Monday, December 31, 2012

year-end analyzing

Alright kids. Hold on to your hats. Erika just did some mad Google Analytics-izing (yeah, like how I just turned that into a verb? It's because I have skillz.) and is about to rock your world with some super interesting (yeah right) tidbits about 2012 on the ol' blog. And also she's about to stop talking in the third person because it's super creepy and seriously, who does that? Yikes.

Between January 1, 2012 and December 30, 2012 (at 10:40 pm), this blog had...
-49, 369 visits
-67,380 pageviews
-an average visit duration of 1 minute and 23 seconds. Don't feel bad, I can't handle me for more than 90 seconds sometimes, too.
-374 visits that lasted for more than 30 minutes. This is what we call "quality time." Kudos to those of you with this kind of stamina.

In terms of "Referrals" (that is, the sites that send traffic my way)...
#1: (7,000+ visits) I believe this includes traffic via Google Reader
#2: Amanda's blog (4,097)
#3: Kelly's Korner (3,750)
#4: Kristina's blog (2,703)
#5: E, Myself, and I (2,016)

4,118 people got here via Googling something. Here's what they Googled...
#1: (not provided) (912 visits) (not fair, how does something get categorized as that?)
#2: mattyerika (412)
#3: money tree (160) (here's why)
#4: something beautiful blog (90)
#5: mattyerika blog (76)

More interestingly, some people got here by Googling...
-cute baby giraffes (9)
-disgusting rats (5)
-pantyhose dance (3)
-beautiful dinosaurs (2)
-bridezilla redneck (2)
-armpit pains (1)
-clear liquid to clean bowels (1)
-clown baby must survive in cold without mother winter is near (1) Seriously, I could not even make that up!!!!!
-homemade sperm (1)
-juicy vaginal scan stories (1) EWWW!!! Seriously?! And then they stuck around and clicked on SIXTEEN PAGES!!!
-ok so what do we do after 50 shades of gray (1) Hahaha

...ok, gotta stop myself. There are still over 500 search terms left to peruse, but I'm calling it quits on that. Too crazy!!

Location-wise, visitors on the blog came from 126 countries, notably...
#1- United States (45,000+ visits)
#2- Canada (853)
#3- Australia (631)
#4- Germany (331)
#5- United Kingdom (298)

Most popular posts/pages, by number of pageviews...
#1- my home page (38,515)
#2- Flowers, Baskets, and Books: My Living Room (2,647) 
#3- the mobile version of my home page (1,843)
#4- my Infertility page (1,633) 
#5- I'm Sexy and I Know It (1,456) 

So there's a fun snapshot of what's been up here for the last 365 days. Good times. Thanks so much to all of you for coming over and hanging out (whether for 90 seconds or 2 hours), for showing so much love and support, and for Googling some truly crazy things to provide me with endless entertainment. 2012 wouldn't have been the same without you. Bring on the New Year!  

Saturday, December 29, 2012

the letter. again.

So I've seen a lot of people doing year-end recaps and Blog Highlights of 2012. I thought briefly about trying to come up with something similar, and who knows-- I might actually try to do it. Later. But the first thing that came to mind when thinking over my own 'big moments in blogging' this year was the Letter to New Moms I guest-posted over on E's blog back in May. I don't know if that's my "best" blog of the year, but it was definitely the one I stressed out over the most! And it was hands-down the one that brought me the most new readers, friends, and email pen-pals. So I figured maybe I'd re-post my letter here, on my own site, just in case you're new here and missed it or...whatever. Just because. So put on your sundress and spray tan and think waaaay back to May, the week before Mother's Day and graduation season, and here we go!

Dear New Moms:
            For some reason, when I first started thinking about writing this “letter,” here’s how I kept wanting to start it: Dear New Moms of the Class of 2012. I don’t know why. But it made me laugh. And every time I mentally started this letter, that’s how it started. Dear New Moms of the Class of 2012. I felt like I was starting some kind of graduation speech or something, ready to impart my words of inspiration and wisdom upon each one of you as you embark on your magical journey of motherhood, joyfully commemorating your first Mother’s Days. But each time I started my speech, it lost momentum pretty quickly. Dear New Moms of the Class of 2012: I don’t know what to tell you, except that I wish I could be one of you. I was supposed to be one of you. Um, yikes. Depressing. No one wants to hear that speech.

So let’s ease into this thing by going back to my graduation metaphor. Sometimes metaphors are easier for me to speak in, because the layer of humor and degree of removal-from-reality helps me to deal with the topic a little better. And at this point in my infertility journey, humor and escaping reality are oftentimes all I have left as coping mechanisms. So let’s start with a metaphor, shall we?

Imagine you’re in high school. You’re an excellent student, and you have big plans for college and getting the heck out of your parents’ house. You and all of your friends are super excited about graduation and college—it’s all you can think and talk about. As graduation day approaches, your emotions are sky high—this is really happening! Graduation! College! My life is about to start! And then the day of graduation arrives. As you get to the arena, cute new dress underneath your cap and gown, your graduation advisor suddenly pulls you aside. “I’m so sorry, honey, but there’s been a mix-up. Some paperwork was misplaced…You aren’t graduating today. You need to give me back your cap and gown. You can go sit in the audience with your parents and cheer for your friends, though.” Umm…whaaa? You quickly protest—but my GPA is a 4.0! I didn’t miss a single day of school this year! I’m the president of the Student Council! but it is all to no avail. You are not graduating today. No one can really explain why, but you’re not. So you trudge up and sit with your parents, watching as your friends celebrate and toss their caps. After the ceremony, you explain to your friends what happened. Don’t worry, they assure you. It will all get figured out soon. You’ll get your diploma and be off to school with us in the fall!

But the weeks and months pass and it doesn’t get figured out. You get pushed from department to department, and no one really knows what happened, but you’re definitely not getting a diploma—looks like you’ll be back in high school come August. Your friends are sad, but depart for college as scheduled. You keep in touch with them frequently, but it’s tough hearing their stories about dorm life and sorority rush while you’re stuck re-taking classes you already aced and fighting with your parents about curfew. You resign yourself to the fact that you’re not going to be going to college this year, but hold out hope that the paperwork will get figured out and you will get to graduate next spring. You go through the motions of another senior year, jealously watching your friends adjust to college life. You take notes on their lives, confident that this information will come in handy next year when you start your freshman year of college.

But graduation comes, and once again, you are denied your diploma. Are you KIDDING ME? you think. Again, there are no good explanations—only that it’s not your time. One teacher even tries to encourage you by reminding you of how grateful you will be when your time DOES come. Are you serious? “My time” was over a YEAR ago! And once again you find yourself embarking on your senior year. Your friends feign interest in your senior year exploits, but are mostly busy planning the parties they host in their cool off-campus apartments, and complaining about how their other roommate never cleans up her bathroom. Well at least you HAVE a roommate and an apartment, you find yourself thinking. I still live with MY PARENTS!!!!! But that sounds petty, so you try to sound concerned. You leave nice comments on their Facebook photos of fun college events, fully aware that you yourself have long since quit making albums—who really cares about your 5th prom?

And this metaphor is getting really long, but here’s the thing: Pretend this scenario NEVER ENDS. It goes on and on, you keep not graduating and having to repeat your senior year, and your friends keep moving on in life. Even as they’re graduating from college, they occasionally try to encourage you that surely this will be your year. But those well-intentioned words fall empty now—really? You think this is my year? Easy for you to say—your graduation and life went exactly as planned, while I’m stuck in some crazy time warp of confusion and broken dreams.

This, dear New Mom Class of 2012, is a taste of what it’s like to live with infertility. In case you were wondering, I was supposed to be a member of the New Mom Class of 2009. And 2010. And 2011. And 2012. And yet here I am, still childless and waiting. Stuck. For God knows how much longer.

So what kind of wise and timely advice could I possibly have for you—you who embody my every hope and dream of the past four years? I could easily give you a list of Things Not to Say to Infertile Women...but you can find those lists anywhere on the internet (like on my own blog. Every day. Ha). I could wax poetic on the Top 10 Reasons I Want to Be a Mom...but really, this blog is quite long enough already. And that would make me cry. So I guess what I really want to say is this:

Be so, so, so, so thankful for what you have. ALL OF IT. The good AND the bad. Know that there are millions of women like me out here, watching you through teary eyes, our broken hearts longing for a chance to experience the sleepless nights, the difficult feedings, and the precious sweet smell of a freshly bathed baby. We would give anything-- and oftentimes, it feels like we already have. We've given all of our money and then some. We've subjected ourselves to the scrutiny of doctors and specialists and social workers, trying to earn the right to become mothers. We've hosted your baby showers and visited you in the hospital, despite feeling like we may crumple up and die from the longing in our hearts. We've prayed countless prayers that seem to have gone unnoticed, while people who have no idea what it feels like to mourn the loss of their dreams try to offer advice about how we should be feeling. So please don't take one single moment for granted. Rejoice in even the annoying parts of motherhood, knowing that the inconveniences are a small price to pay for the priceless gift you have been given. And when you're up all night, feeding that fussy baby, take a minute to drop down on your knees and thank God that you were chosen for this job. Be thankful. Be thankful.

And while you're busy basking in your thankfulness, try not to be offended by our rapidly changing emotions and behaviors. Deep in our hearts, we are happy for you. We love that our friends get to be mothers (often several times over). We're also insanely jealous of you, and sometimes finding the balance of those emotions can be tricky, but we're doing the best we can! Don't hesitate to invite us into your fun little baby-centric world, because sometimes, depending on the balance of hormones and the phase of the moon, we just may be all about it. We may be able to engage in hours of happy new-mom talk, analyzing sleep cycles and debating the merits of different brands of diapers. And we probably would love to hold your baby (and there's about a 95% chance we won't try to kidnap him). But try not to be offended on the days when we can't. Because sometimes we can't. And it doesn't mean we don't love you or your baby, it just means we can't do it. Love us anyway. And think of something non-baby to change the topic to (suggestions: make up! Hunger Games! ridiculous things you saw online!) real quick-like. 

Happy Mother's Day, New Mom Class of 2012. I hope that on Sunday you felt loved and appreciated...but even more than that, I pray that your heart is overwhelmed with thankfulness for the gift you have been given. Every day.

And while we're on the topic of thankfulness-- thanks for putting up with me (and my fellow fertility-challenged friends). I know we're a crazy lot, but with a little luck, one day we'll break out of this awful season of life and be sitting right alongside you, comparing stretch marks and teething gels. For our sake and yours-- pray that the day comes quickly.


Friday, December 28, 2012

The Official Les Mis (& Christmas) Review

So apparently Christmas Week is a slow time for the entire blogosphere. I mean, what is wrong with people? What're you doing, spending time with your families instead of trolling blogs and social media all day long? Disgraceful. Let's all get better at that starting today, k?

Anyways. So the balance of Christmas was fantastic. As anticipated, we saw Les Mis at 11:30 Christmas morning.

Amazing. Unbelievable. So beautiful. So worth the wait. Truly hard for me to process my thoughts and emotions about the whole thing, but I'll try.

It was very true to the musical (as opposed to the book), which was exactly what I'd expected. I think some people were surprised (???) that the entire thing was in song. Ummm...this is not surprising. Please do your research, thanks. I was blown away by the talent of the actors/actresses. That all of the musical numbers were live takes with no dubbing over-- unbelievable. The costumes and makeup were insane. I love that they didn't try to 'pretty' it up-- it wasn't pretty, yall. Thanks for not trying to make it so.

What I found most personally surprising was the depth they were able to give the Students of the ABC (which is what they're referred to in the book-- if you're only fluent in the stage play/movie, that would be Marius & Company). I was awed by the depth of emotion, loyalty,  passion, and youthful naivety in Red and Black. It really made the action in Act II more engaging since you felt like you knew the boys. Great stuff there.

My only complaint-- and this is true of both the stage play and the new movie-- is they make it seem like Cosette and Marius fall madly in love at literal first glance. It's a bit much to buy, really-- all that from one glance in the street? Srsly? The writers/directors leave out about 500 pages of back story, which is really a tragedy, although I guess if they didn't we'd still be in the theater (which would be totally fine by me, actually). Anyway. I understand how some people are like "not buying the Marious/Cosette love story." To that I say: read the book. But being Team Eponine is still a totally valid point.

Anyway. In conclusion, the new movie is totally amazing and there will be much weeping and gnashing of teeth if they don't win every single Oscar this year.

After the Les Mis experience, we enjoyed a relaxing Christmas with my family and I actually got to spend time with my WHOLE FAMILY including siblings and siblings-in-law! Miraculous and fun, I tell ya. There were presents and food and laughter and basically a two-hour support group session about surviving door-to-door vacuum salespeople-- do you know that of the three siblings, I am the only one to NOT give in to high pressure vacuum sales? The only one not making payments on an overhyped vacuum??!! I tell you, I blame my parents (also owners of said million-dollar vacuum) for this genetic weakness. Thank God for Matt and his ability to say NO, NO, A MILLION TIMES HELL NO or there would be three siblings making vacuum payments. Good God.

On our last day in Augusta, we managed to squeeze in a few hours with our favorite resident Floridians, James and Kristina (and Adoration and Asa).

Asa is the sweetest, happiest little chunk!! Matt and I enjoyed hogging him the entire afternoon.

My bestie and I. One day we are going to be neighbors again (and most likely, in the very far off future, nursing home roommates. Let's just be honest.) and our lives will be complete. I am very thankful that they are moving north to Jacksonville so that they are merely 6 hours away from us instead of twelve billion.

Then we came back home and it's been a whirlwind of unpacking, finding new homes for new things, and training at the New Job. I am still technically employed by the Old Job as well, but since we're out for Christmas Break I'm kind of doubling up. I'll have to go back for the first week of school, which will definitely be hard and sad, but I am already loving my New Job. Today I have a day there to clean out, organize, and personalize my new office and I am super excited about that!! Just wait until you see one of the amazing pieces of technology I will be inheriting (sure to blow up your Instagram/Twitter later this morning, so be on the lookout)...

Anyway. Speaking of New Job, I suppose I should go get dressed. Probably don't want to scare them away by showing up in my pajamas just yet, right? So...yes. Bye!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

the christmas pirates

Merry Christmas from your favorite Christmas pirates!

We decided to start a new tradition this year and wear matching PJs. Don't worry, we've had those t-shirts since before we were married, so it didn't involve too much extra work. But don't we look cute?

So far we've managed to drink coffee and open our stockings. Ambitious, truly. Guess where we're going at 11:30? 

LES MIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And if you're seeing it today too-- remember, I loved it first.

A final blurry picture just so that you know I've worn something other than pirate PJs this week. This was last night before the Christmas Eve service at church.

I hope you are happy and well, surrounded by family and/or those you love. I'm so thankful for the Love that's come to meet us, and pray that His joy and hope surround you today and always. 

Much love,

Sunday, December 23, 2012

friday was a great day

Yeah yeah yeah, I know it's Sunday night now and Friday was like so long ago, but it was a truly great day and I think you should know why.

I GOT A NEW JOB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Which is pretty dang exciting when you've been looking for a job as long as I have. Nothing against my current job-- it's just that it's a grant-funded position and the grant is ending. Which means my job is too. Which means that if I would like to continue paying the mortgage, eating, etc., I needed to find a new job. Which is not actually all that easy in the city I live in. But anyway.

I GOT A NEW JOB!!!!!!!!!

And not just any old job-- because at this late date, I seriously am in "settle" mode. I would have taken just about anything. But this is a job I am really really super insanely excited about. A job that I think I am going to love. A job in the private sector!!! A job in a building that shares parking lots with Matt's job, meaning our carpooling is officially going to the next level!!

I GOT A NEW JOB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

To say I have been on cloud nine since then would be understating it. I am SO HAPPY to have something finally (FINALLY!!!) go "right" in my life. To get a job that will allow me to use my personal strengths (organization! planning! Excel spreadsheets! creativity!) AND...let's face me accordingly? I am about to die of happiness.

So Friday was a great day. After I left work, I decided to just pop by Target and see if there were any cute clothes on sale, because obviously I need new clothes for a new job. Somehow I forgot that Friday was the Friday before Christmas and there is no such thing as just 'popping by' Target on such a day as that. Oops. So fifteen hours and eleven broken limbs later (just kidding, it wasn't really that bad...) I made it to the dressing room with two pair of pants and one dress and ALL OF THEM FIT!!! I kid you not. Has this ever in the history of mankind happened? I guessed the right sizes the FIRST TIME? And all three things were on sale! And then later Friday night my friend Catherine gave me this aammmmaaaaazing birthday present that was a collaborative effort between lots of family and friends-- when I have ready access to my scanner, I'm going to share the gift in great detail. You're going to love it. Slash think I'm the weirdest person ever.

I kid you not. My thirties are off to an amazing start. 

And now we're back in my hometown visiting my family for awhile. It's been wonderful hanging out, excitedly discussing the new job (I promise I'll give more details later, since I'm sure you're on the edge of your seat...), eating, watching football, and catching up with friends and family. And I've been working on using my woodburner on some new ornaments! Good times.

Anyway. Hope Christmas Eve finds you all well and happy and spending time with those you love!

PS. I got a new job!!!!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

good things

Hey, long lost people. Sorry for disappearing. It's the week before Christmas, did you know that? Right,'s busy. But one should never be too busy to update the world about their super exciting life, right? Right! So!

Remember way back last Wednesday when it was my birthday? Wanna see some of my rad presents?

LOOK WHO GOT A CEILING FAN DUSTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Relatedly-- who knew it would come in such a tiny box?? Rest assured, though, the poles are all there and fit together just right to reach my high high fans. Miraculous, I tell you.

Can you tell how excited I was? Do you like my amazing fashion sense? Don't answer that second one.

So you can only imagine how SUPEREXCITEDWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!! I was when I got...
A SECOND ONE!! Haha, that's right. You make enough drama and noise, people start giving you want you're whining for. (Note: Hopefully this same principle applies with babies.) (In which case we'll be having hundred-tuplets. Sweet.) 

Sadly, I couldn't justify keeping TWO of those puppies, so I returned one. But just having two around the house for a few days filled my heart with joy, believe me. Also, so has the subsequent actual cleaning of the fans.

I also got (FINALLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) the long-coveted Naked Palette!!

True story: I hit snooze approximately half as many times now because I'm excited to get up and play with my makeup. Let's call that one giant leap for mankind.

Speaking of going ga-ga for makeup...anyone else get that email from Sephora today informing them about free 2-day shipping on ALL orders (no minimum purchase) today only? And then rush to the site, fill a shopping cart, and try to check out...only to find the site crashing because of all the other people just like yourself doing the same thing all at once? No, just me? Well obviously it wasn't just me because if it was just me the server wouldn't be crashing. At any rate, after waiting diligently, I was able to make my purchase. Good things come to those who wait. Good things like makeup. And ceiling fan dusters. And...well, hopefully.

Anyway. I actually do have about a million things to go do, so I'm gonna have to cut this party short. Night!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

30/30: the final review

Well, I've been 30 for a good half-a-week now, so I guess it's about time to give the ol' 30 (Days) Before 30 bucket list one final review. 

In general, though, despite the fact that I did not complete everything on the list, I'd like to call the idea of the list a huge success. It was a good opportunity to focus on positive (however meaningless or silly) goals and things to do instead of counting down the weeks and days until the other anniversary that my birthday represents: number of years trying to conceive. This marked the completion of our fourth year, by the way. In case you'd lost track. We're now on YEAR FIVE of operation: get a freakin baby. But having a stupid list of goals seriously kept me distracted, and for that I am super thankful. Plus it gave me reasons to do some really silly stuff!

So I did a check-in post a few weeks ago with details about what I'd completed up to that point. I'm not going to re-post all those same pictures/stories here, so if you're just dying to hear/see how a particular thing that I claim to have completed went, you'll just have to click back to this post.

Like last time-- if it's in bold, that means I did it. If not...well, I'll try to give you some sorry excuses or something about why I couldn't/didn't do it in italics. Wah wah, I know.

1. Play video poker at the local gas station. [This is all Matt. He is begging me to list this. Evidently he really wants to do this, so that's why he's forcing me to put it on my list. Don't worry, I'll make him fund it!] So I never did this. Probably because it wasn't my idea in the first place and I didn't really care about it at all. Sorry Matt!

2. Eat a turkey sandwich with cranberry sauce on it.

3. Cook/bake a new recipe.

4. Obtain clean fan blades in the master bedroom and living room. [Note that I said "obtain." This means I don't necessarily have to be the one doing this dreadful, most terrible chore. I can beg/bribe someone else and it totally counts!]

5. Eat at (from?) a food truck.

6. Shoot Matt's bow and arrow in the backyard. Oh yes I did!! This was a fun one to check off, and my roomie Cat did not miss the opportunity for a photo shoot:

I think it is safe to say that Katniss Everdeen won't find much competition in me, and I also don't think I'll be looking to live off the spoils of my hunting anytime soon, but it was a fun way to spend the afternoon! Plus, I'm pretty sure our neighbors were majorly intimidated (or at least entertained), so...bonus.

7. De-lurk myself on at least 3 blogs.

8. Choose and decorate an amazing Christmas tree.

9. Roast marshmallows in the backyard. Somehow, I failed to do this. Terrible.

10. Not sign this petition, so thoughtfully brought to my attention by one of my most ...umm... special... Facebook "friends." It's going to be really tough, since the thought of Georgia withdrawing from the United States to create its own new government is SUCH AN AWESOME IDEA, but I'm sure I can manage...

11. Brinner.

12. Get a haircut.

13. Take my vitamins every day. Major fail. I used to to do this so religiously, but four years of pointlessly taking prenatal vitamins every day later, I sorta lost my passion for it. Meh.

14. Actually take the bag of "give to Goodwill" clothes to Goodwill. Haha, NOPE. Still hanging on the back of the bedroom door!

15. Get to 150 followers. Come on, yall...surely 12 of you lurkers can tolerate me enough to jump on board, right? I believe that on 12/12/12 I was up to 147. Close, but no cigar!

16. Finish watching seasons 1 & 2 of Modern Family. Not even kinda. We just never had enough free time to even attempt this!

17. Make a vlog. [Suggested by Amanda. Now I will need further suggestions as to what this vlog should be about. Go!] Done and DONE. Vlog 1 and Vlog 2 were at least amusing to me, if not the rest of the world!

18. Rate 150 books on Goodreads. [I've currently rated 125.] Nope. As of 12/12/12 I was at 139. Close again, but...not quite.

19. Take pictures with my mom and dad.

20. Take a ridiculously long bubble bath.

21. Walk on the highest incline on the treadmill at a 3.5 pace for 5 minutes.

22. Memorize Psalm 30:1-5. Totally waited too long to start this one. I did memorize verse 1, though, so that counts as 20%, right?

23. Make a secret Pinterest board. [I'm totally intrigued by this new capability, although I have no idea what to make a secret board about. Suggestions are welcome! ]

24. Diagram a sentence. [Random, yes. But I feel like it's a lost art. At least it's lost to me. And I'm concerned I've maybe forgotten how. So I should re-learn before I'm too old, right?] How did I not do this??! Someone should have been assigned to GIVE me the sentence to diagram, as well as "grade" it when I finished. This is the sort of goal that requires accountability, I suppose...

25. Have 9 consecutive no-work days. [Hahaha, thank you Thanksgiving Break!! Done and DONE!]

26. Make a new Christmas craft.

27. Play piano for 30 minutes. I think I played piano for 0 minutes, actually.

28. Make out with a tall, dark, and handsome bearded man. [My husband-whaaaat??!] [PS. Guess who suggested this one?]

29. Learn a new way to tie a scarf.

30. Beat Matt at a game of Jav. [If I've never described Jav before here, I'll be sure to do so at some point. Possibly.] Absolutely did it AND vlogged it. Consider Goal #30 to be DOMINATED.

So I ended up completing 20 of the 30 goals. 66%? That's like a failing grade, but for some reason I still want to call this project a success. I mean, that's 20 more things than I would have done without a list, right? 

Off to enjoy the rest of this lazy, rainy Sunday...happy last-week-before-Christmas!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

new decor for my door

Admit it: you liked that rhyme, huh? Don't play like you don't. Everyone likes rhyme.

First-- thanks for your prayers and well-wishes for Matt's surgery yesterday. Surgery went "exactly according to plan," according to Dr. W, and recovery is following the expected trajectory as well. That means I've spent 90% of my weekend fetching ice packs and playing Surgery Slave, but I suppose it's a small price to pay. Not to mention, Matt did the same for me (for a much longer period of time) back in August, so...payback and all that, I guess.

Anyway. All of this being chained to the house over the weekend has given me plenty of time to work on a few Christmas crafts I've been meaning to do! May I introduce you to the fruit of my labor, my Snazzy New Door Decor?

Pretty swanky, right?? And lucky for YOU (and because I seriously had nothing better to do all day than craft and take overly detailed pictures of myself doing it and then upload and edit them all...), I made a step-by-step tutorial so that you can make your very own!! I know. It's almost Christmas. Who has time for this nonsense now? Unless you're waiting on your husband to recover from surgery, that is. Well...maybe you don't do it now. BUT-- maybe in a few weeks, when all the Christmas decorations are 50-75% off, you pick up a few extra balls and rolls of ribbon and THEN you're all set to make this NEXT year, right?! See...planning ahead. It's a beautiful thing. In other words, "pin now, do later." Or do it now. Whatever floats your boat.

So here we go. 

First of all, I was inspired by this pin I found on Pinterest:

Unfortunately, the pin doesn't go anywhere. As in, it's just a webpage, no tutorial, no nothin'. Who does this? This isn't the point of Pinterest, people! It should be a PAGE! But anyway. Luckily, I'm not deterred by a craft with no tutorial. I'll figure it out myself, dangit.

Step 1: Find a frame. You're gonna spray paint it anyway, so don't be too particular here. Pick up something at Goodwill or a yard sale. You're gonna remove the glass, too, so you don't even have to worry about that. I found my frame in my mother-in-law's basement. See? Free ninety-nine-- the price was exactly right. (Note: she gave me permission to take it. I'm not a robber, people.)

So get your frame, take out the backing, glass, mat, and everything else that isn't necessary. Lay it out on some old newspaper in the backyard. Or the garage. Or whatever well-ventilated space suits your personal spray painting standards.

Bonus points if your newspaper is more than two years old. I'm not sure how, but I feel certain that using an old newspaper will make this craft more successful. Trust me on this.

Step 2: Spray paint to your heart's content. Make sure you get all sides and angles evenly coated! I actually did two coats (with about 20 minutes of dry time in between). 

Not pictured: About 8 unintelligent little gnat-type bugs that decided to land on my freshly painted frame. Seriously, bugs? In December? This whole wide world to explore, and you want to die a toxic drowning death by spray paint? Sheesh. Naturally, if you should encounter similar circumstances, I would recommend picking out the bug carcasses and hitting the marred area with an extra shot of paint. I would not judge you, though, if you chose to just let the bug rest in peace and paint over him. I mean, it's a textured frame. No one's gonna notice a little...extra.

So while your frame is drying, you can head back inside to work on the rest of the project.

Step 3: Collect your ribbon and some fun ornament balls.

Match up your ribbons and ornaments. I used a variety of ribbons and balls, cause I'm not so much into the matchy-matchy. So pair up your ribbons and balls to your liking.

Step 4: Attach the ribbons to the ornaments. I just laced them through the little hook thing, pulled it through about an inch, and used a dab of hot glue to make it stay. 

Step 5: Arrange your ribboned ornaments into a pleasing "bouquet." I did this by holding them up in air with my hand so that I could adjust the length of the ribbons to get them staggered the way I wanted. 

To me, the next part was the trickiest. Once I had the ornaments arranged the way I liked them, I had to figure out how to get them to STAY that way. I ended up carefully laying the whole thing down with the ribbons 'stacked' in the order/width I wanted them on the top. I thought about just tying a knot, but decided that then they might not fall in the right order (I wanted certain ones in the front, etc.) this is what I came up with.

Then I went through and hot-glued each ribbon to the one in front of it. Does that make sense? Unfortunately, I'm not talented enough to hold ribbon, use a hot glue gun, AND take photos with a dSLR camera at the same time, or I'd show you exactly what I a few 'after' pictures will have to do. This is basically my stack of ribbons, each hot glued to the one beneath it. 

Step 6: Make a bow out of wide ribbon. You may notice I had that sparkly green ribbon in two widths. Yeah. I'm fancy like that. However, my bow-making skills leave much to be desired...especially since this ribbon only has one 'right' side. You know, so when I tie the bow, one of the loops is wrong-side-out? Tricky. There was a lot of twisting and hot gluing involved here, folks. Try not to look at it too closely, it's a little sketch up close. Ha.

Okay so apparently I failed to photograph a lot of steps here. Oops. So make your bow. Set it aside.

Step 7: After your frame is dry, get your bouquet of ornaments and hot glue the bundle of ribbons to the back of the frame. Cut off any excess ribbon that sticks up over the top of the frame (I had a lot). Then get your bow and glue it top front and center.

Step 8: Hang it on your door on a regular wreath-holder (or a nail would probably work too, or whatever else you use to hang things on your door). Wait for the neighbors to drive by and jealously stare at your craftiness.

My frame still had the wire hanger attached to the back, which you can see got painted blue with the rest of it. That was probably a mistake-- it would be way less obvious if it were still black or brass. Oops. So if you're leaving the wire hanger on yours, maybe tape that thing up at the beginning.

All in all, I am super happy with how it turned out! I used colors that I normally don't decorate with, but since it's on the front doesn't really matter that it doesn't 'match' the rest of the house, right? I just think it's really fun and whimsical!

There you have it, folks. Think you can handle it? I'd love to see someone make one using different fun colors...I'd actually love to have one that was UGA frame, red/white/black ribbons and ornaments? Wouldn't that be cute? Maybe next time.

Oh, and once I had all my materials, this seriously only took an hour or hour and a half to complete, including dry time for the paint. Easy peasy. Have fun!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas Decor 2012

Hooray-- it's Christmas Home Tour time again! If you're visiting from Kelly's Korner-- welcome! 

I love Christmas, I love decorating, I love I'm gonna try to not majorly overkill with the pictures and commentary here, but no promises.

I feel like I say this every time I do some sort of 'home tour,' but my living room is kind of long and narrow and awkward to photograph. And there's no good "Christmas Tree Spot," which I am definitely going to remedy if we ever move. So the tree just kind of...chills out and blocks the path. Whatever. It's fine...I just wanted to warn you first.

So just inside the front door, behind the couch, we have the piano area under invasion by the tree. 

I didn't put quite as much Christmas decor on the piano this year as I did last year...a lot of the decorations that are normally on the mantel (portrait of Lola, "it is well" sign) got relocated here for the season. It's fun seeing your 'old' stuff in new places!

Backing up from the couch a bit, you can see the tree, door/wreath, and bookcase with my nativity on top.

Greetings, wise men and cow.

One of my ten thousand yarn wreaths. But I like this one rather a lot.

And if you happened to be 3 inches tall and sitting on the coffee table, this would be your view towards the front of the house...

The view from the kitchen archway:

I did a post last week all about my Christmas mantel, so I'll spare you from repeat pictures and details here! 

This is the view from the front door.

We have our photo cards pinned to ribbon on the door to our bedroom. I love seeing all the pretty pictures every time I walk by!

What, you don't fancy up your favorite stack of young adult novels on an end table and call it decor?? Don't judge...

And finally, a little sample of the ornaments on the tree. My tree is a mish-mash-- no theme, other than "stuff I like." There are store-bought ornaments, crafted-by-me ornaments, crafted-by-other-crafty-people ornaments, saved-from-when-I-was-a-baby discrimination here! As long as everything's evenly dispersed, we're good. Here are a few of my favorites:
Look, it's the angel version of me! Look, it's Baby Erika!! Look, my sister-in-law made me a Scrabble ornament for my birthday!!

Well that's all the decor I'll torture you with today. If you're jonesing for more, feel free to check out my home tour from last Christmas!

And if you're a regular around here, then you may recall that Matt's surgery is today (Friday). It's scheduled to start at 12:30 and we'd appreciate your prayers! If all goes well, we should head into 2013 with renewed hope and excitement for good things and, no pressure, doctors, but today's sorta a big day for us. Don't screw this up!

PS. Thanks for all the birthday love Wednesday!! It was a fabulous day-- we offset the bummer-ness of pre-op by hitting up TWO high-quality Atlanta malls, a Nordstrom Rack (twice), and some delicious Indian food. And I bought an obscene amount of Urban Decay makeup. And I have no regrets. Anyway, 30 is off to a great start!

PPS. During pre-op the nurse wrote/spoke the phrase "scrotal exploration" a few times and I DIED laughing. And also maybe snorted. I'm sorry. I might be 30, but I will never be old or mature or boring enough to not crack up at that phrase. Holy crap.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

the 12/12/12

Well, my long-awaited birthday has finally arrived! Thirty years old on 12/12/12. Magical, I tell ya.

Here I am on my first 12/12. The one that occurred in 1982. And look-- I was 12 hours old! Even cooler. I bet my dad planned it like that. I bet he'd already calculated that I'd be turning 30 on 12/12/12, too. He's nerdy like that.

I guess I was pretty adorable. And was already working on my Dr. Evil pinky finger move. I've always been ambitious like that.

Anyway. Since you asked-- yes, I do have riveting plans for the big day.  A half day of work, then a trip to Atlanta for Matt's pre-op appointment. An appointment at which I have promised Matt I am going to embarrass the both of us by asking/reminding the doctor several times to please not accidentally cut Matt's man-parts off during surgery. I mean, if you can't say stupid stuff like that on your 30th birthday on 12/12/12, when can you? Exactly.

So...hope you have an enjoyable day, and even if you're not turning 30 today, I hope you do something fun at 12:12 pm, because...I mean, that's just awesome no matter what.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

don't hate, michigan.

I saw this headline on Yahoo a few minutes ago. 

Except I didn't see "unions." I saw "unicorns."

And then I spent about 3 minutes wondering why Michigan is so full of unicorn-haters...why would they do such a thing?

And then I reread it and it all became clear. Unions. Oh. Boring.

On my last day of 29-hood, my eyes started failing. And apparently my mind, too, because who seriously takes that long to realize that "Michigan passes law limiting unicorns" doesn't even kinda make sense? 

Oy vey.

Monday, December 10, 2012

two birds, one stone

Well it's Monday again, isn't it. The last Monday of my twenties, to be exact. Not that I'm counting or anything. What I am counting is the number of items on my 30/30 list that still remain to be done. Time is running out! Desire to play video poker and the piano is running low! How will I ever get it all done??!

Anyway, as I mentioned last week, Matt and I killed two birds with one stone by making a vlog about JAV, the game we invented a few months ago. (Side note: You have no idea how much I love the expression "killed two birds with one stone." For multiple reasons. 1) I hate birds. 2) My maiden name is Stone. 3) The phrase implies efficiency, something I'm rather fond of. See how awesome that phrase is now?) So since most of you seemed to be appropriately amused by our car interview videos and the outtakes of me figuring out how to act in front of a camera (I never really did figure it out), I suppose I can share the "real" video with you now.

So today shall henceforth and forevermore be known as The Day You Learned How To Play JAV. Consider yourself lucky.

The video's about 2 and a half minutes long. I dunno...sometimes I just like to know what kind of time commitment I'm looking at before I watch a video. So just in case you're that way, you know.

Now, wasn't that educational??



Then we played our game of JAV. As you recall, my actual 30/30 goal was "Beat Matt at a game of JAV." If you're wondering whether I accomplished that goal, you may want to take a peak at this riveting post-JAV interview (25 seconds).

And thus concludes the vlog sharing for the day. And most likely the near future. I think we can all agree I should stick with writing and not so much things that involve being in front of or behind a camera. So sad, though. All those aspirations of Real Housewives fame....dashed. What a bummer.