.

After Roommate Kim’s event (which had not led to a job offer) she suggested that a small group of us go to her favorite “It Girl” bar on Fifth Avenue to celebrate the success of the night. It was pouring, but one of the gifts in our swag bags were giant umbrellas, so we opened them up, took off our shoes, and ran down the streets of New York, barefoot through a midsummer’s night rain. We were dripping by the time we made it to the elevator. We slid wet feet back into wet shoes and tried to pull ourselves together, but when the elevator doors opened it was immediately apparent that we were the only people who had dripped across the grand-piano polished floors.

We sat at the bar. The girls ordered champagne cocktails, the guys stuck to scotch, and I (highly aware of my unemployed state) ordered the cheapest drink on the menu: a $9 beer.

We chatted professions: four doctors, a real estate agent, an attorney, an ad exec and me. “Yeah… I need a job,” I announced to the group and then turned to the bartender and, only half joking, asked, “So, are you guys hiring?”

He looked me up and down, taking in my wet hair and soaking dress. “It’s possible,” he said. “Come back tomorrow at 2:00. I will introduce you to our manager. Oh, and wear black.”

I went home that night to re-work my resume. I decided to highlight the jobs of my youth. My first job as a hostess (when I was 15), my second job as a receptionist (I was 16), etc. The five years I spent working seasonally at Disney World.

The next day, it was still raining. I’d religiously been taking the subway to save money on cab fare, but I decided this was the day for an exception. The problem is that on your fifth day in New York, you don’t know that the only thing more impossible than getting a cab in New York when it’s raining is… well, nothing. There is almost nothing more impossible than getting a cab in New York when it’s raining.

I got off the restaurant elevator at exactly 2:06pm, 6 minutes late. I remember this because the bartender rushed over to me and said, “You’re late!” I looked back at him with despair, “Only six minutes! It’s raining!” He shook his head and told me the manager had only had a few minutes at 2:00 and was now in a staff meeting. I apologized and told him that I could wait, if he didn’t mind.

He said it could be an hour.

I said I would still wait. So I waited. For one hour, then two. At 5:30 one of the hostesses finally came up and asked who I was waiting for. I explained the situation, and a few minutes later she came back with the manager. He couldn’t mask the surprise on his face to see me sitting there. Waiting. Three and a half hours after we had been meant to meet.

I apologized profusely as we shook hands. But he just smiled and said, “I can’t believe you waited all this time.” And then in a charming Italian accent he added, “No one told me you were still here.” Curse that bartender! I thought, but just smiled and shrugged, as if to say “These things happen.” He led me to a huge round leather booth, where he began studying my resume. “Hostess in 2001,” he observed aloud. I couldn’t tell if he was amused by the date. “Marketing more recently, I see,” he continued nodding and then looked up and asked me the question I hadn’t been able to come up with a good answer for, even after 3+ hours of waiting.

“Why do you want to work as a hostess?”

I’d already waited all day to meet this guy. I figured there was no reason to play it coy or hard to get at this point.

“I just really need a job,” I told him.

He nodded because, as much as he knew I was unlikely to be celebrating any anniversaries here, he got it. Because it’s New York. Because everyone who moves here has to find work somewhere (well almost everyone, but more on how I almost attacked a beggar later).

“Can you start training on Sunday?”

It had stopped raining by the time I left and the whole city felt fresh and alive to me. (More realistically it probably felt sticky and steamed the way it always does after a summer rain) But I was employed again and nothing could get me down. I put my walking shoes on and decided to skip the subway home. I walked down Fifth Avenue, from 56th to 34th and then turned West and walked the rest of the way home.

So that’s the story of how, at 27 years old, I became a hostess again. The game had changed a little bit in the twelve years I’d been out of the field, but would you believe it? I caught right on.

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