Saturday, July 30, 2011

fruits of my labor

 I know at least one of you is experiencing deja vu right now reading the title of this blog. Jenny entitled one of her blogs a few days ago the exact same thing. And then she showed pictures of practically the exact same thing. So basically I'm a big fat copy cat. But since imitation is the highest form of flattery, I'll just continue on...

Lest you think my gardens have been neglected this summer, thought you would like to take a glance at some of the beautiful bouquets I've been decorating my house with. Trust me when I say that few things make me feel happier and prouder than perusing my various flowerbeds, overflowing with color and shape and texture, and clipping exactly what I want to make a beautiful arrangement. It's intoxicating. I wish I could quit my job and be a stay-at-home-gardener.

This one I made a few days ago (and photographed today), so it's not as fresh as it once was...but still beautiful. I never knew zinnias could grow in so many shades of pink!
This mixed bouquet I made today, and yes, the jar-vase is much too big for the scale of the flowers, but I don't care. All my other smaller mason jars are already filled, and while I do have regular me, nothing quite compares to a mason jar. At least when you're talking about random wildflower mixes like these.
Same bouquet, different angle, same crappy photography. This bouquet was a mixture of zinnias (both double giant and pinwheel varieties), black-eyed susans, four o'clocks (orange and yellow), and a blue wildflower I can't think of the name of.

Is it sad that sometimes I lay in bed at night wondering what kind of flowers might be blooming the next day so that I can make more bouquets?? And that I dash outside in the morning to check??

Sometimes I think I've turned into my mother.

In other I-live-in-the-country news, tonight I went to a get-together called Bacon Fest. The theme was BACON. There were many dishes, and all of them featured BACON, that food of the gods. It was basically heaven on earth slash the best thing that's ever happened to me. I was too busy stuffing my face to get pictures. Dishes included bacon-vidalia pie, bacon-stuffed salted caramel brownies, a bacon beer dip, bacon-covered pineapple, dark chocolate-dipped bacon, bacon popcorn (which was vegan, strangely), and bacon jam. There were also a variety of beers to pair with the bacon dishes. I stuck with a double chocolate stout, and it was fabulous. In addition to bacon and though there were anything else in life you could need...well, there were also friends and good conversation and a copy of the Cake Wrecks book to browse through. All in all, an excellent night. If you are ever looking for a excuse to throw a party good party theme, I would suggest bacon. 

Now that we're all caught up, I'm going to go enjoy my flowers and my bacon hangover. Goodnight, yall!

Friday, July 29, 2011

would you rather

As I’ve mentioned before, Matt and I live in the sticks. Luckily, our “sticks” aren’t really that far away from anything. It’s really only about 10 miles from action-packed Athens. But you know, it’s just a matter of perspective…you pass a lot of fields, a lot of cows, no stoplights or stores…it just feels like we live in the sticks. And that’s cool with me.

However, it does mean that we spend a lot of time in the car every day, since we work, shop, and (usually) play in Athens. Most of the time, we ride together, since this a) saves gas, b) means I don’t have to drive, and c) gives us extra minutes of time together every day. I love it. We talk sometimes, but oftentimes we just listen to music or enjoy the silence together. Neither of us was born with that inner need to perpetually fill silence. It’s nice. But sometimes…sometimes we talk. And we play our favorite game: Would You Rather.

If you live under a rock and/or are not familiar with this game, you basically just think of two funny/disgusting/enticing/ridiculous scenarios, propose them to your friend, and make them choose between the two. Most of the time when we play, we have more fun inventing the scenarios, and rarely get around to actually choosing between them. They’re just too outlandish to pick between. Like last night…

We were driving home from the Gurleys’ house. It was rather late, and since lateness usually breeds silliness (if I’m awake for it, that is), immediately some good Would You Rather scenarios popped into my head. I shot off a few to Matt…these were solid, normal scenarios. Things like would you rather have as your only mode of transportation a fire-breathing dragon or a small pony? You know, normal stuff. (Correct answer: dragon. Obvs.)

I think of a few, and then there’s silence for a few minutes. Matt breaks the silence with a loud cackle of laughter and an “Okay, I’ve got one. Ready?”

Ready, Mattie. Go!

“Okay, so you have to pick your transportation. This will be your ONLY MODE: you can’t even walk anywhere that’s further than a mile. So. You can pick from riding an….elephant. But not on his back. Behind his butt. You know…like under his tail.”

I break in, ever the logical one. “How could I ride there? I would fall off. This doesn’t make any sense.”

“No, no…see, you know those little poop catcher things? Like for parades and circuses? Well he has one of those, and you ride IN it. You ride in an elephant poo catcher!!! Hahahaha!!! Okay, that’s your first choice.”

We’re both cracking up as I try to figure out how he’s going to think of anything that could possibly be worse than that. And as I also silently pray that we have a son one day who will find poop humor as funny as his daddy (and apparently mommy) does.

“Okay, so the elephant was your first choice. BUT you could choose something else. Your other choice for transportation is to be carried by rats. WHARF RATS. Like…you lay down and they all pick you up and scurry around. You know? But you can’t have a blanket or anything. You just sort of…crowd surf on top of them. Yeah! Crowd surfing on wharf rats. That’s your other choice.”

I practically couldn’t breathe through my hysterical laughter. I pulled myself together enough to ask some important clarifying questions: These rats—are they going to bite me? (No) When I get where I’m going, can I park them in the parking lot, or will they follow me around all day (Park ‘em). 

Ultimately I chose the wolf rats. I mean, I’m sure they’d become like pets before long. People fall in ‘love’ with their hamsters and stuff, right? I’m sure I would grow to like the rats. But people never love elephant poo. And your co-workers don’t love you if you show up to work every day covered in it.

It was a great Would You Rather. But not as great as the boy who was telling it. I’m pretty happy I get to spend the rest of my life with him.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Happy Way Back When-sday! As you can see, I remembered just in the nick of time.

It is hot. Outside. (Just clarifying that there's nothing wrong with my AC)

It is hot in Georgia. It was hot in Texas. When the weather dude on TV shows the map of the United States, practically the whole thing is covered in that dark orangey red color that indicates HOT. I can safely assume that whoever you are and wherever you are reading this's probably hot there, too (although probably not as hot as it is here, since I don't presently have any readers from the equator or hell). (But do let me know if you do happen to be from the equator or hell. That would be something interesting to talk about)

On a sweltering hot day week lifetime like this one, I like to think about a mythical season we Georgians refer to as "fall." Fall...autumn, if you something that supposedly exists in between summer and winter. During this time, the weather is supposed to be tolerable, if not beautiful. Not too hot and not too cold. The leaves change. You do things like drink cider and make piles of leaves to romp in. It sounds great. Unfortunately, in my 28+ years of life and as a Georgia resident, I've experienced like...15 minutes of fall. 

A few years back my Vineyard small group went on a "fall retreat." This is a pretty common thing to do, and in Georgia, it means you select a weekend during the "fall" season (check your calendar) and then you drive a few hours until you find a place that meets your personal qualifications for temperature and leaf-changiness. Then you hang out there all weekend and drink cider and romp in leaves and just generally have a bang-up time. And then you feel sad when you drive back to Georgia, where it will no doubt be 90 degrees and sunny. 

I took pictures on this fall retreat. Today I look back and remember. Check out the jeans and light jackets. That must have meant it felt coolish, but not too cold. We were surrounded in leaves. There were friends. We were laughing and jumping on fallen leaves and trees. Lola was a semi-puppy.


I know that as soon as it gets cold, I will start missing the summer and my tan. It's inevitable. The human heart is never satisfied for long with what it has. It's the human condition.

But I don't care. Call me a brat. Today I am sick of being hot and I want it to be fall, dangit.
The end.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

since last Wednesday...

You had to know SOMETHING was up, right?? Me? Not blogging for a week? I'd better have a good excuse for myself.

And I do! I was in TEXAS!!!! On VACATION!!! FINALLY!!!

Alright, enough with the all caps and exclamation points. It's just that I'm still really excited about it, even though I'm home. And I'm even more excited that I convinced my super-finicky camera to cooperate for long enough to upload pictorial evidence to the computer.

No time for a thorough re-cap (I know, you were holding your breath), but I'll tide you over with a few tidbits about what I've been up to since last Wednesday...

1. Flying on a plane (two, really) with my husband!

 Maybe not a big deal for some, but we've never flown together! It was a good experience, for the record. It reminds me what great Amazing Race partners we would be. And today we were THISCLOSE to spending a lot MORE time together on planes. Our flight from Houston this morning was completely full. So full, I guess, that the AirTran dude made several announcements asking for four volunteers with "flexible travel schedules" that would be willing to take a later flight (getting into Atlanta like 10 hours later that our flight was supposed to) that connected in Branson, Missouri (check your map: in what world is Branson a logical route to get from Houston to Atlanta?). In exchange for your troubles, each volunteer would receive TWO ROUND TRIP TICKET VOUCHERS (and a few meal vouchers to get them through the day). So that means, if Mattie and I had taken them up on the deal, we would have been able to go on TWO MORE TRIPS in the near future!! Don't think we didn't sit there and debate furiously for 15 minutes whether it could be finagled. We had about decided to give it a whirl, when we heard that all the spots were filled. Darn. So we're back home and we have no free tickets for future travel. 

Oh well. At least our plane didn't crash.

2. I puked in public. Three times.

Yep, at the Houston Zoo. Home of baby elephants (pictured), baby giraffes, and three now-buried piles of my vomit. You're welcome for that lovely mental image. I apparently had some kind of 24-hour bug (which I later passed on to my grandmother, since sharing is caring) that chose to make a most opportune arrival. It was truly a miserable day, in large part because I was so pissed about having to leave the zoo so soon!! I did stick around for about an hour post-vomiting, but it was one of the most horrible hours of my life, so we headed home. 

I'm sorry to over-share so much about this situation, but I am still astonished that it happened. It was totally surreal. I haven't thrown up in like...8 years or something? And then to do it in front of God and everyone at the ZOO??? Ridiculous.

3. Spent a lot of time hanging out with, catching up with, and enjoying my family.

Here we are with my dad's parents, whom we spent most of the trip with. It was such a blessing to spend such leisurely time with them (and have them all to ourselves)! 

4. Started reading Jane Eyre and am 77% through! Super-specific percentage details brought to you courtesy of my friend's Kindle, which she lent me and which I am reading the book on. I am LOVING the story AND the Kindle. 

5. Met my blogging BFF in REAL LIFE!!!!! 

This was definitely a first and it was a great experience. Amanda is just as fun and real in person as she is in her blog/facebook/emails/texts, which is what has comprised our friendship for the last year or so. Matt and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to spend the evening eating, eating more, and book-browsing with them. 

Also fun? Trying to explain how I knew Amanda to people in the over-80 set. "Is she a friend from college?" Um...well...she's a friend from...the internet? That doesn't sound sketchy at all. It took a lot of explaining, but I think eventually they understood that I'm not totally weird for meeting people I met online. It helped that we actually made it home from hanging out with them. Proof that more than just murderers and pedophiles are available to meet online!

We had way more adventures than just this, but now I've got to get my act together here at home so that I'm ready for the second half of this week. It is very sad that I have to go back to work tomorrow. Until next time, let me leave you with this one very valuable piece of advice I wasted no opportunities to quote this past week:

Don't mess with Texas.

I don't even know why. I just know you shouldn't. Consider yourself warned.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

country boys & girls

Growing up, we spent our summers in Texas. And I don’t mean a week or two. I mean all summer. Weeks turning into a month- or more. It was awesome.

My parents are both from Texas, and all of our extended family lives(ed) there. So we’d spend a few weeks with each side of the family, giving relatives the coveted opportunity to get to know their “Georgia peaches.” Yes, that’s what they called us. And they still do.

Anyway, even though our “Georgia peach” lives were fairly suburban, those long summers in Texas gave us plenty of time to get in touch with our inner country-girl (and boy) selves. Endless days on the lake and the bayou (pronounced, by us, as “bye-oh.” I’m not sure if that’s correct or not, but it really irks me when people say “bye-ew”) and weekends at my great-grandmother’s cotton farm were the stuff life was made of.

I love Georgia, and could very well spend the rest of my life living here. But despite technically living in Georgia my whole life…my childhood is defined and illustrated by those summers in Texas.

Here’s Jake and I at our great-grandmother’s cotton farm. I do think I look pretty cute, but Jake?? Oh man. He’s friggin ADORABLE!!! That little hat just kills me!!

And here’s all three of us at the ‘fishin camp’ on the bayou. I like how, even though we were staying in an AIR-CONDITIONLESS open-air camp for a week (or however long), and fishing, I am still dressed up and wearing a hairbow and somewhat decent outfit (by the standards of the day). You can take the girl out of the suburbs…

That’s all I’ve got for today, friends! Happy Way Back When-sday! Now…go fishing or pick some cotton or something. It’s summertime!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

possibly the best mail day ever you guys get good mail these days? Me? Not so much. It's pretty much bills and junk mail and bills and baby shower invitations, which are sorta the same as bills (they cost money and make you angry/sad). Today, was an exception.

First of all, I got a very sweet thank-you card from my sister-in-law Amy. Thank-you cards make me happy, and this one was particularly good. So now it's displayed on the mantle.  So that was a solid start to the mail.

And then there was this:

Holla!!! Ready Post?? Mail that someone actually had to go to a post office to mail?? This HAS to be good! And note that return address: It's from JAMES. Not Kristina, his wife, whom I would vote the Most Likely (of the two) to Send Me Mail. Now James and I have been friends for a long time, but I'm pretty sure this is the first time he's ever sent me something in the mail. I was immediately pretty darn excited. So excited that I attempted opening the package TWO TIMES the WRONG WAY. Yes, there are multiple ways to NOT open this package. Eventually I found the "pull here" tab and it all worked out.

Here's what I found inside:

Yes, that would be two of our high school band CDs. AMAZING!!!! James and I were in band together in high school...although of the two, I was arguably more...shall we say, excited about being in band? Yes, that will do. I pretty much lived and breathed band. That would be slightly more honest. So while I know that I did at one point own these two CDs (since I am, in fact, featured on them), I have long since lost or misplaced them. And I'm pretty sure there's been a hole in my heart. Until today.

I immediately texted him to thank him for his most amazing gift, and he mentioned that I needed to be sure to look in the little insert thing. See above?? He actually made little notes about various friends and memories. AMAZING! He also informed me via text that he came across them as they were packing to move and thought he would just drop them off at Goodwill. Then he thought "no, I want to give them to someone who would really appreciate them. ERIKA." And right he was.

Yes, I immediately listened to them and basked in all my band-nerdy-glory.

And then I scanned this picture so that you can bask in it too. The picture is all beat up because- inexplicably- Matt carries it in his wallet. I guess he likes to think of me as a high school band kid. How creepy sweet.

All my fellow EHS band friends who are reading this and turning green with envy: Please know that if I were more technologically savvy, I would most definitely have uploaded some of the band music and set it to play in the background of this blog. Probably Movement for Rosa or Blue Shades.

Also, I would like to just throw it out there that if anyone else has any random stuff that they find in their house that they want to mail to me to make me laugh, feel free! I think we should all make a point to send more non-crappy mail to people. Make the world a better place and all that. Yep. Happy Saturday!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

there's no place like home

 In 2001, as I prepared to leave home for the first time and move away to UGA- two hours away from life as I knew it- I was totally ready. I'm a planner by nature, and no detail about moving away to college had escaped me. My roommate was going to be one of my good friends since third grade. No dorm-room detail had been neglected, from the color-coordinated sheets down to the holiday decorations we knew we'd be needing to be properly festive when the time came. I was so excited about moving to Athens.

There was only one little problem.

Pets, people. You can't have PETS in dorms. And I'm a pet-kinda-girl. My family was crawling in 'furry people' growing up. They were part of the family! And although I could talk to the parents and the siblings on the phone, and IM my friends away at other schools...there are no adequate replacements for pets.

I remember being distraught in the months leading up to moving day. How would I ever survive with no one furry to love on? You may as well ask me to live without oxygen.

Obviously I did survive. But I remembered all of this when I came across these photos today. A little pre-college photo shoot of me with all my best buds: our three generations of toy schnauzers (eldest Bonnie, her daughter Lacie, and Lacie's son, Goliath) and my beloved cat, Kitty. I took these pictures hoping that looking at them would help tide me over between visits home. And I'm sure it helped some, but really. Is there anything in life quite like cuddling up with a furry pup or cat that loves you? Yes? It's called having children? Well great, I'm sure I'll enjoy that when I have it. :) Until then, enjoy pictures of 18-year-old me and my old posse.
 (L-R: Bonnie, Kitty, Goliath, Lacie)

Evidently keeping four animals still and facing the camera wasn't easy. But I thought the "outtakes" were cute.

Speaking of CURRENT pet (Lola, in case you live under a rock) has developed a new habit of hanging out in our (master bedroom) closet. Strange? Although it is a's not sized. And she has an entire ROOM of her own, complete with her kennel (that she loves) and a bed and carpet (only room in the house with carpet, which she definitely approves of)...and in the rest of the house, she's allowed on the furniture...I mean, why is she picking our CLOSET, of all places, to hang out in?? I'm mystified.

Anyway, happy Way Back When-sday! As always: if you have any requests for WBW topics, just let me know...otherwise I just browse through old pictures and you get stuck with stuff like...this. :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

i guess it's kind-of a big day

But probably not for the reasons you're thinking.

What were you thinking, anyway? I won the lottery? Finally fit into my high school jeans? I found out I actually do have an identical twin I was separated at birth from? (I know, the grammar in that last sentence is abysmal.) (And yes, I really did dream about that happening for oh...the first 25 13 or so years of my life.) Truly, the options are endless here.

But as it turns out, July 11th is actually a pretty important day in our house!

#1: It is the two-year anniversary of living in our house! Happy Anniversary, House!
#2: It is the three-year anniversary of Lola's birth! Happy Birthday, Lola!!
#3: It is the four-year anniversary of Matt working for the bank! Happy...Something, Matt!

Anniversaries #1 & #3 didn't merit any sort of special celebrations. #2 was celebrated by extra pets, cuddles, and playing. And an extra-long walk with Mommy, during which Lola personally celebrated by presenting me with two extra-nasty gifts. Thanks, I think.

But don't be fooled by our lack of celebrating here. We've had plenty of fun things going on. For example: last weekend. The whole thing was like one crazy whirlwind of a memory, but luckily I have lots of pictures to help me remember what-all happened.

So about two months ago, my cousin Rachael decided to off and elope. I know, right?? How dare she not provide me with another wedding to attend! It's okay though, I really like their story and their reasons, so I will extend forgiveness this time. At least they had the decency to plan a little reception, which happened to be this past Saturday. Since I never miss an opportunity to eat wedding food/cake, this meant that I needed to travel to Northern Tennessee on Saturday. Thoughts on Northern Tennessee: Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas (or Georgia) anymore. And I thought I lived in the sticks. I pity the person who has to drive an hour and a half to get to Target (oh wait-- my sister-and-brother-in-law in Vermont have this same horrible situation!!! Who are you people?!?!!)...I'm not sure that kind of life is worth living. But more power to those of you who do/can! Anyway, I've digressed. So on Saturday morning, Matt and I piled in with my mom and dad to journey up North. It was a fun adventure which culminated in reaching the reception and eating cheese balls. Oh yeah, and seeing Rach and her new husband!!

I would post a picture from the reception here, but the only pictures I've seen that have me in them show me stuffing my face. And while that would, actually, be a pretty accurate reflection of what happened...please, I want yall to think more of me than that. So I won't show pics. What I will show, though, is what happened AFTER the reception.

We went back to Rachael and Ryan's house to eat more cheeseball relax and chat for a little while afterwards. And it just so happens that R&R (hahaha) have a four-wheeler!! Now I'm going to make a confession here: I've never been four-wheeling ('quadding' if you're from...wherever they say that...I heard it on RHofNJ). I know, I feel like a failed Southerner for admitting that. I'm not sure how I fell through the cracks on that one: my brother and sister are both adept four-wheelers. I've just never done it. But no longer!!! Because Rachael made sure to help me cross that one off my bucket list.

And sorry, but the angle + my choice of clothing + being hunched over/holding on for dear life even though we were parked + the cheeseballs = an extremely unflattering picture of me, so I had to do a little editing. In case you hadn't noticed. I realize it's very subtle.

So Rachael took me on probably the slowest, easiest, toddler-friendly four-wheeler ride known to man, and I was terrified the entire time and had multiple graphic visions of how we were probably going to die. Suffice it to say, I am not really jonesing for a four-wheeler right now. But I'm glad I did it. And I'm glad I did it with Rachael. Anyone other than my BFF cousin would probably have just dropped me off on the side of the road and left me to die in the wilderness after hearing how wimpy I was.

After leaving R&R's house, we traveled about 3 more hours away to our family cabin in Gatlinburg, the more south-er, east-er region of Tennessee (not that geography is my strong suit...this is just a guess, really)...where there are a lot more stores and a lot less...I dunno...Deliverance music playing in the background? Hahhaaha. We got in late and crashed. The next morning we ate at our favorite pancake house (because where else is there to eat in Gatlinburg??) and hit the road for a leisurely drive back to civilization Athens. On the way, we stopped for some awesome mountain-creek-exploring.

 There were some precarious moments climbing on the rocks, but we managed to not get any wetter than we'd planned!

 Dad, Mom, and me. Please note that we are standing on different levels of rocks and that I am not that giant.
 Matt got pretty excited as he searched for rocks suitable for 'hot stone massages.' And yes, immediately upon arriving home he has been researching how to do proper hot stone massages. Guess who his guinea pig is gonna be? This is definitely his best hobby yet!

 The water was freezing!! As my mom pointed out several times, "It made your toes turn blue!" Hardee har har, Mom.

We also stopped at a flea market somewhere in North Carolina. I got an awesome set of plates. They're all in the dishwasher right now, but I will take a picture and show off soon.

Upon finally arriving home (all of the stops and excursions turned a 3 hour trip into like...all day), we had lots of unpacking and cleaning and readying-for-the-week to do. But we ALSO had to...drumroll, please...

Make some exciting arrangements for our upcoming VACATION!!!!

And here's where I'm going to be all secretive and stuff and not give any good details. Not because I don't want to, but because of the stalkers** and stuff. Sorry stalkers. You'll never find out when or where!! Mwah ha ha. But our preparations last night did involve buying plane tickets, something I haven't done in a long time, and now I am very excited/anxious about figuring out how I'm going to pack all of my belongings in TWO silly little carry-on bags. Any advice? Also, anyone have a Kindle and/or iPad and/or anything small and fun to keep me entertained on the journey that you want to loan me?

 Well, I think this blog has grown to epic lengths, so I'm going to release you now to go back to whatever you were doing before I started talking your ear off. But remember how it's Lola's birthday?? I feel like I'd be remiss if I didn't show off just one last picture: my baby on the day we brought her home.

So cute I could die. Happy Monday!!

**To clarify, I am talking about scary stalkers. The kind that want to rob your house when you're away on vacation, or steal your identity or something. I'm not referring to blog stalkers, who are always welcome here.

Friday, July 8, 2011

on writing

Warning: Steam-of-consciousness type rambling to follow. There may or may not be any point to this whole thing. It's just stuff that was going through my head as I cleaned the house.

So for basically my whole life, or at least since I was 10 or so, my dad has been convinced I am "a writer." Erika is a writer, he would tell people. She's going to write books someday. My best friend and I wrote an original story (and typed it up on my typewriter, something all writers must own) in about 5th grade or so. It was called My Date with the Boogeyman and if I must say-- it was pretty awesome. My dad loves it, refers to it often, and still has the original copy in his office at home. Erika is a writer. This was her first book, and one day this thing's gonna be worth money. In high school, when I was debating colleges, he had two requirements. A) I could go anywhere I wanted, but he would pay for Texas A&M (he and my mom are both alumni of that fine institution). B) He didn't care what I majored in, as long as I would write my book. He relented on the first requirement, since I went to UGA and he paid for it. He's never given up on that second one.

I started 'blogging,' although it wasn't called that, my senior year of high school. My parents knew about my "online diary," as they referred to it (which wasn't far off, since the site that hosted it was, in fact, called Open Diary), but they never (as far as I know) looked at it. So since they weren't reading it to keep up with my day-to-day activities, I would email them to keep them posted on my life. My dad loved my emails. He reportedly would print them out and read them to his co-workers and people at our church. I would come home for a weekend and people would be laughing at me over something I told my dad in a (private!!! I thought) email! I would chastise Dad for sharing my personal emails (about such exciting things as laundry and complaining about walking a thousand miles a day around campus since I didn't have a car) and he would tell me that you're a writer...people love to hear what you write. Keep writing, Erika!!! 

Although my dad's high regard for my 'writing' was always sweet and flattering, I mostly thought it was all due to his slightly narrow and biased worldview. First of all: I'm his daughter. So he is bound to be a little biased about how 'good' my writing is. But more importantly, Dad has never really been a reader. He would occasionally read a book, but Mom was definitely the reader out of my parents. And I was a reader. I devoured books. I knew good writing. But Dad didn't read much, and so I figured that maybe compared to the boring crap he read when he did read (books about computer programming...or wars) I was probably pretty interesting. But when I compared myself to the books I was reading, or to even what my friends were writing on their blogs...I was just average.

And that led me today to thinking about how blogging has (or has it?) influenced the world of writing. We are inundated with people writing now. You don't have to be good, or funny, or know how to spell. Anyone, myself included, can write whatever they want and publish it for all the world to see. For free, with the click of a few buttons. Writing is for the masses,'s not limited to the Hemingways or the Steinbecks or the Shakespeares. And although there is certainly still a market for literature...or really, books about a TOPIC, or a STORY...I feel like the only genre of books that I would have ever qualified to write is not really a viable genre anymore. The "random thoughts from random people who don't really know much about anything" genre.

I think about David Sedaris, whose books I love. David doesn't write about anything in particular. He is a funny man who makes funny observations about life and can put it together in a way that is (what else?) funny and readable and enjoyable. And he sold books doing it. However...isn't that what a blog is? I tell stories, most of them about my own life, and insert my own commentary and flavor, and we're done. It's published. Only it's for free, on the internet, and so it's like...who would buy the book when you can see it online for free? 

I read so many blogs. So many of them are written by talented writers, in my opinion, and they educate me and entertain me and I love it. But I think that by virtue of having 24/7 FREE access to all the funny writers and stories I could ever want to read...why would I want to buy a book that offers the same thing? I don't think that being a 'good writer' is enough to cut it in the world of book-writing today.

But Dad still doesn't get it. The last time I saw him, he was all So have you written your book yet? Are you working on it? And I was like Dad!! Seriously, I'm not writing a book. I don't have anything to write about!  and he was like just write about your life. You make it sound so funny! And for the eleven millionth time, I said Hey Dad? I have a BLOG. I write on it SEVERAL TIMES A WEEK about my life. You can read it ANYTIME YOU WANT! And he says Oh yeah, I ran in to so-and-so in the Walmart last week and she said she looooooves your blog and you're so funny and so see, people think you're a good writer, so why don't you write a book? And I'm all you just don't get it. And he says Well can't you make money from blogging? (Which Matt asks me about 12 times a week as well) And I have to explain that yes, you can, but how some people manage to hit the money-making-blog jackpot is still a mystery to me and that surprisingly, major advertisers aren't really beating down my door to pay for ad space on my blog with 50 followers. Dad shakes his head in wonderment: how could the world be so cruel to his beloved eldest daughter who is so obviously supposed to be a writer?

But my dad is nothing if not an optimist-- I guess I'm a chip off the old block-- and so even in spite of the overwhelming evidence I've given him that I will probably never be a "real writer" and publish a book, he just shakes his head slowly, with a smile on his face, like You just don't get it yet, Erika. This is your DESTINY!!!! And I have to shake mine back, with a depressing little last jab: It's not gonna happen. The market for semi-decent writers who talk about nothing is saturated.

Like I said, this story has no point. It's just stuff I was thinking about as I was cleaning, and writing it down has let me put off said cleaning for another hour. My dad is coming up to visit today, so I'm sure I'll get a question or two about the status of my book-writing. And even in the face of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, no matter what I say, Dad will just keep on believing that one day, I will write a book. He's my constant cheerleader. I guess that's part of what makes him such a good dad.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

decades fondue

Subtitle: Elizabeth L., please still be my friend after you read/watch this.

As I perused photos, looking for inspiration for today's Way Back When-sday, I happened upon a folder of photos from approximately 2003. Labeled "Decades Fondue," the pictures are all from a 'decades'-themed fondue party my roommate Elizabeth and I hosted back in the day.

Please understand: Elizabeth and I are awesome party hostesses. Along with our house-mates Kristina and Catherine, "The 115" (as we were known) played host to many a fabulous theme party. So apparently Elizabeth and I were looking for excuses to wear funny costumes and eat fondue one weekend. Somehow, we convinced other people to join us in so doing. And we took pictures.

And then-- lo and behold-- at the end of the night, apparently after I'd already changed out of my costume and into scrubs (but Elizabeth hadn't)...we'd moved into slap-happy mode. And were acting out/singing (as we were often wont to do) duets from Moulin Rouge. And someone had the foresight to capture it on video. Which I am going to share with you. Because when I watched it myself, a a few minutes ago, for the first time in what- 8 years? I fell out of my chair laughing. And I want you to have that same opportunity.

Here we are, in all our decade-y glory. Please note that I am wearing a wig. Elizabeth is not.

 I think my 'decade' was the 70s. Elizabeth's was maybe the 80s? But my clear plastic stripper shoes? Timeless.

 Here we are outside our back door (see why they called us the 115?) with friends Robert and Dustin (in the background).

Me and Dusty, my main squeeze and obvious co-70s-appreciator.

And finally, the video. This will be well worth the next 53 seconds of your life. Although the first 25 seconds or so may seem a little dull, if you hang in there you can look forward to seeing me trip over my stripper heels and catching a glimpse of Elizabeth's thigh-high stockings as she curtsies. Also, please note our questionable home decorating ideas...every wall a different color! You will also get a sense of our general zest for life as you watch us crack up at ourselves (and hear our 'audience' do the same). This is why we were great roommates.

That is all. If you'd like an invitation to our next theme party, just let me know in the comments.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

good times with google

I hope yall don't think I'm copping out, but come ON. Google Analytics provides the FUNNIEST tidbits of information and I really feel I'd be remiss if I didn't share with all my friends. Besides, I haven't had a "Google Analytics"-themed blog since like...October. So we have lots to catch up on!! (And here's my plug for all you bloggers who DON'T use Analytics: GET IT. Yes, it's a hassle (if you're technologically-challenged) to figure out how to set it up. But there are plenty of online tutorials that will help you sort it out. It is SO WORTH IT!)

Alright. I'm only analyzing my results since 10/10/10, which was my last post about Analytics. To start with, my top 8 (and a bunch of higher numbers, too) top keyword searches (that is: the things people Google that leads them to click on this here blog) are all from people who obviously know what they're looking for. As I mentioned last time, these are the people who are unfamiliar with the idea of bookmarking or 'following.' They'd rather Google me every time they want to check the blog. That's cool, I won't judge you. Except for you people who seem to Google me EVERY DAY with my name MISSPELLED. That is not cool. Also, for the record, "mattyerika" is actually Matt y Erika. 'Y' is Spanish for "and." Matt and Erika. Although I do call Matt "Mattie," I always spell it with an 'ie.' Back in 2006 when we got engaged, I got all email-happy and decided we needed a joint email account. "mattanderika" at gmail was not available, so I looked deep inside my soul and dredged up some Spanish and voila. An email address-turned-blog address. I only say this because it tickles me all the people Googling "matty and erika". It's like "matt and and erika." Okay, moving on.

Okay, so folks found this blog via 228 different keyword combinations. Like I said, a bunch of them are stuff like "mattyerika blog" or my name or something like that. Boring. Let's check out the funny ones!! And since a lot of people are apparently coming here looking for the answer to very specific questions...let's see if I can answer them for you.

To the person who Googled beautiful doesn't even begin to describe her...obviously you came to the right place. Thanks!

But you, beautiful fried banana? Not sure if you found what you're looking for. Although I do appreciate a good fried banana now and then.

Now, chinese buffet next to trader joes on epps bridge obviously were looking for something specific. And I hate to be the one to tell you that that buffet closed. I know, I was sad too. They had the best fried bananas ANYWHERE. (True story!!)

Coed college shower pictures? I hope you were talking about baby or wedding showers. Otherwise you were probably sorely disappointed.

Dear summer, please come quickly before I completely lose my mind. I couldn't agree more. I bet we could be friends.

Several people asked variations on "does kroger have wi-fi?" and I am happy to report (as you probably read) that apparently some of them do. Going to Kroger's actual webpage would probably get you more information than my blog, though.

Drug dealer car backed in reassured me that I am not alone in my thinking!

Dear excuses for parents finding beer bottles: I think a simple shrug and 'idunno' is all you need to convince them of your innocence.

High school chick flicks where quiet girl gets cool boy: REALLY not sure how this brought you to me, but I think you should rent She's All That.

I want to know if it's cold outside. Well I think you should go to Just a thought. It would have required typing less letters.

These were oddly similar (spelling mistakes are from the original): Is 69 to cold for a 5 months baby to be outside and is it good to take baby outside in 20 degree. I would say no and no. Just my professional opinion.

Is it illegal to take a flower bush from a foreclosed upon house? I hope not!

Just relax and you'll get pregnant. No, you won't. But thanks for sticking around and reading fourteen pages of my blog! Hopefully I changed your mind about the aforementioned statement.

My day is a waste of life. Sad, but I guess everyone feels like that on some days.

There are always more pictures of firstborns. Do you regularly complain to Google? But you're right, there are. Luckily, I'm a firstborn, so I don't care.

What should you do when a drug dealer uses your driveway? the police? Run over him with your car? The options are limitless.

Why aren't all girls girly girls? Because then there would be no tomboys.

I could go on with these things for days, but I'll stop now (unless you want more. Just let me know!)

I've had visitors from 51 countries!!! Dang. I probably couldn't even name 51 countries (because I suck at geography).

My most popular content (not including my 'home' page, which is the vast majority of all visits. This just means content you had to click separately on to view.) was a Show Us Your Life carnival and my infertility label. Coming in next were a bunch of my Way Back When-sday posts...good to know yall like them!

Well I'm out of time, but Google Analytics is never out of funny information you didn't need to know. Until next time...I'm just going to go look at some awesome pictures of rarity and listen to some sweet background music for prom pictures. Yup, people actually Googled that.

Monday, July 4, 2011

independence and all that

We just got back from a wonderful weekend hanging out with the Gurleys and the Moores. On Friday morning, we loaded up the minivan (complete with turtle-top luggage carrier! Van and carrier were courtesy of Matt's parents) and trekked down south to Statesboro, home of oppressive heat and a ridiculous number of constantly-swarming gnats. Oh, and also home of the Moores. Ever since the Moores moved away a little over two years ago, we've taken turns making visits. It's fun because regardless of whether we're doing the weekend in Athens or Statesboro, it always turns into a weekend-long house party/all-you-can-eat-buffet. This was the first trip that we've gone WITH the Gurley's down south though, and that definitely added some pizazz to the weekend (and the drive). If you can, please imagine 4 adults, one 20-month-old, and one 50-pound dog, along with all their various belongings, sharing one vehicle for a 4 hour drive. Yes, it was magnificent.

Anyway. On Saturday morning we decided to beat the heat by visiting local landmark Splash in the Boro, a fun little water park not far away. It was my first trip to a water park in a lonnnnnng time (I could tell that story later, if you'd like) and it was a very good one. Despite the long line we had to wait in to enter, the rest of the day was a lot of fun. We enjoyed getting to witness Hudson experience his first water park, even though his favorite thing to do (and since then, to say, think about, ask about, and repeat) was watch a giant bucket fill with water and then tip over and splash everyone.

I also discovered my calling in life: competitive waterslide racer. I beat all of the boys, as well as Mollyanne and other various water-park-attendees. And I beat them bad. Obviously I was made for this, so I am going to be trying to figure out how one can make a living being a waterslide racer. Let me know if you have any "ins" in the business.

So we had a great time at the 'Splash,' as the native Statesboro-ians call it.

Speaking of finding life callings: Hudson found his. Apparently he was born to be a dog. Or a cage fighter. Or something like that.

Despite staying in a house filled with toys, Hudson's favorite pastime this weekend was playing in Lola's cage. Over and over again. Pretty cute.

On Sunday we managed to squeeze in a photo shoot or two before and after church. Please note that I think there was something wrong with the sunlight or Amanda's camera or something-- because I am for real not this pale. Don't judge me. I promise I'm tanner than this!

 (Amanda, Mollyanne, me)
 (L-R: Jonathon, Mollyanne, Hudson, Matt, me, Amanda, Marshall, Hartley)
We spent the rest of our time cooking and eating WAY too much delicious food. This included homemade ice cream TWICE (once strawberry, once chocolate), a variety of unbelievable dips, grilled pizza, two different cakes, and plenty of bacon. We also stayed up late playing games (including our traditional Mexican Train Dominoes) and laughing at Amanda's inappropriate jokes.

We got back home earlier this afternoon, right as a humongous thunderstorm started dumping rain and lightning all over us. It was lovely trying to unload the car in that. Then when Matt and I got home and checked the mail, we received a water bill for $368.82. Considering we've never before (in two years of living here) had a bill for more than $29, I was slightly shocked at that amount. Naturally, it's the fourth of July and people are off celebrating their independence or something, so I can't call the water office to raise cain, but I've penciled that in for first thing in the morning.

So! I hope your holiday weekend was long and relaxing and a fraction as fun as mine was. It seems weird that today is the actual holiday...since today for us has been more of the 'wind down and recover from the weekend' kinda day, and we'll probably be heading to bed early and praying that no neighbors think about setting off fireworks.

Happy Fourth!!