It's that time of year again. The weather is going to start cooling off, the days are getting shorter, Starbucks is about to roll out their Pumpkin Spice Latte and football is about to take over Sunday afternoons once again. Perhaps even Saturdays if you have a college ball fan in your house. Growing up, my family was never a "football family." In fact, we did not watch any sports unless it was one of my sister's soccer matches. I was sort of taught to scorn the franchised, big money world of professional athletics and the fans that supported it. Football? That was the worst of the worst as it was just a bunch of oversized men running in to each other. I made it through college without this opinion being shaken too much, though I did enjoy attending a few of my school's athletic events. However, once I went to grad school and met my now husband, my whole sporting world changed. My husband is a HUGE Duke basketball fan and, to an only slightly lesser degree, a Carolina Panther's fan. I attended grad school at Duke and was introduced to a whole new concept of "fan" as undergrads camped out to gain entrance to one particular game, the Duke v. UNC basketball game, at least two months ahead of the actual event. With tents pitched in freezing temperatures, I looked upon the scene and wondered if perhaps I was missing something. It turns out that perhaps my family was wrong about sports.
What was before me was a group of people enjoying each other's company, deciding to suffer the elements together, for what was sure to be an energized game. Simply put, it was fun. It was fun in every sense of the word. Perhaps an irresponsible amount of alcohol was involved in the months of waiting, but these young people were going to have stories to tell for years to come and experiences with their friends that outsiders would never understand. My attitude toward sports began to shift. Then, in an effort to understand my then boyfriends obsession with sitting in front of the TV on Sunday, I started watching football. It was then that I realized it was a nuanced game; that the men on the field were waging tiny wars with each play. The more I understood the rules, the more interesting it became. And then I had the largest epiphany of all...football games were a legitimate excuse to eat football snacks. I love football snacks.
So, when a friend of mine invited me to a class at a local establishment called Art & Soul to create a mason jar tray for my favorite sports team, I gladly accepted. How fun. The real point of the class was to show off the versatility of Annie Sloan's chalk paint. I have used this paint before and can attest to the fact that it is amazing. It is overpriced, not easily accessible, and I am not convinced it is better than other chalk-like paints out there- but it is a good product and was the first of its kind in the modern market. Sometimes I feel like I need to pay my dues to the first of a great idea. The wax is really worth its weight in gold, too...and a little bit of that goes a very long way. But I digress. In the class we made a small tray with three mason jars to house cutlery or other useful additions to a football food spread.
The letters on the front of the tray were created with vinyl stickers that were peeled off after a second coat of a contrasting paint color was added. The jars were painted on the outside, then lightly sanded before a wax coating was added. (For the football, you paint the jar white first. Once the paint is completely dry, you use tape to create the strips and laces. You then paint the whole jar brown. When it is dry, you remove the tape and you have a cute football jar. It is recommended that you use a mason jar WITHOUT fonts or a logo on the front, as that would make your football have a wonky texture.) All of it was made using Annie Sloan's chalk paint. The end product is very cute. It was super easy, too. The class, with drinks, food and talking, was a little over two hours start to finish and I walked out with a completed project. You could forgo the sports idea and make a mason jar tray for flowers or something to match your kitchen or dining room with a little more finesse than "Go Panters!" Dare I suggest you make a tray for jars to house knitting needles? The possibilities are numerous and simple with this quick craft.
Really, my bottom line here is that I have grown to appreciate what it means to be a sports fan. It's a community. It brings people together, it leads to good times (and some sad times, too), and it is exciting. I understand it is not for everyone. My parents and sister are still staunch neigh sayers when it comes to professional athletics. And that's okay, too. I don't really like large crowds, so physically being at an event is not for me, but I understand it is tons of fun for the people who do enjoy the energy and bustle of a stadium. I love to pick up chicken wings, grab some M&Ms and watch the game at home with my family while we chat and laugh and have a good time. If you, too, happen to be a fan of football, I hope you have a great season in whatever form that takes! But whatever you do, you should make a mason jar tray. ;-)