Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Red and White Party

Over in my professional life at my dear alma mater, I am in charge of throwing the end of year recognition and celebration for the students who contribute so much of their time and effort to the programs and volunteer opportunities offered through my department. At the end of April, we gather to give out awards, serve all the best in college cuisine (chicken fingers, loaded potato skins, ice cream sundaes), and let them dance like no one has final exams in three weeks.

The budget for this year's soirée was pretty tight and was exhausted between food and entertainment. Not being one to surrender glamour to a fixed budget (c.f. my fabulous wedding) I got crafty with office supplies and a spool of bakers twine.

My Pinterest-inspired vision saw a scheme of red and white (our school colors), balloons in varying heights, and pennant flag banners spanning the impressive 60 foot wide ballroom. Since purchasing good quality-looking versions of these flags would have cost as much as $250, I traced three triangles on an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper, photocopied it on stacks of red and white copy paper,  and went to town with a paper slicer and hole puncher.

The day of the event, my wonderful Graduate Assistants volunteered to help me all afternoon to deck out the room. Word of advice: in my apartment the night before, I tried stringing the flags on to one of the banners. Unfortunately my apartment is not 60 feet wide. Assembling one of these behemoth banners requires at least 2 people (better with 3 - two people feeding the flags on to each end and one person pulling the threaded pennants to the center) and is best completed in a space in which the entire length of your banner can be stretched out. In smaller spaces, you will wind up with a sad, tangled nightmare.

The four 60 footers lined the dance floor (strung up with little clear 3M hooks that worked perfectly) while smaller versions adorned doorways and staging tables.

The dinner tables featured alternating red and while linens provided by campus catering. At the center of each table stood one of these darling lanterns that I was able to borrow with a balloon tied to its handle, floating at varying heights around the room. The final element was a clear glass jar - filled with these fun paper straws - that picked up light from the tea candle in the lantern.

It was absolutely my vision come to life! I've already pinned some ideas for next year. Even if these projects took hours it was so worth it. The students had a great time and the room never looked better on so little funds.

...And yes, we took down and rolled up every one of those banners like they were the Dead Sea scrolls. They are in OA colors after all. Lodge banquet 2014 maybe? :)

Find the items used here:

Photo Credit: J. Nammour

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Day Sixty One

As I hauled benches out from under the amphitheater stage at 10:00pm in the middle of the woods the night before, I only had one thought,

“Ready or not, here it comes.”

Quite a bit has been going on here in the house of Scouter’s Wife. It’s been nearly a year since I learned this new Order of the Arrow lodge was happening and that my husband, fresh from the Retired Lodge Adviser’s Club, was to once again be at the helm. I started to begin the process of bracing myself. I said good-bye to weekends and hello to the countless voices on the other end of the phone competing for my husband’s attention. As a seasoned Lodge Adviser's Girlfriend/Fiancée, I knew what I was in for, but this go around, it would be times fiveWe’re not the first to merge, but this wouldn't be like any other OA amalgamation. We’re truly pioneers in newly Chartered territories. 

You know what the most difficult part of this whole process has been from my wife-perspective? Not the scouts - the boys are phenomenal. They've been level-headed, considerate, and thoughtful. The biggest issue has been adults – scouters who can’t get past the past and embrace changes that are necessary for scouting to continue on for many generations to come. I get that it’s an emotional time. I understand that we’re talking about a century of history and memories and tradition. No one expected it to be an easy process but I know I certainly did not expect to witness so much selfishness and stubbornness. The past must be honored and preserved, but what good does it do when there is no one to pass that history on to? We’re at a crossroads right now in Scouting – a crossroads that requires boldness.

I've had a lot of people tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about. Well here’s what I do know:

"The Boy Scouts of America is one of the nation's largest and most prominent values-based youth development organizations. The BSA provides a program for young people that builds character, trains them in the responsibilities of participating citizenship, and develops personal fitness.

For over a century, the BSA has helped build the future leaders of this country by combining educational activities and lifelong values with fun. The Boy Scouts of America believes — and, through over a century of experience, knows — that helping youth is a key to building a more conscientious, responsible, and productive society."


"The mission of the Order of the Arrow is to fulfill its purpose as an integral part of the Boy Scouts of America through positive youth leadership under the guidance of selected capable adults.

As Scouting’s National Honor Society, our purpose is to: 

  • Recognize those who best exemplify the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives and through that recognition cause others to conduct themselves in a way that warrants similar recognition.
  • Promote camping, responsible outdoor adventure, and environmental stewardship as essential components of every Scout’s experience, in the unit, year-round, and in summer camp.
  • Develop leaders with the willingness, character, spirit and ability to advance the activities of their units, our Brotherhood, Scouting, and ultimately our nation.
  • Crystallize the Scout habit of helpfulness into a life purpose of leadership in cheerful service to others."

Sadly, many of these adults have so far proven themselves less than capable and anything but positive, willing, and cheerful.

My message to those adults: be willing to spend yourself serving others or get out of the way of those who are.

My prevailing hope in all of this has been the many leaders who have been kind and generous and optimistic and ready to roll up their sleeves and help my husband and our new lodge officers do something really special that will influence the youth of our nation for another hundred years to come. The spark is there.

The first ever gathering of the brand new lodge was a day we can all be proud of. After a late night of setting up, we drove into camp the next morning with hearts beating just a little faster at the prospect of this untested social experiment that was about to go down. Every lodge has its own cast of characters and this was going to be five casts of characters all attempting, for the first time, to play nice and work together in one room. It happened that Arrowmen reunited with brothers they haven’t seen in years and the boys crossed borough lines to play basketball and wall climb and navigate low COPE games. There were issues that realistically will take years to work out – the lingering “us and them” attitudes, the complexities of working through a chapter system, accepting that there are many functions yet one lodge. Yet at the end of the day when hundreds of Arrowmen joined hands to sing “Firm Bound In Brotherhood,” I could see it from behind a camera lens:

the gladness of a dawning, of a springtime, of beginning.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Uniforms, Regalia and Insignia: Scouter's Wife Edition

We have a big event coming up over here next month. April 1st will mark the beginning of the new Order of the Arrow lodge in our council, for which my husband will serve as Lodge Adviser. I've been the Lodge Adviser's girlfriend and the Lodge Adviser's fiancee but never the Lodge Advisers wife!

(Yeah, I'm not very good at this anonymity thing.)

It's all very exciting! "Mrs. Deputy Supreme Chief of the Fire" Get that on a business card.

The new lodge will be hosting an event to mark Day One. It's going to be amazing - a true showcase of all that the OA has to offer our Scouts and an opportunity for every Arrowman in the city to come together in brotherhood for the first time. And I'll be on hand to help.

Naturally, I started planning my outfit. Here's what I threw together:

Kohl's Apt. 9 Crochet Slubbed Top

I had a Kohl's gift card from my birthday and some Kohl's cash. I saw this sweet looking top on a model on their website and though it was too cute to pass up. It's light, airy and comfortable and since it'll be April, the color will be just right for Spring. 

Levi's 590 Bootcut Jeans from Macy's

My newest love in Plus Size jeans. I've been wearing Lane Bryant jeans for years but haven't been happy with the cut lately. Where have Levi's been my entire life? Not only do these fit great but the Oceana wash is a great in-between color. Another bonus: the shorter/petite length is perfect on me! Any time your company's pants don't require me to hem - I'm sold.

Flurry Moc: Airwalk for Payless

I remember being a little girl and desperately wanting moccasins. I can't remember where I got the idea - probably one of the American Girls or a pioneer interest piqued by Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. (Wasn't that a great show? Note to self: Put complete series DVDs on Christmas List). Anyhoo, I can't believe I haven't owned a pair until now. Super comfy and super stylish. I'm on a mission to bring moccasins back in fashion, people! Also, as I said to my husband, "Order of the Arrow...?....Stylish footwear...?... Hellooo! MOCCASINS! Per-fect! (in sing-song voice)" This is when he just stares at me and blinks. And sometimes walks away shaking his head.

Peregrine Falcon Pendant and Necklace from Etsy Shop TartanHearts

The totem for the new lodge is the Peregrine Falcon. While the hubs concerns himself with how the bird will translate into embroidery on a flap, I started looking for cute Peregrine Falcon accessories (clearly you can see the priorities here). I'm already thinking decorative birdcages with Peregrine Falcon decoys for lodge banquets. (Sometimes my husband needs to remind me that these events are largely attended by men who, for the most part, don't notice these things. I say pshaw! Like the Peregrine Falcon, my creativity needs to sour! Nobody puts Mrs. Deputy Supreme Chief of the Fire in a corner!) One of the pieces I came upon was this darling antique print in a glass cabochon pendant from Etsy store TartanHearts Handmade Jewelry. I adore it. It's kind of a nod to our Lodge without being actual insignia. I'm all about nods to things. Here's a closeup of the bauble:

Now this is my kind of uniform. I'm calling it Lenape Chic.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Quote Inspiration

Found this found this fantastic quote in the latest issue of Scouting Magazine. (Happy 100th Birthday!) One of the things I love about can keep you young and make you feel old at the same time! Love those boys (even if most of them are taller than me) and am blessed to know them.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Candy Bibles

 I saw this craft on Pinterest and decided to take a crack at the Roman Catholic version. None of the websites I found had a step-by-step tutorial, so here you go! It’s a little tedious but the results are great! I’m going to be using them to promote a bible study group I run.
Just a few tips and hints:

Stick with the Hershey’s brand “Nuggets” chocolates. You’re going to want to use these for this project because the rounded top of the candies makes them look more like open “pages.” I used the ones with the silver wrapper which is the milk chocolate. The gold wrapper would look even better but that’s the variety with almonds, so if you’re nervous about any nut allergies, stick with the silver since the readable part of the label saying there are almonds in them will be all covered up.

Use mailing labels instead of gluing paper on to the chocolates! This was the biggest time saver compared to the other examples I found on Pinterest and it really looks a lot neater. The 1” x 2 5/8” address labels work PERFECTLY for this. (Avery 5160 or equivalent - I used Staples brand.)

I used 12”x18” pieces of black construction paper but any size will do. I also found some versions that used cardstock but the construction paper worked just fine for me.

Be sure to get 1/8” wide ribbon – any wider will be too big.

Materials Needed:

Hershey’s Nuggets chocolates
Mailing Labels – 1” x 2 5/8” (Avery 5160 or equivalent)
Black construction paper (I used 12”x18” sheets)
Red ribbon, 1/8” thick
Tacky Glue/All Purpose Glue
Tape (just in case)

Collect the scripture verses you want to use. Since this is a Catholic version, I used the NAB (New American Bible) translation accessed on Here are the verses I used:

He said to them, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15

Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father. Matthew 5:16

Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7

I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6

At once He spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Matthew 14:27

And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age. Matthew 28:20

I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.  John 13:34

Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do. John 13:15

Copy and paste the scripture verses of your choice into the blank labels in Microsoft Word (or whatever program you ordinarily use for this). Set the cell alignment centered (horizontal and vertical). Keep the text to no more than ¾” wide on any line (this is how much room will have for it to fit on the candy). I used Calibri font in 9 point size. Remember to break up the verse between two labels so that there will be text on each “page” of your open Bible. Print out the labels. There are two candies per “Bible” so one sheet of labels will be enough for 15 candy bibles.

Measure your construction paper into 1 ¾” strips. Then measure each rectangle to about 2 3/8” wide. You should get about 5 little rectangles per strip, or 50 rectangles per sheet from a 12”x18” piece of construction paper.

Cut the ribbon into 2 ½” strips. This should be enough for a little piece to stick between the construction paper and the chocolate and run between the open pages with a little overhang. If you cut them a little long, you can always trim when you’re finished.

Wrap the candies with the label. Just place the text over the top of the candy and wrap the ends around the back. 

Now you’re ready to assemble! Glue about a ¼” tip of the ribbon to the top of one of your black paper rectangles so that the rest of the ribbon sticks up.

Spread a little glue onto the back of your chocolates. Stick the chocolates side by side to the center of the paper so that they meet where that little glued down piece of ribbon is. You don’t have to leave any room between them – they should be right up against each other.

Take the ribbon and put a little glue in the center of the side facing you. Bring the ribbon over the two pieces of chocolate and put it right down the middle of the open pages. You might need to shove the ribbon down gently so it sticks. (Use your fingers or a paperclip to press the ribbon down slightly.) If the ribbon keeps popping up, you could curl a little piece of scotch tape and stick it under the ribbon (it won’t be visible) but the glue worked just fine for me.

Let them dry completely. Here's the finished product!

Monday, January 7, 2013

I Love a Man in Uniform

So the latest issue of Scouting Magazine featured this new nifty little tool. It's an official BSA uniform GPS! It's pretty cool, and definitely helpful for newbie Scouters Wives. Check it out at

This got me thinking about the BSA uniform in general. I realize that among today's Scouts, there seems to be a debate over the coolness factor of the uniform. I read articles about some boys getting a hard time from their non-scout friends about it. Now I may not have an answer to that (except that when being bullied about their uniform, boys should respond with something like "How much scholarship money has that Ed Hardy shirt helped get you? Right, I didn't think so.") but I'm beginning to think that it has much more to do with how the uniform is worn rather than the uniform itself.

Allow me a few minutes to brag.

My husband looks good in his uniform. Like, really good. Pressed. Clean. Sharp. Neat.

Ya know, like a uniform. Not like gym clothes. An official uniform.

Women just love a man in uniform. How is it then that women are not flocking to uniformed Scouters in droves? There's another one I won't have an answer for, but I'll just ask - why is it that men in all military, dress police and firefighter uniforms, tuxedos and most suits can look like they belong on the cover of GQ when many of those same men in basketball shorts wouldn't get a second look?

I propose that it's not so much the magic in the threads as the nuanced treatment of their care and presentation. When your clothes look like they are supposed to, they make you look good. When scout uniforms fit properly and are clean and pressed, they help project what they symbolize - honor and integrity.

So Scouters Wives everywhere, if the hubby doesn't know his loops from his numerals, send him to
If his khaki and olive drabs are wrinkled and dirty, send him to a good dry cleaner.

If you're a single woman reading this, send yourself over to me. I know some very handsome single men who look great in uniform ;)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A Scout is Helpful

Even though it's two months after Hurricane Sandy hit New York, there are still so many people suffering, trying to rebuild and just put their normal lives back together. Here's some ways you can help or can get help:

Catholic Charities of New York Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Resources:

Short and Long Term Volunteer Opportunities:

Donate to the BSA Disaster Relief Fund to assist members of our Scouting family and to help rebuild Scouting in the affected communities. Also, register your unit to be partnered up with another unit who needs help:

BSA Troops in NY who are asking for relief support:

Friday, January 4, 2013

On Being Prepared

Long time no blog!

I will never hound my favorite bloggers again for a lack of posts. Missing a few days turns into a few weeks and before you know it, it’s the New Year. Oops. (Luckily, I don't have any readers. Yet.)

Here’s something I wrote on November 1, 2012:

I'm sitting here at a PLC meeting four days after Hurricane Sandy hit NYC and my family, my home and I emerged completely unscathed.

Thank God for that.

The news of an impending storm came in with the same fanfare as a 6th grade sleepover. Most spent the weekend before joking on Facebook about stocking up on Oreos and board games and the potential of having a couple of bonus days off from work or school. This was the scenario I'd been hoping for! A rainy day on the couch with my husband watching movies and munching on grilled cheese sandwiches and creamy tomato soup? Sign me up! I'd lived through a hurricane before, anyhow. A year's worth of D batteries , a 5 day freshwater supply, taped up windows, and a healthy dose of fear had led up to a few downed trees but nothing more in August 2011. Most who evacuated Zone A later regretted it. The city claimed millions in damages but nothing I could readily see. Sandy would just be Irene's annoying little sister.

The morning after, however, waking up from night of carefree frivolity this past Tuesday emerged a very different scenario. Our home remained untouched, and fortunately, we were among those who never lost power, though the blocks and blocks around us remained dark for 3 full days. We turned on the news to find a city nearly unrecognizable. The Brooklyn Battery Tunnel was a river, Gerritsen Beach and Rockaway had turned into Atlantis, and the small tranquil community of Breezy Point looked like a set of a movie with a plot of the end of days.

We're still living in the wake of this disaster. I sit here so thankful for getting through this unharmed and without damage. We're praying for who are suffering and continue to look for ways to help them. Right now, there's a lot of chaos. Looks like the troop will be working with our chartered parish to start up a collection drive for immediate needs. While everyone wants to help, the biggest need right now is for monetary donations. It's more helpful for us to open our wallets and stay out of the way of emergency professionals, although I think everyone wants to roll up their sleeves and get to work.

I know for certain, however, that this, more than ever in New York City, is a time for Scouting.

Before Sandy hit, I was reflecting on last year's Hurricane Irene. At the time, my then-fiancé was on a trip in Europe with his brothers, a last opportunity for them to go on an adventure before one of them became an old married man. The impending hurricane was a sensation. People were clearing battery operated radios and gallons of water off shelves. I remember going into survival mode. Even if my home remained safe, I could have been facing days without power or clean water. Unlike much of my city, however, I knew what to do. Thanks to my scouter soon-to-be husband (and my one year on camp staff) I already had access to several lanterns, a propane stove, rain gear, all the Nalgene bottles I could possibly want, water purification systems and proper clothing layers to stay warm (or stay cool as it was August in New York). I knew I had everything I could need to not only survive, should it come to that, but live quite comfortably for extended periods of time if necessary. And more than gear, I had knowledge – to know where the safest place in the house, to get to where I needed to be in the event that search and rescue teams needed to get to me. I knew all of this even without my Boy Scout boyfriend. It dawned on me that most people are not prepared for these kind of situations.

Every year at summer camp, the conversation always comes up among the adults about the skill of living without electricity and the comforts of home for weeks at a time. Sure, summer camp isn’t exactly a survival contest – after all, we have access to hot showers and ice and running water and portioned raw ingredients to pick up at the commissary three meals a day at our patrol cooking camp (not to mention the opportunity to recharge cell phones and check your email in the Scoutmaster’s Lounge in the camp office when you care to make the trip). But mostly, it’s you, your tent, and a fire to cook over for two straight weeks. You learn to work within your environment – you may not be the most comfortable you can be, but you learn what works and what doesn’t. And every year, we witness new campers with soggy sleeping bags after a night of rain because their tent wasn’t staked correctly or eating PB & J breakfast because they haven’t mastered the temperature control necessary to cook pancakes on a sheepherder stove. And we get to watch the older boys teach them the tips and tricks to churn out a meal their mothers would be proud of. Then before you know it, the first-year campers have become the fifth-year campers and that same boy who could barely pour milk on his own cereal is the same one helping the younger scouts set up their KP station. He may not be involved in scouting for the rest of his life, but you know that someday, should a natural disaster or some other emergency situation arise, those skills – survival and leadership – will kick in. He’ll know what to do. He’ll be prepared.

This is a time for Scouting.