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A Seminole Sunday

April 15, 2014
photo 1 (9)

Baseball is most definitely back. Watching the No. 1 Florida State Seminoles take on Georgia Tech in our backyard was the perfect way to spend a beautiful Sunday.

The last time I saw Jameis Winston, the newly-minted Heisman winner was on the giant screen at Auburn Arena, tearing apart the Tigers’ defense on the final drive to win the national title.

The last time I saw Jameis Winston, we had driven 113 miles to Alabama, with the hopes that the freshman phenom would lose and Auburn’s magical season would continue.

The last time I saw Jameis Winston, he had a rose tucked behind his ear and was lifting the crystal Coaches’ Trophy.

Now, Famous Jameis was stepping into our neighborhood.

In a baseball uniform.

Nearly once every week since the college baseball season started, we’ve squeezed out 20 minutes of our day to walk a block down Fowler Street to Russ Chandler Stadium to watch Georgia Tech take on its ACC foes for a few innings.

But with March Madness finally coming to a close and the weather in Atlanta quickly heating up, Justin, Eric, Andrew, and I decided to make the most of an 85-degree Sunday and watch the Yellow Jackets take on the top team in the land, the Florida State Seminoles. Russ Chandler was packed with Noles fans who had traveled well for the weekend series, so we decided to find seats in the bleachers on the Tech side of the field.

As we walked up the steps to our seats, one man reached across the aisle after seeing Justin’s Auburn hat and shook his hand, saying, “Thank you, sir, for beating Georgia this year.” Southerners and their SEC football, I tell ya…

The game was a close one, with Tech and the Noles bouncing back and forth. Personally, I was just ecstatic to sit outside on a beautiful, warm day, watching the best game with some of the best baseball fans I know. The crowd down the first base line started to get a little restless as none other than #44 ran down the line into the bullpen to warm up — Jameis Winston.

Jameis — who hadn’t played Friday and had missed Saturday’s game to fly back to Tallahassee for the spring game — was about to step into the game. Winston stepped into the batter’s box as a pinch hitter and drew a walk. At the end of the half inning, Jameis trotted out to left, standing right in front of us. In one of the most entertaining moments of the day — while the speakers blasted OutKast, the Backstreet Boys, and Neil Diamond — Jameis danced around before striking the Heisman pose, a moment that Justin said later made SportsCenter. Winston then came on for the save in the ninth, his fifth of the year.

With a big College World Series roadtrip on the horizon (check out @OmahaOrBust on Twitter and Instagram for a sneak peek), I’m sure it won’t be the last time I see the Seminoles, but it was certainly a great way to kick off the road to Omaha.

#MarchMadness

April 14, 2014

Bows & Baseballs

March 31, 2014
Finished just in time for Opening Day -- my DIY baseball wreath!

Finished just in time for Opening Day — my DIY baseball wreath.

The boys of summer are back. There’s something special about the smell of summer nights, the look of pinstripe pants, and the sound of the crack of the bat I’ve been addicted to since I was a little girl. I love the ballparks, the hot dogs,  the fans, belting Take Me Out to the Ballgame in the 7th-inning stretch, the thrilling plays, and the gems on that diamond full of dirt.

I love sitting in the grandstands with the sun on my face as much as the cool night breeze. I love baseball in March, baseball in July, baseball in October.

And — finally — it’s Opening Day and the magic’s back.

After scouring Etsy for ideas for a spring-themed wreath, I found an idea I just couldn’t pass up — a wreath made of baseballs with my favorite team’s logo in the middle. I wasn’t in love with the lop-sided, lumpy look of the 11-baseball wreath, so I found another online — made of 14 baseballs — that seemed more even and more of the size I was looking for.

I picked up a pack of baseballs and some ribbon at Walmart and used two coat hangers I had laying around my house. I untwisted the hanger and bent it into a circle, looping one end to keep the baseballs from sliding. I then drilled holes through each baseball before sliding it onto the wire.

When I had finished adding all the baseballs, I looped the last of the wire through the original loop and fixed the box to that loop with a twist-tie.

The wire I used was too flimsy, so the wreath ended up lop-sided and like an oval — exactly the look I was trying to avoid.  To fix this, I added a second hanger, attaching it to the wire two baseballs from the loop on either side, which helped balance the weight — 14 baseballs are pretty heavy, after all.

Eventually, I’ll add the Phillies logo to the center of the wreath, but for now, I just wanted to get it up on the door in time for first pitch.

March Prankness

March 31, 2014
Love the toast lines! So tricky!

Love the toast lines! So tricky!

As much as I’d like to consider myself a comedian and prankster, the truth is, I’m not very funny.

An addict of BuzzFeed, I stumbled upon one of their articles highlighting April Fool’s pranks to play on your children. I figured I may not be funny — but I could certainly handle dishing out a prank meant for a child. After the first suggestion, I had found my prank — pound cake disguised as grilled cheese.

Every Sunday — the day the greatest number of our NCAA.com interns potentially have off — we get together at one person’s house to hang out, make dinner, and watch football or our favorite shows. With March Madness in full swings, our parties have been put on hiatus for a few weeks now, and while we all make a point to visit with each other at work every day, it still feels like it’s been forever. But with a break in action between the Elite Eight this weekend and the Final Four next weekend, we knew we would have enough time to get together and watch the season finale of The Walking Dead, one of our favorite shows to watch as a group.

And that – with April Fool’s only three days away — would be the perfect time to make my move.

I trekked to Publix, picked up an Entenmann’s pound cake and sliced it to look like bread. I then threw it on the George Foreman to give it lines like toast, cut it into triangles, and layered some dyed icing on it. Voici! Grilled cheese.

I’m not very good at keeping my mouth shut, so I was worried about walking into Justin’s house with my prank in tow. I wasn’t even sure if anyone would go for the grilled cheese and Justin had just eaten, but I insisted. When he finally caved, he stared at it for a minute, and asked what kind of cheese I had used. Laughing, I said it was American, and barely let him take a bite before yelling, “April Fool’s!”

It was definitely the most Sarah-style prank that could have been pulled, but can’t complain about a prank that leaves you with lots of cake!

Selection Sunday

March 18, 2014
Selection Sunday's finally arrived! Can't wait for the Madness to begin!

Selection Sunday’s finally arrived! Can’t wait for the Madness to begin!

Selection Sunday is easily one of my favorite days of the year. There’s something about the Big Dance I just cannot ever get enough of. The teams lacing up their dancing shoes, the Cinderellas at the ball, the moments that give you goosebumps — it’s everything I love about college sports. And for a while, it was all I thought of when I thought of the best of college sports.

But this year’s been a little different.

I began a full-year internship at NCAA.com, working in the editorial department and this year has been full of incredible experiences. While I’ve looked forward to Selection Sunday all year long, I’ve also fallen madly in love with college football, college baseball, and college softball — and it’s made the excitement even greater.

Selection weekend was madness — what most people forget is that the NCAA covers more than basketball and football and baseball. In fact, we had 12 champions crowned in winter sports that weekend alone. We finished work on Saturday night around 3:30am and turned around the next morning to be in the office by noon.

As tired as I was, I was immediately rejuvenated walking into Techwood, seeing everyone else as excited as I should have been…the box of doughnuts certainly helped!

After a morning full of working up leftover stories from the night before, with each passing hour, the room grew quieter and quieter as the anticipation built. As 6pm approached and the last conference title games wrapped up, everyone manned their stations as the NCAA delivered the brackets and we settled in to watch the selections revealed to the rest of the country.

One of the most fun parts of the night was finally writing the names in the giant wall-sized bracket we’d placed on the windows a few days earlier. With only one off day before the First Four gets underway, it was going to be a busy, rushed few days, but I can’t wait for all the excitement of the Big Dance.

We’re lacing up our dancing shoes and ready to go!

Atlanta Temple Alumni and Admissions Brunch

March 16, 2014
Absolutely in love with my new Temple keychains! Thanks, TU Alumni!

Absolutely in love with my new Temple keychains! Thanks, TU Alumni!

As soon as I knew I would be accepting a job in Atlanta, I quickly emailed all my mentors at Temple to thank them and share the exciting news. Their first move? Connecting me with the Atlanta chapter of Temple Alumni.

After years of accruing random facts about Temple as a tour guide, I quickly began volunteering with the Admissions department at college fairs, helping whenever I could around my night shifts at NCAA.com. I stayed in constant communication with Rachel Gionta, one of my favorite Admissions counselors from back home, who ran the Temple Atlanta Admissions Advisory Council.

When she brought up the possibility of a spring trip to Atlanta for a prospective students brunch, I was thrilled. I’d worked for three years in Admissions, meeting with prospective students and their families, and sharing the school I loved so much.

In February, Rachel confirmed the trip and I marked the brunch in my calendar for the day before Selection Sunday — one of our craziest, busiest weekends of the year. After working until 3:30am the night before (er, morning of…?), I woke up a few hours later, drove just outside the perimeter to Brio in Dunwoody, and helped Rachel set up.

After catching up with Rachel, it was so great to reconnect with some of the Temple alums I had already met and meet plenty of new ones, as well. But by far my favorite part was talking with all the prospective students and answering their questions. I was so used to giving the speech, “This is where I want to go and this is how Temple’s helping me do it.” And now, I get to say, “I graduated, I’m doing what I love right out of school, and this is how Temple helped me do it.” It was a great moment of realization for me.

Overall, we had around 40 people attend and it will definitely become a recurring event. It’s comforting to know that while I might not know where I’ll be living on June 28th (hopefully still in Atlanta with Turner Sports!), I’ll have Temple Owls everywhere to make it feel like home.

Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose.

March 9, 2014
Texas forever! The final product of my DIY distressed wood sign.

Texas forever! The final product of my DIY distressed wood sign.

Friday Night Lights has always been one of my favorite shows. And its signature line–”Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose”–is something I’ve always thought would make a great craft. 

While looking for apartment-decorating inspiration on Etsy and on various sites, I found the perfect sign — for $175.00.

That’s about $175.00 more than I was willing to pay for a few boards of distressed wood, some nails, and some washed-out paint.

But it was just a craft. And I knew I could do it bigger, for cheaper, and make it tailored to how I wanted it.

Plus, I really needed something to fill those blank walls in my apartment.

So I set to it.

I drove to Home Depot, accepting I’d just once again be the crazy crafter looking for lumber. Thankfully, this time, I was able to cut a 6′x8″x1″ piece of lumber myself. Yes, with a saw! And no, no one had to offer to help me! This was a very proud moment.

After finding the wood stain I liked–a grey color called sunwashed–I then scoured the oops rack of paint, settling on a 50 cent jar of cream-colored paint. It wasn’t exactly the shade I had been going for, but I wasn’t about to pass up a bargain like that. I returned to the lumber section and grabbed two small square dowels to secure the boards.

Once in my crafting studio (read: my back deck), I started hammering, knocking, sanding, and distressing the wood as best I could.

Before beginning, I was most concerned about staining the wood, but after some expert help from Abby’s fiance, Nathan, I had all the tricks. After each pass of the stain–which I applied very unevenly–I wiped down with a rag to ensure it wouldn’t pool up and you would still be able to see the wood. I ended up using three coats to get the vintage, weathered look I was searching for, and at Nathan’s insistence, waited a full 48hrs before applying the paint. I’m impatient and without his tip, I would have painted as soon as the last bit of stain dried and the paint would not have stuck.

After the boards were stained, I sanded down all the edges and parts of the boards themselves and added a few more nicks. I flipped over the boards and took two dowels, nailing them to hold the three boards together.

I then taped my stencil to the board and used a paper towel to dab the paint over the stencil. The paper towel helped the paint apply unevenly and faded, which looked better than had thought it would. I was so happy with the final product — and so happy I saved nearly $150 from Etsy! Even a clumsy crafter like me can do

And voici! Texas forever.

Follow my step-by-step photo tutorial below and check out my other crafts:
DIY string state maps | DIY Instagram coasters | DIY string map

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