Thursday, May 31, 2012

coping mechanisms

Last night I had an emotional breakdown. A sobbing, can't-hardly-breathe, mascara streaming down your face, neck, and chest, full-out ugly cry. I used to do this kind of thing frequently. Lately, though, it's been less often. I'd like to think I'm growing more emotionally stable as I enter old age and my millionth year of dealing with infertility. Tonight proved me wrong, I guess.

Wanna know what caused this horrid display of weakness? It's probably not what you're thinking.

My squash and zucchini plants are probably not going to make it. Year number THREE of succumbing to the squash bugs despite my constant vigilance, my ceaseless checking, my by-the-books application of PESTICIDE, which I am totally opposed to doing but did anyway because NOTHING ELSE WORKED...and despite ALL OF THAT (to say nothing of the hours I've spent pruning, tending, talking to, and photographing)...those bastard bugs have the nerve to come KILL MY BABIES? After I've only had the pleasure of harvesting two zucchini and two squash??! I completely lost it. LOST IT. SOBBING IN THE VEGETABLE GARDEN.

Apparently my emotional stability is easily unhinged. But seriously, junk like this just makes me really mad. Like...don't I have enough crappy stuff going on in my life? Seriously, God?? Seriously, you couldn't just let my stupid squash plants live? That was too much to ask? Yeah, cool, whatever. 

I managed to self-medicate and stop hating life after a few hours. Here's what helped:

1. This song

We do our cooldown to this song at Zumba sometimes and I LOVE IT. The problem is, it totally makes me want to dance. I used to be a dancer...and something about this song just stirs my soul and makes me LONG for some beautiful choreography...ugh. So last night I listened to that song about one million times (haha no exaggerating, ask Matt) while I paid bills and mentally choreographed.

2. Ryan Gosling "Hey Girl" memes.

No seriously, these are my most favorite thing ever right now. Especially the teaching and crafting-themed ones. I laugh so hard I cry sometimes. Thank you to everyone in the world who think of making these things, and also to the people who pin and repin them so that I can find them. I owe you my sanity. A few faves:

Source: via Erika on Pinterest


OK I'll stop now, but I seriously feel happier with every one I find. So thanks, Cascada and Ryan Gosling. You might not be able to save my veggies, but at least you made me smile.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

free kindle books: a rant

OK. So I know that awhile back I talked about the paranoia that comes over me sometimes when I blog about something negative and then worry that people are going to take it personally and feel insulted, but sometimes that is just a risk I have to take. When something is weighing this heavy on the heart and mind...well, I'm just gonna have to throw it out there.

Seriously, yall. WHAT IS WITH the low quality of the free Kindle books available these days??

(Here's the part where I'm hoping none of YOU have recently published a crappy book directly to Kindle...)

So I KNOW that since I'm getting the books for...ya know, free...that I shouldn't be so picky. Beggars and choosers and all that, I know. But SERIOUSLY?

The main issue is that apparently these people have never heard of proofreading. I understand that spelling may not be your personal strength. Grammar can be very tricky. Mine isn't always perfect, either. But if I were going to publish something? For all of the world to read? And then call myself an AUTHOR?? Well, I'd probably at LEAST scan through for typos. Maybe pay a friend a few bucks to skim it for spelling? (The difference between me allowing a certain margin of error for myself in this blog and not extending them that same grace for their 'books': I do not call myself an author. With great titles comes great responsibilities...)

So I've read a few books lately that certainly lacked in the grammar/proofreading/editing department, but still had good overall plots and story structure. But then Monday...oh, Monday.

I'm not going to share WHAT book it was, exactly, that got me so fired up. But here's the thing: I do a little research before I choose books. I read user reviews, okay? And if 40 people say "great book! so funny! loved it!" and only like 3 people say anything negative, then I just may give it a try, right??

What is wrong with you 40 people??? Did someone pay you to write these reviews? Did you actually READ the book?

I felt like I was reading text messages between 12 year old girls who were imagining what their grown-up lives would be like. Twelve-year olds who had the writing skills of a chimpanzee. And ended every sentence with an exclamation point!! Or two!! Like this!! And had no real sense of...writing? Voice? I don't even know what the terminology is that I'm looking for here (remember: NOT AN AUTHOR. NO DEGREE IN CREATIVE WRITING.), but as an average-to-well-read American, I can tell you-- this book ain't got it.

And instead of just deleting the book and moving on with life like a normal person would do, instead I got really angry and took it all personally, like this 'author' was actually screwing up my life or something. How dare you publish some ridiculous thing I could have written in 3rd grade and call yourself an author! HOW DARE YOU, WOMAN?!! I Googled you, and you don't even have a WEB PAGE!!! And YOU get to write "author" on your resume??!! OOHHHH THE MADNESS!!!! Because obviously I deal with things in the most rational manner. And I still haven't deleted the book because-- wait for it, here comes crazy!!!-- I like to go back and re-read the particularly crappy sections and get mad again slash pat myself on the back for being SUCH a superior writer/human being. You know, if I were to write stories, that is. I don't. But if I did...I know they would be way more awesome than that.

And do I go back and tell the (nice, unbiased, not catty like this blog) truth in the form of a legitimate user review on Amazon? No, I do not. Because I am too angry at the OTHER Amazon users who did not do this, and I figure-- if 40 people actually think this book is great, then I have nothing to say to a world that thinks THAT is great. I have nothing left for them. I need to kick the dust off my heels and go find somewhere else to spend my time. Ugh.

End rant.

And now, because I subscribe to the theory that you can cancel out a really bitchy rant by saying something nice, I will say that I DID read an EXCELLENT free Kindle book this weekend as well. Only now (after I recommended it to my SIL) it is no longer free. And I am sad because I want everyone to read it (but it's currently on loan to Amy). But if you're super rich and have $5.79, you could get it anyway. It's called Freefall by Kristen Heitzmann, and don't judge it by its cheesy cover (you can't see the covers on your Kindle, anyway). It was just a random "sure, whatever, I'll give this one a try" download (kind of like the other book that inspired my wrath) but I LOVED IT! And you know what? There were a few editing errors. But you know what? I FORGAVE THEM. Because overall the book was fantastic. I can overlook a few typos (Lord knows YOU do if you read my blog). No biggie. Know what else? Despite being a purely-for-pleasure, not-trying-to-be-high-literature book, homegirl (the author, obviously) did not shy away from using AP English words. I actually had to LOOK ONE UP!! I know, I got super excited using that little built-in dictionary thingy. How often do you find yourself needing to look up a word these days? Not often enough, in my opinion. So, overall review of Freefall: A+. Entertained me for like 3 days, couldn't put it down, cried when it ended (not because it was sad, but because I missed the characters), immediately lent it out so that someone else could enjoy it too, and can't wait to get it back to read it again.

With all of that said: any free Kindle books you want to recommend? Or lend me? (Note: obviously I'm aware that all the classics are available. I read those sometimes, when I'm in an AP English-kind-of-mood. But lately I'm just looking for pleasure fluff reading. But not so fluffy that I can accept poor grammar and writing. Because that is not pleasurable to me. Obviously.)

Monday, May 28, 2012


 ...and I'm back in the game!

The wreath-making game, that is. I've been on a wreath-making hiatus since Christmas, but this weekend I remembered a wreath I pinned a long, long time ago (one of the first things I ever pinned, actually!) and since today is Memorial Day and all...well, there was no time like the present.

My Pinspiration:

My wreath:
If this doesn't make you want to jump to your feet and belt out I'm Proud to be an American at the top of your lungs, I don't know what will.
Do you love it??! I do. Now we don't look like we hate America, which is easy to look like in my neighborhood, since the neighbors across the street have like 2,000 flags in their yard/swagging their porch/lining their driveway. I actually have one more bit of flair to add to the wreath, but I haven't finished it yet...but it looks perfectly good enough for me to go ahead and be hanging while I finish the rest!

And can we talk about those stars for a minute?? Um, okay, so...stars. I just cut them out of white felt. "No biggie!" I was thinking before I started that endeavor. But au contraire...NOT the easiest thing ever. Those stars look gheeetttttoooooo. But then I made myself feel better by considering the fact that the ACTUAL stars (you know, like in outer space? or wherever stars reside?) are probably not all identical, five-pointed shapes. And so my stars are just unique individuals, just like the real stars. And they look crafty. Like me. So there. Flag-makers of the world, do not judge my stars. They are special.

Wanna know one of my favorite things about America?


 In case you weren't already jealous enough of my neighborhood (patriotic neighbors, free hydrangeas, creative thinking when it comes to moving trampolines, free clothes)...well, now my next-door neighbors (same ones who gave me the shorts) have a litter of PUPPIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Three-and-a-half week old Pembroke Welsh Corgis, to be exact. Purebred. And completely adorable. They bring them outside for potty time, and I just so happen to spend all of MY free time outside, so sometimes the stars align and I get to go over and play. And if being surrounded by a wiggling, mewling pile of tiny puppies doesn't make you love life and your home and America, then YOU, my friend, have something wrong with your brain.

PUPPIES!!! Is there anything greater in life? I submit to you that there is not.

Except for maybe freedom...and equality...and justice...and all of those other things that are actually important. I'm so thankful for all the men and women who fight for those things (while I sit around whining and crafting and dreaming about puppies). And I doubt that any of those people are actually reading this blog, but just in case...thanks. 

And if you'll excuse me, I need to go snag my husband and make him go look at my wreath again and hopefully convince him to join me in a rousing rendition of Proud to be an American (our favorite song to belt out with great gusto together. Go figure. It's just so darn inspirational/cheesy!!!). Happy Memorial Day, all!

Sunday, May 27, 2012


Hello, holiday weekend people. You may recall that for me, it's not merely a three-day weekend... it's a five-day weekend. Which is approximately one million times better than a three-day weekend. Approximately. And I have been enjoying it thoroughly. Especially if "enjoyment of weekend" can be measured in "number of pictures taken on phone and Big Girl Camera." Which it can, in my book.

But first! Last week, Brittnie from A Joy Renewed tagged me with the Kreativ Blogger award. Thanks, Brittnie! 

In accepting the award (which I do...although sometimes I really have to work to maintain any semblance of creativity...and I ALWAYS try to avoid SPELLING "creatively," aka "INCORRECTLY," as this award would imply...), I am supposed to list 10 random facts about myself and then tag five more people to get the award. But here's the thing. I really struggle with thinking of random facts that a dedicated blog-reader wouldn't already know. Because I've been doing this blog-gig for what, four years? So is there really anything worth knowing left that I haven't shared (okay, the answer is YES, but I can't just spill it all right now or then no one would ever want to come back, right? Gotta hold SOME things back...)? Possibly not. Also I just shared eleven random things a few months ago. If you're new here, you can go review those facts and feel enlightened. Ha. So I'm going to take some liberties here and combine my "10 random facts" with 10 random photos from my weekend that otherwise probably wouldn't make it onto the blog, since they're kind of...well, random. So this is Erika, going all Kreativ on the blog award! And...go!

(PS. If you follow me on Instagram...sorry for the repeats.)

1. While walking Lola on Friday morning, I happened upon this house in our neighborhood.
Sorry to offend your eyes with all that nasty grass weeds, but the house is empty (abandoned? Foreclosed? Your guess is as good as mine, but it's been looking like this for months). But lo and behold, what do we spy right up there next to that front window? A FREAKIN GREAT HYDRANGEA. Am I the only one having flashbacks to last year's question of legality?? Mind you, this is a different house, and if I were to do what I did last year, it would be MUCH more out in the open...but I guess the question is re-opened for another season. Should I do it? 

Random fact you can learn as a result of this picture: I am not above stealing borrowing flowers.

2. Speaking of hydrangeas...
 On Friday, Matt and I met my parents in a nearby small town (Madison) for lunch and to swap off doggies (we're watching theirs while they go on vacation). Matt and I got there a little early and wandered around downtown. We found a church with a veritable FIELD of hydrangeas in their front yard and spent a good 30 minutes playing photographer and lusting after the beauty. I took the above pic and was pretty proud of my focus-in-the-front/blurry-in-the-back thing I had going on (in a semi-manual Aperture-priority setting). 

Random fact you can learn as a result of this picture: I am obsessed with hydrangeas. And taking the training wheels off my camera.

3. Same place, different picture...

 This is me, figuring out if there was any way to just LIVE THERE in that little grove. That would be my happy place.

Random fact you can learn as a result of this picture: I am obsessed with hydrangeas. Probably too much.

4. We ate lunch at a really cute and yummy place called Madison Chop House Grille. We sat on the porch because it was nice outside, and also we did not want the dogs to bake alive in the car. I ordered a fruity cocktail because I felt like it, and because Dad was paying. :)

Random fact you can learn as a result of this picture: The drink was great, so I wrote down the ingredients so that I can be sure to order something like it again in the near future! Coconut rum; Dekuyper razzamatazz liqueur; pineapple, cranberry, and orange juices. And yes, the word "razzamatazz" is like 80% of the reason I ordered it. Such a fabulous word! 

 5. Then I ordered a fried green tomato sandwich (complete with bacon, ranch dressing, and buttered, toasted sourdough bread) and my life was complete and I declared "I WILL NEVER LEAVE THE SOUTH, NEVER!!!!"
 Random fact you can learn as a result of this picture: I am fickle about moving. And I need to work out at least 11 times this week. Sigh.

 6. My mom gave me a new bracelet as a thank-you for keeping the dogs.
 She also replenished my stock of bracelets to sell. There are so many great ones!!

Random fact you can learn as a result of this picture: My mom makes jewelry and I sell it for her. To people with more discretionary income than I. :) Check out her stuff...
if you live in Athens, you can see it (and buy it!) live and in person via me!

7. On Saturday, I made this really yummy recipe for lunch:

 And it's all veggies from my garden or my co-op box! Basically a grilled tortilla, grilled veggies, a pesto-mayo sauce (super easy), sprinkled in cheese and grilled again. Easy and YUMMY!

Random fact you can learn as a result of this picture: I love veggies. Especially the ones I grew.

8. On Saturday night, Matt and I went miniature golfing at Pirate's Cove Adventure Golf
in Atlanta. We are big fans of pirates.

 Random fact you can learn as a result of this picture: I WON. By 8 strokes (on a 27 hole course). Considering I'm the self-proclaimed "worst mini-golfer ever"...I don't know what that makes Matt. :)

9. This is the only picture of that adventure that I will be posting of myself.

 Random fact you can learn as a result of this picture: I thought I looked fat in all the other pictures. Sigh. Sucks to be a self-conscious girl!

10. Today was my church's last day in our current building. It was very bittersweet. I will miss a lot about that building, but am excited for what's ahead. The room looks a little crazy in this picture because we're mid-move, but whatever. I wanted to get some shots of our last day.

 Random fact you can learn as a result of this picture: I sing in the band. I bet most of you actually DIDN'T know that, so...there! A true random fact. :) Bonus fact you can learn: I wear that purple dress all the time. See picture # 3 above for proof.

And there you have it. If you survived to the end, congratulations. Hopefully you aren't judging me too badly for re-wearing clothes all weekend and contemplating another summer of flower-borrowing.

Happy Memorial Day! I'm off to finish a Memorial Day-themed craft I started on Friday! If it turns out looking non-crazy, perhaps I'll share the finished product tomorrow!

Thursday, May 24, 2012


I think I've figured out my Zumba teacher's strategy. She tries to murder us on Mondays. Maybe she thinks that then we will be too incapacitated to come back for classes the rest of the week, thus making her job easier. And I have to say- her strategy works pretty well. The Monday class is BRUTAL... and when I do come back later in the week, I'm sore before the warm-up is over. Ugh. But I try to press on.

Here's what she tells us frequently, in her cute little French accent (go figure, my Zumba teacher is from Belgium): What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. And I know she didn't invent that phrase (and yes we dance to the Kelly Clarkson song by the same name), but for as often as I hear that phrase in life, it's rarely being spoken by someone who is actually TRYING TO KILL ME, as Angel seems to be. It feels more meaningful being spoken by someone screaming at you to hold a plank for like 10 minutes, or do "just 20 more" push-ups.

After we complete something really tough, Angel will say "is anyone dead?" And when we all respond with "no" (even though we FEEL like the answer should be YES), then Angel will say "good. Then you're stronger."

And in the context of Zumba, she is probably right. I haven't died, although sometimes I feel like I'm only one dance away. And I am noticeably stronger than when I started. So I guess Angel was right on this count.

But what I'm hoping is that the cliche will prove true in the rest of my life, too. The last few years have often felt like a long and torturous beating. But since I'm not dead...maybe I'm getting stronger. These days, whenever I start wallowing in the pain, I conjure up my sweaty, happy little Zumba teacher in my mind.

Are you dead? No? Then you're stronger.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


To say it's been a slow week at work would be the understatement of the century. We're between school sessions, and the lists of Tasks to Complete Before School Starts Next Tuesday is far, far too short for the number of hours my co-workers and I have to spend doing them. I'm a pretty self-motivated person, and I hate sitting I start feeling very restless and irritated at my lack of productivity on days like this. Also my whole body aches from SITTING!!! I don't think I could handle a desk job. I'm not cut out for this sort of thing.

Anyway. The point is, I've had way too much ample time to dedicate to daydreaming. And because I'm sure my daydreams are like, sooo fascinating...figgered I'd share some of my favorite things to daydream about.

(In no particular order)

1. These veggie burgers:
My favorite hack-foodie bloggers over at What's Good at Trader Joe's gave these some pretty high marks last week, and ever since I read their review I hadn't been able to get them out of my mind. So I bought some on Sunday and we ate them that night. WHOA. They were SO GOOD! I'm already a pretty big fan of the regular Morningstar-type black bean burgers, but these were about 10 times better. I am trying to pace myself before making them again, but I don't know how much longer I can wait...seeing as I've been thinking about their tastiness all day long today, I'll probably be eating them tonight.

2. Our veggie crop:

Our squash and zucchini are coming along nicely and the first few zucchini may be ready for the pickin' this weekend!! I'm pretty pumped and have been pinning recipes accordingly, anticipating a long summer full of veggies. Since every other year the squash bugs decimate the crop early on, this year I sold out and am spraying pesticides on those bad boys. I hate it, but...what can you do. I try to convince myself it's probably still less pesticides than commercially grown squash. Or something.

3. Our vacation:

I'm sure that comes as a huge surprise! No one EVER sits at work dreaming about vacation, do they?? Or obsessively stalking new reviews of their resort on every major travel webpage? No, just me?? No way.

4. Getting pampered:

I dunno...something about sitting around all day leads me to be wishing I were somewhere getting pampered. Massages are at the top of the 'wish I were doing this instead' list, closely followed by mani-pedis. Occasionally I will go so far as to think about what nail polish colors I would choose. I know. I live on the edge.

5. Making money:

I need a good get-rich-quick plan. I haven't thought of any yet. Let me know if you do.

6. Disney movies:

Probably because the co-workers and I prefer to keep a Disney Pandora station on at all times, and depending on the time of day and how numb our brains and booties are, we sing along and/or debate the merits of various movies. We also have in-depth discussions of the 'issues' in Disney movies (such as the fact that THERE ARE NO MOTHERS in Disney movies. They all die/are dead! Bambi, Aladdin, Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Snow White (evil stepmother doesn't count), Pocohontas, Cinderella...) (then we researched this phenomenon and discovered that apparently, Walt Disney felt very guilty about his own mother's (freak accident) death, felt like he caused it, and as a result never included mothers in his movies)

7. Cake. And pie. And all other forms of dessert. Rice Krispy treats. SUGARRRRRRR.

Well, it probably comes as a surprise to no one that three of my seven top daydreams involve food. Boredom=hunger, right? Ugh.

In conclusion, I will share a completely unrelated story that I love. I thought of this the other day because of Maggie's comment on this blog. Basically she mentioned that she could relate to my issues resisting advertising because she can't pass up those kiosks in the mall without buying something from one of the eager salespeople.

It reminded me of my father, who has issues of his own with those lovely kiosk-merchants. Always a friendly and outgoing person, my dad also has a hard time not stopping and listening to a sales pitch from an eager and personable salesperson. So a few years ago on Christmas morning, my mom, sister, grandmothers, and I all found ourselves receiving a lovely set of Dead Sea manicure items (??? it was like some lotions, cuticle cream, files/buffers, etc.). Dad was REALLY SUPER EXCITED about these, and couldn't WAIT to tout the many benefits and uses of the items in the sets. We were all giggling over his enthusiasm, and he was quick to admit that he got the sets from one of the mall kiosks (and had gotten a "better deal" for buying so many sets, which also thrilled him). That alone was funny enough, but what really took the cake was the way my dad described the salesgirl:

"Well, this really nice Israelite girl just knew SO MUCH about the products..."

"I'm sorry Dad-- WHAT kind of girl?"

"Israelite! She was from Jerusalem! She had such a beautiful accent!"

Ummmm...since apparently we are living in the Bible times...

Dad, hate to break it to ya, but I'm pretty sure we call them Israelis now. Nice try though. Thanks for the lotion!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

the delicate art of sign-making

So you may recall that I did a little crafting for my mothers’ Mother’s Day gifts this year. A few months back I crafted a little sign for my own house—just a little truth I needed to be reminded of frequently:

Both my mom and Mama Pat have commented multiple times that they liked my sign, so when MD rolled around and I had no good gift ideas, I thought why not make them their OWN signs?? I know, I’m basically a genius.

And then I thought—why not take pictures of every single step so that you can show the whole world what an easy craft this is?! So I did. And Mattie helped some. But believe me—this is NOT a tricky craft. And BONUS—doesn’t even require very special materials! If you own some paints (acrylic) and brushes and can find a scrap of wood somewhere, you have everything you need to get crafting! So here we go.

First get your husband to cut a rectangular piece of wood. This will serve two purposes: getting you the piece of wood you need, and letting your husband contribute something to the project. Don’t be too picky about your rectangle—in my opinion, a little irregularity looks refreshing. I don’t know what kind of wood it is that we used, exactly, but it’s that thin, cheap kind. We already had it out in the garage left over from some other project. Just use whatever you can find.

Then mix your paints. You can see the magazine page that my plate is sitting on—that was my color scheme inspiration.

Then slap that paint onto your board. Told you this wasn’t rocket science.

Then mix up your next paint (for the words). The words are definitely the most tedious part. Sometimes I sketch them onto the board first, in pencil, to make sure I have the size and spacing just right. Sometimes I don’t. The thing is, I’m no good at tracing over the pencil with paint, and then you can just see the pencil marks chilling on the finished product, since you can’t very well erase them off the painted board. So…do whatever makes you happy. Honestly, the next time I do this I will probably spring for a paint pen. I think that would make things way easier.

After you finish painting your words, you could definitely be done. OR you could just keep going and jazz it up a little. I chose to do my jazzing with some beads my mom gave me awhile back. The beads worked quite nicely with my color scheme, so I decided to put a cross on it (with hot glue, which you can definitely see in this zoomed-in picture, but isn’t nearly so obvious in real life!).

Then I glued a wire onto the back, in case they wanted to hang it on the wall. I also bought some little plaque-stands at Hobby Lobby, in case they wanted to have it sitting on a shelf or something somewhere. (And by ‘they,’ I mean each of our moms. I made them each one. They don’t live together…or have joint custody of one little sign…although that would be pretty funny!)

And ta-da!! A finished little sign thingy. This picture isn’t exactly well-focused, but you get the gist of it. A cutesy little homemade thing that they both seemed pretty happy about. What more can you ask for for MD, right? It’s all about your kids making you crafts…even when the kids are almost 30!

And let me reiterate—the price was right. All it took was half a Saturday!

So there you have it: one of the easiest crafts ever. Take that, Pinterest.

PS. Speaking of Pinterest…I hope you are all avid fans of Pinterest, You are Drunk. For real. That is the funniest thing ever. Check it out!!

Monday, May 21, 2012

the stages

I've said it before and I'm sure I'll say it again: I have very few defenses against clever marketing and advertising. For some reason, I just BELIEVE people...and companies...and advertisements...and try as I may, I just can't resist a compelling ad. It's a sickness. And a boon to the American economy.'re welcome. 

Anyway. Last Friday I was assaulted with some well-placed advertising, and it almost blew my mind how quickly I went from this is stupid to I need this, immediately. I'm serious. I could almost see my brain processing. Somewhere, some marketing professor could have probably placed check marks in boxes as I went through the 6 progressive stages of Falling For An Ad. So just in case any of YOU happen to be in marketing or advertising, and because I'm a giver, and because I still really want this...I thought I'd lay out the stages for your professional development slash enjoyment.

On Friday, I walked out to my car in the parking lot after work. Stuck in my driver's-side window, right above my door handle, was this innocent-enough-looking business card (with a few things highlighted):

Stage 1: Curiosity
Hm, someone went to all the trouble of coming out here to stick business cards in people's windows? A mobile carwash company, eh? I glance around the parking lot and notice that lo and behold, not everyone was chosen to receive this card. 

Stage 2: Insult
So what're you SAYING, stupid Randy with your stupid Express car stuff?? Out of allllll the cars in this lot, mine is the ONLY ONE in need of your services? Did you even SEE that Camry over there? Or what about that Explorer? Obviously, Randy, you need to have your VISION checked out. I start to get in the car, ready to throw the card in the trash (aka the back seat).

Stage 3: Closer Inspection of Ad
I notice that Randy has gone to the trouble of highlighting certain portions of his card. So apparently Randy inspected my car closely and then took the time to highlight the pertinent sections of his services that I obviously really need? Randy, are you totally a stalker? Or are you just in love with my awesome car? Okay, so Randy here thinks I need Headlight Lens Cleaning...what the heck even is that?...$10 and up...ok, so not too expensive...and there is "Mobile Service Available" I wouldn't even have to go anywhere, he could come do this headlight thing here in the parking lot while I work? OK, obviously he could...he came over today, didn't he? Hmmm...and here's his number...

Stage 4: Personal Reflection
 Oh my gosh, DO I have dirty headlight lenses? I get back out of the car and inspect the headlights. They are absolutely cloudy, but here's the thing: it's what they looked like when I bought the car 2 years ago (and the car was 6 years old at that point). So I just assumed that's what they were supposed to look like. I'm not that big on car appearances and never really put any thought into it...but now that I'm looking, my headlights definitely look sketchy. Oh my gosh!! All this time, I've been driving around with embarrassingly dirty headlights, and no one even told me...until Randy...

Stage 5: Desire
I look at the facts: I have dirty headlights (headlight lenses?). I don't know how to clean them, because obviously whatever I'm doing isn't cutting it. But I do have $10. I don't have time...but Randy has mobile services. Randy thinks I need headlight lens cleaning. I'm inclined to agree. I don't want to be all tacky...

Stage 6: Beg the Husband
I go home. When Matt comes home, I inform him of my new desire. Mattie...the headlights on my car are all dirty! I need to get them cleaned! He looks at the Matrix. "It looks the same as always to me..." he replies. "I know!!! The same old DIRTY as always! Look, here's some company that can come out to my school and clean them while I'm at work! Isn't that great?! Can I call them?" At this point, Matt looks at me like I'm insane and laughs in my face. Request denied. 


To his credit...even though obviously my thinking is solid in this particular instance, I go through this sort of "I NEED THIS THING NOW!!!" mental transformation like...a few times a week. So Matt has to put his foot down sometimes, or we would be like...broke hoarders (albeit broke hoarders with CLEAN HEADLIGHT LENSES). So I get it. But it doesn't change the fact that now I'm embarrassed to be seen in my dirty headlight lens car. :( 

Anyway. Well played, Randy of Randy's Express. Well played. Effective marketing. Maybe your next victim will have a less-stingy husband. Good luck to ya.


Friday, May 18, 2012

the Emily Post of Yardsales

Before we get down to business, I need to start by saying thank you for the massive outpouring of support yesterday!! I was totally blown away by the kind comments (both here and on E's blog), emails, Facebook messages, and new followers...thanks for making me feel like less of a freak for being so brutally honest all up on someone else's blog! To tell you the truth, I was a little bit scared to death before that thing posted...but yall made me feel like it was worth it. So thanks. And hello to my new friends! Hope you don't mind that I'm not ALWAYS that emotional. Sometimes I just like to talk about other pressing topics (that probably won't make you cry)...which is why today we're broaching the subject of Yardsale Donation Etiquette.

You may or may not know this, but I am sort of a yardsale queen. Not in a tacky, she-needs-to-be-on-Hoarders way, but in the sense that I like going to yardsales, I make a point to do so rather often, and I can usually get some pretty sweet deals. Nothing gives me greater joy (okay, something probably does, but I like to speak in hyperbole) than to have someone compliment my shirt/shoes/decor/jewelry and to be able to respond with "thanks, I found it at a yardsale!"But this is all mostly irrelevant today, because today we're not talking about shopping at yardsales. Today we're going to be discussing the proper etiquette to utilize when donating items to a yardsale. Specifically a church yardsale. Like the one I'm helping organize for this weekend. 

My church (Athens Vineyard, what's up!) actually had a yardsale last month, too. And Matt and I helped plan/organize/run that one, too. And now we're doing it again that means we've spent a good chunk of time over the last month being up to our ears in stuff people donated. And that makes me the resident expert on Yardsale Donation Etiquette. Is there already a book somewhere published about this topic? Because there might need to be. And may as well be me that writes it. So we'll call this my first draft of my soon-to-be bestselling book, mkay? A book that apparently the WHOLE WORLD needs to read, because YALL. People make some BAD CHOICES when it comes to selecting things to donate to a church yardsale!!! So let's jump right in, shall we?

Rule #1: Don't donate crap.
I mean that in every sense of the word. This is a YARD SALE. Not a dumpster. Why on earth would you think someone might want to buy your used food containers with crumbs still in them? Your empty perfume bottles? Your melted-down candles? Your used and well-worn undergarments (INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO VERY LARGE MENS WHITEY TIGHTIES AND SKETCHY LINGERIE!!!!!!!!)?? NO ONE wants those things, so please dispose of them in your own trashcan at home and don't make me do it for you. Also, those tiny soaps and shampoos you collected for free from the Holiday Inn back in 1993? Don't want those either, but thanks.

Rule #2: We will not be having a curtained-off section with a sign that says "18 and older only" with a bouncer checking IDs next to it; therefore, don't donate things that would belong in that section.
OH. MY. GOSH. Do you catch my drift here?? (Note: we received many donations from the community-at-large...not just families in the I will definitely assume these donations did not come from anyone I know...)  Your smut novels with NC-17-rated cover 'artwork'?? I don't want it!! I'm pretty anti-censorship, but for real now. There is no way we can sell that IN A CHURCH YARDSALE!!! Your equally special DVDs? For REAL??!?! Did you THINK before you threw all that in a bag and gave it TO A CHURCH??! Honestly. Just don't. Because then we have to throw it in the trash, and I feel bad about not recycling it and all, but I also can't just throw it in the recycling bin where people also might see it. UGH!

Rule #3: Put a label on it.
On your bag of random metal pieces and connectors-- just jot down on a post-it "Makes a Robot" and then we are a lot more likely to try to sell it. On your sheets-- "Queen Size" will save us a lot of trouble and guesswork. On your lovely crocheted...thing...--"toilet paper cover" would help. Please understand that the volunteers sorting through this mountain of random crap goodies probably do not have all night to spend discerning what your stuff is, and if they can't decide quickly, it will probably go in the trash and be a big waste. So put a label on it.

Rule #4: Nobody wants your personal mementos.
 While your completely-used-up address book is tempting, and I would love to add all of your contacts to my Christmas card, no. Why would you donate that? Ditto goes to your photo albums, calendars, scrapbooks, used up spiral notebooks...just...NO!

Rule #5: Don't donate things that are illegal to possess/sell.
Do you think I'm making things up? Because I'm NOT! I'm really sorry that your stolen 15 mph speed limit sign no longer goes with your decor, but we can't sell that!! We don't even want to have it in our possession!! But what the heck are we supposed to do with it now?!

Rule #6: Make at least a halfhearted attempt to clean things.
Two exhibits from last month's sale: Exhibit A: A cat litter box. The kind with the 'shelter' thing over the pan? I was totally disgusted, but at least the thing was clean. That thing actually sold really quickly. Apparently we priced it to sell. ;) Exhibit B: A hamster cage set thing. Complete with old cedar chips and hamster doodoo. Surprisingly, NO ONE WANTS YOUR OLD HAMSTER POO.

Rule #7: Donate things that are really hilarious.
Find something hilarious in your house? Share the love! This might be some kind of exception to rule #1...but if your crap is FUNNY, then most likely it will be appreciated (even if it's subsequently thrown away) by the yardsale volunteers. We're not only in this for the money, you know. We enjoy the hours spent in the company of our fellow volunteers, laughing hysterically at the random things that turn up in our donation room. 

 This book was a particular favorite from our last sale. Did it sell? Nope. Did it put an endless amount of joy in our hearts as we laughed at the cover and read excerpts out loud? Yes, yes it did. Another favorite was someone's extensive collection of ceramic cat knick-knacks. There must have been 100 cats...cats for your coffee table, cats for the top of your doorframe, cats for your bathroom, CATS FOR EVERYTHING! We could only smile as we imagined those cats gracing someone's was delightful! (Also, I spent some time scouring Pinterest to discern whether Cat Decor might be coming back into style anytime soon...because I could be ALL OVER THAT.) (It's not, that I can tell. Boo.)

Rule #8: Don't donate underwear.
I know we covered this already, but I really cannot overstress the importance of this. REALLY, JUST DON'T. You just have to come to terms with the fact that when your underwear are too worn out/stretched out/blown out for YOU to wear, they're too bad for anyone else to wear, also. Put them in the trash can and walk away. Don't make ME touch them first. UGH! EW! Used underwear!!! Ew!!!!! 

Well, that's all the rules I can think of for now. If you have any others in mind, feel free to leave them in the comments and then I can list you as a contributing author in my book. (Fame!! Fortune!!) And if you're ever about to make a donation and find yourself wondering is this appropriate to donate? then the answer is probably NO, but feel free to shoot me an email anyway and I will let you know. I'm kinda an expert at this thing by now. And I promise to be honest...and only make fun of you a little bit.

Happy Weekend!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If you're in the Athens area, stop by our yardsale tomorrow 8-12 at the church! Although we've already umm... 'edited' the selection quite a bit, there are still some great deals and hilarious items to be had!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

almost famous?

Guess what?? Today's the day!!

My very first guest blog ever is posted over at E, Myself, and I!

Want to know an interesting (and completely un-related to anything) factoid? E and I got married on the EXACT SAME DAY. June 30, 2007. Is that cool or what? Just one of many reasons we're such good blog-buddies.

Anyways. So now it's time for you to head on over to her blog and act all supportive while I pour my heart out. It'll be fun for all, I promise!

Click here to read my Letter to New Moms.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

just wait.

My used-to-be-neighbor/wonderful friend Michelle shared this story and blog (she is friends with this family) with me yesterday. And now, just because I love you, I'm going to share it with you, too. Because I want your world to be rocked. And because I know a lot of hurting people read this blog-- and I want your hearts to be filled with hope. Like mine is right now. And I know the filled-with-hope feeling is...well, let's be honest, it's temporary. And it needs re-kindling almost constantly. So here's today's dose of hope.

When God Says Wait

Grab a hanky and start reading. Don't worry, it isn't long.

This could be my story. Soon.

And PS- let's be praying for Alisa and baby Asa, okay? Because WOW. Just wow.

And PPS- if you go read the Caringbridge page, you will learn an interesting factoid: buying breastmilk from a milk 'bank' (or whatever it's called) costs $6 an OUNCE!!! Wowza. That blew my mind. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

State of the ________

I figured it was high time for a well-rounded update on all facets of my life. You know, since I’m normally so tight-lipped about things. So here we go with a State of the Union (Union=Erika’s Life) Address!

State of the Mother’s Day:
-It’s done with. And I survived quite nicely, thank you very much. I did realize, though, that basically no one loves MD all that much. Almost everyone I talked to had some sort of emotional issues with the day, either from lacking of being a mother or lack of having a mother (via death or just strained relationships). Or girls that are mothers now, but struggled with infertility to get there…even they find that the holiday evokes more painful emotions and memories than happy ones. Almost everyone had some sort of baggage clouding what should have been a joyous occasion…and that is why I propose that we all boycott next year! Think it over.

State of the Toes:
-They need a pedicure. Stat.

State of the Garden:
-It’s doing just fabulous, thanks for asking! I got lots of plants from my in-laws for Mother’s Day (they know me well), so I spent all afternoon digging in the dirt, getting stuff in the ground. A few recent developments:

baby squash!!

baby zucchini!!

random patch I'm loving (hydrangea about to start blooming)

garden slave

 State of the Ovaries:
-I had a checkup today (physical only) and my doctor said she could still feel a cyst(s) on the right ovary. Yippee. I have an ultrasound in a few weeks.

State of the Crafting:

-I did some crafting on Saturday to make MD presents for my mom and MIL (can’t show pics yet, since my mom’s hasn’t arrived at her house yet and there is a microscopic chance she might read this blog and spoil her surprise) and it made me realize how much I miss crafting! The crafting has taken a back seat to gardening for the last few months, which is only natural, but…it felt good getting my paint and glue gun on.

State of the Vacation:
-It’s still on, and drawing ever nearer (but not near enough). I get more excited every single day, if that is even imaginable. The passport agency cashed my check, so…hopefully that is a good sign!

State of the Makeup:
-I am still loving the bareMinerals. I still haven’t watched the DVD, so it’s entirely possibly I’m applying it wrong. But I love it anyway. I have taken to stalking Sephora’s webpage, obsessively reading customer reviews about everything…the minute I strike it rich, I am going to go HOG WILD up in there. Oh also—GREAT STORY, if by “great” you mean “horrible”—a few days after I bought all that bareMinerals stuff at Sephora, my credit card rewards program had a day-long, previously unannounced sale where they gave TWENTY PERCENT cash back on all purchases at—you guessed it!!!—Sephora! Like 2 days after I spent a bundle of money there. WITH THAT CREDIT CARD. Not that I’m bitter or anything. Not me.

State of the Memorial Day Weekend:
-I have a FIVE DAY WEEKEND!!!! Thursday through Monday off! And guess how many plans I have? Zero. I am pretty pumped. I’m trying to schedule a facial (got a gift certificate for one for Christmas) for one of the weekdays…should be a pretty fantastic way to celebrate a mini-break from work.

State of the Reality TV:
-All I’m watching right now is Real Housewives of New Jersey, and GIRLS. Can we all just CALM DOWN for a minute?! Seriously. I’m about over Teresa and all her drama. I’m ready for Beverly Hills to come back and bring some sanity to Bravo…

That's all for now, kids. Get back to your regularly scheduled programming.