Operation: Party Planning Has Commenced! (Or How to Make Watermelon Pirate Ships)

Photographic evidence that there was, in fact, a sippy cup at my party. Note: it was NOT filled with vodka. We are old.

“When did we go from shot luges to sippy cups at my birthday party?!?” I asked, a bit aghast. It was August 2011, and I was beginning to realize things had really changed over the years.

It has now been nearly nine years since the birthday party that will go down in infamy. Let’s just say there was a lot of Lil’ Jon blasting and a girl no one knew was eating spinach dip out of the bowl with her hands. (When people who are going on nine hours of partying refer to you simply as, “Drunk Girl,” you know you’re a mess.) One of us spotted her on Beauty and the Geek years later, and a flurry of texts went out among the crew along the lines of, “Drunk Girl is on the WB!”

These days the only party-goers eating dip with their hands are toddlers. Things change, and that’s OK.

So, anyway, it’s almost time for my next party and I’m already excited.

Tonight, I’m hosting a party planning dinner for one of my best friends with whom I share a birthday. (She happens to save people’s lives for a living so there are now a lot more doctors at my parties than aspiring reality stars.) For the last four low-key years we’ve held a joint birthday party with fabulous food and an ever-increasing number of small children. What we lack in chaos and debauchery, we now make up for in elaborate entrees and aesthetics….

I desperately want to throw a pirate party, and this evening I’m hoping to convince my friend that we need a dessert table, complete with treasure maps, pearls, and a papier mache kraken centerpiece.

I decide to make watermelon boat centerpieces for a little pirate party inspiration….

Feeling nostalgic for my wilder days, I crank up Hank Williams, Jr.’s All My Rowdy Friends (Have Settled Down) and set about fruit carving.

Trader Joe’s only had odd, circular watermelons, so my ships are going to be more skiff-like, but I’ll get over it. This is just a rough draft anyway.

I cut the watermelon lengthwise, and prepare to hollow out the ships. I realize I don’t own a melon baller, and I’m struck with a feeling of intense shame. (I must add this to my birthday list along with the First Aid Flask I desperately want.)

I use an ice cream scoop to hollow out the boats because it’s the best I can do for now. I then place the melon balls back into the boat in case my friend wants to eat the centerpieces.

I cut paper sails and pierce them with wooden skewers. I then insert the skewer sails into the boats. I cut toothpicks and use them to anchor Kermit and Yoda’s feet to their pirate skiffs.

I finish the display by surrounding the boats with a cadre of plastic sharks… just because.

My ships aren’t awesome, but they’ll serve as decent visual aids. Plus they were fun to make.

Here’s hoping the pirate theme passes….

Captain Kermit and his Jedi companion steer their watermelon skiffs through treacherous shark-infested waters.

Mama Doesn’t Like Ugly (Or How to Make a Table With Dipped Legs)

“Mama doesn’t like ugly,” I tell the dogs. We’re sitting on the bed, looking around my mess of a bedroom. Albus cocks his big Boxer head inquisitively as if to ask, “What is this ugly you speak of? Am I ugly?”

“You’re terribly handsome,” I say, petting him. Woodley gives me a haughty look as I’m petting her brother. “Well, I’M gorgeous,” her face seems to say. Somehow I know her arrogant demeanor belies an incredible insecurity, so I stroke her head and tell her how pretty she is. (They may only understand peanut butter treats and pats on the head, but I don’t really care. I’m convinced they’re smarter than all that.)

My bedroom redesign is entering month four and I’m at my wit’s end with it. I wish I hadn’t spent $500 plus on purple Anthropologie bedding last spring, and I’m hating my chocolate brown headboard. The colors aren’t coming together cohesively, and I’m starting to feel like I will lose square footage if I put another coat of paint on the walls.

There have been many iterations of the room along the way and most of them have left me frustrated… and so has my limited budget. I resolve to accept my limited means, trying to convince myself that poverty inspires creativity. I stare at the awkwardly large lamp sitting on the tiny telephone table I bought ten years ago. The lamp HAS to go. It’s not a bad lamp, per se, but it doesn’t work in the room any longer. The telephone table has good bones, but the chestnut finish isn’t working with the rest of the room. AT ALL.

The lamp isn’t bad. It just worked better with the safari theme I abandoned about three weeks ago.

Don’t get me started on the drapes, the mirror, or the aquarium…. Those items will have to wait. Today I’m tackling the table – and I’m buying a new lamp. After scouring the internet for a cheap lighting option, I give up and head to Home Goods in desperation.

Mercifully, the design gods are smiling on me. A lamp similar to the $200 lamp I could not afford from Home Decorators Collection is calling to me from the Home Goods shelf. “It’s official: God wants me to have a pretty bedroom,” I tell myself. (I am the master of rationalization in the face of a good deal.)

I walk across the street to the mall, cradling my new purchase like a baby. I find a new knob for the table at Anthropologie that is only $6.

$6? At Anthropologie? Sold!

The crystal knob mirrors the crystal balls on the base of the lamp… and the knob is shiny. (I love shiny.) I must have this knob.

I return home (only mildly panicking about my purchases), fueled with resolve to tackle the ugly-ish table. I decide to use the paint leftover from my turquoise wall, convinced it will unify the turquoise half of the room with the gray half. I remember I had pinned a dipped table on Pinterest a while back and this seems like the best way to give the table a facelift. For some reason I decide to use gold for the legs….

After my 14th trip to Home Depot in like four days, I return home with a tub of Martha’s gold paint and a level. (During this trip I discover it’s a terrible idea to wear pink to Home Depot, but that’s a story for another time.) The level is essential for the project, and it makes me feel like a legitimate contractor… or something.

I begin the rehab by sanding the varnish off of the table with my power sander. There is dust flying everywhere, and I am a happy panda. (Long story on the panda thing.)

Once the chestnut finish is gone, I put on a playlist featuring Gotye, and cover the table in turquoise paint. When the turquoise has dried, I use the level to make pencil marks around the legs. I then use the painter’s tape to tape off the area that I will paint gold. I double-check the tape lines, making sure they are level.

Now I’m on my stomach, painting the first coat of gold. I’m trying desperately to keep the dogs away, but they’re terribly interested in my project. Somehow, Woodley winds up with gold on her ears, and I notice Albus has a mysterious turquoise strip on his side. I’m not mad. They are now sporting badass warrior paint, and I can brush it out anyway….

While we’re waiting for the first coat of gold to dry, we take a long walk during which Albus makes new friends, and Woodley eats the neighbors’ grass like a ravenous goat.

After returning home, I decide the inside of the drawer should be gold as well. This way some of the gold will show around the edge of the drawer in some sort of subtle manner. It’s not a bad idea, and it actually turns out well.

After the paint has dried, I spray on a coat of water-based acrylic sealant on the table. After a full day of drying, the table is ready. I screw in the new knob, insert the drawer, and place the new lamp on top. The room isn’t done, but at least I’ve eradicated one more bit of ugly from the place.

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