Monday, March 31, 2014

weather, movies, and hilarious candy.

Matt's been married to me for almost seven years, so it's safe to say he knows me pretty well by now. And he definitely knows that one of the first things I do every morning before I get out of bed is check the weather on my phone. A few minutes later, as he's selecting his clothing for the day, he'll usually ask for the day's forecast, which I always know. This morning he called to me from the closet: Weather Wifey, what's it going to be like today?? My new name made me laugh, but it's pretty accurate. So anyways. All that to say...if you think I talk about the weather a lot's because I'm the Weather Wifey and that's all there is to it. (And the answer is 73 and sunny, WOOOOO!!!!)

Another thing Matt knows about me is that I don't watch a lot of movies. Or more accurately, I don't stay awake through a lot of movies. I'm not sure what the deal is. I can (and do) watch 10 consecutive episodes of an hour-long show without a problem. But asking me to commit to a single 100 minute movie? It's just too much. I can't make it. Therefore I'm pretty sure I made a new personal record on Saturday: I watched (and stayed awake through the entirety of) THREE MOVIES! 

I started with a matinee showing of Divergent.

I loved it!! To be honest, it's been 7 months since I read the book, so my memories of all the little book details that they may or may not have included/messed up in the's all hazy. Therefore I was free to just enjoy the movie for what it was. And it was great! Matt hasn't read the books (yet!), but he also enjoyed the movie. So...A+ from me. And whoever played Four...he gets an A++. Maybe A+++.

On Saturday night Matt left me home alone to go play poker with some guys. I'd planned to do exciting things like balance the checkbook and pay bills. Then at the last minute I decided to not be the most boring person on earth and to watch a movie on Netflix instead. After consulting more than a few online 'what should I watch on Netflix?' guides, I decided on Blue Valentine.

Source had Ryan Gosling and Jen Lindley Michelle Williams and I liked the font on the cover. It says "A Love Story." Why I selected this movie is pretty self-explanatory, I think. However, let me be the first to tell you: COVERS LIE. This was a horribly depressing movie with absolutely no redeeming factors. Actually, there was one redeeming factor: Ryan Gosling managed to look pretty hideous the entire movie. That's an impressive feat and provides hope for the rest of the human race that are not as naturally beautiful as Ryan. But not worth suffering through two hours of a sad movie. I stuck out the whole thing hoping that the ending would be redeeming. And (spoiler!!) it wasn't, so then I was like what have I done with my night?? I HAVE TO REDEEM THIS TERRIBLE MOVIE EXPERIENCE!!

I headed back to the 'what should I watch on Netflix?' websites and saw this movie heartily recommended several times. It seemed lighthearted, which is precisely what I needed after that train wreck of a 'love story.'
This one I actually really enjoyed. For one thing, it had Nick from New Girl. I'm sure he had a different name in the movie, but Nick from New Girl is who he will always be to me. The weird thing is that on the movie cover above, he has no beard. But he has this big giant bushy beard throughout the entire movie. So...weird? Anyway. Besides featuring Nick from New Girls's beard, the movie was also very quirky and likeable. I feel like they REALLY should have picked a better title...'Drinking Buddies' makes it seem like it's going to be in the same genre as Bridesmaids or The Hangover, which it most definitely is not. This is more 'film fest' and less...that. Anyway. This movie made me smile (and also squirm) and was way better than Blue Valentine, so it was a much better note to end my night of slothing alone on.

Oh, I also failed miserably as a dog parent on Saturday. I always said that my kids (furry or not) would be good (healthy) eaters. Lola's out to prove me wrong.

 She acted really excited about the opportunity to eat this delicious sugar snap pea. She ran out of the kitchen all gleeful-like. And then 10 minutes later, what does my bare foot step on? THIS. Ick. Anyways, apparently she's not really into eating her veggies. I have failed. Boo.

Yesterday was a super busy and exhausting day. I co-hosted a wedding shower for some friends. It went really well and turned out beautifully, but it was a LONG day! One of my favorite things was introducing innocent young children to the glory of Pop Rocks. The couple of honor are huge rock climbers- he actually proposed to her while they were rock climbing (and they're the ones that took Matt and I rock climbing a few months ago). The hostesses and I came up with this amazingly cheesy idea for little party favors- Pop Rocks accompanied by a sign that said 'Brian POPped the question on the ROCKS and she said yes!' or something. I don't know, it was so cheesy I've tried to forget it. But anyway- POP ROCKS, right? Most amazing candy ever. People were really excited about it. But the funniest was watching the little ones, two and four year olds, experience Pop Rocks for the first time. Their faces!!! It was hilarrrrrious. Some of them loved it. Some of them clearly thought we were trying to kill them. So there's your parenting tip for the day. Get some Pop Rocks. It'll probably be the only candy ever that you'll actually find yourself begging your kid to try so that you can laugh at their reaction.

Friday, March 28, 2014

friday mash-up

IT'S FRIDAY!!! FINALLY. At long sweet last. I can't string together any coherent thoughts, so...a list will do.

1. It's raining now, but yesterday afternoon I called an audible and cancelled our standing Thursday afternoon gym date in favor of going home and planting our zinnia seeds. It's supposed to rain all of today and most of Saturday, and I'm just REALLY REALLY READY to have those things in the ground, so a Thursday afternoon planting it was. Now I just need it to not freeze for the rest of the spring. If any of you can call in any favors with the weather, I'd appreciate it. 

2. We have NO PLANS TOMORROW!! That is my favorite kind of Saturday on earth. (Scratch that, my MOST FAVORITE kind of Saturday would really be one spent on a beach in I guess this is my second favorite kind.) We want to see a movie, but we have a dilemma. American Hustle just got to our local cheapie theater. I really want to see that. But we haven't seen Divergent yet...and clearly, I want to see that, too. Obviously Divergent is at the nice (expensive) theater, but I have a gift card, so it'd be free. So there's really no financial incentive to stick to the cheap seats...just a really tough decision. Feel free to weigh in.

3. I bought this candle at Target last Friday.

Based on the unbelievably amazing scent that I couldn't stop inhaling the entire car ride home, I declared it early on to be the 'BEST CANDLE EVER.' Shocking that I would make such a bold declaration about anything. Ha. Anyway, I still stand by that as long as we're only talking about sniffing it in its unburned state. However, I was sad to discover that once it's actually know, as candles wasn't nearly as strongly scented. I'm used to a candle that can sit in the living room and fill up our whole (not terribly large) house with its scent. Bath and Body Works candles do it. Yankee candles do it. This guy...doesn't. Sad face. I mean, it still smells super good burning, but you can only smell it within like a 10 foot radius. 

Yesterday I theorized that maybe if I brought it to a smaller, lower-ceilinged, more enclosed place, maybe it would permeate the air a little better. So I brought it to my office at work.

BINGO. Freaking amazing. Now I feel like I'm working in a spa. I'm generously letting my co-workers come in and inhale my air for free this week. Next week, once they're hooked, I'm going to start charging. CHA-CHING! But for real. You don't get to go to the aromatherapy spa for free just cause you work with me, people.

4. Please weigh in on this hypothetical situation.

Person A (who doesn't currently have a computer or phone at hand): I wonder ______.
Person B (holding a laptop): I don't know...I'll Google it!
Person A: Oh, great! Thanks!
Person B: *typing* *click click click*
Person A: *peeks a look at the screen and is horrified to see THIS*

Person A: Whaaa?? WHHHYYY?? Did you go there ON PURPOSE to look something up??
Person B: Oh, what? Yeah, of course. Why, what's wrong?
Person A: DO YOU LIVE IN THE 1990s?? Do you have a pet Tamagotchi too?? Do you know know that the word 'Google' actually MEANS SOMETHING and is not just a synonym for 'search'?? Even though, I mean, it is a synonym...BUT YOU CAN'T USE IT IF YOU'RE NOT GOING TO USE IT!!!!
Person B: *doesn't get what the problem is*
Person A: *continues mocking Person A for the next 100 years*

In your opinion, who is in the right here? Should Person B change their ways and use a non-embarrassing search engine? Can Person A ever trust Person B again? Asking for a friend...

Thursday, March 27, 2014

you ask, I answer.

I almost thought that I wasn't going to blog today (again?! What is happening to me?!)...but then I remembered the slowly-shrinking Q&A list! Unfortunately, most of the questions that are left are there because a) they require digging up lots of pictures at home, which I never seem to get around to, or b) I don't know the answers yet (take a wild guess which ones that applies to!), or...I don't know. I just don't feel like answering them. Ha. But! I have an hour to kill, so let's see what I can accomplish.

The Travelling Trio asked:

If I were to visit where you live, what is the one thing I must see? Sometimes I don't think we play tourists in our own town often enough.

Well, it might be cliche, but if you were to come to Athens and you did not go spend some time exploring the University of Georgia campus (on foot) wasted your trip. I could make a few exceptions: like, if you attended another large, ancient Southern university (Auburn, Alabama, etc.), then maybe you could skip out because there are probably a lot of similarities between our campuses. But even then-- really, you should at least drive by. I spent four years as a student on campus and have lived in (or near) Athens ever since (almost 10 years!) and I still love love love walking around campus. Matt and I walk around North Campus several times a week during our lunch break. It's just gorgeous. The architecture, the landscaping, the quintessential collegeyness (surely that's a word...) is perfection. So if you ever make it to Athens...a foot tour of UGA most definitely needs to be on your to-do list.


Nikki asked:

What ONE grammatical error offends you the most (you must pick ONE)?

Obviously it's really hard to narrow it down, but when FORCED like this, I think I'll have to go with the disgusting attempt to use apostrophes to do something that THEY NEVER DO: make things plural. This is a tiny sub-issue of the much larger Apostrophe Misuse Epidemic that I'm slowly raising up an army to fight...but I think this one irks me the most because of its blatant ALWAYS WRONGNESS. Remember in November how I even made a graphic to help spread the message? Some people still haven't gotten it. Ugh.

My November rant mostly focused on misusing the apostrophe to try and pluralize last names (for Christmas cards). Obviously that is a huge pet peeve of mine. But it's merely a symptom of a worse problem: WHY ARE YOU EVER EVER EVER USING AN APOSTROPHE TO MAKE SOMETHING PLURAL?!?!?! Why are you inviting your friend's over for lunch? Why are you planting seed's this weekend? Why would you get a new bookshelf for your book's?!?!! YOU ARE BURNING MY RETINAS AND I NEED YOU TO STOP. 

It's still terrible to see apostrophes abused in other ways, but most of the 'other' ways they get misused are in good-faith attempts to show possession or contract words or something. So I can extend forgiveness because I can recognize that the person is TRYING to do the right thing...and just kind of failing. But that's much more forgivable than this. Because when you just toss an apostrophe into the middle of an innocent word thinking that it's gonna help it become plural...well, the only reason anyone would ever do that is to personally offend me. And it works. Every time.

Now I'm all worked up in a tizzy again. I need to go run laps or something, excuse me.

Liz K. asked:

How is the "best" way to break the news you are expecting to someone struggling with infertility (for going on 3 years)? A good friend of mine is having a really hard time, and I just want to be as sensitive as possible.

Good question! Luckily, I have over 5 years of experience with this very issue, so I feel like I am super qualified to answer...for myself. Ha. 

My immediate answer would be not in person. DEFINITELY NOT IN PERSON. Basically, you want to give your friend the freedom to receive the news and digest it and react however she needs to react BEFORE she responds to you. If you're standing right there, then her only option is to either a) look like a crying jealous freak in public, or b) perform an Academy Award-winning act of pretending that it doesn't bother her at all and she's nothing but brimming with enthusiasm and excitement for you.

The thing is, she probably will be happy for you. It's just buried under a couple (dozen, maybe, depending on how long she's been waiting) layers of hurt and jealousy. Give her a chance to work through the yucky stuff before she has to respond. So. NOT IN PERSON. (Plus, you probably don't even want to tell her in person, so this works out better for everyone.)

I should probably put in a few caveats before I continue.

I'm assuming here that you are GOOD friends, the type that would be expecting to know about major life events before the rest of the general population. I mean, if she's just a 'fringe' friend/coworker/church member, don't feel like you need to give her a special news delivery just because of her infertile status. That'd be awkward for you both. 

I'm also assuming that you are not ALSO an infertile. That would definitely change things. If you are ALSO experiencing long-term infertility and this has been something you've both bonded over for years and years, throw all this out the window. You might be one of the only people she could ever possibly be excited about getting a pregnancy announcement from, so do it however you want! We make bitterness exceptions for our comrades in the trenches. Also, there's a much higher likelihood that she's half-expecting the news if you're doing IVF and she knows you're going for a beta that're not really going to shock her if it ends up being good news. So share away!!

So, assuming 'in person' is now not even on the list of available options, here's the rest of your ways. I'll list them in backwards order, from worse options to best options.

-By phone (talking, not texting). This is better than in person, but not much.
-By private FB message. The only reason I list this separately from email is that FB will mark the message as 'read' (for the sender), which puts a little extra pressure on responding.
-By text. Texting also has the potential to mark as read, although that's more a personal setting preference...but is still a risk. Also, a text with the news will just BAM, APPEAR to your friend, and it may not be a good time/place for her to receive the news. So take that into account. Is it 9 a.m. on Tuesday? Don't ruin her whole work day. Is it Friday night at 6 and you know she's on a date with her husband? Have a heart. Don't send it just then.
-By email. At 9 p.m. on a weeknight when her favorite show comes on (so that if she reads it, at least she can pretend she didn't (because of the show!) and/or she can immediately distract herself with said show. And because I'm so nice, I'll even give you a little script that you should 100% be sure to include.

I know that this is not easy news to hear, so PLEASE don't feel like you have to respond. You absolutely don't need to reply and tell me congratulations. 

That sentence is key. And mean it, while you're at it. Don't get offended if she takes you up on it. And then if you REALLY want to be awesome...the next time you see her in person, don't act weird. AND don't act like **OMGBABYBABY!!!** either. I mean, chances are you're only a few weeks along. Surely you can think about SOMETHING else besides nurseries and strollers and morning sickness. Don't wait for your friend to have to awkwardly either broach the topic or try to avoid it-- throw her a bone and talk about SOMETHING normal/non-baby. What you heard on NPR that morning. The weather. Whatever show you both like. Make it normal, which will pave the way for much smoother conversations (that will inevitably include your pregnancy) later. 

(PS. If this all seems like too much, the obvious solution would be to not get pregnant. Then you never have to have this conversation! Everybody wins!)

In conclusion, tell her via email. :) Sorry, I write too much...


That's all I have time for for now!! Now...go forth and send grammatically correct and emotionally sensitive emails.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

coming soon to an overpriced craft fair near you

Yesterday we had 'staff fun day' at work. Although, I have to admit- I have fun most days at work. But yesterday it was officially condoned and sponsored, so that made it different. :) We kicked off the fun by having lunch together at my favorite Indian restaurant downtown. Good food is always my favorite way to have fun. Especially when I'm finally feeling better and getting my appetite back...I had days of bland undereating to make up for!!

After Indian food, we stopped by Starbucks. Nothing says 'fun' like a caramel macchiato on an unseasonably chilly and windy day! Coffee in hand, we walked as a huge pack down to our final destination: Good Dirt, a local clay studio.

Making pottery has always been one of those things that I've thought I'd like to try, thought might be fun, but never with enough confidence to actually want to sign up for a class or pay for it. So this was the perfect opportunity! Try it in the company of my friends and coworkers...and on someone else's dime! Perfect.

We started by putting on aprons. I grabbed the prettiest one I could find. It had a random monogram on it, but I didn't let that deter me. My name could start with K, right? Then we sat down at our wheels. 

Earlier that morning I had asked Matt what I should make. A vase? A platter? CEREAL BOWLS, he replied, without a moment of hesitation. We really need more bowls. Make cereal bowls. I'd laughed at his quick and emphatic response-- apparently I was unaware about how tragically low the cereal bowl situation in our kitchen had become! Later that morning, before we went to the studio, he'd sent an email reminder. Don't forget to make cereal bowls. (PS. His birthday is next week. Guess what I'm getting him??) 

First the guy taught us how to smoosh (technical terms, sorry, I'm a pro now!) the clay down onto the wheel so that it didn't fly off. Turns out this was an important lesson that I didn't fully grasp until later on...oops.

After the smooshing, there are a lot more steps (and no more pictures, cause our hands (and clothes, hair, arms, etc.) were filthy for the duration of the experience) squeeze water over it, use your hands to center and shape it...then do some magic stuff to squash down the middle to hollow it out...then do some other stuff to make the walls come up...blah blah blah. I understood it all in theory.

In practice...not so much. 

It's safe to say that pottery making is not my gift.

After about 10 minutes I came to the realization that Matt's request for cereal bowls was not going to be fulfilled. I was not able to actually create anything intentionally. Things just...happened. I smooshed and shaped and whatever appeared, appeared. It was a surprise to all of us! OH LOOK IT'S KINDA LIKE A REALLY SHALLOW VASE THAT YOU COULD STICK THE HEAD OF ONE ROSE IN!!!!! THAT'S GOING TO BE SO PRETTY ON MY- oh never mind, it collapsed. Now it's a...coaster! For my- never mind, now it's lopsided. could be...dangit. It flew off the wheel. Shoulda paid attention to how to get it to stick. NEW CLAY, PLEASE!!

It was TONS of fun. But don't anticipate receiving a new handmade set of serving platters and bowls from me anytime soon.

I ended up with two completed products that I was able to paint (and they'll glaze and fire and do other things to them later so that we can take them home and use them!). They are both bowl-ish. Small. You could technically eat cereal out of them if a) you're on a very strict diet and only want to eat about 40 Cheerios, and b) you have a really small spoon.

In other words, I'll probably be selling them for $400 each at a craft fair soon.

Here's a sneak peek for you! The colors will change a bit once they're baked or whatever. Maybe. Something.

 I think the subliminal message of yesterday's Staff Fun Day was don't quit your day job to 'make it' as a potter. Noted.

Monday, March 24, 2014

backyards, brunches, and book clubs

I had a busy (but fun) (and those two don't usually go hand-in-hand for me) weekend. The sad part is that I didn't feel well for most of it. I've had some weird (and mild) stomach issues since Thursday. Bad enough that I feel kinda crappy and exhausted and have been subsisting on saltines and water. Not bad enough that I actually feel justified to cancel on my commitments and stay home in bed. Just moderately yucky. I did spend pretty much the entirety of Sunday in bed, so I'm hoping that means I feel better eventually today. Time will tell, I suppose.

Anyway, despite feeling yuck, there was plenty of good stuff this weekend.

On Saturday morning Matt and I took a mini-road trip to a suburb west of Atlanta to attend a bridal shower (well, I attended...Matt hung out and waited for me) for my friend Alyssa. It was probably the most beautiful shower ever, in a house with the most beautiful backyard ever. Not even exaggerating. The backyard actually brought tears to my eyes. The landscaping! The tulip trees (Japanese magnolias) in bloom! The gorgeous free-form saltwater pool!! The outdoor kitchen area! The nature trail! Ugh. I may or may not have asked the hostess if I could move in with her. Hi, I'm Erika, nice to meet you! And actually, can I move in? Oh, and my husband. And lab. THANKS!! Anyways, enough about their to-die-for backyard. The shower was also fabulous.

We had a Mexican brunch (and no shortage of sangria...which may or may not have been the best idea ever on my empty, finicky stomach...oooops) followed by ALL THE DESSERTS IN THE WORLD. I have never been so mad to have no appetite. I still managed to sample a respectable amount of food, but I was nowhere near my normal form, so it was kind of an insult to Normal Erika's appetite. Ugh. 

While I wined (sangriad?) and dined with the ladies, Matt puttered about and explored the town. A big shout-out to him for wasting the whole first half of his Saturday being my chauffeur and indulging my petty I'm too scared to drive through Atlanta!!!! fears. Anyway, during his time-killing he happened upon some rose bushes on clearance. He's a huge fan of roses and has been trying to coax some long-stemmed yellow roses out of our yard for a few years now, so I wasn't terribly surprised when he informed me upon pickup that he'd bought a few new bushes for us to plant. We trucked back home, took a nap, and then spent a few hours doing some planting. Two of the roses said they were appropriate for container planting, so that's what we did for those two. The other two we put in the ground. I also potted some ornamental cabbages and kales that I bought a week or two ago and hadn't gotten around to potting yet. I didn't put in my zinnia seeds, though. We're all but guaranteed a freeze tomorrow night, so I figured it'd be a big waste of time to put the seeds down.

Saturday night was Book Club!! This was our first time to actually discuss a book, and it was GREAT! We read The Giver this month, which was a re-read for everyone. We had some really good discussion, including lots of comparing and contrasting the dystopian societies of various YA books (most other societies'/governments' control seems to be fear-based, but the community in The Giver is more shame-based...interesting!). And of course, we watched the just-released-last-week trailer for the movie!!

Obviously it appears that the movie-makers are trying to make it look a lot more like a teenage romance thriller than it actually is. They probably screwed everything up, but I'll see it anyway. 

All in all, Book Club was a huge nerdy success and I was very glad I didn't give in to my stomach's lame desire to stay home in bed. Next month we're going to be reading and discussing This Is Where I Leave You, by Jonathan Tropper.

This one will be a new read for everyone, but it's going to be coming out later this year as a movie with Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, and Jason we figured it's probably worth reading! And yes, we're choosing our books based on what's coming out as a movie soon. Seemed like a good way to go! Also, I voted for this book because I just really love the colorful cover. And I 100% believe in judging books by their covers. (And that's not a metaphor for anything. It just really applies to books.)

And now I need to get my brain organized for another week of work. Have a good day!

Friday, March 21, 2014

beauty will rise

 I never plant bulbs.

Daffodils, tulips, dahlias...all of them beautiful, all of them happy harbingers of spring...none of them do I plant. I appreciate and enjoy from afar those that my neighbors plant.

I require a little more instant gratification in my gardening. I mean, I can plant things that aren't instantly beautiful (like seeds), but only because I know they'll start doing SOMETHING soon and then I can monitor them and talk to them and coax them along for the weeks it'll take for them to turn into something pretty and/or tasty. Bulbs don't give you that. Bulbs are ugly gross little brown blobs that you have to go dig deep-ish holes for, bury, and then they DO NOTHING for half a year. And they are expensive. And don't nobody have time or money for that. If I'm going to go spend $20 on plants, I'm getting something that I can enjoy immediately. Every spring I wish I'd planted bulbs the previous fall. Every fall I think about planting bulbs, but by the time I get to the nursery, I'm buying mums and pansies...things I can be guaranteed to enjoy instantly. I never get around to getting bulbs. And then it's spring again and I'm regretting that I didn't plant bulbs. Again. For the 10th year in a row.

It's a vicious cycle. 

Apparently I broke it this year.

Last night I got home from a meeting around 10:00 p.m. It was dark, but as my headlights panned over the driveway, something pink in the mailbox flowerbed caught my eye. I thought it was trash that had blown over. But then I noticed there was another pink thing a few feet over. I stopped to investigate.

Well, well, well...

Infinitely better the neighbor's litter being blown into my yard...those are daggum TULIPS coming up and blooming so prettily!!

I parked the car and went back out with a flashlight to investigate further. Sure enough, spotted throughout several flowerbeds in the front yard are a whole mess of tulips popping up and in various stages of about-to-bloom.

Once I saw them, I remembered. Oh yeah! Sometime late last summer or early fall we'd seen a bag of tulip bulbs at Aldi. The grocery store. I remember that it was something so ridiculously 20 or 30 bulbs for $6 or something. (For comparison's sake, even at places like Lowe's, tulip bulbs are typically around a dollar per bulb- for the CHEAP ones.) I was so appalled by the shockingly low price, I threw it in my cart. Then I remember that they sat on a shelf in the garage for weeks. Or maybe longer. Things were crazy then...we were in the midst of our adoption. I had fifty million things to think about, and none of them involved burying plants that would probably never come up the next spring. But every time I passed the bag in the garage, I would think well, they DEFINITELY won't come up if they're still in a bag in the garage come March

And so I remember one afternoon seeing them and being like FINE, WHATEVER, I'LL PLANT THE STUPID THINGS! I WON'T EVEN CARE ABOUT THEM IN THE SPRING, I'LL HAVE A BAAAAAABY AND PLANTS ARE STUPID COMPARED TO BABIES!!! So I spent about 3 minutes frantically running around, digging half-hearted holes, throwing in the bulbs, and not even talking to them or anything. This is very unlike my normal planting, just so you know. I had absolutely zero confidence they would ever come up, I spent about 3 minutes putting them in...and then, obviously, I completely forgot about the whole thing.

Until last night.

It's spring now. I was already happy about that. And now I have tulips. My most favorite bulb-flower. All over my yard!! Pink tulips!! I can hardly believe it. 

I went out this morning to enjoy them in the sunlight and take these pictures. As I looked at them- bright, happy splashes of color springing up from the still cold, dead-looking ground- I couldn't help but think of this verse in Isaiah: To all who mourn...he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. (Is. 61:3)

Beauty out of ashes. The fall was ashes. The winter was ashes. And out of that, beauty will rise. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014



This totally calls for some all-caps. SPRING!!!! AT LONG LAST!!!

Google reminds us about the coming of spring with a lovely little graphic that includes...a ghost? Sumo wrestler? Klan member going out to fill his car with gas? I don't know about that thing. But the other pictures are lovely.

I'm showing my support for the changing of the seasons with my new striped maxi skirt and my toes are enjoying the freedom of not being stuffed inside boots.

And because I'm so happy it's spring, I took a picture with my favorite co-worker.

Wouldn't it be awesome if a manatee worked with me? One can only dream. Oh well. A picture is pretty good, too. He looks like he wants to hug me!!

I don't know if I'll have time for much spring celebrating today...maybe I'll take a stroll at lunch. But if the weather holds up, I hope to plant my zinnia seeds this weekend!

It's technically still a little early for planting, but I'm willing to take a gamble on these. If we end up getting another freeze, I'll just plant some more...they're super cheap and I have plenty, obviously. I just want to go ahead and do it now (instead of waiting three more weeks til it will be officially 'safe') because if my gamble pays off, I'll be getting bouquets of loveliness three works earlier. Which is obviously awesome.

I'm not taking the same gamble with my veggies, though. I'm at least a few weekends away from feeling safe enough to put them in. Any other Zone 7 gardeners planting (or not) yet?

That's all I've got. It's spring finally. I'm happy. The end.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

things that are stupid

Today my friend Allison blogged about things that are making her happy. Sometimes I do that, too. Or at least I think about it. I tried to think of some of those things today, but I couldn't. I was too distracted by all the things that are making me frustrated. Nothing huge, just...stuff that's getting on my nerves and making me a little stabby today. I think that if I get it all out, I can move on with my day, right? So here we go.

1. It wasn't supposed to rain today, but it is. UGH. If it's going to rain, I need to mentally prepare myself in advance. So today's cold drizzle is particularly unwelcome and making me sad. GO AWAY, RAIN. This leads to a sub-frustration: I got my toes (and fingers!) done on Saturday and I haven't yet had the chance to show off my toenail's been too cold to wear open-toed shoes! This is really stupid. I need it to be spring already.

2. Remember the story about the glider and how I was going to finally get my money refunded? Such an uplifting story! Yay! Money!! Yeah, no. Still no check, no word from the guy, nothing. BOOOOOOO. If he was still just going to stiff us, I wish he hadn't gotten our hopes up last month. I'm so over getting my hopes up for nothing.

3. I didn't buy a Mega Millions ticket yesterday. If I had, I probably would have won. The winning numbers are the numbers I PLAY ALL THE TIME (well, all the time that I do play...which is like twice a year). UGH!! I wouldn't have won the whole thing because I would never pick 24. I pick all odd and prime numbers (because they are the best, obviously), and sometimes a 12 (for my birthday). But there's a really good chance I would have had four or five of those, including the mega ball of 7 (I almost always pick that as my mega ball number!). GAAAAHHHHH. So close to being a thousandaire. My favorite prime and odd numbers finally get picked and I'm sitting this one out. Figures. This also leads to a sub-frustration: wasn't it great when Ellison was born on 11/7/13? I thought it was the best thing on earth because ALL THE NUMBERS ARE PRIME and WHAT ARE THE ODDS (haha)?!?!?! It was such a sign that she was meant to be!!! Only, yeah. No. Too bad it'll be three more years til I can have a chance at another all-prime-numbers birthday kid. Or any kid, probably.

4. I went to Ulta yesterday to get the daily steal that I REALLY wanted and they were OUT. That made me sad. I'd been looking forward to getting my Lights, Camera, Lashes! mascara for $10 for like two weeks. And then I couldn't. Boo.

5. I was having a really great dream last night. We drove to Cancun (in a minivan?) and it only took us like TWO HOURS to get there-- so great! We had Lola with us and had just gone out to the water and it was so beautiful and warm and perfect. Matt, Lola, and I were having the best time, and THEN A BIRD FELL ON ME from a tree!!! A huge tropical bird. And I totally freaked out in the dream, frantically trying to get it off of me, which led to me actually freaking out and violently thrashing around in real life, in my bed. It woke Matt up and he had to like put me in a restraint hold to calm me down. And then I was awake and re-hating stupid birds. Dream ruiners. Nasty gross creatures. Ugh.

Anyways, obviously nothing here is actually all that important, but I'm sure we can all agree that it's all stupid. Hopefully things go up from here. If any of you happened to purchase one of those winning lottery tickets using my money, I hope you'll share some with me. People who prefer odd numbers really need to stick together.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

dentists, math, and the butchering of the english language

I survived the dentist yesterday.

But I didn't like it. Don't get me wrong.

Luckily, there were no cavities to report. And the hygienist (a male, I might point out. My dentist office is so progressive- a male hygienist and a female dentist! What glass ceiling, Athens?? Haha) even complimented my 'big ol' horse teeth,' as Matt so graciously puts it. He said he would have expected them to be worse after two years away. So I feel like that was a compliment? Maybe I have low standards. Anyway, he did give me the requisite 30-minute long lecture about flossing as he stabbed away with his silver stabby thing. At least he didn't ask questions, though. This guy must have been top in his class- he realized that people can't respond when their mouths are full of hands and stabby things! Genius.

It did give me time to meditate and think about the topic at hand, though. Flossing. Like...eww. I know I should do it more often. Daily, even, as ol' Mr. Hygienist would say. I just don't. Then I was like 'maybe I should try for 30 days! If I do it every day for 30 days, won't it be a habit? I can do 30 days. A 30 Day Floss Challenge!!' And then I had this great idea to make it a social media 'thing,' like every other 'challenge' or daily thing that everyone reports in on and hashtags and what not? I mean, that's great accountability, right? And wouldn't you just love for your Instagram feed to be full of used dental floss??? HAHAHA. Lucky for you I nixed the idea pretty fast. If I do the 30 Day Floss Challenge, I'll keep it to myself. Well, myself and my dentist. I feel like this is the kind of thing dentists would get really excited about, so I'll be sure to share the news with them.

Alright...anyone else finding that their calendar for the next few weeks is dictated by Ulta's amazing '21 Days of Beauty Steals'?? No, just me?

Every day there's a 'daily steal' that is (generally) AWESOME and a truly good deal. They change every day. This means that if you want to capitalize on the three find yourself needing to go to Ulta a lot of days. I'm sure this was the point of the whole thing, but like...sheesh. Twist my arm. What a tragedy to have to go to Ulta so many days. Matt has taken to asking "do we need to go to Ulta today?" every morning in the car. That there's a good man.

I'm also spending time trying to project my Ulta spending for the year to best capitalize on the new reward points system. Brightest Bulb in the Box (re)posted a really interesting article over the weekend that analyzes the new system. I generally avoid things that reek of math, but since this math actually applies to my life, I bravely read the whole thing and think that I mostly comprehend it. This is why I took calculus in that when I was 31, I could get the most out of makeup reward programs. WOO! (PS. No actual calculus is involved in that article, but there is a graph.) Anyway, if you anticipate shopping at Ulta during the next year, you should check out Ulta Points: Spend or Save? A Mathematical Analysis.  

Finally, a brief rant. It's almost a grammar rant, but not technically grammar. In the past few weeks, I've found my eyes and ears repeatedly assaulted by people misusing a common phrase (conjunction). I've seen it on blogs, semi-legit news articles, and then the final straw-- ON the NEWS on TV last night. It's bothering me to the point that I can't stay quiet anymore...and also, there's a tiny part of me that thinks what if I am the one who's wrong? What if I am misusing and misunderstanding the way to use this phrase? But then...naaaah. So I'll rant away.

It's the use of the words "much less" when comparing two things. 

For example (correct examples, I believe), I might say "I can't run a mile, much less a marathon" or "I can't afford a McDonald's hamburger, much less a five-star dinner at Bacchanalia."

In my opinion, you're supposed to say the lesser/more generic of the two things you're comparing first. Then after the 'much less,' you say the more extreme or dramatic item. Right??

But lately I've been noticing people doing it backwards. Like "I can't read my Bible every day, much less twice a week." Huh? 

Last night on the news, the police officer they were interviewing did it. He was talking about a heinous double-murder in Atlanta allegedly committed by a 14-year-old (yikes...welcome to Atlanta??). He said "I can't believe a 14-year-old would be committing such a gory murder, much less any crime."

I mean, I almost fell off my treadmill. IT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE LIKE THAT!!! Does it?? Is this one of those things where now everyone agrees that using a word/phrase the completely opposite way is okay, like with 'literally'?? Because I'm not okay with that. This is the kind of thing that needs to go to a vote. Do you support using literally to also mean 'figuratively'? No, no I do not. Do you support using 'much less' to not mean 'much less' and make no sense at all? No. Not that, either. I can be open-minded about a lot of things, but NOT THIS.

Please tell me I'm not the only one.

Monday, March 17, 2014

this community is great (but weird)

Saturday was the kind of day that I wanted to never end. Like I wanted time to just stand still so that I could savor it a little longer.

After an awesome workout at the gym, we enjoyed a leisurely lunch on the patio at Big City Bread. The sun was shining, the air was warm, and I really could have just sat there with my Mattie and my sandwich and salad forever. It was the kind of picturesque happy-people-eating-in-the-sun scene that you find on postcards and come visit Athens! tour books. But seriously. Come visit Athens. Sometimes it really is fabulous here.

Also, sometimes it's really, really weird.

I'm still a member of a very exclusive (haha, not really, but it is 'secret', and upon being invited to join the group by a current member, I was asked several questions before being permitted to join!) local parenting Facebook group. Most of the parent and adoption groups I joined while waiting for Ellison I've since left or hidden from my newsfeed, but this one is particularly interesting. It's made up of local folks and everyone is very chatty and active on the page. Most of the posts and questions are parenting related, but a good many of them are more general information, questions or thoughts about stuff going on around town, and other topics that interest me. Many of the most active members in the group are quite different in their philosophies and perspectives, so discussions are usually lively (but civil). Anyway. Yesterday some of the more...hippie? earthy?...something...mothers brought up a most interesting (that is to say, disturbing) topic.

They were discussing what kinds of rituals, ceremonies, and traditions they used to help their daughters celebrate the onset of 'menarch.' 

And that's what they all called it. Over and over again. Menarche.

And then there were the ways they CELEBRATE it! And the weird ceremonies they'll have with their poor ten-year-old daughters! And like...oh my gosh, is this a THING now???

Can't we just call it 'starting your period' and can't we just observe it by like...throwing a box of pads and a copy of Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret their way and call it a day? That's how we did it back in the 90s...and if my mom had suggested we have a ceremony with red tents and all the older women in the neighborhood gathering around a fire to celebrate my womanhood...

Well, I would have died. I wouldn't be here today, sharing this horrifying bit of information with you. Because the embarrassment would have killed me dead.


Anyway. Now I'm scarred for life knowing that there are otherwise normal-looking people running around my town planning scary menarch parties for their unsuspecting pre-teens. I want to stage some sort of intervention for the poor kids. 

(If you happen to be a big fan of the menarch ceremony and/or are planning one for your own daughter, please don't hate me. I'm just uninitiated and confused. And scared.)

(But seriously, I want to send my mom a big thank you card for being chill about the whole thing twenty years ago. If I ever get the opportunity, I plan to keep that family tradition alive with my own daughters.)


Speaking of awkward and terrible situations, today I have a dentist appointment. It'll be my first one in two years, so...basically I am a gross human being. In my my dentist, they schedule your next appointment (for six months in the future) during your appointment. So the last time I went, in approximately February of 2012, I picked a random day in August for my next appointment. Well as it turned out, that random day in August ended up being the day (or day after, or something) I had surgery that kept me down and out for a few weeks. Oh and also used up all the money and paid time off I cared to spend on doctors for that month (slash lifetime). So I cancelled that appointment but didn't reschedule because I didn't feel like missing more work, spending more money, etc. And then....and then they called a time or two, but I'd decline the call...because really, I don't love going to the dentist. And then they quit calling. And then it was like two years later and I'm like HOLY CRAP I HAVEN'T BEEN TO THE DENTIST IN TWO YEARS I AM A DISGUSTING HUMAN BEING. So here we are. St. Patrick's Day and I'm gonna be kicked back in a lounge chair to receive my past-due lecture about flossing. Yippee. 

But I have a new mental strategy to help get me through the sure-to-be-terrible thirty minutes. Whenever I start getting uncomfortable or frustrated (by the lady asking questions that I CANNOT ANSWER BECAUSE YOUR HANDS ARE IN MY MOUTH), I'll think about how extremely preferable that situation is to being forced to endure a menarche ceremony. Not that 'going to the dentist' and 'having a menarche ceremony' are at all related to one another, but they're both terrible things currently on my mind...only one is WAY LESS TERRIBLE than the other. So. I'll sit there and be thankful that the worst thing happening to me is a pointy stick scraping against my molars. Amen and amen.

Friday, March 14, 2014

puzzling issues

First things first: It's Pi Day!!! Happppppy Pi Day!! In honor of one of my favorite days, I will share an important bit of information with you:

Did you know that 3.14% of sailors are pirates??


You can thank the guy on NPR for that little funny. I wish I came up with on my own, but I didn't.

It's also my bestie Catherine's 30th birthday today. I will never cease to be jealous of her Pi Day Birthday.

In other life-changing news, Matt and I finally finished the puzzle we bought and started two weeks ago. If the fact that our idea of a good time is working on a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle for two weeks is wrong, I don't wanna be right. We dominated that sucker.

When I've shown pictures or mentioned working on/completing the puzzle during the last few weeks, several people commented that they didn't know we did puzzles.

YES. It's this whole secret life I've been hiding from everyone. Matt and Erika: PUZZLE MASTERS. We pretend to watch TV or garden, but really we secretly hoard puzzles and like...enter puzzle-doing-tournaments. Puzzling Tournaments. Yep. You thought we had a desolate nursery lurking in the back of the house-- really it's our Shrine of Completed Puzzles. We frame them and put them on the walls.

Or not. Although I've dabbled in puzzles in my past (like...Mom might receive one for Christmas and we'd all work on it for the rest of Christmas break or something, back when I was living at home), actually purchasing one and choosing to set it up on a card table in my own living room for half a month is a new thing. When we were in Texas last month, my Nana had a puzzle going and I would sit with her and work on it and I thought it was such a nice thing to do...we could chat, our hands were was lovely. So that inspired me that Matt and I should do that, too. And it was delightful! I was happy to find a puzzle that was more intriguing (to me) than a random landscape or watercolor painting. This one was magazine and newspaper headlines from 2001-2011, so it was fun because I've seen many of them in real life. Plus you could overhear Matt and I saying things like hey, if you see Obama's head, pass it my way and dangit I KNOW I had Brad Pitt's lips, but now I can't find them. You just don't get commentary like that over a mountain landscape.

Anyway. Now the puzzle is done and I'm not quite sure where we go from here. We definitely need to admire our hard work for a few days before we break it down. Do we move directly into starting another one? Do we take a puzzle break? Should we find someone to loan us a puzzle (or swap this one) because like...we really don't need to accumulate a bunch of puzzles. I mean, is it the kind of thing where in a few years we'll want to redo this one? So many puzzling questions. So few answers. Truly overwhelming.

But I'd rather be overwhelmed with my puzzle issues than my other favorite (?) current rabbithole: conspiracy theories about the missing Malaysian Airlines flight. Holy crap, people. With every day that passes, it gets weirder. I can't stop reading everything I can find. And when even the reports from the mainstream media read like the pondering of a paranoid's just insane. What on earth happened?? Is it weird that at this point I'm sort of hoping it was 'just' a plane crash?? That's horrible. Obviously I don't wish that 239 innocent people were killed in a horrific wreck. But like...plane crashes are a known evil. They're awful. Tragic. But somehow...if it really were just a 'normal' wreck caused by some catastrophic engine thing or something...that seems better than an unknown evil. It's just too hard to imagine that this could be the result of someone's (or some government's??!) plan. I mean, if everyone aboard is dead. Now if they're all safe somewhere, I take back my wishing it were a regular crash. But it seems kind of unlikely at this point. And if they are alive...something makes me think they're not in a good situation. Are they all hostages? Holy cow. I just don't know. Ugh. I'll stop rambling. I clearly need to stop Googling "Malaysian flight disappearance theories." Maybe tomorrow. 

So! This weekend I have big plans to pay bills, see my friend's community theater's production of Hello Dolly, sleep in, get my toes done, and do some circuit training. And hopefully stop Googling scary things. Oh, and drink more water. And work in my secret dungeon puzzle lair. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

public encounters, treating myself, and misspelling my name

I feel like I should tell you that it isn't a lovely spring day today. I don't want to put forth the perception that Georgia is some kind of weather utopia, and lately it kind of has been, so...just so you know. It's 30something right now and it'll probably only get into the low 50s today. Womp womp.

I have a slightly better attitude than normal about the (hopefully brief) returning cold weather. I'm trying to look at it as an opportunity to get one last wear out of my favorite cold weather clothing/shoes/accessories. Today's outfit has been one of my favorites this winter, which is why you've probably already seen it twelve times. Let's make it thirteen.

I will miss you this summer, not-remotely-breathable polyester triangle shirt and comfier-than-I-ever-expected Toms wedges!

Also, I'm having a good hair day today. Please take note.

Despite not blogging yesterday, I really don't have anything to talk about today. My life hasn't been super exciting this week. I did make a triumphant (haha) return to Zumba yesterday. I've missed it the last few weeks. And afterwards my friend Tiffany dragged introduced me to the sauna. We sat in a tiny, log-cabin-like wooden room and sweated to death as we chatted. It was basically like summer camp in Georgia. Only there were no mosquitoes,

 I think we should tackle some of the more serious and important Q&As today. PS- I am eternally grateful for all of these questions. When I run out and have to start thinking of my own blog topics again, it's going to be a sad day for us all.

Anonymous wants to know:

Have you ever been recognized in public from your blog which resulted in an awkward encounter?

Um, yes. More than once.

(I thought about not elaborating, but that would just be wrong.)

Several times I've received emails saying "hi, I know you don't know me, but I read your blog and I just saw you at Target/the mall/wherever! I thought it would be weird to say hey, but...hey!" or something along those lines. 

Sometimes I get 'seen' and the person won't tell me, but they'll tell someone they know that knows me that tells this:

I seriously laughed about this one for about a week.

But sometimes people do get bold enough to just come up and introduce themselves. Most recently (and Laura commented about this on the original post underneath this question!) it was at the gym. Obviously I'm not above the occasional gym selfie, but I swear that I do not normally POSE for pictures at the gym. However, I had been going on and on about the gym stretching machines at work and was hugely failing at describing them adequately. "Take a picture of it," a coworker suggested. So that's what I was doing that day-- fake-using the stretching machine while Matt took a picture. It was for educational purposes!! I never blogged or IGd those pictures!! But wouldn't you know, a stranger (to me!) saw someone doing a photo shoot in the gym and then realized that she 'knew' me from my blog. Ha!! So we chatted for a few minutes and I felt like the lamest person on earth because she busted me POSING ON A GYM MACHINE. So...that's how awesome I really am in real life, in case you were wondering.

Other public encounters have been much less embarrassing, but I think Matt gets weirded out every time.


Diana asks:

Do you get annoyed when people write letters to "Erica"?

To be honest, it really doesn't bother me much anymore. Sometimes I go through phases, but as of now, it's pretty low on the list of things that annoy me. I know my name isn't spelled the most common way. Now, if this is coming from someone who's known me a long time, it's a little more hurtful...but if you're a relatively new acquaintance, I won't hold it against you. I will say that a couple of years ago my, the guy who had probably a 50% say in naming me and choosing the spelling of my name...went through a phase where he spelled it that way in text messages. This infuriated me on many levels. For one, why does he even need to say my name in a text? I presume that if you're TEXTING me, you know who the memo is going to and who's reading it? I don't really think using my name is necessary at all...but ESPECIALLY the misspelled version of my name?!?!? I let him feel the fullness of my wrath.

As it turns out, my dad basically doesn't write any of his own texts. He uses the voice-to-text (like Siri, only whatever it is on an Android) thing. And so the phone robots were actually misspelling my name, and he didn't feel that it was important enough to go back and fix it.

Now he understands that it is.

But as for the rest of humanity, you get a pass. When I was in high school and college and did a lot of babysitting, people misspelled my name on checks so often that I even developed a signature with the 'c' version of my name. I'm adaptable like that.


Casey asked a question that required days of thought:

I am planning on taking a "treat yo'self day" (ala Parks and Rec) now that my mom's estate is closed. What would you do on a treat yo self day?

Casey, I can't commend your decision to treat yo'self enough. I think that was one of the most inspirational episodes of Parks & Rec ever; I'm glad it changed your life, too. My first rule for my day is that someone else needs to fund it. Otherwise it won't be nearly as much fun to blow a lot of money. SO. Assuming someone else (rich, of course) is footing the bills, here are some things I'd definitely include:

-Amazing food. In restaurants, of course. Cooking at home is not a treat. 
-A two-hour massage. I've never had more than one hour, so I'm guessing this would be the greatest thing ever.
-A helicopter to take me to Atlanta malls. I hate sitting in traffic and wasting time; this would solve both of those problems. 
-A few hours of shopping (and buying!) at all the good stores we don't have in Athens, like Sephora and Nordstrom. And also mall pretzels.
-A mani-pedi after I'm tired of shopping.
-A play at the Fox...since it's my day, I'm picking Wicked. I haven't seen it and I'd like to. So it'll need to be touring then, thanks! After the play, I would like the opportunity to go put on any costumes I want (which will magically fit) and reenact my favorite songs and scenes with the other actors and orchestra.
-After the play, I'd like to go somewhere and have creme brulee for dessert. And some kind of amazing coffee drink.
-Then the helicopter can take me back home. While I was out, a team of maids would have cleaned my entire house from top to bottom. Oh, and professionals would have come and replaced all the flooring in the house, too. And they would be gone already and everything would be back in its place. And someone would have given Lola a bath and trimmed her toenails.

BEST DAY EVER. Maybe I should start a GoFundMe or something to make it happen?? Anyone want to sponsor my helicopter ride? Or one dog toenail clipping? Hahahaha.