Monday, April 30, 2012

the one where I make a really bad metaphor using vegetables

In case you hadn't noticed, I'm not exactly a "food blogger." Unless, of course, by "food blogger" you mean "someone who really loves food and blogs about it in a totally uneducated, unhelpful way, ie: Mexican food is sooooo gooood nom nom nom, or I neeeeeeeed chocolate NOWWWWWWWWW," in which case I am definitely a food blogger. But for real. Today I'm going to go all food blogger on you. Because last night I cooked something that was really good! And you might like it! And I took a picture of it! And then someone actually requested that I share the recipe (I'm not lying, go look at the comments to see for yourself)! 

Allow me to introduce you to Penne with Turkey & Broccolini, from Every Day with Rachael Ray's April 2012 issue.

I picked this recipe for a few reasons: 1) It looked good. 2) It did not have 10,000 ingredients. 3) Actually, I had all of the ingredients on hand except for the broccolini. 4) "Broccolini"? If that doesn't sound like the cutest thing ever, I don't know what does. I was compelled to try it.

In case your deduction skills aren't as awesome as mine, let me help you out: broccolini is basically cute, tiny little skinny broccoli. If a regular broccoli had a one-night-stand with an asparagus and then they had a malnourished child, this would be the result. You like that? You're welcome. OH, but then the asparagus and broccoli would sell their malnourished child for like double the price of the parents, but whatever. People (or vegetables, as the case may be) are just gonna do what they're just gonna do. I try not to judge. Unless you're choosing to use a feeding tube as a means of losing weight, in which case I will judge you pretty hardcore. But that's another story. Back to food blogging!  

So this recipe was pretty easy, did not require any special skills or frantic Googling mid-recipe (NOT true of all RR recipes, I promise), and turned out really well! Bonus fact: the recipe claims to be four servings. I usually take the estimated number of servings with a grain of salt, since Matt and I frequently polish off a "four serving" meal with no problems...and no leftovers...and no extra people helping us eat...but anyway, this one actually does seem to be about FOUR SERVINGS, since we had at least half of it left over. Sweet!
See, Matt really liked it!

 So here's the recipe. In true "food blogger" fashion, I'll put my own comments/additions/thoughts right alongside the recipe. You're welcome!

Penne with Turkey & Broccolini (from Every Day with Rachael Ray, April 2012)

-3/4 lb. penne (I used whole wheat)
-1/4 cup EVOO
-1 bunch broccolini (9 oz.), tough ends trimmed, stalks and florets chopped into 1-inch pieces (There's a note on the page that says if you can't find broccolini, feel free to use regular broccoli florets. I would also think asparagus would be good...see metaphor above.)
 -Salt and pepper
-1 onion, chopped
-2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
-1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper (I used this amount and the dish definitely had a little heat. I liked it (and I'm not a fan of terribly spicy things), but if you're really sensitive to spiciness, definitely use a little less)
-1 lb. ground turkey, preferably dark meat (I think mine was 85/15; it worked)

1. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the penne until al dente, 11 to 13 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, add 2 tbsp. EVOO over medium-high heat. Add the broccolini and season with salt and pepper. Stir in 2 tbsp. water, cover and cook until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
3. Lower the heat to medium, add the remaining EVOO and the onion and cook until soft, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Push the onion to the side of the pan, increase the heat to medium-high and crumble in the turkey; season. Cook, stirring, until the meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
4. Add the pasta, broccolini, and three-quarters of the reserved pasta water to the turkey; toss well. Add the remaining pasta water if needed to thin the sauce. 

 I served it with roasted Brussels sprouts (new fave) and there were happy bellies all around!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

i hope you die. seriously.

Dear Allergies:
  I hope you die. Seriously. I am totally sick of being sick and itchy and miserable all day every day. I am irritated that I take like $3 worth of medicine every day (ok, it doesn't sound like that much when I put it like that, but it feels like a lot when I have to pay for it at the store/pharmacy all at once) and I STILL FEEL LIKE CRAP all day long. It isn't fair that BOTH days this weekend I wake up early (okay, 8:00) and can't go back to sleep because my eyeballs ITCH SO DANG MUCH that I am basically clawing them out. Also I think I look like I'm about 100 years old because I have given myself new wrinkles from rubbing my eyes so much. And that people are constantly asking me if I'm okay, thinking that I've been crying...THANKS A LOT. Like I didn't already have enough problems.

I HATE YOU, allergies. It is so unfair that someone who loves being outdoors as much as I do is doomed to this fate. Why can't you afflict the people that spend all day inside anyway? It wouldn't cramp their style as much. But ME? Do you just WANT my yard to look like crap? Do you WANT my limbs to be pasty white? You are a jerk.

I want to move to the desert, or anywhere else where there is nothing growing that will make me itch. And I want to punch allergies in the face. DIE DIE DIE.


PS. And now, since Matt is at the dogpark ALONE with Lola (because I cannot bear to be outside a single more minute of this day), I am going to go attempt a new recipe. It involves broccolini, which is a really fun word to say! Hopefully my eyes will quit watering long enough for me to read the directions correctly.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

the forgotten one

It was brought to my attention the other day that when I said “my babies (Lola and Aidan and all plants/gardens)” that no one knows who Aidan is. Well, specifically, Amanda and Allison didn’t know who Aidan was, but considering they’re some of my most loyal blog readers-and-commenters, I can assume that if they don’t know who Aidan is, most people don’t. This same scenario has also occurred recently in real life-- I mention something about Aidan and real-life friends say "what?? You have another pet besides Lola?" Oops.

I have done my first-born child a great disservice on this blog. Total and utter neglect.

Well, not entirely. I would like to point out that if you type “Aidan” into the little “search this blog” box over there on my right-hand column, his name is mentioned in many previous posts. So it’s not like I never mention him. But it would be true that he doesn’t get nearly the blog face-time as his younger sibling, the famous Lola.

Such is the life of an outdoor cat.

So I figured I’d devote a wee little post to my favorite orange little front-porch-dwelling friend.

To catch up on the beginning of Aidan's life (and see his SUPER ADORABLE KITTY PICTURES), you should go re-read this old post from 2009, part of a Kelly's Korner blog carnival all about pets. MAN he (and his sister, God rest her soul) was a cute little thing!! But now he's old-- almost nine years old,!...and although he's still a handsome thing, it's a well-known fact that adult cats hold nowhere near the appeal of their baby counterparts. Not in our hearts, not in our blogs. So...sorry, Aidan.

Theseadays, Aidan spends his time roaming the great outdoors of our yard and woods, but really prefers sleeping on our front porch glider. He keeps the front flower beds and porch bug and rodent-free and smelling of cat urine...a little yin and yang, if you will. 

Keeping watch over the side yard.
He is deathly afraid of Lola and runs and hides anytime we come outside with her (even though she's on a leash). But if she's not with us, he's as friendly and loving and obnoxiously desperate for attention as a cat can possibly be. He is frequently stepped on due to his incessant ankle-rubbing and lack of respect for the personal boundaries humans require when walking.

Just in case you didn't notice him frantically weaving through your feet, he accompanies this with a constant meowing and purring that are bound to get your attention.
The unknown is why he wants your attention so badly. He doesn't like to be picked up. He doesn't want to sit in your lap. He already has food in his bowl. He will tolerate being petted for about 2 seconds.

I guess it's just a great mystery of cats. Who knows why they do anything that they do?

Particularly, why does he like hosting cat parties on our porch in the middle of the night? All the neighborhood cats, having a little soiree that frequently ends in really loud yowling...seriously? Is this necessary? And yes, he is fixed...and it would appear that so are the rest of the outdoor cats in the 'hood, since we've never seen kittens. They're just doing some good old-fashioned partying.

Here he is keeping watch over my flowers. If only I could train him to dig up weeds...

So that's the story about our Aidan. I bet it's the most fascinating blog you read all weekend! Ha. Or not. Enjoy the rest of your Saturday!

Friday, April 27, 2012

the countdown is on!

Thanks for your massive outpouring of support on Wednesday regarding me needing to bite the bullet and book the vacay. It was exactly what I needed. That and some friends at small group last night acting really excited for us to be going somewhere fun...that made ME feel really excited to go somewhere fun!

Therefore I am excited to inform you that THE VACATION HAS BEEN BOOKED!!! And paid for! Yikes!

Sorry, same picture as Tuesday. Wah wah wah. (Source)

Now the counting down and uncontrollable excitement can commence! Cancun, here we come! Wanna know what seriously the most exciting detail so far has been? After the tickets had been booked and we realized that since it's an 'international' flight (seriously, it's a shorter flight than going to most places IN the country...) we can EACH CHECK A BAG FOR FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!! This totally made me fist-pump, as I had already been stressing about packing super light and/or paying massive checked-bag fees. 

One important detail already figured out: house/dogsitter has been BOOKED! Actually, she was volunteering herself for the job a few days ago, prior to us even booking-- how's that for a dedicated friend/housesitter??! That is a HUGE relief, knowing our babies (Lola and Aidan and all plants/flowers) will be taken care of!

Next important detail: renewing my passport. Forms have been filled out and printed, but I need to go get a picture, a certified copy (???) of our marriage license to document my name change, and mail the whole thing off. With a check. Of course.

Next NEXT important detail: Find side jobs to make extra cash to take on vacation! Anyone need a babysitter? Want to buy a craft? I can do some custom limerick-writing...just let me know!

Happy Friday...I'm going on VACATION (in a few months)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Thought I'd link up with E today for some Midweek Confessions.

It's been awhile since I've been to Confession. Okay, actually it's been my whole life, having been Protestant since about age 3...but whatever. Confession is good for the soul, right?

-Mother's Day is less than a month away and I am dreading it with my whole heart, mind, and soul. I think I am dreading it more than any other year, which is hard to imagine. I am already planning on skipping church and hiding under the covers, away from the internet all day. So much for being optimistic, right?

-I have commitment issues when it comes to planning our vacation. Even though we've decided where we want to go, I just can't pull the trigger (aka hit "MAKE MY RESERVATION!" and provide them with my credit card number). It's a combination of "but what if there's a better deal later?" and "are we totally stupid to be spending a bunch of money on a vacation? Should we be saving that money? Do poor people like us deserve nice vacations, even though we've saved the money for it?" I know. I have issues. But that's what Confession is for, right?!

-I love Instagram, but I am starting to think my life is totally un-photo-worthy. If I try to maintain my commitment to not post ONLY pictures of my dog and flowers, I find myself with very little to post. I think next month I'll do one of those photo-a-day thingies to help me get outside the flower-and-dog-filled-box.

-Sometimes blog-related paranoia overcomes me. Like last week when I was really snarky and condescending about that horrible feeding tube diet? I spent the next 24 hours stressing out about "what if someone on that diet SEES my blog? What if the girl whose picture I snagged sees it?!!? She will be so sad!" and then I try to rationalize things by being like "look, EVERYONE on the internet was bashing that thing/girl. Huffington Post ran a piece. Every major news outlet. It's not like my blog is the solitary source of negativity out there." But even still, I stressed. Is that stupid?

-Ever so often...more often, lately...I'm still overcome with the desire to just go somewhere. Maybe the Middle East, still. Maybe somewhere else. Somewhere awesome. Just somewhere. I don't know.

Well, that's enough Confessing for one day. Time to go to Zumba!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

a bunch of unrelated thoughts

Sometimes I try to be all sneaky, or foreshadowing, or deep with my titles (ok, I probably fail most of the time). Sometimes I'm just getting to the point. Guess what today's is?


1. So today my classes went on a field trip to the place I used to work. Lest you think I've had this teaching gig forever, let me inform you: I used to be the general manager of a kid-centered 'inflatable party zone.' I started working there part-time in college, and just stayed and stayed and stayed until they had nothing left to do but let me run the place. :) Anyway, I loved that place and a lot of things about the job, but the allure of 8-5 and benefits and paid vacation was more than I could handle, so I left for the school system. Ever so often, I reminisce and wish I were back in the 'business world.' Today, as I was enjoying hanging out with my old boss and some co-workers, catching up on business news (and gossip, let's face it), I really missed it. J, the store owner, was telling me about some new items they're selling/promoting and I was getting all the details. "So what's the profit margin on those?" I asked at some point. I wouldn't even remember that I'd asked that except that later, back at school, my friend/co-worker said "I heard you ask J what the profit margin of something was...and I realized that those are words that have never crossed my mind. I would never have any reason to ask anyone that. And it sounded so natural the way you asked. It was impressive."

And that somehow made me realize how much I miss that world sometimes. The world of caring about profit margins, of hiring and firing and promoting and networking and analyzing month-end reports. The world where it MATTERED how I performed at work each day. Do my job well? Do my job superbly? The store benefited. Business grew. Bottom lines got better. There were personal financial incentives. Do my job crappy, or just the bare minimum? There were consequences for that, too. Nowadays? I have basically no incentive (financial or otherwise, except for what internal drive I have) to do anything other than be average. And that's sort of disheartening. I love doing my best. But it sucks to do your best year after year and see NO benefit of any kind. Basically, as long as you're not doing terribly (or something illegal), you'd be seeing the same benefits as me. No one cares if I do my job well and with passion. And that's super lame. 

That was a long first point. Didn't think it was gonna be that long when I started. Apparently this was weighing heavy on the heart!

2. So here's where we're thinking of going on vacation:

 The GR Caribe Deluxe by Solaris in Cancun. You guys were AWESOME with the advice about cruises and all-inclusives-- THANK YOU!! We've still been wavering between choosing a cruise or an all-inclusive, but are currently leaning towards this one. Feel free to join us on vacation, by the way-- we both think we would have way more fun with another couple or if you look at this resort and are feeling it too, let me know!! We are great travel buddies! Right now I'm working on renewing my passport, which expired in like 2010 or something. Awesome.

3. Tonight Matt's mom told us about a new small group starting at their church that is for people (singles, couples, families) interested in adoption. It is going to be led by two couples who have something like 7 adoptions between them. SERIAL ADOPTERS, you could say. It will be both about the spiritual/emotional and practical aspects of adoption. It's basically just a summer group, but I think we are going to check it out. 

4. Well...I know it is only Tuesday and the weekend is not really that close, but can I just say I am already really excited about it? On Friday night there is a little shower/party for my friend Jessie. It's at a restaurant (it's her 2nd baby) that I hadn't heard of, but I love Jessie, so I RSVPd before I bothered seeing what the restaurant was. But THEN I looked up the restaurant, and GUESS WHAT?!?! It is Vietnamese food!! And I am super excited because I just had Vietnamese food for the first time ever 2 weeks ago (with Jessie and her husband, actually...but at a different restaurant) and I LOVED IT and have been craving it ever since. So...I am super excited. And then on old neighbor (old as in 'former,' not as in 'advancing age') Michelle is going to visit me! She and her husband and baby moved to Virginia about a year and a half ago and I miss her lots...we spent lots of time in our yards together and shared many good conversations. We've kept in close touch via email, but she's coming back for her first visit south and we are hanging out! So I am super excited. Have I said "super excited" enough in this paragraph yet? No? Well, I am super excited about weekend.

5. Tonight my brother-in-law Joe, who used to be a landscape architect, was telling us about how he got to meet this semi-famous 'garden designer' last weekend and he spent a long time picking her brain (I really hate that phrase, but it works). He's thinking about going the 'garden designer' route now and I am totally envious. I want to be a garden designer!!! Maybe we could start a business together? The only problem is that I have no idea what I'm doing out there in the garden...I'm just messing around. No one would hire me. Ugh. Anyway. Another career goal.

OK. I guess that's enough rambling for one night. Happy At-Least-It's-Not-Monday!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

date night

When you have no kids and subsequently spend every night eating with only your spouse, whether that's at home or in a restaurant, it can be hard to determine what qualifies as a "date." Is it a date if we pick up food on the way home from the gym? Is it a date if we don't feel like cooking and decide to go to one of our favorite restaurants instead? If "date" means just the two of you, doing something...then EVERYTHING we do is a date. Therefore, having a "date night" is a fairly subjective distinction on our part.

Regardless, last night we had a Date Night. I decided it qualified because we a) went to a much nicer restaurant than normal, b) decided early in the week that's what we would do on Friday night, c) I wore something cute and touched up my makeup, and d) Matt opened the car doors for me. If that's not a date, I don't know what is!

And maybe I should throw in e) for good measure: Before departing the homestead to drive back to Athens for the date, we had a tripod photo shoot. Now you know it was a special night!

 Matt had been begging all week for me to wear the "new" boots I got last weekend. I got these puppies at our church yardsale for $4-- and did I mention they are J.Crew and leather??! Score!! Luckily it was relatively cloudy and cool yesterday so I didn't look or feel completely ridiculous (and overheated) wearing leather boots.

 So dinner was great, but the funniest part of the evening came during dessert. We were enjoying some creme brulee (MY FAVORITE THING EVER), and Matt was marveling over it-- he hadn't ever had it before. After a few bites, he sighs contentedly and says "Yuummm...they should have this stuff more places. Like Dairy Queen."

And then I almost spewed out my $3 mouthful of creme brulee at the thought of what DQ would do to this tasty concoction. And the thought that Matt thought that would be a good idea. It sounds like the beginning of a Jeff Foxworthy joke...

Afterwards we stopped by a VIDEO RENTAL STORE (I know, did you know they existed anymore?) to peruse the documentaries. Back in the day, we used to rent/watch LOTS of docs. We selected Trouble the Water, and it was really good and really tough. 

It brought back lots of memories-- I made four or five trips to the Gulf Coast in the weeks/months following Katrina to do relief work, so I'd seen a lot of those things first hand. Not to mention the constant bombardment of media coverage of the region during the time. But the perspective of the documentary was unique and very interesting. I highly recommend it (and if you live in Athens, you can borrow ours-- we have it til next Friday).

Today we slept in really late, made waffles, did yardwork, and then hit up the dog park.

 There was also a Sheep Shearing Festival going on in the park (not specifically in the DOG part of the park, but in the rest of the park), so we stopped by some booths and then took Lola to meet some new friends:
 She wasn't really sure what to think about them. And I think the feeling was mutual.

Off to play in the yard some more! Happy Saturday!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

six kinds of crazy.

Some people are crazy.

I read that article the other day-- maybe you've seen it, too. If not, you should take a minute and read it. Maybe you haven't had enough crazy in your day yet.



I'm sorry. I want to be understanding and compassionate for the residents of crazytown people who are going on this 'diet,' but I really can't be. There is a limit to my understandingness and compassion. And the limit was somewhere right around the part where you forfeited eating like a normal human and instead volunteered to pay a crapload of money to tote around a FEEDING TUBE for two weeks. Just so you could lose a couple pounds of water weight??!?!

You are completely, totally, 100% off-your-rocker cray-cray.

The article that I originally read was on Yahoo and for some reason I can't find it right now, but it was better than this CBS article because it had a) a photo of a girl sporting her feeding tube and b) some quotes from girls DOING this diet. 

First of all, want to know what people on this diet look like? Because I did find the picture.

 Um, they look like PEOPLE WALKING AROUND WITH FEEDING TUBES STUCK UP THEIR NOSES AT ALL TIMES. Is that normal? No. Where do you normally find people with feeding tubes? In hospitals. Because they're very sick. Not in your office, or at the grocery store (although I suppose these folks have no reason to be at the grocery store), or at church. And the girl who they were interviewing about this diet-- she was all yeah, I get some funny looks, and people ask if I'm sick...and I'm like GIRL! THINK ABOUT THIS! OK, so you want to lose 10 pounds for your wedding in 2 weeks. I get it. But THINK ABOUT IT. Do you think you're tricking anyone here? I'm sure your friends, family, and fiance all suspected you were a little off...but now, prancing around with this tube up your nose for 2 weeks...they're for sure. And so on your wedding day, no one is going to talking about how your dress fits so perfectly. They're going to be whispering about how you ARE A TOTAL NUTCASE and are somehow vain enough to care THAT MUCH about losing weight so that you look good for a couple hours at a party...but you're perfectly fine looking like you escaped from the hospital for the two weeks prior?? You're trading two weeks of weird looks for two hours of people talking behind your back photos? YOU MAKE NO SENSE.

There are so many reasons that I want to judge the girls doing this diet. SO MANY!!! It's incredibly hard to even know where to start. I practically feel angry about the whole thing, so riled up do my emotions get about this. A FEEDING TUBE? Are you effing insane?!

Here's a good story. It's about me. Once upon a time, in January, I decided I wanted to lose some weight. Maybe 10 pounds. Maybe more-- figured I'd play it by ear and see how I looked/felt and go from there. So you know what I did? I used a little LOGIC...a little SCIENCE...and I consumed fewer calories than I burned. Yep, it took a few minutes each day to track my calories, but I used an app that made it fairly painless. And told me exactly how many I needed to eat/burn. And guess what happened? I LOST THE WEIGHT. And then some. What do you know, science and logic work again! I didn't have to do anything weird. I didn't have to cut out any food groups. I didn't buy a single expensive strange supplement. And I certainly didn't have to go be monitored by a doctor every single day. Now I'm not saying that this will always work for everyone-- I certainly can understand medical conditions or extenuating circumstances, but I'm gonna hazard a guess that it's worth a try if you'd like to lose a small amount of weight. So unless you got engaged yesterday and you're walking down the aisle next weekend...WHY WOULD A FEEDING TUBE BE YOUR FIRST OPTION??!

This one girl they interviewed, she was like "I just don't have time to work out for 2 hours every day..." Ummm....really?? You are trying to lose TEN POUNDS, not two hundred. You don't have to work out for 2 hours a day if you start your endeavor more than two weeks before your wedding. And also, I bet you do have the time. Because if you have the time to go to the doctor every single day, I bet you coulda spent that time in the gym and saved yourself a whole lotta money and strange looks. And not incurred the Wrath of Erika to boot.

BLARGH! Sorry for working myself into such a tizzy over this whole thing, but really? SERIOUSLY??! The very fact that this "diet" exists and is a fad just reflects very poorly not only on women but on the entire human race. I feel like the world is a little bit worse now. So thanks a lot, crazy doctors and your even crazier "patients." I hope that your wedding day is as skinny and glamorous as you'd always dreamed of...and that your constipation "resolves itself" on your honeymoon. Because if there's anything good about this diet, it's the side effects. Well-deserved, I'd say!

PS. If you happen to be on or considering this apologies. Feel free to offer a rebuttal and convince me that this is a good idea! 
PPS. I was recently contacted by a girl that has designed a new app and webpage called SlimKicker. It's a diet and fitness app that uses calorie-counting, exercise, and games to help you reach diet and weight-loss goals. I haven't personally used the app, but I checked out the web page and thought it looked neat-- feel free to check it out if you're looking for a non-crazy way to lose weight!

Monday, April 16, 2012


So it's been awhile since I've done an awesome Google Analytics-themed post. Which is really tragic, because almost every time I check my Analytics (which is FREQUENTLY: must remember to not judge self-worth by anything revealed by Analytics), I find something intriguing or LOL-worthy. Or sometimes cringe-worthy. Don't worry, I'll be sure to share those, too!

Today we will be analyzing the past six months only: October 15, 2011- April 15, 2012.

Total # of "visits": 15,023
Total # of "pageviews": 20,103
Total # of "visitors": 5,562

That last one blows my mind. 5,562 people visited my blog??! And (as of 4/15/12) only 83 of you think it's interesting enough to "follow." HAHAHA. That will keep me humble.

Okay. Let's move on to the awards ceremony for REFERRAL TRAFFIC. That means (for those of you not well-versed in your Google Analytics (shame on you))-- the people that came here via another webpage. Who's sending me the most traffic??

The top prize goes to...well, no it doesn't, cause it's boring. The #1 spot goes to (2,281 referrals), which is super boring. The #2 spot is only slightly less boring, being Kelly's Korner (1,373 referrals). I'm not saying her blog is boring-- I love it. It's just that the only reason I get traffic from there is because of the Show Us Your Life blogs that I link up with. So that's understandable.

But GUESS WHAT?! Things are starting to get exciting, because there is a STRAIGHT UP TIE for #3!!! Unbelievable!

Both Kristina (Altogether Beautiful) and Amanda J. (Meet the Joiners) sent me 1,195 referrals each. Crazy, right?!! I could leave it as a tie, but I decided to arbitrarily implement my own tie-breaker (I make the rules here, mkay?). Therefore Kristina wins, because visitors sent from her blog viewed an average of 1.69 pages per visit, versus Amanda's 1.34 pages/visit. Congrats to Kristina's friends: Amanda's friends, click around a little more in the future and maybe you can win next time! Stine, I'll put your prize in the mail. But don't hold your breath.

Now onto the funny stuff. People who came here via Google's search engine.

I had 1,515 people arrive here cause they found me on Google. What did they Google?, you're probably wondering. I know. Me too.

Boringly, almost 400 of those were variations of Googling "mattyerika" or ""-- which that second one is rather entertaining, because if you're going to type all THAT into may as well have just typed it into your web address thingy and saved yourself a step...but I'm not gonna judge. I will once again suggest, though, that it's easier to just bookmark me. Or 'follow.' Then you don't have to click ANYTHING!

Now onto the funny ones.

30 people came here looking for "beautiful toes". HAAAAAAAAA. I will try to include more pics of my feet in the future.

Around 150 people came here (via lots of different word combinations) looking for the Zumba: How We Feel/How We Really Look thing. That's legit, glad you found it!

10 people Googled "cute baby giraffes"! Haha, I totally relate to these people. I Google stuff like that all the time.

4 people are looking for "america's next top photographer." I think we can all agree you came to the right place for that! 

2 people looked for "never washed her jeans." Thanks a lot. I wash them sometimes, okay??

The following search terms only brought 1 person (each) here, but are so SPECIAL...they deserve mentions:
-"childbearing hips" (yep, you found 'em!)
-"2 girl roommates, dressed in lingerie" (WHAT?! sorry, bet you were disappointed.)
-"all women must be barefooted" (HAHAHAHA)
-"babies wearing clown costumes" (YES)
-"boy puking in public" (who wants to go to a webpage to see that?)
-"humiliating twins by her boyfriend in the desert on facebook" (WHAT???)
-"infertile blog rant" (yep, bet you found what you wanted!)
-OK- this one is SO WEIRD, you have been warned: "juicy vaginal scan stories" (First of all- WTF MAN??! Second of all, this person then stuck around and viewed SIXTEEN PAGES! So I'm not entirely sure I had what they were looking for, but apparently they liked me enough to stick around for an hour! Creepy? Good? Jury is out...)
-"manatees poo" (HAHA, that is so awesome. Especially since I actually do have a picture of it.)
-"mother in law pantyhose" (LOL)
-"serving size cereal too small" (YES IT IS)

OK, that is my favorite part of this whole thing...seeing what wacky things bring people here.  You're probably getting bored, so just a few more stats and we're done!

Where Visitors Hail From: 
1. United States (~14,000 visits)
2. Canada (~200 visits)
Other notable/surprising countries: Estonia- 68 visits; Indonesia- 10 visits; Pakistan- 8 visits; Sri Lanka- 4 visits; Moldova- 2 visits)

Within the US, you come from ALL FIFTY STATES plus Washington, DC! Woohoo!! Not surprisingly, Georgia and Texas pull the #1 and 2 spots, with Virginia coming in for the bronze. In last place we have sparsely-populated Wyoming, where people are probably too busy riding horses to bother checking out my blog. It's cool, Wyoming, I understand.

What Technology Yall Like:
-30% view my blog using Safari
-27% prefer Internet Explorer
-24% like Firefox
-16% prefer Chrome (MY VOTE GOES TO CHROME)

OK. There is SO MUCH MORE, but I'll try to exercise a little self-control and stop now. If you're still with me, thanks for hanging in there. 

Until next time-- remember: be careful what you Google. That is all.

Oh, and thanks for reading my blog! Feel free to "follow" me, people from Amanda and Kristina's blogs who come here every single day...don't think I don't know you're out there! Let's be friends!

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Favorite line from one of my favorite songs.

I want to copy this idea and make wall art! I could do that, right? Paint a canvas, then cut the letters for Grace, Ocean, and Sinking out of scrapbook paper and mod podge them on, then paint the rest of the words? Perfection.

Sometimes I need reminding. If it's on the wall, maybe I won't forget.

I don't have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way that He loves us...

Friday, April 13, 2012

"problems" that aren't really

So we're trying to plan a vacation.

Here are the reasons why I think we deserve a good vacation:
1) Our five-year anniversary is in June! Shouldn't we reward ourselves for reaching this milestone? Ha.
2) I like having things to look forward to.
3) I've lost 12 pounds. I think I deserve a reward for that, too.
4) (Predictable rant about infertility and deserving some measly form of happiness in life)

Do you notice how the words "deserve" and "reward" appear like 289 times in my 4 reasons? Isn't that sick? I am such a sell-out American. Ugh.

But at any rate, I want to plan a good vacation.

Here are our basic vacation options:
1) Tag along on our parents' vacations. This isn't an option because I don't have vacation days to use whenever I want; I have one specific week off in July, which doesn't coincide with our families' previously arranged vacations.
2) Go visit and stay with people who live somewhere fun. This would basically give us the choices of Texas (family and friends, and this is the trip we made last year), Vermont (my sister- and brother-in-law and nephew), or West Palm Beach (James and Kristina, and this is the trip I did for Spring Break last month).
3) Staycation. Umm...we could putz around Georgia, see the sights, do a project around the house, visit friends living in other cities?
4) Go all out and plan a trip to wherever the heck we want. On a budget, of course.

  Right now we are leaning towards Option 4. 

 Here are things I like/look for in vacations:

 1) Warm/hot weather. 
2) laying in the sun. 
3) Swimming in oceans or pools. 
4) Eating great food. 
5) Not cooking. 
6) Going exploring on foot. 
7) Sleeping in. 
8) Not spending time in a car. 
9) Options for entertainment in case I get bored with slothing. 
10) Not having a strict agenda to follow. 

 Probably not surprisingly, we've chosen cruises for two of the three vacations we've planned and funded for ourselves. Cruising suits me JUST fine. I don't even mind that I stay terribly seasick the entire time- it's totally worth it to me. The sunning, the food, the do-everything-or-nothing is all perfection to me. Which is why my default plan is to go on another cruise. 

 But there's one more option out there that tempts me: all-inclusive resorts. They're just like cruises, right? Minus the seasickness? And minus the hours-long disembarking process on the last day? Could all-inclusives be even BETTER than cruises? 

 That's where you come in. Help me! Have you been to an all-inclusive? Where? How was it? Have you done BOTH cruises and all-inclusives? Which is better? Feel free to leave hypothetical advice or arguments if you have never tried either. Just help a sister out with these really pressing "problems"...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

april: 2009 vs. 2012

I was looking back through pictures, seeing if anything would inspire a Way Back When-sday post today. That's when I happened upon April 2009 (because I organize my photos by year/month). The pictures started dredging up some old memories, so I cross-referenced with my blogs from April 2009. And then I very quickly realized-- even though so far this April is pretty lame (hemorrhagic cyst and a week of bedrest, anyone? Fourth consecutive April of wanting and not having a baby? Pick your reason that this April is lame) definitely kicks April '09's ass.

Because in April '09, we were buying a house. This house, actually. And it was terrible. And it reminds me of why I'm SO GLAD I BLOG HONESTLY: so that I don't remember things incorrectly and make stupid mistakes, like thinking about ever moving and buying another house. I had almost forgotten how awful homebuying was. My memory has started to gloss over the stress and the agony of it all, and I just have a vague remembrance of signing lots of forms and then owning a house that needed a LOT of work to become habitable. I had almost forgotten the misery of it all.  

And misery it was. In April 2009, I was stressed. I was over it. And I was being stalked by people in San Antonio.

And so even though April 2012 hasn't really been anything worth writing home about so far, I am now simply content to know that it could be way worse. It could still be April 2009. Or something like it. And it's also nice sitting here knowing that it worked out. The stresses of April '09? They resolved. We got the house. It all got figured out. And so what seemed like a hot and never-ending mess in 2009 has now faded to a dim memory a mere 3 years later, as I lay in the house I fought for and stressed over. And somehow this gives me hope that one day I will be able to look back at all of this-- the struggles of this day/era-- and maybe the pain will have faded, the struggles will all be counted as 'worth it', and I'll be thankful for old pictures and blogs to remind me of what I've come through. Because right now I can't really imagine a time where the sadness and hurt of infertility won't permeate every minute of every day. But back then, I felt the same way about buying a house. And even though it's not the same still gives me hope. 

And now I'm about to go REALLY cheesy on you and drop a QUOTE out-- but seriously, I don't even have to look this one up. It's a quote my friend James (husband of Kristina) used to say/write all the time, and he wrote it on the mat of our engagement photo that people signed at our rehearsal dinner, which is hanging on the wall of my I read it frequently. The quote comes from The Shawshank Redemption, and I'm not bothering to go look it up, so if I'm slightly off then you'll just have to forgive me.

Hope is a good thing, maybe one of the best things. And no good thing ever dies.

Monday, April 9, 2012

new life

I know-- that's probably the corniest, most cliche day-after-Easter blog title ever. Unless you happen to be announcing a pregnancy, of course. Which I am not. But anyway-- it's appropriate, trust me.
Easter-- despite insisting that we pose in the flower bed next to a rose bush, my mother managed to capture NO flowers...but it's the best shot we got, so whatev. :) Enjoy my fantastic siding (sarcasm) as a backdrop instead!

So I'm finally feeling a lot better. Not 100%, but not like death, either, which is a vast improvement over last week. My week of bedrest was rather boring, although I tried to think of useful things to do with my time that did not involve moving (much). Like rereading the Hunger Games trilogy...and learning new technology! I got a Kindle! Unfortunately, I have no desire to read anything other than HG, so the Kindle isn't much use to me (since my HG books are in paper-book-form) yet...but I downloaded a bunch of stuff anyway, just in case my mood ever changes.

Also, they released Instagram for Android!! Woohoo! This was very exciting because I feel like I've been missing out on something big, but now I don't have to. So that is why you should follow me and let me follow you or whatever we do there...I'm ErikaB543. Look me up, yo. I promise to try to take pictures of things other than my dog and my flowers...someday.

SPEAKING of my flowers...

So I suck at bedrest. God help me if I'm ever on it FOR REAL, like the life of my unborn child(ren) depend on it...I will try to suck at it less than I did last week. I got SO TIRED of just laying there! But I really had nothing to do and nowhere to go, so there wasn't even much point in getting up-- not to mention the excruciating pain that came whenever I attempted walking. That was a downer. But anyway, every few hours I wanted to "check" and see if I was getting better, so I would make a lap around the outside of the house, monitoring all my precious babies (aka plants/flowers). And I swear-- it was the best week EVER for doing this every-few-hours-monitoring, because honest to God, something changed like every time I went out. The crazy things are growing/blooming so fast you can notice progress throughout the course of the day!! So that was very exciting for me and gave me good excuses to man up the pain and walk around outside. Also, on more than one occasion I simply sat on the porch glider and stared at flowers, wondering if I could actually SEE them growing if I stared long enough. Apparently pain medication makes you think weird things. And you can't, by the way. See flowers growing. 

Anyway, wanna admire some of the beauty I'm obsessing over? If not, then I would like to suggest that you look at these in the spirit of "she's a barren, miserable, childless woman who pours her heart and soul into her flowers and anthropomorphizes them and actually believes they are her children" and pretend this is my "here's all the cute things we did/wore for Easter" post and respond accordingly (ie: "your azaleas are sooooo cute in pink!!!"). And also remember that I'm trying to figure out my Big Girl Camera still, and am pretty proud of the fact that these were all shot in semi-manual (aperture setting)!!

 You can go ahead and color me OBSESSED with my phlox (above and below)-- they are SO PRETTY!!! Each one is different and perfect and they look fabulous in a vase! LOVE THEM!!!

Look, a baby lima bean is sprouting! What a cutie!
Variegated weigela:

Knock-out roses:

 Azaleas WITH the morning dew still on them, thankyouverymuch...

 OK, that's all I'll torture you with for now. But don't worry!! Even though I've gone back to work this week, I'm making my morning, afternoon, and evening rounds to make sure I know the minute anything changes on the flower front, so I'll be sure to keep you posted!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

the old man

Today is Matt's 29th birthday! Hooray for him catching up in numbers with me!

I don't have any cute baby pictures of him to share, but I can assure you that he was a cute baby. And he's a really cute grown man. :)

In case I don't brag on him enough, let me do it for just a minute right now: Matt is the bomb. If you think your husband is the best, then you are wrong- unless you are also secretly married to Matt, in which case we have a big problem and I retract my previous claim.

These past few days Mattie has been a champ as I've been a worthless, whiney lump under the weather. Even in the hospital-- not a place he's a fan of, given his irrational fear of band-aids and all-- he was constantly by my side, at my beck and call, making 1am phone calls to our parents at my request (not his idea of fun)...he was the best. He is the best. And I'm sorry that I'm not feeling MY best to help him celebrate his day, but such is life.

I feel like I should say more, but my brain is foggy right now and I'm not sure that I can make things make sense. If you need a little more Mattie in your day, then I recommend you read (or re-read) his interview from last summer-- chock full of all the questions, answers, and pictures your heart is desiring!

Happy birthday, Mattie!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

heavy baby

First of all- thanks for your prayers and support over the past few days! I was feeling a bit better yesterday, but last night had some pretty horrible sudden pain during the night- possibly one of those masses rupturing? today I'm experiencing a little setback/good bit of pain. Which leaves me stuck on the couch again, with nothing to do but blog...

Today's story comes to you in the spirit of Way Back When-sday. I can only say "in the spirit" because it's just a story-- no pictures. Well, there may be pictures somewhere (like at my parents' house), but I don't have them. Therefore I will do my best to paint a picture with my words.

I thought of this story yesterday when Allison and I were discussing the possibility of her mailing her annoying dog to me and how much that would torture the postal service workers that would have to listen to him whine from Texas to Georgia. This is a story that has absolutely nothing to do with me, as it is actually about my sister when she was a toddler. But it's a story my parents love to tell and I love to hear it-- hopefully you'll get a kick out of it, too.

So back in the late 80s, my sister was a wee little 2 or 3 year old and was absolutely obsessed with baby dolls. Now don't get me wrong- this obsession continued until she was at least in high school. But at the age of 2 or 3, when this story takes place, her obsession was considered age-appropriate, cute, and catered to by every present-buying person who knew her. She had a lot of 'babies.'

For one holiday or another, my Nana and Poppie presented Sarah with that ultimate gift of all gifts: a talking doll. (Note: I DID do a quick Google image search to see if I could find a picture of this doll. Go Google "1980s talking dolls" and see if you can sleep tonight. I dare you.) This doll was a large plastic thing that required something like 8 D batteries to help her do her thing. Therefore this doll was named "Heavy Baby" by my sister, for obvious reasons. It probably outweighed her.

Heavy Baby wasn't particularly cute, being entirely made of hard plastic, but boy did she talk. And talk. And talk. I'm not sure if Heavy Babies had some kind of sensor that let them know when it was a good time to chat it up or not, but our Heavy Baby was definitely an oversharing talk-a-holic. Her tinny voice could apparently be heard throughout our house at all hours of the day and night, and no one but Sarah could appreciate it.

But oh, how she appreciated it. Sweet little blonde Sarah just loved her Heavy Baby. She took her everywhere. She could not be bribed away to play with her other pretty (quiet) dolls. She only loved Heavy Baby. Which left my parents in a real conundrum, because Heavy Baby was annoying the CRAP out of them.

And then it happened. One day, Heavy Baby just stopped talking. Stopped! Fell silent. And Sarah was horrified. And my parents were thrilled. Secretly, of course. Because D batteries can only last for so long, and then there is blessed silence. We're so sorry, Sarah...but Heavy Baby is broken. You can still play with her and love on her, though! She just can't talk anymore. You see, Sarah didn't have much concept of batteries or what-not. She really thought Heavy Baby was broken. And my parents (justifiably so, in my opinion) just let her believe that. She had TONS of babies. She would get over Heavy Baby's vow of silence quickly, or just move on to another doll.

But get over it she could not. And eventually, my sweet grandparents heard about the demise of Heavy Baby-- from Sarah. That the beloved Heavy Baby was broken and could no longer speak. And about how Sarah's life had basically ended.

Infuriated,-- don't they make things that last anymore???--my grandfather did what any grandfather would do: immediately ran out and purchased a new Heavy Baby for his beloved granddaughter and shipped it. They live in Texas, you see...and we were all the way out in Georgia. 

My parents, however, did not know about Poppie's purchase. They only knew that one evening the doorbell rang and it was the UPS guy. Upon opening the door, they found a very agitated UPS guy. Not very friendly. Definitely on edge of-- shall we say-- going postal?

"Here!!" he rudely exclaimed as he shoved a large box at my dad.

"Ohh? Um, thanks..." my parents were puzzled, as they had not ordered anything lately and were not expecting any shipments.

"That...that thing...whatever is in that has been making noise CONSTANTLY since I picked up this load in Atlanta. I hope that whatever it is, you know how to get it to stop."

And then my parents knew. Heavy Baby the Second, on their very doorstep.

A sinking feeling set in on their hearts as they knew what they were in for. 

But Sarah?? She couldn't have been any happier. She now had TWO Heavy Babies to lug around. And I guess my parents learned an important lesson about underestimating the resourcefulness of their kids. I'm guessing that the next time Heavy Baby's batteries died, they either told the truth or replaced them. No need to further torture the UPS guy.

The end.