Me, Myself, and I

So, I was reading Bower Power the other day and Katie wrote a post including 10 facts about herself.  And it got me thinking… aside from a few random tidbits here and there, I’ve never really talked about myself on the blog.  Crazy, being that I’ve been blogging for approximately 21 months now.  You’d think that aside from corny jokes regarding my taste in decor, and the occasional post about my brother, I would’ve divulged more about myself by now.   So, I decided to throw caution to the wind and start now by offering up ten eleven random things about me (I had ten, then I thought of one more).   In no particular order, let’s get started…

1. My favorite movie of all time is Stranger Than Fiction.

(source)

It’s the one where Will Ferrell plays an IRS agent who starts hearing his life being narrated by a voice.     It’s quirky, smart, funny, and has a good sense of heart.  I love it more and more every time I watch it.  If you’re a realist, this film may not be for you, but something about it speaks to me.   It’s just good, and as such, it’s Joey’s favorite movie as well.  Decor-wise, I’m in LOVE with Anna Pascal’s (played by Maggie Gyllenhaal) bakery.   It’s the epitome of cozy and eclectic.   I pretty much want to live there.

2. My most embarrassing story.   One summer, I was home from college and went to see a movie with some girlfriends.  I was driving, and it was raining (and I wasn’t wearing my glasses…. My inner self-preservationist is forcing me to type that right now). We were heading home, and there was a lot of construction on the route that I normally took, so I decided to take a short cut through a nearby neighborhood and cut across Main Street.  The first street in the neighborhood that I normally would’ve turned on was barricaded, so I thought “They must’ve had a block party today!”.   And I cluelessly continued up the road.   The next street was wide open, so I made a right turn and headed down to Main Street.  Once I got there, I noticed that the street was flanked by an open chain link gate.   My thoughts? “Hmmm…. They’re gating Main Street now? Weird.”   And, I plunged on through.   Once I was through the gate, I looked up and realized in horror that I was heading straight for a corn dog stand.   I stopped the car immediately, looked to my left and discovered a tent about 15 feet away with a middle school choir singing beneath it…. And the entire audience was staring AT ME.   A quick glance in my rear view revealed two men in neon yellow vests chasing after my car screaming “STOP!”.  Yup.   That’s right.   I’d driven into Grapefest.   A large festival held on Main Street every year.   Crapcrapcrapcrap.    CRAAAAAAP.   At this point, I wholeheartedly wished the earth would take pity on me and swallow me up.    It did not.   I’m pretty sure it laughed, too.   I was so mortified and panicked at that moment, that rather than using my brain and simply reversing out of the festival, I proceeded to make the Austin Powers of three-point turns.   Forward. Back.  Forward.  Back. Forward. Back.   It took about 12 times to finally turn my car around and head the heck out.   And yes, my friends were doubled over in laughter.  Needless to say, I never heard the end of that one.  And I never took that short cut again either.

(At Main Street years later.   I did NOT drive.)

3.  I am absolutely, 100% petrified of spiders.   It’s kind of ridiculous.  Even a picture of a spider makes me jump and smack myself due to that imaginary tickly feeling of those little bastards crawling on me. That’s why I hate it when people post pictures of spiders on Facebook or pin them on Pinterest. There’s nothin’ worse then innocently scrolling through your newsfeed and finding your finger atop a giant hairy spider.  Ugh. #justdont   It doesn’t matter if they’re big or little, hairy or smooth, I despise them all equally.   When I’m alone with a spider, it’s quite the dilemma.  See, I can’t kill it because what if I get close and it jumps?  No.  No.  Unnnecessary risk.  Definitely unnecessary.   But, I can’t leave it either.  I mean, where would it go?  Would it crawl into my ear while I was sleeping? Fall on my head as I’m cooking?  Hide in my shoe?  So, the protocol that I abide by is as follows:  (1) Find a bowl, pot, large cup or any other concave item.   (2) Get as close to the evil creature as is safe.  What is a safe distance, you ask? Why this is directly proportional to the size of your concave object.   The larger your item, the less margin for error, thus the greater your safety distance.   (3) Gently toss concave object over the offending arachnid, turn, run away, and scream.  (4) Write a note which contains a derivative of “Joey, Spider under pot/bowl/cup.  Kill it! Kill it!  Love ya! “. (5) Maintain safe distance and toss note on top of concave object.  (6) Go about your business.

It’s irrational but effective.

My friends and family have been known to have some fun with my fear of spiders over the years.  Once, my boss at a previous job rigged a huge rubber tarantula over the door to my office and had it drop on me when I walked in.  He thought it was hilarious.  And I guess, in the end, so did I because (shocker) I GOT NOTHING DONE THAT DAY.  Productivity is directly proportional to the degree with which you scar your employees.  Just saying.   Then, there was my brother, Alex, who ALWAYS had fun with the spider thing.  Once on a hiking trip at Mohonk Mountain with my cousins, he ran up ahead, doubled back, came up behind me, and tickled me with a branch while videotaping.  So, he basically captured videographic evidence of me screaming, running way, realizing what happened, then charging up to punch him in the arm (plus about three more versions of this as the day went on).   And I fell for it every.time.  Stupid spiders.  :/

(With Alex at Mohonk Mountain.   If I look stiff it’s because apparently I’m also afraid of heights.  And that edge was veeery close.)

4. I’m a total sucker for ghost shows.   Paranormal Witness (give us new episodes already!), Ghost Hunters, etc.    I friggin love that stuff.  I’d say that my interest started on our honeymoon in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

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(Joey and I on our honeymoon in 2008) 

There’s a haunted hotel there called the Crescent Hotel that offers ghost tours.   We went one night and it was so interesting.    Apparently, Ghost Hunters had done an investigation there and caught a rare full-bodied apparition on their thermal camera.     One of the couples that was on the tour with us actually caught a photo of a face on their camera during the tour as well.   It was like a floating blue face in the middle of the hallway.   Totally crazy.    We just captured a bunch of boring orbs, which may or may not have been dust…

From that point forward, I was hooked.  Now, don’t get me wrong.    I’m a total weenie.   I wanna see this stuff on TV (far far away somewhere in TV-land) but I don’t want to be anywhere near it in real life.    This was made exceptionally clear when on a subsequent trip to Eureka Springs, Joey somehow talked me into STAYING at the Crescent hotel.   And I didn’t sleep a wink for fear that I would become possessed at sometime during the night.

5. I am a dog person.

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(our old dog Gus and I) 

Cats hate me.   Seriously.   One of my roommates in college had a cat and it tried to b!&ch-slap me on more than one occasion.   It also seemed to know which belongings were mine and it would wait until I came within view and then hastily claw at that item with all it’s might.  Whilst staring me straight in the eye to make sure I was watching, no less.  Now,  I know that there are sweet cats out there that make awesome pets.  Many of my friends own them, in fact.   But I’ve never met one that I felt wasn’t plotting my death.   So, I stick with dogs.   It just seems like a safer option for me.

6.  I’m not really a car person, either.  Sure, I like a good, dependable, low gas mileage car to get me from point A to point B.   But that’s it.    I don’t need bells and whistles or the coolest looking car.   Just a car that works.   And honestly I’m not the greatest at remembering to clean it.     It’s out of sight, out of mind.   Once I’m in the house, I focus on the house.  Not the car.  My darling husband, who IS a car person in terms of keeping it perfectly clean and show-ready at all times is driven nuts by this fact.    I often joke that I keep a clean person, I keep a clean child, and I keep a clean house…. my car is where I draw the line!!  Haha!  Joey is not entertained.  DSCN0312 DSCN0313

Heehee!  These are actually shots from our honeymoon.   We were just being goofy, but I thought they captured the mood of this one perfectly.   Poor guy.  So, my car usually gets cleaned about twice a year when Joey just can’t take it anymore.

7. I’m a coffee shop/pub kind of gal when I’m choosing not to be a homebody (which is most of the time).

(My cousin Kim and I in 2009) 

If I go out, I want a cozy atmosphere.  Worn-in leather booths.  Random chachkies on the wall.   A pint o’ cider or warm cup o’ joe.    In a place where I can actually hear the people I’m with and have a good conversation.   This has always been my preference, even in the college days when clubbing was all that and a bag of chips.   This might be why I worked at coffee shops on and off from the time I turned 16 until I got my first “real” job as a dietitian.  I worked everywhere from smaller mom-and-pop coffee shops to Starbucks, which is where I worked through most of college and grad school.   It’s a great company to work for and I loved it.

8. My roommate in college started her own wedding photography business in her room while we lived together.  At the beginning, she needed more material for her website, so she enlisted me and a few other friends to model in “mock” bridal shoots.  It was super fun.  She borrowed wedding dresses from local shops, got us all dressed up, and took, what seemed like, a million shots.    Here’s one that she used in her advertisement in 2003…

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The photos came out great, but let’s face it… It was me in a wedding dress.  And I was single.   So, not really photos that I’d planned to broadcast to loved ones.  So, imagine my surprise when I visited my well-intentioned, wishful-thinking family in NY only to discover that they’d gone onto her website and ordered prints.  Which were hanging in their houses.  Single little me.  In a wedding dress.  On their walls.   I was convinced for years that this alone had jinxed me into singledom forever.  Haha!   Then I met Joey and I didn’t care anymore.   🙂

9.  I find bathroom humor hilarious.   I will never grow out of this.

(source)

10. Jogging is the one exercise I don’t have to force myself to do.   I really enjoy it.   It’s like my veg-out time where I can listen to music and chill.  It’s therapeutic and I always feel better mentally and physically when I jog regularly. Of course as mentioned in #4, I am a weenie.  So, I tend to jog less when it’s freezing cold or sweltering hot, but I do try to continue it to some extent all year long.

11.   I’m a huge fan of Ben Folds.  I’ve seen him in concert 8 times.   Joey was with me 7 of them.  Ben’s just so entertaining to watch live.  He plays the piano.  Tells funny stories between songs.  And always creates a new song on stage.   Over the last few years he began touring and performing with local symphonies  Basically, whatever city he visited he played with their symphony.   We’ve seen him with both the Dallas Symphony and Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra.  It’s kind of funny because his songs are quirky, and some contain adult language.  So, him performing with a symphony feels a little like swearing in front of your grandparents.  But somehow it works.  In 2006, I attended my very first Ben Fold’s concert.  My friend Shannon had invited me and a few friends along and then convinced us to stand for 45 minutes in the freezing cold by his trailer to get a picture with him. And it paid off…

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That’s Ben, me, and my friend Kara’s finger.  This was pre-digital, so the finger-photo-bomb wasn’t discovered until after I got the film developed.  In my opinion, it gives the picture character.  Haha!  On another note, this picture is what we initially credit to Joey and I dating.  He loved Ben Folds too and when he found this picture on my MySpace profile (yes, MySpace… remember that?), he knew he must date me.  Ha!  Thanks, Ben!  🙂

So, those are my eleven things.   Now tell me something about you!  I wanna hear your stories. 🙂

Finding inspiration in the face of writers block

Any of you guys ever suffer from writer’s block?   I have to say that I’ve been pretty blessed since starting Operation Home in that it hasn’t happened often… though it definitely has happened.  And when it has, I’ve found myself at a loss for how to solve it.    I’m such a DIY-obsessed person that the wheels are constantly turning with ideas for projects to take on and things to do.  But sometimes, just… nothing.   Empty brain.  Nada.

And it’s an inner battle for me because I’m definitely a textbook Type A personality.  I like schedules.   I like reliability.  I like trying to stay with a somewhat predictable posting schedule so that all you lovely folks will know what to expect from my little outlet here.  But sometimes, life gets in the way… or, of course, the dreaded writer’s block.   And I’m faced with the question… Do I find something to post for the sake of posting??  Or submit to the continued silence emitted from my little slice of internet??

Long ago, I decided that posting for the sake of posting wasn’t really my bag. It never really interested me.  I felt like I wouldn’t be nearly as sincere or passionate in writing those posts and that ya’ll would see right through it.  I also didn’t want to complete projects that wouldn’t really work for us simply because I needed something to post about.  That just seemed like a waste of time and resources.  So, I’ve never justified doing that either.

During these timeframes of utter brain blankness, I’ve asked myself  “Self, how on earth do I find inspiration for useful projects that would benefit our family and home in the face of writer’s block?”  Obviously, in the context of this blog, writer’s block also = project block.

So, I started to brainstorm ideas that might help get the wheels turning again.   And, I thought I’d share what ended up working for me…

1. I started a running list.  Every time I’d think of a project that I wanted/needed to happen, I’d write it down.  It didn’t matter if I had writer’s block or not.  Just any time something came to me, I’d add it to the list.  I actually created a draft post called “project ideas” so that it’s right here for easy reference.  Whenever I felt a loss of inspiration, I referred to the list to see if there was something I wanted to knock off.  That way, I constantly had a useful list of projects that were applicable to us and our home.  Upon occasion, the list ran short… Or only contained projects that didn’t suit our budget or schedule at the time. In those cases, I continued with the following steps…

2.  I trolled Pinterest.  Both my current boards and pins yet to be seen.  I looked at my inspiration rooms that I’d pinned.  Examined what I liked about them and didn’t.  Different elements that caught my eye and aspects that would be practical for us and our lifestyle.   I looked at my “Craftiness” board for potential projects, since I’d pinned those guys for a reason.   I searched for new inspirations, DIY crafts as well as art inspiration ideas, etc.   It’s during one of these searches that my alphabet art came to be…

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2.  I went through all of our junk.   First of all, adding a little organization never hurt anyone.  Plus, it also gave me a clear idea of the items I already had, ones I wanted to tweak, etc.   Inspiration City, especially when you had a veritable Monica Gellar Closet to contend with.   This process is how Lucas’s Lack Map side table was born…

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3.  I visited thrift stores.  You never know what diamonds-in-the-rough may present themselves and throw project ideas your way.  I can’t even tell you how many projects I’ve encountered simply by visiting a thrift store.   My spray-painted trays for one…

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My mid-century tables for another…

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4.  I visited my favorite “pretty” stores.   Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel, Anthropologie, and the less-expensive-but-still-totally-droolworthy Target.  When I saw this bench on display, it churned in my mind for several weeks…

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I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  And it was during a period of writers/project block that I remembered the bench that we had in the attic and realized that I could transform it into my own version

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So, visiting the store gave me the initial inspiration, but really, the reason why this project presented itself at the time that it did was…

#5. I RELAXED.  I decided to just forget about it.  To stop trying to think up something brilliant.  To just BE OKAY with the fact that I deviated from my posting schedule.  To just be.  Enjoy our house.  Chill with my men.  Do nothing.  And BAM!!!  DIY Bench was made.  And I have to say, it was a project that improved our space.  It prettied up the view into the bedroom.  Provided seating. Was cost-effective (under $8!).  And was an overall useful improvement in our home.  And it happened because I didn’t force it.  I think this was the hardest lesson to accept, but one of the most important.

After a bit of soul-searching, I realized that (for me) quality beats quantity any day.  I thought of some of my favorite blogs, and realized that schedules don’t really matter.  Some post daily, some 2-4x/per week, some once per week, some every few weeks.  In every single case, I look forward to getting that email notification of a new post, regardless of what their schedule may be.   A DIY diary is a DIY diary.   Sometimes projects get done in quick succession, sometimes activity slows.   Such is the case with inspiration.   We can’t all be geniuses all the time (at least I can’t).   All I can do is be true to myself and do what I can.

So anyways, these are some the techniques that have helped me find inspiration.  I know everyone is different and what works for one may not work for everyone, but I figured this was worth putting out there.  Just in cases (name that movie!).

Before I sign off for today, there’s one more thing I’d like to know… After 11 months of blogging, I realized that I’ve never really asked ya’ll your opinions… What do YOU want to read about??  What topics interest you the most?  Project posts? Simpler decor ideas? Personal stuff?  Any questions you have for me?  Also, what helps you battle the all-consuming writer’s block?   Leave me a comment and let me know your take on things.  I’d sure love to hear read it.  🙂

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Linked up at: Tatertots and Jello, Lines Across, I Should Be Mopping the Floor, Anything & Everything Turn It Up Tuesday

TDC Before and After