Thursday, January 31, 2013

Because of Blissdom

I always think of extremely witty, smart comebacks as I'm walking away from a person.  That's true for most of us right?  Please say, right.  Please say I'm not alone in this.

The whole saying "hindsight is 20/20" is a saying for a reason.  Looking back we know the exact right things to say to people, the right decisions to make, the right paths to take.  

I don't look back on my life with too many regrets.  But I do look back and think, "oh man, I totally should have said..." Mostly though, I look back on my life and I think, I mean I wish, I would've relaxed a lot more.  

Thinking back to my very first (and still only) blog conference I went to is that way.   This time last year, I was anxiously prepping as much as I could on a very limited budget and blogging know-how, for Blissdom. (Here's the post where I write a bit about my nerves/prep, eloquently titled Suck it Haters.) 

Honestly, I thought I had no business going to a blogging conference.  I'd only had my blog for about six months and was really winging it.  I didn't have business cards, a Facebook page for my blog or a niche or any real goals.

But I knew I wanted more.  I wanted to learn how to do more.  I knew I wanted to connect.  I knew I wanted to get away. 

So I anxiously, set out for Blissdom not knowing a soul.

I drove from Detroit, Michigan to Nashville, Tennessee.

Even though, the event was extremely well run and welcoming, I was so nervous.  You see, I packed all my insecurities in my suitcase along with my bright colored scarves and flower pins that I envisioned real bloggers wear.  

The conference itself was informative, entertaining, engaging, exhilarating and so much more.  It was a whirlwind.  
Scenes from last year's Blissdom.

Looking back, I wish I would've had more confidence in myself.  I wish I would've worried less about what I didn't know.  I wish I would have relaxed a lot more.  But that's life.  That's the whole 20/20, life lessons thing going on there right?

But here's the thing about Blissdom,  it wasn't just a weekend.  I continue to learn and connect.  The whole past year has been full of moments where I've said "well, that's because of Blissdom."  

Because of Blissdom Moments:
  • I finally had the confidence (and know how to pitch and take advantage of)  to write reviews, on my terms.  As well as pursue more freelance writing opportunities.
  • My blog Facebook page was set up and now has over 600 fans (which is a lot to me).
  • I have friends all over the country.  Not just contacts, real friends.  Some of my pals from Blissdom (some that I only met for five minutes in the hallway in between sessions) know me and get me better than any of the PTA parents at my kids' school.  We support each other, comment and retweet.  We share our lives with each other on Instagram and through our storytelling.
  • I dyed my hair pink.  When I walked around the hotel at Blissdom last year people watching, I was in awe of how many women had funky colored hair.  And I loved it.  My pink hair was temporary, but so incredibly fun and empowering.
  • I say "yes" more.  After conquering, okay attending, a conference where I knew no one, I feel like I can let go of some of my fear.  I feel like I can take a few more risks and say yes when opportunity knocks.
  • My YouTube channel was born.  I'm a writer, that's why vlogging seemed utterly crazy to me.  But because I'm in a place of yes (ala Bethenny Frankel), I agreed to become a part of the MomPulse community on YouTube and start vlogging.  And I LOVE it, it's opened up a whole new creative outlet for me and it is so. much. fun.
  • I say "sorry" less and am indeed a little more relaxed.  I was right when I envisioned bloggers wearing bright colors and flower pins, those women were everywhere.  They were there with the bloggers with the pink hair.  There were also bloggers with babies on their hips, bloggers with book deals, bloggers with fancy cameras, bloggers who were extroverts and bloggers who were introverts.  There was no one way to be a blogger and that made me feel better.  It made me accept my individuality a little more and quit apologizing for not being a certain type.  When people ask me what I do, I don't make fun of it, I proudly say "I have a blog where I write about life and how f#&*ing crazy it can be," and then I add "I'm a writer and it's a great job, it makes me really happy."
I'm heading back to my second blogging conference, Blissdom again, in March.  

I'm Going to Blissdom!
This time around, I really will be more relaxed.  I'll worry less and enjoy more.  I'm looking forward to actually seeing and visiting in person with all my friends.  I'm looking forward to learning and connecting and mostly having fun.

Here's my wrap up post from last year's Blissdom, the one where I refuse to be categorized.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

My Dallas Obsession (& A Vlog Link Up)

I love television.  I think I might have mentioned that fact here on this blog, um, maybe 25,000 other times.

(With posts like The Housewife Effect, The Value of TV? and We Are So Not Boring (and other lessons from old TV shows) and more.)

But you may or may not know that I might be just a little obsessed with the television show Dallas.  I grew up watching the show.  I played Dallas as a kid--I named my pretend department store Clayton's after Miss Ellie's second husband.  I own a couple seasons on DVD.  I hummed the theme song as a lullaby to a couple of my kids when they were babies.

Yeah, it's all true.  I may have even entered a contest to win my very own Ewing barbecue on Southfork Ranch once (which I may have not won).

To say I was skeptical about the new version of Dallas on TNT would be putting it mildly.  Much to my surprise, and delight, I ended up loving it last year.  The new season kicked off this past Monday night and I thought it would be the perfect thing to talk about in my latest MomPulse Vlog.

I linked up with the amazing MamaKat (check her out, she is FUNNY).  

MamaKat is a little like my vlogging Miss Ellie--a comic YouTube mentor who has all the answers.  And she has weekly vlog prompts and link ups.  This week one of the prompts was "what are your top five TV shows."  Well, my one top TV show took up my whole 3 minutes of vlog time, so here it ode/review to/of Dallas.

To subscribe to my MomPulse YouTube channel, click here.

And just because I love it so much, here's the Dallas Remix video.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Kiss My Grits (A Pinterest Poser Challenge)

It's time again for the Pinterest Poser Challenge In an attempt at not being a Pinterest Poser,* every week I  detail a new Pinterest challenge whether it be a new recipe or a craft.   
**My definition of a Pinterest Poser is someone who is all pins and no substance.**

Each week I set out to prove that I'm not a poser.  I'm not some fake, catfisher trying to fool any readers into thinking I'm perfect.  In the process of being all real and nonposer-ish, I wouldn't mind being thought of as crafty or brave (this week it might be more brave than crafty).  This week I bravely attempt an out-of-character, cutesy thematic pizza--Angry Birds.  Because who doesn't love an angry bird? And pizza?  The fun/bravery doesn't stop with pizza this week.  This week I went all Michelle Obama and got bangs--fake, Pinterest-showed-me-how-to-do-it bangs.  

My Angry Birds Pizza was a fail.  Whomp. Whomp.  
This is what it looked like on Pinterest:

This is what it looked like in my kitchen:
It wasn't for lack of trying.  Lucy and I studied the pictures online and carefully sliced each pepperoni and placed it in its proper spot on the pizza.  

Bottom line, not enough pepperonis and melting malfunctions caused our epic fail. (Those damn melting malfunctions can get you every time.) (It may not have looked cute, but the pizza tasted good.)

But what about my bangs?  I've been asking my hair dresser for more of a bang  (a subtle longer layer if you will) since my forehead wrinkles began deepening.  Bangs are cheaper than Botox right?  But since Michelle Obama debuted her new bangs, I've been a little obsessed with the what ifs.  What if I just went ahead with the blunt full-on bangs? What if I could cover my forehead wrinkles? What would it look like?   Then low and behold I see a no-cut bangs tutorial online.  
Click here to see the full tutorial at the amazing web site

So I thought I'd give it a try. And, well, um, I looked less cutesy, model posing with my new fake bangs/updo and more like a bouffant-y, waittress from Mel's Diner.  That's me on the right.
Aww, remember Flo. I loved her.  Maybe that's why I was channeling her as I created my updo.

The tutorial was good.  Basically all you have to do is pull your hair forward for the bangs and then pile the rest up on top of your head in a "hip" bun.  Secure it all with a million bobby pins. Simple.  I just don't have a lot of hair fixing/styling skills or a mirror where I can see the back of my head.  I also needed longer hair for this particular bangs/updo tutorial.

My husband was NOT a fan of my bangs.  

But you know what I told him?  I told him to "kiss my grits"  just like good old Flo from the sitcom Alice.

I wore the bangs/updo for the rest of the day and kind of loved them. Or maybe I just loved playing the character of Flo because you know I did that for the rest of the day too.   I think if I was really going to go outside of my house with fake bangs, I would ask a professional to help me.  For now I'm going to bravely stick with my very real forehead wrinkles, no-bangs look.

Have you made something from Pinterest lately?  
Do tell. 
Please share what you're working on in the comments here or over on Facebook.

Click here to check out last week's DIY Subway Art.

Here are some of the projects I've already attempted, the good and the bad:
Furniture Painting and Bench/Chest Makeover- click here
Thanksgiving-y Project/Gratitude/Holiday Countdown- click here
The Smoothie-click here
The Free Printable Turned Artwork in a Boring Hallway- click here
The chalk board-click here
Seven Layer Dip in Individual Cups (my favorite so far!)-click here
The pumpkin address-click here
The Kitchen Dancing Sign--click here

Come on over and follow my Pinterest boards.

  Come play with me on Instagram @jumpingwithmyfingerscrossed.
Oh yeah, and come follow me on Twitter @AngelaYBlood and subscribe to my MomPulse YouTube channel here.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Everyday Romance (and a music review)

I always thought of myself as somewhat of a cynic as far as relationships go.  I would never call myself a romantic. Bleh, no thanks.  Romance just leads to heartbreak and despair, duh. But wait a minute...

Maybe it's because my parents got divorced when I was a kid.  Maybe it was because I watched endless hours of soap operas as a kid and we all know there are no happy endings there.  Maybe it's because I never had any grand expectations of happy endings or any real understanding of true romance that I now find myself smack dab in the middle of the best romantic love story ever.

A love story so simple and so good, I never could have dreamed it up for myself.  A supportive husband, four adorable kids, all of us living on love in a leafy suburban town in the Midwest.  After almost 15 years together with my husband, I am more in love with him than ever before.  We're fighting the good fight, living the good life.

Somedays I revert to that cynical kid/teenager and I forget.  I forget all the goodness in my life.  I feel stuck in suburbia.  I get overwhelmed with regret about opportunities I let slip away in life because I couldn't balance motherhood and career and a social life and being political and being a good wife/mother/daughter/sister/friend and organizing my house and volunteering and nothing seems romantic at all.   But then I turn around and I see my husband, the love of my life, walking with my four kids.  I see him laughing with them, protecting them, loving them.  And then he looks up and our eyes meet.  Sigh.  Swoon.  Cue background music.  Pure romance.

There is romance in my everyday, simple love story.  The love story of my family.

There is indeed romance in our everyday, simple lives.  It's watching my boys play basketball, it's reading books to the baby, it's listening to my daughter's stories.  It's hockey and skating on the frozen pond.  It's holding hands at church.  It's falling asleep on the couch because we're so tired we can't stay up for the movie. It's busy, exhausting, funny, sweet, ordinary and extraordinary.  

'Tis the season to honor the romance in our lives, be it nostalgic Valentine's Day dates to bring back a little va-va-voom  or simply savoring the sweetness of all the goodness, all the love.

The perfect background music to cue up is Emmy Rossum's new album, Sentimental Journey.  

It's a beautiful collection of classic songs each meant to represent every month in a year.  "Each song needed to either lyrically or emotionally reflect the corresponding month," Rossum explained.  "Some songs were obvious fits, like Summer Wind for June, and Pretty Paper for December.  Other songs were less literal fits.  I chose Nobody Knows You (When You're Down and Out) for September because, to me, the plaintive melody and lyric emotionally reflect the cold weather creeping in and the sense of melancholy we can get in the fall months."

Smoky, rich and romantic are words that come to mind to describe the music.   Her voice is haunting and beautiful. I love Autumn Leaves possibly because she sings part of the song in French and what's more romantic than that?  Another favorite song of mine from the album is the title track Sentimental Journey because well, I may have been a relationship/romance cynic, but deep down I'm really a sentimental soul.

It's the kind of music you want to play with candlelight.  It's the perfect background music for an everyday, simple love story, maybe the love story of your family.
Emmy Rossum's collection of classic covers is on sale January 29.  You might recognize Rossum from the Showtime series Shameless where she costars with William H. Macy.  She's also in the upcoming movie Beautiful Creatures with Emma Thompson and Viola Davis.

Sentimental Journey will be released tomorrow, January 29, and will be available on iTunes and Amazon.

I participated in this campaign for One2One Network.  I received a free copy of the CD to facilitate my review.  By posting, I am eligible for incentives.  All opinions stated are my own.

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Script and What I Know For Sure (this week)

The kids had this past Monday off for MLK day (which feels like a million years ago).  I look forward to this day all year long.  It may seem silly or overdone to some, but MLK has become one of my favorite holidays.  A few years ago, we started honoring the holiday with artwork, a special reading and a skit.  Because nothing says holiday like a skit.
Our MLK Day wall of words--the kids' interpretation of Dr. King's message.

Maybe I love this holiday because I can totally wrap my head around it.  There's no guilt about lying about Santa to the kids or questioning if my faith is strong enough; there's no candy hangover or shopping overindulgence;  Hallmark hasn't cornered the market in MLK cards.  Nope, it's still pretty pure.  It's about service, peace, non-violence, the power of words, moral courage, integrity....and there's no pressure to dress up and make a passing dish.  Yeah, I f*#&ing love this holiday.

But don't worry, by making it such a big deal in my house I've managed to make it all holiday-ish.  You know all too much expectations and pressure.  When I sat down to write the script with my kids, they didn't want me around.  

At first my feelings were hurt and I was all like, um, hello, the show can't go on without me.  But then I saw them working together and putting together the cutest damn MLK-inspired puppet show there ever was.  

I sat in the audience and then went to the snack bar they set up during the intermission.

Sure I wish I could have been in more control, just like I wish Beyonce would've sung live at the inauguration.  But that's what parenting is all about right? Giving them the tools for a good script and then letting them write their own?  

It's a tough lesson, but learning and growing and the getting through the tough stuff is what parenting and holidays are all about, I know that for sure.  And also that my kids are pretty amazing.

Here's what else I know for sure (this week):

  • I can't wait for the Dallas 2-hour premiere on Monday.  I am pretty much a lifelong fan of the show---dude, I used to play Dallas when I was a kid.  While other kids were talking about play dates in 1981, I was talking about who shot JR.  So, yeah, I was skeptical when this new version of the old show came out last year.  But I was beyond happy with it.  This new version is pure soapy good fun.  I'll be watching this Monday and you should too.

  • Anne Lamott is awesomely wonderful and messes are all good.  I was reminded of this quote from the must read Lamott treasure Bird by Bird and it will be hanging on my wall of words very soon.  I. Love. This.

  • Boxed water is retro and modern all at the same time. 

  • This is the best thing that happened as a result of the Lance Armstrong hysteria. Jimmy Fallon singing "You're A Crazy Bitch (But You Ain't Fat)"

  • It's been one week since I saw Les Miserables and I am still singing a lot.  Like a lot a lot.  Like I wish life were a musical a lot.

  • Catching moments when my kids are loving each other is priceless.  And makes me so grateful for my iPhone which is always at the ready to capture the moment.
They are watching video of JT's basketball game.
So cute. #unposed
  • I can't help it, I can't stop dancing to Scream & Shout.  I know everyone's all about Justin Timberlake this week and that's cool.  I know Britney is so medicated and using her weird British accent and I worry about her, but I can't help it.  I can't help it and I can't stop dancing to this song. 

  • Vlogging is the new blogging.  No, I'm kidding.  But I am having a blast over on my YouTube channel  and being a part of MomPulse.  Check out my review of snow hats, yes snow hats.  And hey, click here to subscribe if you want!

What do you know for sure (this week)? C'mon, we're friends, share what you know.  Leave a comment here or on the Facebook page.

  Come play with me on Instagram @jumpingwithmyfingerscrossed.
Oh yeah, and come follow me on Twitter @AngelaYBlood and subscribe to my MomPulse YouTube channel here.

I'm linking up today with my friend Greta from and her pal for the #iPPP link up.  They host a link up where they encourage people to share "your funny, your yummy, your heartfelt, your favorite photos of the week" from our phones. 


If you'd like to subscribe to my blog and get each post emailed to you, 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Not Boring

Some days aren't that exciting.  They are tedious, monotonous, um, boring.  They can't all be cutesy, anecdote-filled love fests.  

I just sat down to tell my husband, Tim, about my day and he fell asleep. Yes, my day (or my description) was that f#&*ing boring.  

But when I sat down to write about how boring my day was this picture popped up.

This isn't a boring face.  This is a oh-my-god-I-love-bubbles-and-bathtime-and-life-and-this-is-so-amazing face.

And then this picture uploaded:

This isn't a boring group doing homework.  This is a homework party with chips and dip and everyone hanging and learning and laughing and loving being together.

And then this picture came along:
This isn't a boring afternoon with a toddler.  This is front row seats to a hard-drumming, music-loving, life-embracing, determined 3-year-old.

Oh hell, this post just turned into a cutesy, anecdote-filled love fest.  It's just too good not to be.  

It's midnight and as I reflect back on my not-so-boring day, I'm doing my own kitchen dance.  My kids are sleeping, my husband is sleeping and I am dancing to bluesy Alabama Shakes songs.  If you could see my face, it's so not a boring face.  It's a god-damn-I'm-so-lucky-and-happy-and-tired-and-blessed face.  
Life is good and so not boring.

Listen to this song and dance while you think about all the non-boring, simple yet amazing moments of your day. I challenge you, do it, come on, just do it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Word Girl and Pinterest Poser Challenge

It's time again for the Pinterest Poser Challenge In an attempt at not being a Pinterest Poser,* every week I  detail a new Pinterest challenge whether it be a new recipe or a craft.   
**My definition of a Pinterest Poser is someone who is all pins and no substance.**

Words are kind of a big deal to me.  

I've been collecting memorable quotes for years.  I've told you about my wall of words in my bathroom (space dedicated to some of those precious quotes, hung in frames).  I've told you about chalk board messages of hope and humor around my house.  I really dig words.

So my pick for this week's Pinterest Poser Challenge seemed like a no brainer.

I've seen this type of project all over Pinterest forever and always wanted to make it.  Here's how it went down...

Several days ago, I packed up the family and headed over to Home Depot for supplies which included: 
Plywood, sand paper, contact paper, black spray paint and white spray paint.

I arrived home with a million good crafty intentions and also a million distractions.  My spray paint bottles sat on the counter, my ply wood was used as a prop in a play my kids put on for MLK Jr. Day and as a platform for Wade's Matchbox car set ups.  But when I finally got to work, I was obsessed focused.

The most important part=the words.  It doesn't matter if all the painting, sanding and cutting work out perfectly if the words are stupid.  So pick wisely.  

I chose a lyric from the song that Tim and I danced to at our wedding--Come Rain or Shine by Ray Charles.  Awwww, right?

My advice after doing this project is don't use too many words.  The cutting out process can be a bit tedious.

I used only one font-Arial in a couple different sizes and I got crazy and bolded a few.  But of course, using different fonts and sizes is highly encouraged.

I laid out the words before cutting them out, to get an idea of spacing.  I took a break from the letter madness to sand the plywood and spray paint it white.

Then, I broke from Pinterest advice, GASP!  Instead of glue sticking each individual letter to contact paper.  I globbed on a bunch of Mod Podge to the back of the paper, stuck it to the contact paper and THEN cut out my letters.  

I recruited help from my husband to draw the straight lines as guideposts of where to stick my letters.  I may have mentioned I do everything crooked, even drawing with a ruler.  It's a special skill really.  The fact that I am utterly incapable of drawing a straight line used to mesmerize (as well as frustrate) my teachers over the years. Totally a true story.

Once the lines were drawn, my husband went back to his video game and then bed while I stayed up until 1:30 a.m. peeling the damn contact paper off the letters.  It SUCKED.  

After sticking the letters in place, I snuck down to the basement and spray painted the wood black, hoping the paint wouldn't bleed into the contact paper. I collapsed into bed for a good four hours of sleep.

This morning I woke up, peeled the letters and was pretty pleased.**  After rushing the kids to school, I came home and rigged up some wire on the back and hung it in my bedroom next to my brand new IKEA curtains.  

Not perfect, but I kind of love it.
You can call me a lot of things, but you CANNOT call me a Pinterest Poser.  Love me or hate me, I'm getting kind of crafty.

**Notes on the project**
Make sure the contact paper is on securely before spray painting.
This project is really cheap.  Total cost was $15. 
I'm totally making this again.

Have you made something from Pinterest lately?  
Do tell. 
Please share what you're working on in the comments here or over on Facebook.

Here are some of the projects I've already attempted, the good and the bad:
Furniture Painting and Bench/Chest Makeover- click here
Thanksgiving-y Project/Gratitude/Holiday Countdown- click here
The Smoothie-click here
The Free Printable Turned Artwork in a Boring Hallway- click here
The chalk board-click here
Seven Layer Dip in Individual Cups (my favorite so far!)-click here
The pumpkin address-click here
The Kitchen Dancing Sign--click here

Come on over and follow my Pinterest boards.