humor, tiny living

11 BIG LESSONS from tiny living

11 Big Lessons from tiny living Go Jules Go v2It’s been a little over six months since I downsized from a 1,200 square foot duplex to a 350 square foot apartment. Before that, I lived in a 4-bedroom house on over two acres. I even had a barn, for crying out loud. While I was so excited to walk the talk in living more minimally (shout out to Mother Earth, ya’ll!), not to mention saving a boatload of money, I was also, um, er, what’s the word(s)? Oh, right.

Scared sh*tless.

Third floor walk-up? No yard? No parking? No laundry? No oven?? What was I thinking???

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Was this going to be like the time I put ketchup in my hair?

From my summer-long search I learned that studio apartments in this area, close to a major train line bringing well-dressed commuters into New York City, were in high demand. When I stumbled upon this one after two months of scouring the internet, I knew I had to pounce.

Within an hour of seeing the ad on Craigslist, I met with the landlord, beating out over thirty other interested callers in that first day. (It may have helped that I came equipped with my credit report, five references, my three most recent pay stubs, my dog’s vet records, an irresistible photo of said dog, and my current Masters degree transcript. This project manager don’t play.)

When the landlord confessed she was a dog lover, Uncle Jesse and I had no choice but to sign the deposit check right then and there.

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Finding a pet friendly rental in New Jersey is like finding a full bottle of champagne in my fridge.

Make no mistake about it, this decision wasn’t easy. The down-sizing itself was a down-right pain in the chipmunk tail. I got it in my head that the best way to sell my stuff was to turn my entire apartment into an Amazon warehouse and hold an “estate” sale.

I also thought it made sense to spend hours of time, and $14.00 on glass knobs I just had to have, to makeover old furniture that I’d inherited for free before trying to sell it on Craigslist.

We won’t even talk about the box spring that somehow got into my old apartment, but met an untimely demise trying to come out of the very same apartment.

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Here lies Box Spring. 2006-2017. Rest in peace. (Get it? “Lies”? “Rest” in peace?)

To make things even more exciting, the move coincided with the week I was supposed to cycle up a mountain in Arizona with, um, inadequate training.

And it was no small (heh) feat to turn 350 square feet of this:

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Into this:

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So by now you must be thinking:

Was it worth it?”

Let’s find out, shall we?

11 Big Lessons from tiny living Go Jules Go v2

DISCLAIMER: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission if you purchase the linked product, at no additional cost to you. I only ever link to products that I truly love. Like this.

1. I Don’t Miss Any of the Stuff I Got Rid Of

To be fair, there’s still a mountain molehill of boxes and pieces of my dining room table in my parents’ basement, but those 87,000 picture frames? GOOD RIDDANCE.

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Don’t worry. I kept the important things.

2. Now I Wish I Had Even Less Stuff

Do I really need two giant Tupperware containers of gift wrapping supplies? I don’t even give gifts. I just show up and take things from people.

Like the good old days when I took all of your photos of your pets wearing slap bracelets.

3. I Feel (Almost) As Free as a Bird Flying Chipmunk

Whenever I move again, I’m excited to see how fast I can pack up. Could I ever live out of a duffle bag?

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This guy does it. Photo credit

4. Climbing Two Flights Only Sucks if You’re Carrying a Case of Wine #worthit

I wound up finding an old laptop backpack as I went through all of my crap before moving, and have devised a nearly hands-free strategy for getting my work supplies, coffee, water bottle, lunch and dog down the stairs and around the corner holding only a leash. I can park in a reserved spot right by my door on nights and weekends, so I plan my grocery trips around that.

Not paying for that parking spot during the day? = $1,200/year extra to spend on wine. (I’m not making this up. Twelve. Hundred. Dollars!)

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YAAAS.

5. It’s Totally Cool to Wear Those Pants Twice in a Row

I fear this strategy has only worked well because it’s been winter.

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I’m sorry if I’m oversharing. Just kidding. That’s what I do here.

6. You Can Cook an Entire (Vegan) Thanksgiving Dinner with Two Electric Burners, an InstaPot and a Toaster Oven

This might be my proudest accomplishment since running that marathon peeing on that cottage in Maine.

7. People Honk…A LOT

I live on a busy street now, near the center of town, and I can’t believe how often people lay on their horns with the determination of a gaggle of hipsters waiting in line for boozy brunch. I have to shut the windows if I want to ensure I hear every word of John Mulaney’s new Netflix special (OMG WATCH IT).

On the flip side, it means the train, great restaurants, coffee, and Trader Joe’s are all just a few steps away.

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Half of my remaining possessions: Trader Joe’s bags.

8. Living Next Door to a Catholic Church Will Not Make You More Godly

Speaking of unexpected noises, my nearby nuns are still messing with me at all hours, despite the anonymous letter I may or may not have sent a month ago.

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9. “Need” and “Want” Are Two Very Different Things

When you don’t have any space to put anything, you’ve gotta decide pretty quickly if it’s a “need” or a “want.” For example, I need to bathe once a month, but I probably just want those pug slippers.

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Photo credit

10. If I Can Do This, I Can Do Anything…Like Cut My Own Hair

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I mean, how hard can it be?

I recently found out that watching six minutes of a YouTube instructional video and then cutting your hair in a mirror using scissors meant for a righty that you found in the back of your dresser was more bold than wise. But if there’s anything I’ve learned from my ‘stache, it’s that hair grows back. Often more quickly than you’d like.

11. If I Can Do This, I Can Do Anything…No, Really

Much like those who are bringing water to impoverished communities and winning Olympic gold medals, I too have learned that anything is possible if you just put your mind to it. Hang on. That came out wrong. I know this move wasn’t a missionary trip or a heroic act of strength, but taking this leap into the unknown has really galvanized my belief that most of our limitations are set only by our thoughts. So what if you don’t know what path will appear when you take that first next step? You’ve just got to have faith that the universe has your back.

Huh. Maybe that church is rubbing off.

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I always knew this photo would get a lot of mileage.

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What lifestyle changes have you made that surprised you (for better or worse)?

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Food, humor, PSAs

Sleeping With the Frenemy

I graduated therapy recently.

What? You didn’t know that was a thing?

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Hang on. Is it NOT a thing?

After about two and a half years on the couch, including a brief affair with hypnotherapy, I was released.

But Go Jules Go, you’re probably thinking. You? Therapy? How can this be? Is it the chipmunk thing? ‘Cause that’s been making me kind of uncomfortable for a long time now.

It’s true, friends. This hilarious, blonde bombshell you see before you has some clumps in her mascara.

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Also the chipmunk thing.

At first I felt uneasy being set free. Who would I talk to? And then I remembered you!

GoJulesGo gets ready for BlogHer'12

The thing that made me realize my therapist was right, that I was indeed ready to stand on my own two, massive, massive, size 11 feet, was the fact that I had made friends with my demons. I’d invited them onto that couch with me, and instead of trying to suffocate them with one of my therapist’s oversized pillows, we started chatting.

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Once we got to know each other, we realized we had so much in common!

The one demon in particular who led me to therapy was an old friend frenemy. FOOD.

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That basic b*tch.

When I’m stressed, angry, sad, wondering why Darren Criss still hasn’t returned my calls, you name it, I’ll let it build and build and then the sun will set and suddenly I’m surrounded by crumbs, salt and shame. Even positive things, like embracing an ethical vegan lifestyle, running a marathon, going back to grad school, and making the move to tiny living, brought monumental anxiety.

Every moment in my personal history, a history rich with love, laughter, beautiful sights and broken hearts, is colored by whatever I happened to weigh at that time. Give me any year back to 1991, when I was 9 years old, and I can probably provide an exact number – and exactly how I felt about that number.

During my first couple of years in therapy, I thought I could fix whatever the hell was wrong with me. I knew food was a merely symptom, but for goddsakes, I was in my mid-30s now, surely time to turn a corner here. Then I realized: My issues were never going away, least of all this one.

And that’s what has made all the difference.

My issues and I can sit side by side in this life, sometimes in companionable silence, other times in a raging battle, and everything is going to be O-KAY. It’s how I relate to them, how I deal with them moment to moment, that really matters. Why not pull my darkest parts into the light where I can admire and understand every ugly lovely inch of them? They are part of me, after all.

Besides, if I’m going to fret over anything, it should be the fact that Darren Criss STILL hasn’t called me back.

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My love has only had time to mature, Darren!

“I remember how panicked I was when I first came here,” I said to my therapist on our second to last visit, gazing between her cluttered desk and oversized necklace. “It’s not that my issues have gone away. It’s just that I feel so much differently about them. So much calmer.”

She nodded. “Does that feel like progress?” 

“If that’s not progress, I don’t know what is,” I replied.

So now that I’ve invited my favorite frenemy over to spend some quality time, I’ve decided (s)he needs a name.

I’m thinking Osama binge Laden. Yes? No?

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Any other frenemies out there you’d like to introduce?

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Giveaway Junkie, humor

Is it…could it be…the BEST. BIRTHDAY. EVER?!

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THE DAY HAS COME, Chipmunks!

The day everyone showers me with attention, compliments, and permission to drink at 9 AM I announce the winner of my latest giveaway!

For this contest, I asked you to (pretty please) leave a comment describing your ideal birthday, with bonus points awarded for mentioning chipmunks. This particular commenter nailed it. I love word-y puns almost as much as I love sneaking “water” into the movies.

And thus, the winner of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver’s “A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo” is…

SHENRYDAFRANKMAN!

Go-Jules-Go-birthday-giveaway-winner-2018Congratulations, SHENRYDAFRANKMAN! I’ll be in touch to send you your delightful spoils.

Oh. What’s that? You’re wondering what my ideal birthday would look like? That’s so sweet of you! I hadn’t really given it much thoug—

Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-1Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-2Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-3Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-4Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-5Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-6Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-8Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-9Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-10Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-11Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-12Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-13Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-14Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-15Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-17Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-18Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-19

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Photo Credits: Darren CrissChipmunksKetchup dogOreo dogBanana dogPopcorn dogTater tot dog; Justin Timberlake

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Giveaway Junkie, humor

A BIRTHDAY GIVEAWAY!

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A birthday  giveaway? It’s true, Chipmunks. This spry young bunny before you is turning another year older.

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Hang on. Is that a gray hare hair?

In an effort to distract myself from the merciless hands of time, I’m giving you a gift! Well, one of you.

DISCLAIMER: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission if you purchase the linked product, at no additional cost to you. I only ever link to products that I truly love. Like this.

Back in March, I ordered a copy of A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo, whose proceeds go to The Trevor Project and AIDS United. It was so popular that I had to wait over a month to get my paws on it. Well, it has finally arrived, and it’s so wonderful I can’t possibly keep it all to myself.

It may seem like I bounce from topic to topic, but there’s one thing I’ve always hoped was a-bunny-dantly clear (OKAY FINE I’LL STOP): The blog is all about the love. When I started as “Go Guilty Pleasures!”, I wanted a safe place for people to come together to dish about their embarrassing delights, like gypsy weddings and farting. It evolved to Go Jules Go, where I now talk about all kinds of hopes, dreams, fears, and things that allow you to laugh at with me (um…right?). Regardless of the name, I always, always wanted you to know: You are celebrated here.

And that’s what this book is all about.

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This book was Last Week Tonight with John Oliver‘s response to another children’s book that came out on the same day. A book that shall remain unnamed here, because, like I said.

Love.

Yada yada.

To make things even more magical, Paperless Post sent me some coins so I could make a pretty (and environmentally-friendly) invitation for this giveaway! (Turns out, you can create posters like the one below completely free!)

I’ve had friends send me invites through Paperless Post in the past and thought, “Well aren’t we fancy?” while secretly seething with jealousy. Now we can be fancy together!

GoJulesGo-PaperlessPost-invite

Want to win?

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment below by NOON EST on Saturday, April 28th explaining what the world’s best birthday would look like to you. Points awarded for humor, creativity and ability to compliment me mentioning chipmunks.

I’ll announce the winner on MAH BIRTHDAY, April 30th! Now hop to it! I’m going to go back to playing on Paperless Post.

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So. FANCY!!!

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Food, humor, Wipe the Drool

Host a Vegan Dinner Party Even if You’re Not Vegan (and most of your friends aren’t either)

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A few weeks ago, I received a group text from my friend Christine:

“Ladies! I have perfected a vegan menu! When are you coming over?!”

Christine is not vegan. None of my local friends are vegan. I put my phone down and walked away. When things this good happen, I get very suspicious.

After a moment, I decided to reply. I downplayed it so as not to make her feel too much pressure:

“YES YES YES A THOUSAND YESSES! P.S. – I’m blogging the sh*t out of this.”

DISCLAIMER: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission if you purchase the linked product, at no additional cost to you. I only ever link to products that I truly love. Like this.

And thus, Chef and Tofu Goddess Christine and I bring to you:

How to Host a Vegan Dinner Party Even if You’re Not Vegan (and most of your friends aren’t either)

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Don’t worry. We’ll talk you through it.

STEP ONE: FIND FRIENDS.

STEP TWO: TELL THEM YOU’RE HOSTING A VEGAN DINNER PARTY.

STEP THREE: FIND NEW FRIENDS.

STEP ONE: PLAN MENU

Christine saw my post about vegan food hacks and suddenly remembered the power of The Almighty Peanut Sauce. (If you have vegan friends who also have nut allergies, you should rethink your friendship. Or you can use tahini.) This spoke to her overall philosophy when it comes to menu planning:

I thought it would be best to work with ingredients or dishes that are inherently vegan, instead of trying to make something ‘meat-esque’ and working with unfamiliar substitutions. Embrace and love the ingredients for what they are! If we are honest with ourselves nobody really loves cauliflower when it’s trying to be rice, or mashed potatoes, or (for the love of Pete) pizza crust. Have at it with those things, but embrace cauliflowery goodness and don’t play with our emotions when it comes to pizza crust. And zucchini is a delicious vegetable, but it will never be spaghetti, ever.”

APPETIZERS

Pan-fried vegetable potstickers a.k.a. gyoza (yup, the kind you find in the frozen section of any grocery store)

InstaPot hummus with veggies and pita chips (this recipe will change your life)

Olive tapenade (…from Trader Joe’s because for crying out loud you can’t do everything)

As you’ll soon see, this entire menu contains items you can make ahead, or drunkenly quickly prepare on the stovetop while you sip your mango and raspberry infused sparkling rosé. Who wants to host a party and have to worry about how long it will take your soufflé to rise? Christine pan fried the potstickers to crispy perfection while we chatted and snacked on the other items.

MAIN COURSE

Noodles with peanut sauce

Lettuce wraps with tofu, mushroom and water chestnut scramble

Both of these recipes continue to make your hosting duties a breeze because you can make the entire noodle dish ahead and serve chilled or at room temperature, and you can even make the lettuce wrap filling ahead of time (or at least do all of the chopping). Christine chose angel hair pasta for the noodle dish, a decision I will shamelessly mimic from here on out. So light! So tender!

Ethnic cuisine tends to contain lots of naturally vegan dishes, and will help you create a cohesive menu. How about spring rolls and a Thai coconut curry (this curry paste is my everything) or pineapple fried rice? Or samosas (the Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods versions are vegan!) with a dal (lentil) makhani or saag (spinach) tofu? Remember: Coconut milk, nuts, potatoes, and spices are vegan friends who make everything delicious!

Nervous about tofu? Pro tip #1 from Christine:

Squeezing tofu is one of those things that sounds intimidating, like rinsing quinoa or soaking beans. How will you know if you squeezed it too much? Or not enough? Am I still a good vegan friend and Earth-lover if I’m wasting a bunch of paper towels on my tofu? What would Mr. Whipple say about all that squeezing? In truth, it’s not that bad and it’s hard to do it wrong. If you don’t quite squeeze it enough for a recipe like this one, any excess liquid cooks off anyway. So I thought this recipe was a good entry point into My First Experience with Tofu.”

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I assume my invitation is just lost in the mail?

DESSERT

Coconut cashew milk rice pudding 

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This pudding was so good that even though we were stuffed from going back for main course seconds, we housed it. It’s easy to make ahead and totally company-worthy, especially when paired with pretty glasses and freshly cut strawberries.

Still feeing nervous? Christine’s pro tip #2:

If you’re not sure about ingredients, Google is your friend. I was excited to find this Vegan Condiments Guide so I could be sure that all the ingredients would work. That’s also where I learned that honey is not vegan. Bees are animals, too! (The more you know… cue the shooting star and rainbow.) Your vegan friends will think you are next-level if you know that honey isn’t vegan, and use agave syrup instead. Rock star status!”

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Hang on, Christine. Way ahead of you. Photo credit (prior to extremely necessary annotation).

STEP TWO: SET THE MOOD

I suggest it look something like this:

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Christine says:

Vegans tend to love the planet a bunch, so if you want to try something new that might be easier to sustain than your new-found vegan dining habits, splurge on some cloth napkins and work them into your daily routine. You’ll feel extra fancy and reduce waste all at the same time. One averagely messy eater can use a cloth napkin for a few days before sending it to the hamper until laundry day.”

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STEP THREE: ALL THE SMUGNESS!!!!

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“Did I mention I’m not even vegan?”

And that’s it, folks! Easy peasy Charmin squeezy!

A special thank you to Christine for hosting such a fabulous feast and sharing your recipes and tricks with the blogosphere! I’m only a little mad that you’re a better vegan cook than me.

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Blonde Moments, Family Ties, humor

I Put the NO in NOLA (New Orleans)

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The trip that almost…WHAT? I CAN’T HEAR YOU.

My family arrived at Newark Liberty Airport last week with plenty of time to catch our 12:34pm flight to New Orleans. It was Spring Break for this family of (mostly) teachers, kids, and retirees, and we were eager to cash in on the opportunity to visit a city none of us had ever seen. Everyone stared at me while I pulled out my phone to retrieve our flight number, punching it into the check-in kiosk. I was skating on thin ice for not having checked us in the night before.

My parents looked around nervously, trying to catch a glimpse of the security gate. The lines were surprisingly dead for a Tuesday morning. As Babs (mom) stared at her baggage check sticker like it was written in Klingon, my sister swiftly tagged both of her kids’ bags and called, “Okay, let’s go!”

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Put the who in the what in the where now? Photo credit

All six of us made our way to the security gate, where I pulled out my wallet to grab my driver’s license.

“What’s wrong?” my sister asked. She followed my gaze.

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“Oh my god. Where’s your license?”

I slapped my hand to my forehead.

“In my coat pocket,” I moaned.

Her eyes widened. I had quickly put my license in my coat pocket that morning in order to move my car to a tow-free spot for the week. It was still snowing in New Jersey, and I was thrilled when I put the puffy gray jacket back on its hook in the landing of my apartment, because, hey! It was 80 degrees in NOLA! Woo hoo! Let’s GO!

“I was trying to be responsible [and not drive around the corner without a license]!” I cried. I had never bothered to be so responsible before, which is why I didn’t remember to put the license back in my wallet.

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And I call myself a (moderately proficient) Project Management Professional.

I looked over at my father, halfway to the TSA pre-check line, and thought, If looks could disown. My sister and I had planned this whole thing on his dime and now I was about to ruin it all.

Being a 3-month-old meditating guru, I suddenly thought: This is a test. Don’t cry. Breathe. Stay calm. There is no f^&$@$ way they’re letting me on the plane!!!!

“Okay, let’s get on line and come up with a plan,” my sister said, snapping into teacher mode.

I only had time to chug what was left in my water bottle before we faced security, all the while trying to ignore the exclamation points firing in my head. People in airport uniforms hated me. I was searched every time, convincing me I had either “dumb enough to carry someone else’s crack-lined luggage” or “mail order bride” tattooed on my forehead. Because of this track record, I always got nervous, which then made them suspicious, and well, it was just a vicious cycle that ended with someone getting to second base.

The agent smiled (smiled!) at my sister BECAUSE OF COURSE HE DID and once she explained the situation, he politely said he’d call his manager, asking me to provide any other I.D. I might have in the meantime.

Did…did this mean…could I possibly… Nooo. I yanked out every credit card, health insurance card, student I.D., $3.08 Borders gift card (hey, how did that get in there?), and business card I had in my wallet, little pieces of my identity fluttering out like it was Mardi Gras.

Five (or two or forty-seven, who can tell when you’re wondering why you also forgot to wear an adult diaper?) minutes later, I was sent on through without so much as a pat down. I reached my family, patiently waiting on the other side of the security gate.

“Time for a drink?” Babs asked after taking one look at my face.

“All of them,” I nodded.

But I didn’t cry! And I made it through! Bring on the Hurricanes! And bring them on we did…

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…until two days later. When I started feeling…funny.

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And not funny ha-ha.

After an exciting and sleepless night followed by a raging fever, we concluded I’d come down with the stomach flu, a new friend who planned to stick around, Kato-style.

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F— my liiiiiiiife. Photo credit

Now that the fever’s finally gone, I feel reborn and ready to get my license tattooed on my arm. Except that my stomach is still to me what women are to men: a total mystery.

As for the rest of New Orleans? Also a total mystery.

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But I’m told this happened.

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Any other travel mishaps you care to share? Please. Make me feel better.

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Family Ties, humor, Veganiness

What Jesus Would Definitely NOT Do

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Every other week, I meet with one of my favorite people in the world, my thesis advisor, Mary Pat (or MP, as we affectionately call her). At the start of these chats, we often find ourselves sharing humorous anecdotes before getting down to brass tacks.

Speaking of nail-like things, this past week, she shared a little story about growing up Catholic as one of seven siblings. “This wasn’t like growing up in the 80s,” she said. “I mean, we had nuns. Nun nuns.”

“On Good Friday,” MP continued, “from 12 to 3, while Jesus was on the cross, Catholics are supposed to be quiet. Our parents would put all seven of us in our tiny basement and not let us out until we oh-so-silently finished our annual arts and crafts project. Which was,” she paused dramatically, “to make a life-sized Jesus on the cross using brown paper bags, red markers, tape, and scissors.  We didn’t have to make the cross, just Jesus — which was a depressing task to say the least, especially with four brothers who loved drawing the gory parts…”

I stared at her, mouth agape. “Go on.”

“Once giant Jesus was complete, my parents hung Him on the wall where He remained for the rest of Good Friday and most of Holy Saturday. Then, Saturday night before bed, we rolled Him up and put Him in a shoebox with a rock on top, like His tomb,” she took a breath. “This isn’t even the best part.”

I pursed my lips. This was already the greatest story I’d ever heard.

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Cannot…take…it!!!!

“In the morning — on Easter — we would come downstairs to discover that the shoebox was empty, the rock removed! If we wondered where He went, we needed only tip our seven little faces toward the heavens to find Him.”

“The…ceiling?” I could barely get the words out.

“That’s right,” she confirmed. “After we went to bed, my parents would tape Him to the ceiling in the dining room. He had risen!”

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I’m guessing it didn’t look like this.

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Any other horrifying fun family memories you’d like to share?

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