Sometimes you have to admit things for what they are and, the truth is, I’m not crafty. I could tell you it’s because I’m a busy mom of four. I could say it’s because of the impact cancer has had on my health. I could also plead that I’m putting a great deal of energy into this part-time writing gig, or proclaim that I’m not artistic enough to make something of note.
I could say all of that, but reality is much simpler: I don’t have the patience to craft. My favorite phrases are “instant gratification,” “no cleanup required,” and “order ready for pickup.” It isn’t that I don’t want to be creative, I just don’t like the setting up, the amount of mess made, the time and effort put into the project (that always, always takes longer than I anticipated), and then the dreaded task of getting the kitchen table usable again.
A couple months ago, we were planning Babies #1 and #3’s joint birthday party. They share the same birthday, five years apart. Baby #1 was born at exactly 35 weeks by emergency C-section. Baby #3 was my second VBAC, delivered at almost 39 weeks. Luckily for us, Baby #1 has never minded sharing her birthday with her little brother, and thought from the start that he was a pretty cool gift.
She suggested a Star Wars theme, to which I readily agreed. “We could act out some famous scenes from the movies and improvise some of the lines to make them funny,” I offered.
She liked that idea. “What about Light Sabers for party favors?” she asked.
I envisioned my house full of people, with little (and some not-so-little) kids running around the house, chopping at one another with plastic swords. “I’m thinking no to the weaponry,” I told her.
Never outdone, she countered, “We could make them out of pretzel rods.”
Here we were again, with her assuming that her mom can do all of this cool stuff that I just can’t do. She’s picturing pretty candies and I’m imagining how difficult it will be to stop the stream of obscenities I will want to shout during the creative process.
I sent an email to my friend Ramona, The Merchant Baker. Her advice was helpful. She gave me a detailed account of how best to melt chocolate or candy melts to dip the pretzel rods in, and she suggested rolling them in sanding sugar to give them a glowing appearance.
Then she said that thing that every uncrafty person hopes to hear from someone on top of the game: “I’m happy to help you if you want.” It was like a beam of light shone down from Heaven onto the computer screen, and angels were singing all around me. However, as long as I omitted her idea of rolling out black fondant to mold handles, I figured I could handle this activity on my own. My most recent baking humiliation was still fresh in my mind. This process was easier, so redemption was in sight. We would simply use our imaginations and pretend that the exposed pretzel rods were “natural wooden lightsaber handles,” like training wheels for Padawans.
I learned a few things while making Light Saber Pretzel Rods:
- It only takes a few bags of candy melts for me to look like I was in the food fight scene from the movie “Hook”
2. One giant-sized container of pretzel rods from the local wholesale club would have been plenty. The second one was most definitely overkill. There is currently about a third of a container in my pantry, going stale.
3. Candy melts also harden when stuck to your cheeks and–trust me on this one–no one but Baby #4 should eat the yellow ones. More coating went into his mouth from that spoon than on to a pretzel rod.
4. Rolling them in sanding sugar equates to a lumpy mess if you are me. If you are my daughter, you will experiment until they look perfect.
The party was a huge success. What people really want at a party is for you to embarrass yourself dancing, and to act out famous movies scenes while rotating through an abundance of paper masks. The kids and I came up with some great one-liners to pull out of a bag and interject into the dialog. Our guests may not have previously thought classics such as “Homey don’t play that,” “Honey, where are my pants?,” “Waassssuuuuuuppppp!,” and “Uptown funk you up, uptown funk you up” could be part of Star Wars lore, but they are now. (I do apologize to any purists that were in attendance, who can’t shake the mental image of my nephew in a Spiderman body suit playing the role of Boba Fett.)
This party was about embracing our inner geek, celebrating two cool kids, and having a few laughs in their honor. I also learned that as long as an imperfect craft is loaded with sugar, it really isn’t imperfect. If we left a few shards of crunchy, salty-sweet weaponry on my carpet when all was said and done, it was worth it.