Thursday, November 29, 2012

Mazzy likes me. She really likes me.

OK. My girl crush on blogger Ilana from Mommy Shorts is well-documented. And you know what? She totally likes me back.

No, seriously. She called me her friend today:



But that's not all! As you may have surmised from the context of the above, I sent the lovely Mazzy (you know Mazzy, right? She's the Suri Cruise of the blogosphere. Except obviously less tragic. And cuter) a "new big sister" gift from my Etsy shop. And Mazzy liked it so much Ilana wrote a post about it! And because the whole thing gave me such warm fuzzy feelings, I'm giving another one away to a lucky reader!

Totally stolen from mommmyshorts.com


So go over and check it out. Watch the video. There are a lot of cute Mazzy videos over there, but I must say, this is my favorite ever. :)




Monday, October 22, 2012

Play Tray Giveaway WINNER

We have a WINNER!

The winner of last week's Custom Play Tray Giveaway is....

Livivua, for this blog post comment: "i would like to see a sports set"

Congratulations, Livivua, and please send me an email at nearnormalcy@gmail.com to claim your prize!



As for the rest of you....quit crying, because I have good news! If you didn't win, you have another shot, because another Play Tray is being given away this week over at my mom's blog, Commonplace Crazy. You should really check her out, she's kind of cool for a grandma. Don't tell her I said that. But definitely enter her giveaway.

MORE GOOD NEWS: Sticky Chic Boutique hit 200 fans on Facebook during this giveaway, and I always like to celebrate milestone numbers. I'm celebrating over on Facebook with a custom tumbler or coffee cup giveaway today (I know, right?? It's madness!), and a coupon code later in the week. So if you really want a Play Tray (and who wouldn't??), you'll be able to snag one at a discount with that code when it's released. Be sure to like the page and stay tuned for updates!

Here's what you can win on Facebook this week:




Monday, October 15, 2012

Giveaway: Fashionista Play Tray and other things I make for my kids just so I can play with them myself.

I make a lot of cute stuff. I'm not bragging. It's just a fact.

And I make a lot of it for myself, because I deserve it. I have like, 4 tumblers. And I have vinyl on my walls and my car.

And I make a TON of it for my kids. When you browse my Etsy shop, you may notice many of the sample photos are items personalized with the names Jack and Bianca. This is not a coincidence.

After I made Jack his Vroom Vroom Play Tray, I started brainstorming ways I could make his sister something similar.

And here's what I came up with. I have to say this is my very favorite thing I have ever made. It is so much fun, both to make and to play with.

Wait for it...


It's a paper doll! Made of vinyl! On a tray! And it's amazing!

The doll is permanently affixed to the tray. She's totally custom according to your specifications, so your little girl can have a Fashionista Friend that looks just like her, or just like her best friend, or just like somebody she dreamed up all on her own:



The Fashionista's outfits are made of paper-thin static cling vinyl that stick firmly to the vinyl coating on the tray, then peel off to be reused again and again and again. 

The Play Tray sells for $29.99 and comes with enough mix and match pieces to make over a dozen outfits, including 3 dresses, 3 skirts, 3 tops, 3 pairs of shoes, a pair of tights, 7 hair accessories, an ice cream cone, and a balloon!



And just like Barbie, she'll have lots more outfits.  UNLIKE Barbie, her outfits are easy for even the littlest hands* to put on and off all by themselves. My 6-year-old still comes to me for help zipping up Barbie's dress. Usually because the dress is too skanky small for Barbie's body. How does that happen? Does Barbie put on weight after you bring her home? Do her clothes shrink in the DreamHouse dryer?

Anyway. I've gone out of my way to make sure the Fashionista's outfits are not only easy for kids to use, but also child-appropriate. I wanted my daughter to have a fashion doll that looks like her: an innocent, beautiful, fun-loving child. Her clothes are fun, trendy, and cute, but still totally age-appropriate.

 The possibilities are truly endless, and I have so many plans! Here's the first set, which sells separately for $9.99:




Have a little animal lover on your hands? Pick up a Fashionista Pet Set for just $4.99:



Choose a dog.

Or a cat!

I have lots more sets coming soon: Birthday party! Costumes! Princess dresses! Sports! I ran a poll on Facebook for ideas; keep them coming in the comments! That's what's so fun about Sticky Chic: I love custom work. I can bring YOUR ideas (or your little one's ideas) to life.

Your Fashionista Friend can be a cowgirl, a superhero, a firefighter, a doctor, or an astronaut! She can be a cupcake baker or a princess or a bride or a police officer. She can hang out at the beach or on a farm or on the moon.

I even plan to offer custom listings for this Play Tray. Want to surprise your little one with a special outfit, along with a mini-version for her Fashionista Friend? No problem. Shoot me a photo and I'll recreate any outfit (any toy, any pet, anything) in vinyl.

I'm not sure if you can tell, but I'm kind of excited about this item, you guys. So excited I think I'll GIVE ONE AWAY.

Enter below to win a Fashionista Play Tray of your very own. (Or, if you don't have any little fashionistas on your gift list and you'd prefer the car version, the winner can choose a Vroom Vroom Play Tray instead.)


a Rafflecopter giveaway



I love all my international friends, but the contest is open to U.S. residents only. If you're international I hope you'll still follow @StickyChic and/or @NearNormalcy on Twitter (spoiler alert: they're both me!) and we can totally be friends. That's almost as good as a prize, right?

*The Fashionista Play Tray does include small parts that may prove hazardous for munchkins who still like to taste their toys. Not recommended for children under 3.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

An Open Letter to the Jerk in the Blue Car in my Kid's School Parking Lot

Dear Jerk in the Blue Car in my Kid's School Parking Lot,

There's something we need to discuss. I'm writing you out of concern. Concern for your health and safety.

You are dangerously close to being dragged out of your car and murdered in an elementary school parking lot, so please listen to what I have to say before it's too late.

Are you familiar with the school pick up line? No? See, that's funny, because you and I both navigate this line each and every day. You did know there were other people picking up their children at 3:00, right? We all form a line. Let me illustrate.

See the jerk in the blue car? That's you.

It's a line, Jerk in the Blue Car. There's an order to it. We all wait our turn. This is how civilized society operates. See, we all enter the parking lot through one small driveway. Then we pick up our children, and then we circle around the rest of the parking lot until we get to the other driveway. And then we exit.

But not you! You have another strategy entirely, don't you?
What...what are you doing??

This is where things get weird, Jerk in the Blue Car! We're all sitting in line, and then suddenly, your blue car just...gets out of line!

Yes, I know you have already picked up your child. I see that. I saw him climb into the backseat of your blue car. This was before I knew you were a jerk. Does your child know this about you, jerk? Is he a jerk as well? Is this some kind of jerk training program you're running?

Why are you turning? Do you not see the 9 other cars in line in front of you? You may not realize this, but we also have picked up our children and probably have other places to be. Yes, I see that there's a big gap between the parked cars, large enough for your car to fit through. But...I just...DO YOU NOT SEE US HERE?
No! No! Why are you doing that? Are you really doing that? You're really doing that! You're such a jerk!
 Why?? Do you seriously not see all these other cars, waiting patiently??

What's that? You need to get to the bank? Oh, ok. Well, I personally was planning to just pick up my child and then hang out here in this parking lot for the rest of the afternoon. So I can see that your need to exit this parking lot 3 minutes faster is definitely more urgent than anything I have going on.
And look! You have a friend! Did you pay this guy? Threaten his children? I don't understand why he's letting you get in front of him, as if crossing the parking lot in this chaotic manner is a legit route to the exit.
You need to stop this. You're a jerk. Please. Just stop, before somebody (not necessarily me, I mean, anybody could do it) snaps and flies across the parking lot in a fit of rage and tears your car to pieces. I'm just saying.

Think about it.

Sincerely,
Alyssa

Monday, October 1, 2012

A warning to my laundry.

Fair Warning.

If you are fabric in my house that is not nailed down, you will be put through the washing machine when you become dirty. And you will become dirty. This is certain.

If you have one of those fussy, entitled tags demanding you be "hand washed only" or even "dry cleaned only" (in the case of the latter, I don't know how you got here in the first place, and I'm sorry for the things you're about to see), you may be afforded the luxury of the "delicates" cycle, if I'm in a generous mood. But you will be washed.

Most of you will make it through just fine.

And those of you who don't? I'm sorry, but trust me when I say it's for the best. This ain't the life for you, princess.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Personalized Trick or Treat Buckets

One of my best sellers over the summer was my personalized beach buckets. I made so many of them and they were just so fun to do.

Custom Beach Bucket, $10.


Well, summer's over and I still have lots of buckets! The nice thing about these is they can be used for so much more than just the beach. I mean, it's a bucket! Use it to store toys or craft supplies, use it as a fun alternative to a gift bag at your next birthday party.

Or, of course, add a spooky design and give it to your kid to fill up with candy on Halloween! You guys know how much I love Halloween. Remember Gnarles? Gnarles is ready to come out and play again! STAY TUNED! Seriously. Stay tuned, or he will find you.

Anyway. :) This is what the Princess (who seems to believe she's dressing not as a princess, but as a vampire this year!) will be trick or treating with:

Your kids can have one too! $10


Thursday, September 20, 2012

I love that kid.

This morning my daughter told me she'd found a dragonfly wing in our back yard.

"I knew it was a dragonfly wing because it was really big, and an oval, and it was shiny like a dragonfly. I put it in my science bowl."

"You have a science bowl?"

"Yes! Well, really it's a Tupperware. I keep it in the back yard."

"What do you put in your science bowl?"

"Cool stuff I find that I want to check out! Like my dragonfly wing. And I put some flowers in there so I can take apart the pollen and discover what's inside. Or like, I found some blue bark at school. Blue bark! So I put it in my backpack. I think it's still in there! I need to put that in my science bowl."

***

Near the end of the summer, she read Pinkalicious and the Pink Drinkand decided that she needed to have a lemonade stand.

So, we had a lemonade stand. On possibly the hottest day of the year.


She killed it.

She waved and smiled and COMPELLED cars to stop. She chatted people up. She up-sold them and convinced them they needed popcorn to go with their lemonade, or maybe they needed TWO cups, because it was soooo hot.

This child made $30. Selling lemonade for 25 cents a cup and popcorn for 25 cents a bag. THIRTY. DOLLARS.

Yeah. That's how I roll.

She used the money to buy a Monster High doll. And now she wants to be a vampire for Halloween. When did the Princess stage end? I wasn't ready.

***

She's in first grade now. The Monster turned 2 last week and I was kind of ok with that; he seemed ready to be 2. But my kids' birthdays are 6 months apart, which means when he turned 2, she turned 6 AND A HALF. That I wasn't ready for. Six hit me hard and it can't already be half over, can it? And then what? She turns 7? Preposterous.


Sigh. I love that kid.



*affiliate link, yo

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Sponsored Post. Well, sponsored by me.

Some of you probably remember that I opened an Etsy shop. right around the time I...quit blogging. Remember me?? I'm a blogger. Or I was.

Well, the good news is my Etsy shop is BUSY! The bad news is it leaves little time for things like blogging and sleeping, and I miss you guys. And sleep. But mostly you guys.

The OTHER good news is that I've finally decided to do something about it. Since all I think about anymore is vinyl and design and tumblers and wall decals...I think I'll just blog about those things for awhile, and see where it takes us.

I'm really super excited about my newest product. I found these very nice little lap desks at Michaels, and I just knew I needed to vinyl them up.

I toyed with the idea of just personalizing them, and decorating them with something cute, like I'd seen others do.

But where's the fun in that?

The real inspiration struck after I took one to church for my little Monster to color on. He loved it! Monster is almost 2 now (I KNOW!), and sitting through church is not exactly his favorite thing in the world. But it happens to be pretty important to his mama, so he has little choice in the matter. The lap desk was like a magic wand...I put it in front of him, plopped some toys and coloring books on top of it...BOOM. He sat still. For over an hour.

Let me say that again.

My BUSY 2-year-old boy sat STILL. For over AN HOUR.

I was noticing something, though. He loved to color on it, but his real fascination is cars. And he seemed to think this little lap desk was the perfect surface for racing his cars.

And so...the Vroom Vroom Play Tray was born:

Get yours here. That's right. In my Etsy shop, Sticky Chic Boutique.


It's been a huge success so far. He drives his cars on the roads, he crashes his cars into the trees, and when he's done with his cars (it does happen, every now and then), he uses it to color in his Cars coloring book (natch) and have a snack. Out of his Lightning McQueen snack cup. Sigh. Are you noticing a trend??



I'm back and I'm blogging, and I would love, love, love if you would all take me back into the fold. I'm not just advertising merchandise here, I really am excited about the recent developments in my life. That's why I've been reluctant to blog this before...I don't want to turn into a self-promotion blogger. So I've felt like I had nothing to blog about because I'm so busy with my shop, but....well, right now, that's my life, and why shouldn't I just blog about my life, the same way I always have? Right?

I hope so. :) You don't have to buy anything, but thanks for reading.

I'm going to try to keep up with it this time. Here are some things you have to look forward to: The Monster (OK look, his name is Jack. I mean, it's right there in the photo. I'm over it. HUGE REVELATION) is turning 2 in five days, and his party is a week from Saturday. It's gonna be awesome. Also, I'll reveal the "girl" version of this play-surface lap desk. Unless your girl wants to play with the car one, which is totally fine and awesome. Just get her one of each. She's well-rounded like that.

xo

Friday, August 3, 2012

Louisa May Alcott actually died of tuberculosis. For the record.

So. My son had croup.

Remember my son? We call him the Monster in these parts.

He'll be 2 next month. TWO YEARS OLD. My BABY. He just turned 1 last week.

Anyway. Croup.

Or as I like to call it, The Croup.

Text message conversation between me and Ashley last week:

Her: "A. [that's her daughter] has croup."
Me: "What? Croup? Who is she, Louisa May Alcott??"
Her: "Croup is a modern day disease! You're thinking of cholera. Or the dropsy."
Me: "No way, dude. Kids in Little Women and Anne of Green Gables were always getting The Croup."
Me (after some fancy google work): "Croup was once a deadly disease caused by diphtheria bacteria. However, modern day antibiotics and immunizations have helped prevent or treat it. Today, most cases of croup are mild. See? Kids in old books were always dying of The Croup."
Her: "Well. There you go."

Naturally, after all of this, my son woke up the next morning burning with fever and barking like a baby seal.

Baby seal photo added for visual interest. Isn't he cute?? I'm sure he doesn't have croup, don't worry.

Of course our entire family was concerned and sympathetic. I stayed home from work for 3 days to cradle him and love him and let him give me slobbery croup-germy kisses.

When he wasn't coughing, he was breathing like Darth Vader. It was pitiful. And it led his loving big sister to initiate conversations like this:

"MONSTER!" [She didn't really call him that, you guys. She called him by his actual name.] "STOP IT!"

Me: "Honey, he's not doing it on purpose. He's SICK. Leave him alone."

Her: "No, mom. He keeps BREATHING and it's really LOUD and ANNOYING."

Me: "I know. He's sick, he can't help it. Please stop yelling at him."

Her: "He looked RIGHT at me and then he started breathing LOUDER. Make him STOP."


In conclusion. Don't call your friends' kids Louisa May Alcott when they get weird old-timey diseases, and also don't have a mouthy 6-year-old daughter. You're welcome.

This not a blog post.

Sigh. Hello, blog. I miss you. My mind is spinning with a thousand other things but I haven't forgotten you. Sometimes I open you up and stare at you and think, hey, remember when this was easy, and I had things to say, and they were sometimes even funny?

I'm sure it'll come again. Ebbs and flows and all of that. Life.

Is anybody reading this?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wordless Wednesday, iPPP, whatever, here are some pictures of my kids



It's summer, y'all. We're playing in the dirt and rocking our swim lesson couture. That's how we roll.

I'm also making tumblers like a boss.

Linking it up at iPPP this week. And I can't make their button work. So here's a link instead.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

That Diet Coke was lying in wait.

I had a Wordless Wednesday post all ready for you guys this morning, but it'll have to wait. Because I have words.

So, you guys remember the Diet Coke that ruined my day last week, right?

It struck again.

OK, this is the point where I'm forced to confess the state of my car. My husband will read this and yell "IT'S DISGUSTING." He won't even sit in my car. Which is good, because there's no room for him.

It's not my fault! You've seen this, right?

I saw this on Facebook and according to that little logo in the corner, it originated at nickmom.com
This is a photo of my passenger seat that I snapped this morning when I got to work. It is undoctored.

I count 3 empty Mountain Dew containers. A box of...stuff. A bag of foam pistols (long story). Some dirty kid clothes (the clothes are dirty, not the kid. Mostly). A random cup. A bag of cherries from my mother's tree. My laptop. A ziploc bag filled with crushed graham crackers. And that's the FRONT SEAT.
So. This morning I got the kids in the car, and I got all our stuff in the car (no small feat), and I got in the car, and I realized I had no free cupholder for my morning Dew.

Because that Diet Coke was still there. Yes, it was still there a week later. And because it's Diet Coke, it was still completely full.

I almost just set it on the garage floor to deal with later, but no, I decided to be responsible and take it out to the garbage.

So I took this large, very full, week-old Diet Coke outside, and I opened the lid to the trash can, and I dropped it in. As I was about to let go I thought, wait, I should dump it out, right? Like, in the dirt or something? I mean that's a lot of liquid to dump in the trash can. Plus I think the trash can is empty because it was just trash day so there are no cushy bags of used diapers to break the fall; this thing is going to hit the bottom of the can and splatter.

I thought all these thoughts in the split second before I let go. I leaned forward to confirm that the can was, in fact, empty.

It was.

But I lost my grip. I dropped the cup. While I was still poised OVER the can, peering down at the bottom.

It didn't splatter. Splatter doesn't cover it. Not remotely.

It was like...I'd shot a Diet Coke missile. And the missile hit an immovable object at high velocity and backfired STRAIGHT INTO MY STUPID FACE.

It was indescribable. Truly. One second I'm being a responsible adult, tossing my week-old Diet Coke into the trash can instead of leaving it on my garage floor. The next I am drenched in week-old Diet Coke. Diet Coke that has been sitting in my black car, in June, in California, for a week.

Thank goodness I wear glasses. That's all I can say. My glasses were coated in it but my eyes were largely protected. Until it began to drip, that is.

I turned around and went back into the garage, in a state of shock. My poor children. Mommy steps outside for a moment, her usual svelte and together self (ha), and steps back in looking like a swamp monster. My hair was dripping, my shirt splattered in sticky brown goo, my eyes squeezed shut to block out the toxins.

I went inside and spent a few minutes mopping up. Did you know week-old Diet Coke is an effective makeup remover? Ate my foundation right off my face. Mascara was dripping down my cheeks. And my hair. Oh, my hair.

You guys, my kids were already in the car! It was time to go! I took two minutes to rub a wet wash cloth over my face and through my hair, changed my shirt, rinsed my glasses, and...off we go!

So that's why I was late to work this morning.

How much of that story do you think my boss needs to hear?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

My "SORRY!" face

So I went to the gas station the other day.

Because I needed gas.

All the pumps were full except one, and that one was on the wrong side, so I would have had to back in. Only as a general rule I don't drive backwards in public or crowded spaces, because driving backwards has a tendency to make me run into things.

Shut up.

So. I'm looking at this gas pump, and I'm thinking, you know? A lot of these stations have those extra long hoses now, that are made to go on either side of the car.

Now, usually those gas stations have signs indicating that their hoses are extra long and made to go on either side of the car.

You know. Like this.


And I saw no such sign. But, using my highly mathematical brain, I eyeballed the hose and decided it was probably long enough.

Do I really need to tell you the outcome of that experiment?

It wasn't long enough, you guys.

I swiped my card, pushed the start button, dragged the nozzle...halfway around the back of my car. No dice.

Great. Now people were watching, of course. So I put the nozzle back. I'd have to turn around. But my credit card was already in that pump, so I needed to hurry up and get turned around and get back. I climbed back into the car just as this guy pulled up in front of me and hit his blinker, obviously assuming I was leaving.

But I was not leaving. I pulled out into the space right in front of him and executed a stunningly graceful 8- or 9- or possibly 13-point turn until I was facing the right direction, and sloooooowly backed in, up to the pump. I didn't hit anything! So there's that.

While I was doing this, of course, I looked at the guy and shot him my silent "SORRY!" face. You know that face? You have one, too. This face, in my head, is not only totally comprehensible as meaning "SORRY," it's also so very adorable that nobody could possibly remain irritated with me while I'm making it.

In actuality...

I mean...that totally looks like I'm saying "SORRY," right??
By the time I finished this whole spectacle, of course, the machine had canceled my transaction and proceeded to sit there, frozen, for a good 3 minutes until it finally cleared out and let me start over.

By then there were like 4 open spots that would have been on the right side of my car. Turn-signal dude just shook his head and took one of those.

SORRY.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

My Daring Journey Through the Impassable Labyrinth; or, my trip to H&M

Yesterday was the Girl Scouts' trip to Build-a-Bear. It's the Girl Scouts' 100th anniversary, you know. So Build-a-Bear has like, a super special Girl Scout bear and all our girls got to go make one. YAY!

OK yeah, that's actually pretty cute.
So I left work, ran to the babysitter's house, packed up the kids and rushed out there to make it in time. Just slid in as they were getting started. I'm already looking at my watch (OK, my phone, who wears a watch?) and calculating what time we'll be home so I can make dinner and get some housework in before I have to start filling Etsy orders, catching up on The Bachelorette, sleeping, etc. I'm figuring what, 30 minutes at Build-a-Bear? 45?

Build-a-Bear was a TWO HOUR EVENT, you guys. TWO. HOURS.

Oh, and I had my toddler in the stroller, already stretching his little arms as far as they'll reach to get all the shiny pretty Bear outfits and accessories that are all right at his eye level and that all cost like, more than ACTUAL clothing I buy for my ACTUAL children.

You can buy your Bear a Bear iPod. I'm serious. Except I think it's called an "iPaw." I'm still serious.

Monster knows a lot of words now. He was demonstrating with enthusiasm his mastery of "DOWN" and "MINE" at Build-a-Bear.

This face means "Well, hello there. I am adorable and I will destroy you."
So I left. I mean, I left my Girl Scout there to Build her Bear, and the Monster and I took off, with the Girl Scout leader's blessing ("DOWN! MINE! DOWN!"). Whew. Freedom! In the mall!

And this, friends, is the point in the story where I make an Alarming Discovery.

I? Am old.

Maybe you don't find this alarming. It's true, I've been old for awhile now. I thought I knew this. But there's nothing quite like 2 hours in a mall to really drive that point home.

I was bored.

In the mall.

I took three steps into Forever 21.  And you know what? They could name their store Forever a Two-Headed Unicorn, but walking in there wouldn't make me one of those, either. I am, in fact, 30.

So I left Forever 21 and headed to H&M. I'd never been to H&M, mostly because H&M is not located inside Target. But I'd heard they had cute kids' stuff for pretty cheap, so off I went with my stroller.

I DID find some cute kids' stuff, and some of it was cheap. I got the Princess a cute little purple sundress, and the Monster found a Lightening McQueen hat ("MINE! CAR! MINE! HAT! CAR! MINE!"), so I went ahead and bought that, too.

Or I tried to.

I couldn't actually find the cash register. I mean, I did, eventually. But it took me time, you guys. Like, some real time. I passed those Lightening McQueen hats ("MINE!") at least seven times. I was starting to get scared. I found the exit a few times, but I had to buy ("MINE!! HAT!!") the stuff I wanted ("MINE!!") and WHY would they hide the place you go to give them money?

I was just really starting to panic, and considering consulting my GPS to see if Google Street had an H&M Aisle View option or something, when suddenly, as if by magic, I was in line! There was a cashier! I planted my feet and kept my stare locked on her, lest she disappear. I might have creeped her out a little. But you've gotta do what you've gotta do. I only had one extra diaper in my purse, you guys, we could NOT get lost in there again.

But we did.

We paid without incident, and the Monster put HIS hat on HIS head and glared at me with triumph or something, and off we went. Just...this way...right?

They have mirrors.

And then they have weird partitions that look like mirrors, except there's nothing there, it's just a weird faux partition and you can walk right through it, except not THIS one, THIS one is actually a mirror, and look! Lightening McQueen hats! "MINE! HAT!"

I got lost again! Like, truly, deeply, intricately lost. I clutched my H&M bag and my stroller handles and began to make plans. Would we have to sleep here? What would we eat? Would the Princess find us? Maybe the Build-a-Bear people would bring her here? But what if they got stuck too?? SAVE YOURSELF, PRINCESS! GO BACK TO THE BEARS, YOU'RE SAFE THERE!

Seriously, I wandered around for a good 10 minutes AFTER I was done shopping. H&M exists on a different plane than the rest of the mall. It's in its own dimension, and it is terrifying.

Eventually, you'll be happy to hear, the otherworldly beings in charge of H&M saw fit to release me, and I did find my way out.

And I was parched. (Side note: what is it about malls that makes you so thirsty? Or is that just me? Discuss.) I wanted a Mountain Dew real bad. And didn't I deserve one, after what I'd been through?! Alas, the soda machines in the Mall of No Escape have only Coke products. I hate bottled Coke, but fountain Coke is OK. So I headed to the food court.

The food court wanted $2.99 for a little fountain drink. I almost paid it, but then I looked at my phone and realized that the two hours had almost completely elapsed while I was stuck in the parallel universe that is H&M, and it was almost time to pick up my Girl Scout and leave this place! And there's a McDonald's right across from the mall, and they can give me a large Coke for $1 instead of a small for $2.99. I'll wait. And that Coke will taste SO GOOD.

This is called foreshadowing, you guys.

So we went back to Build-a-Bear, and the Girl Scouts were still in the process of stitching their Bears' backs shut and cramming stuffed hearts into their body cavities. And then of course, the brand-new Bears needed baths at the Bear Bath Station.

Hang on, Mom. Don't rush me. This bear has dirty feet. She needs a full-service air pedicure.
And then there was a whole dance routine (no, really), and then there was still story time and then the Build-a-Bear girl asked them all to recite the Girl Scout Promise, which most of them could not do (they're Daisies!).

And then of course Princess wanted SHOES for her bear and I refused because I'm EVIL so we had to have that discussion ("MINE! BEAR! DOWN! MINE!!") and I showed her the dress I got her and she twirled and showed all her Girl Scout friends and then she gave it back and still wanted Bear shoes but I wasn't budging because I am EVIL.

PLEEEEEEEEEEEASE??? She NEEDS shoes!
Why you gotta be so evil?
Finally, we left the mall. We drove straight to McDonald's. I was so, so thirsty. I ordered a large Coke and drove off into the sunset.

They gave me a Diet Coke.

****************************
Oh snap. There's more. Read That Diet Coke was Lying in Wait.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner



Not really. I don't give away chicken dinners here.

I DO, however, give away merchandise from the fabulous Sticky Chic Boutique on Etsy!

Personalized acrylic tumbler with lid and straw

Thanks to everybody who entered my very first giveaway, and helped me "break in" my Etsy shop. I appreciate you all.

And now to the good stuff. The winner!

Random.org chose this person, not me, so send your hate mail to them.

The winner is...

Entry #54, Amanda Fransen!!!!

Congrats, Amanda! Let me know which of the 3 prize choices you'd like, and we'll get started designing something Sticky Chic just for you!

BUT WAIT! Here's something for the rest of you losers valued friends.

I'm exactly like Oprah. Check it:

EVERYBODY IN THE AUDIENCE receives a coupon code for 15% off your ENTIRE order at Sticky Chic Boutique!

So go visit the shop and buy that thing you were hoping to win. Don't see exactly what you want? Dude, it's CUSTOM vinyl art! Just shoot me an email, a comment, a tweet, a smoke signal*, and I will design something just for you.

 Use coupon code NEARLYNORMAL for your 15% off through June 15, 2012.


*I cannot guarantee satisfaction if you choose this method of communication.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

An Introduction and a GIVEAWAY!

I have to tell you guys why I've been largely M.I.A. lately. It's partly due to my hectic work schedule, like I told you last time I posted. But there's something else. I have an announcement.

I have a new baby!

No, not that kind of baby.

I'm talking about my Etsy shop, Sticky Chic Boutique!

I make vinyl wall decals. You know, the removable kind that look hand-painted? They're all the rage in home decor. They're sticky, and they're chic. Get it? I knew you would. I have such smart, stylish readers.

Photo by Ashley Erin Photography.
Get the decal here.
I also make car decals, painted signs and subway art, and personalized items like water bottles and tumblers.

Photo by Ashley Erin Photography.
Get the tumbler here.

Photos by me (in case you couldn't tell by the inferior quality).
Get the beach bucket here.

Now that the shop is more or less established, I promise not to abandon you again. I love this blog and I love YOU, but what can I say, I love to get my craft on, too. I know, right?? Totally unexpected. This won't become a craft blog or anything, but you might expect to see a few more posts relating to crafts, kinda like this one.

Only now, you can buy the crap I make!

Or...you can win some of that very same crap in my first-ever blog giveaway!

That's right! To make up for leaving you all these weeks, I'm introducing you to my shop with a giveaway. The winner will receive ONE of the following (winner's choice!):

1. One custom tumbler, or
2. One 12"x12" custom wall decal, or
3. One custom kids' sand bucket and water bottle set

See how nice I am??

This is good stuff, you guys. You already know I'm beautiful and talented, and now in addition to allowing you to read my words, I'm allowing you to purchase items I have actually made with my hands. You're welcome.

Look! It's a Rafflecopter widget. Get to it:


a Rafflecopter giveaway


I love you guys, and I've missed you. I'm back on the blogging horse now, new and improved with crap for sale.

The winner will be contacted by email sometime after the contest ends. I know I'm supposed to give you some kind of to-the-minute winner notification schedule but that's not really how I roll. If you win, you'll know about it. Promise.

*contest only open to residents of the United States. Sorry, lovely foreigners! I love you but I can't afford to ship you free stuff!*

Monday, May 14, 2012

Reasons I don't like you: master's student edition

You guys.

I'm sorry.

That was like, an unprecedented dry spell, wasn't it?

I'm back now.

Here's the deal: May is Hell Month in the life of Alyssa.

See, my regular, full-time day job is at a university. One of my duties is editing and compiling the academic catalog each year. This wraps up in May so it's a very busy month in my day job.

My second, side job is as a Thesis Reader, also for the university. I proofread master's theses and doctoral dissertations before they go to publication. Students turn them in each year in, you guessed it...May. At the moment I have 14 of these (ranging from 50 to 200 pages, depending on the discipline and on the student and quite frankly, on the student's discipline), all due back by the end of the month.

Then there's my third job, blogging. And also my new Etsy shop (coming soon: an actual post featuring products from said Etsy shop and possibly even a giveaway!).

And oh yeah, I have a husband and two children and a home and laundry and what not.

So. That's why you haven't seen much of me.

Thesis reading is a fun job. By fun I mean not really fun so much as interesting except when it's not interesting at all and it's excruciatingly boring or worse, painful.

I've been doing this for 5 years now and I'm quite good at it. I can tell when I open one whether it'll be fun or interesting or boring or painful. Here are some of my red flags.

1. If your thesis is more than an inch thick, I don't like you.
2. If your major is anything in Education, chances are, I don't like you. And also I fear for the youth of America.
3. If there's a typo on your title page (YES IT HAPPENS), I really don't like you.
4. If I go to cross-check your references and I can't find John Bowling because he's on page 4 of the reference list, I don't like you. Anybody whose name begins with B should appear on the first page. If Bowling is on page 4 THAT'S TOO MANY REFERENCES FOR ME TO CHECK AND GUESS WHAT I DON'T LIKE YOU.
5. If your thesis contains more than 2 tables, I don't like you.
6. If your thesis contains figures, I don't like you.
7. If you use a lot of words like "t-test" and "bivariate" and your thesis is peppered with seemingly random italicized letters like n and s, I don't really like you. Yes I know what this stuff means but I don't want to and I blame you.
8. If you're a Psychology major with a concentration in Behavior Analysis and you've written a 150-page thesis about pigeons pecking colored buttons, I do not like you.
9. If your margins are wrong, I don't like you. Seriously. They're margins. If you can't handle setting your margins, I'm terrified of what else I'm about to experience.
10. If you didn't use APA to format your thesis, I don't like you. Yes, I was an English major and we used MLA, but that was more years ago than I care to count, and since then I've become thoroughly converted to APA. I especially don't enjoy having to learn Turabian overnight so I can proofread your thesis.
11. If you didn't proofread, I do not like you.
12. If you misuse hyphens, we will never be friends. I don't like you.
13. If you think "data" is a singular, I don't like you.

So. How has your May been so far?

The good news? In June I get paid for this nonsense and in June I WILL BE RICH. And then maybe I'll like all these people a little more.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The one in which I sell out. Holla!

So have you guys heard of Become.com? I hadn't either! But check it out. You can go there and buy, like, anything. It's like Costco on your computer.

Except better.

They use some kind of advanced cutting-edge search engine technology so you find exactly what you're looking for, without all the spam and junk. Like distressed cowboy boots. Because, hello, like I can be bothered to distress my own cowboy boots? Um, no. It's not like I'm going to wear them anywhere more distressing than the mall or dropping my kids off at school. So they really need to bring the stress with them.

Or if you're shopping for somebody who's not me (I'm not sure why you would do that, but just go with it), you might be interested in some really nice hiking and outdoor gear (again, please note: not me). They've got some really good prices on guide series clothes. Were I the hiking type, I might really need this vest.

Or if you are shopping for me (yay! You shouldn't have!), you might like these jean jackets for juniors. What?? I can still shop in Juniors, right? Right? LOOK HOW CUTE.

OK, fine. I'll just take one of these.

What I really love about this site is how huge the selection is, comparing prices and items from all over the web, and how well organized it is, with categories like "Top Deals" and "Hot Products." They have helpful Top 10 lists, like Top 10 Motivational Posters to get a Coworker (you know, to passive-aggressively tell him what a loser he is and that you wish he'd do his job properly), and Top 10 Gifts for Expectant Moms (slightly less pass-aggressive).



You may have figured out that I was paid actual cash money to write this post (holla!). But of course, all words and opinions and sentences and typos are 100% my own. That's how I roll. Go visit Become.com so they don't regret working with me.

Friday, April 20, 2012

House of Germs

So. I've been M.I.A. all week because I'm siiiiiiiiick. My kids were sick first, and then I was sick, and now they're better and I'm still sick which is somehow worse because OH MY GOODNESS WHY CAN'T THEY JUST PLAY QUIETLY SO I CAN REST?

Also my dogs are making me insane. I mean, they're worse than the kids, quite honestly. Right now the Princess is at school (where she might be annoying somebody, but it ain't me), and the Monster is very nicely playing in the backyard (which I can see from where I'm sitting, shut up), and one of the dogs (it's India) is standing at the back door WHINING to be let in. She's practically screaming. If dogs could scream. I mean, really, India? It's a beautiful day. You're an animal. Go lay in the dirt and revel in your dirty animalness. I don't want to get up and let you in.

This all started when the Princess randomly woke up Monday morning with the dreaded pink eye. That's what her pediatrician calls it. "The pink eye." "Yes, she does have the pink eye."

She'd been on spring break all week, so I can only assume she picked up The Pink Eye during her day trip to the Academy of Sciences museum in San Francisco with her father. She had a wonderful time at the museum, and we highly recommend it if you're visiting the Bay Area with children. Unless you don't like communicable diseases. I'm kidding. Maybe.

I'm pretty sure this exhibit was called "DIY Bacterial Eye Infection."
So I called in sick, took her to the doctor. "Yes, she does have the pink eye," he told me. "That is one bright pink eye." Yes, yes it is, thank you.

"Also her ears and throat are infected." Say what? Yeah. So we came home with eye drops AND delicious refrigerated amoxicillin.


Note: Children do not like eye drops. Have you ever tried to pry open the eyes of another person when that person is determined to keep them shut? It is surprisingly difficult. Who knew eyelids were so strong?


I spent Monday and Tuesday sanitizing everybody's hands and toys and screaming at reminding her not to TOUCH her BROTHER but sure enough, he woke up Wednesday with his own case of The Pink Eye. Princess was ready to go back to school at this point, so I took her to school, then took Monster back to Kaiser. Thankfully we didn't have to see the doctor again, I just shot him an email to say "Yup, the other kid has it, too" and he called in the prescription. But I did have to drive 20 minutes to the Kaiser pharmacy, and sit there with a toddler.

Meanwhile I was feeling pretty icky myself, but not really paying attention to it because I was busy being a caring and nurturing mother. By Wednesday night I was sitting on the couch in a cold sweat, shivering and dizzy, my throat on fire and my head spinning.

Yesterday is a blur.

Today I'm still fairly miserable but maybe only like, 85% as miserable as yesterday? So that's a good sign.

In other news, I opened an etsy shop. You should check it out. Or maybe wait a couple weeks and check it out when I'm not sick and have had a chance to actually produce some art and list it there. Or check it out now out of pity. I sell vinyl wall decals and soon will be adding some hand-painted wall art (kinda like this).

Thanks for hanging around even when I'm neglectful and contagious.

I have to go let my dog in.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Instagram Friday. I just made that up.

So have you heard of this Instagram? Or as I call it, one more tool to support my obsessive need to observe and measure exactly how much complete strangers like me?

According to the very useful (not) website:
It’s a fastbeautiful and fun way to share your photos with friends and family.
Snap a picture, choose a filter to transform its look and feel, then post to Instagram. Share to Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr too – it's as easy as pie. It's photo sharing, reinvented.
It's as easy as PIE, people. Actually what does that even mean? I've made pie. It's not easy.

Moving on.

I have found it (Instagram, not pie) is relatively easy, and of course I enjoy pretending to be artistic by applying fuzzy sepia toned filters over photos I snap with my phone. Who wouldn't. We've all spent hundreds of dollars on the highest quality phones and digital cameras we can get, we're obsessed with HD and megapixels and digital vs. optical zoom. But what we really want is to have photos that look like they were taken with a Polaroid circa 1974.

If you know all this, you may also have heard that Instagram became available for Android recently. Androids users rejoiced. iPhone elitists wept and also threw up a little bit in their mouths. Mark Zuckerberg spent a billion dollars because, why not.

It's all very exciting.

As Android riff-raff myself, I'm a late Instagram adopter. I've now taken exactly 8 photos on my Instagram account, including this one:

You may view it at Instagram here.
The Princess skinned her knees. Climbing a tree. In her Easter dress. This photo was cute to begin with, but when I added the "Low-Fi" filter, it became FABULOUS, right??

Are you on Instagram? Do you know what it's for? Could you let me know?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

DIY Wall Art Tutorial


Today I'm going to pretend to be a cool, crafty DIY blogger and offer you a tutorial. Mostly because I totally made that awesome piece of art up there and I'm feeling a little full of myself right now, and want to share my creative genius with the world. 

So. To make your own distressed wall art, you will need:
  • Wood. I used a pair of very old shelves that I've had in my garage forever, the hardware long since lost. Mine were each 9" x 40" (so side by side the piece is 18"x40") which was perfect to fill the huge, high-ceilinged empty spot above my mantle, but you can use whatever size you want to fit the space you need to fill. You can use old wood or new wood. Either way, you're going to beat the crap out of it before you're finished.
  • Paint. I used cheap acrylic paint. Like the kind you can get at Wal-Mart for 97 cents a bottle? That kind. Use whatever paint you like to use. Maybe spray paint would have been easier; that did occur to me somewhere around my 4th coat. Also, possibly primer would have helped.
  • Tools. Like, a hammer, some nails, or a drill and some screws or something. And a sander, or just sandpaper if you want to do this the hard way.
  • A stencil. If you're like me and have a Silhouette Cameo, then you're cool and we can be friends. And also you can cut whatever kind of stencil you want. Mine is a shape I bought from the Silhouette Store. I used my Silhouette to cut it on regular old Con-Tact paper, the kind you line shelves with. My paper is patterned just because I had some laying around but clear would work too.

    You can also buy a stencil, or cut it out with an X-Acto knife, or whatever other stuff peasants without Silhouettes do. (I'm kidding. You're not a peasant. This Silhouette is going to my head. You should get one. Or just visit my Etsy shop and order a stencil. Seriously. I would do that for you.)

UPDATE: I cannot sell THIS exact shape, because I purchased the file way back when this post was new, long before I was in the decal business, and it's for personal use only. However, I have many other birdcages (and lots of other awesome stuff!) in my Etsy shop. Most are listed as vinyl decals, but any of them can be used as a stencil just like this! 

Con-Tact paper stencil

OK. So.

Step 1. I took the two old shelves and sanded them down. They had previously been stained so I had to sand all that off. I don't have a picture of that. Sorry. I mean, it's some wood being sanded. Use your imagination.

Step 2. I painted both boards turquoise. This is the color I want the shape to turn out, and it's the first color to go on the wood. Paint the edges, too.

I white-washed over my turquoise to weather it and dull it down a little because it was a little darker than I wanted.

Like this. Except imagine the boards are still two separate pieces, and the stencil isn't there yet.
Look, I'm not really a DIY blogger, ok? I forgot to take photos.

Bonus Step: Be sure to get some paint on the garage floor, your husband will love that.

Step 3. Next I nailed the boards together on the back with some scrap MDF we had in the garage. You could use screws if you want to get fancy like that.

They didn't line up perfectly, because they're old junky boards, but that's ok. 

Step 4. Next, I applied my contact paper stencil. You use the positive image, not the negative space, if that makes any sense. Because I want to cover the part I want to keep turquoise. Press down every edge very firmly. This part is important because you don't want paint to bleed under.


Step 5. I failed to photograph this part, but the next step is important: paint over the stencil with more turquoise. This is so if you DO get any bleeding edges, the color that bleeds under is the color you want under there. It seals the edges so the next color can't get under.

Step 6. Paint the entire thing white, or whatever color you want the background to be. This took several coats, and this is the point where I kind of wished I had spray paint. Honestly though it doesn't matter if it's perfect, as you're going to distress it later anyway. Just make sure the stencil in particular is well-covered, so you have a nice contrast when you peel it off.


The stencil is still under there.
Step 7. Remove the stencil. This is the point where I may have panicked a tiny bit. I could barely see the stencil, and it's a very intricate shape, so I was concerned about getting it off. But I dove in and found an edge, and it came off pretty easily. You should do this BEFORE it completely dries, so the paint doesn't peel up with it. It's messy. You can do it.

If the paint does peel a little, you can probably touch it up. I didn't bother because the sander would take care of it anyway. It's distressed, people!

Step 8. This is the fun part. Finally, after the stencil is up and the paint is totally dry, it's time to distress the entire thing. Take your sander and go at it with some fine-grain paper, concentrating on the edges. You've got that nice turquoise layer underneath the white, so when you go over it with the sander it reveals the color, and if you sand a little deeper it reveals the wood.

I also used a hammer to mar the wood, and pressed the sander down hard in a few spots to make it look nice and beat up.


VOILA! ART!