Sunday, October 31, 2010

Kurt's snoring is terrifying me right now. How appropriate.



Today I won't be doing my usual (occasional) What I Did When I Wasn't Here
(it was a slow week, and I didn't do much).

Instead, welcome to our first-ever edition of:


I am going to provide you with links to every Halloween-ish, or in some way terrifying, post I have ever written.

Click in these links. IF YOU DARE.

Is This Creepy?

Always A Good Way To Kill A Moment
(What? It says "kill" in the title. And I'm pretty sure Kurt was horrified).

What's Your Super Power?

The Zombie Post

I Probably Have Hundreds Of Ghosts All Up In My Nose Hair

The Post That Grossed Out Every Single Reader.

Trick Or Treat!

A Halloween Craft


Happy Halloween!

------------

What's the creepiest post you've ever written? Add the URL in your comment, because I want to come read it!

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Saturday, October 30, 2010

I wish this didn't happen so often.



Sometimes, when I wake up from a particularly vivid dream, it takes a few minutes for me to remember about my mom.

This breaks my heart.


Friday, October 29, 2010

How to use stick figures to spice up your blog posts



Disclaimer: this is a tutorial post. If you aren't into tutorials, you can just read a different post. I recommend the favorites tab.
My style of photography has been getting some attention lately.

I don't know if it's the camera model, the composition, or my unique finishing process that appeals to so many of you. Maybe it's a combination of all three?


Today I am going to share some tips and tricks on how to give your photos that nice, two dimensional look.

(to see me in action, you can just skip down to the bottom of this post. I made a video)

Draw Yourself A Stick Figure.

I use Microsoft Paint. It's simple, free, and already on your computer. Unless you use an Apple. In which case, you should try Paintbrush, which is basically the same thing, only for Macs.

I use the circle tool and the straight line tool a lot, but you can also free hand it using the paint brush tool, the way Allie does on Hyperbole and a Half.

Her style gets her "between 1 and 2 million unique visitors a month (with about 4 million total page views)". Here is one of her pictures:

(It's ok, she let's you use her pictures so long as you link back, and don't try to pass them off as yours)

So, you know, you can do whatever you want.

There's no "right way" to do stick figures. This is just my way.

For my faces, I zoom in using the magnifying glass tool. You will have to play around to get the right expression.


Also, hair. Hair can be difficult.



Add the other characters in your picture, and any furniture that you want.


Save your picture. I just save it as a .bmp on my desktop.

Edit like a pro

Have you heard of picnik.com? Google just bought them, and it is a fantastic site. It's also free. But I pay $2.08/month to use the premium features (why use the free version when you can pay for it?).

You could probably use Photoshop for the editing. But if you are poor like me, picnik is an awesome alternative. Plus The Bloggess uses it.

I am just going to assume you guys try picnik. Upload your photo.

Then open that photo, and click on the Create tab.


Once in there, I like to click on the Touch Up option. On the left, I scroll down until I see the Blush tool. You can adjust the size and the color, and it really makes them look more lifelike.

Then click on Stickers. There are like a million sticker options.


And they have some awesome Seasonal stuff.


To add words, click on the Text tab. Select a font, and type into the text box on the left. Click "add".

  (click to enlarge)

When a screen pops up, drag the font color to black (or whatever color you'd like). You can change the size, and drag the text to where you want it.

To change the tilt of the words, hover your mouse over the letters, and move the top dot around.

If you are writing more than a single line of text, and you want the colors to match, you can copy the color code from one, and paste it in the other.


Experiment in picnik for a while. It's really fun once you get the hang of it.


Once you are satisfied, click the Edit tab. You can crop the photo, or just check the size to make sure it will fit ok in your blog post.

The photos in my posts are usually around 400px wide.


Then save the photo. Picnik lets you save it to your computer, or they have tons of other options (picasa, photobucket, facebook, etc).

(click to enlarge)

Now use those suckers!

(This next part is for Blogger only, because that's what I use.)

Upload the picture to your blog post in Compose mode.


After it's uploaded, click on the picture. A gray bar will come up along the bottom of it- click Original Size (this will keep it from becoming pixelated).


To move the picture to a different spot in your blog post, go into Edit HTML mode, and cut and paste that large block of code that represents the picture. You can paste it wherever you would like.

Then hit preview. How does it look?

If the answer is "FANTASTIC", hit publish, and you're done!

There you go. That's how I do it.

Now go experiment, and find a style that fits your blog!

(Why yes, this was incredibly long. But I wanted to be as helpful as possible. You're welcome).

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UPDATE: Last night I decided that I could really use some more stress in my life. And so I made a video. Now can watch me do all this stuff.

Yeah. It took HOURS to figure out (and yet, it is only a couple minutes long).I never really went to bed.

Warning: There is no sound. I recommend turning on some sexy background music while you are watching this.

Recommended sexy music: Let's get it on, Fire, Business time.


Click here to watch it on a larger screen. <--- I highly recommend this, because then you'll be able to see what's going on.





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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Coming Soon To A Monitor Near You



I got an email from The Empress. She really likes my stick figures, and she wanted to know how I made them.

"Can you tell me how to do stick figurin'? That would be something I could get into." -The Empress

I immediately wrote a crazy long email full of instructions, because I am a great friend. Also, because I was bored. And trying to impress her.

...So there were a lot of reasons. But mostly? I am a great friend.

A few hours later, she responded.

"This would make an AWESOME POST TUTORIAL! If you tweeted out "how to draw stick figure cartoons in your blog" you'd crash your site."
-The Empress

Sold. I would LOVE to crash my site.

I started working on it right away, and it's almost ready. And by "almost" I mean "kind of" and I'll probably be up all night working on it.

Because tomorrow I am posting the crap out of it.


Get ready guys.

(also, if you want to help with that whole 'crash my site' thing, you can tweet, facebook, blog, and shout about it from the rooftops)
(but you don't have to)
(but it would be awesome)

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Someone hacked my blog, and is redirecting my traffic!



I woke up this morning to a text from my sister, Chantel.
"I want to read your Disneyland post, but every time I got to your blog, it takes me to some weird website. I don't know if it's my computer, or you."
I ran out to the computer, and tried it myself. I typed in lifeinthepitts.com, crossed my fingers, hit enter...

...and it redirected me. Bastards.

I quickly changed my password, and started searching on google.

It was disheartening.

"...I don't know who my webhost is!"

"...Crap, I haven't backed up my blog in months!!"

"...But I haven't added any new widgets!!!"

Things were looking grim.

I decided to start with something simple. I went into my design page, and deleted everything in my sidebar. Once all the widgets were gone, even the seemingly harmless ones, I swallowed hard. Then I typed in my url, and hit enter...

...and it worked just fine.

Oh yeah. I owned that malware! There's no stopping the Helena. See this dance? That's a victory dance. Because you lost, widget. That wasn't luck, my friend. That was SKILL.

...Ok, it was luck.

I got lucky. I was lucky that it was just some sneaky widget hacking my site, and now things are back to normal.

Next time I might not be so fortunate.

When I was doing my google search, I saw a lot of stories from people whose entire blogs were deleted, and their posts were gone.

Just...gone.

I can't imagine what that would feel like. Well ok, I can, and it would be awful.

I put my heart into this blog. It's the closest thing to a journal I will ever have. I have spent so many hours typing out my thoughts, tweaking the wording, reading your comments. And if that was just gone, it would be heartbreaking.

It might seem silly to be so attached to a website, but I'm sure my blogging friends understand what I'm saying.

For the rest of you? Imagine waking up one morning, and not being able to find your puppy. Someone stole him while you weren't looking, and there isn't even a ransom note. For all you know, he's being kept in the back of a Filipino restaurant, and the customers are getting hungry.

It's just like that. Only, you know, less bloody.

This is why I will be downloading my blog more regularly.

Also? Why I love my sister (she's useful).

So if you tried to visit last night/this morning, I am sorry you were redirected. But hey, it could have been worse, right? The site it went to was pretty tame. No naked grandma's named Bambi, crocheting seductively.

....Which gives me an idea for another post.

--------

Here is a link which describes how to backup your Blogger blog, and here is an updated one for Wordpress, straight from the comments section.

--------


And I'm linking this up to Small Treasures Tuesday (which is open all week long). Because Naked Grandma's are a treasure.



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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Where the heck were you this weekend??



Guess where I went this weekend?

THE HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH.

No, I'm not talking about the World of Warcraft Convention (although according to our hotel neighbor, "it freaking rocked, man!").

I'm talking about Disney Land.

Obviously.

We've never been before, and so this year my Dad decided to take us all. And by "all" I mean "most" because 3 people couldn't make it. Jimmy, Annie, and Kurt.

Yup, that's right. I left my husband behind.

Thanks to the Give A Day, Get A Day program, we were able to get 8 people into Disney for around $240. Which is a sweet deal.

And I loved it.

I would live there if I thought they wouldn't catch me.

I don't have any pictures yet, because my camera is still broken. And so for now, I will show you my awesome souvenir:




That's right. I'm limping.

You're welcome for sharing.

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Marriage Tip #1: Don't marry Kurt.



"Hey Kurt, look! Someone made the bed. Isn't that awesome and exciting?"

"Awww, is it fishing-for-compliments time? That's my second favorite time of the day."

....I hate him.

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

I am not The Pioneer Woman. And that's ok.



Let me introduce you to The Empress. 


 She is the writer behind Good Day, Regular People.


 And she is fantastic.

We were actually supposed swap blogs last week, but the Empress is busy, and I am lazy, and so it didn't happen until today. Which? Is perfectly ok with me.

My guest post is titled "Top ten ways to find your voice, and keep your blogging passion" (you know you want to go read it).

And I am nicknaming this post by The Empress: "I am not The Pioneer Woman. And that's ok." (In fact, that's what I'm going to put in the Title line. Score.)

She has some very wise words that we all need to read. So, without further ado, I present:

Maybe I'm Unique In This, But I Highly Doubt It

Helena and I have decided to take on "What To Blog" and "How To Blog" as our guest post swaps through the PugsTribe Humor Bloggers via SITS e-harmony date match. And, may I say, so far so good, I'm definitely not losing this cute little chicky's number.

Let's talk about all things Comparing here.

Comparing ourselves to other bloggers, other blogs, other posts.

It's natural, we can't help it, and nothing will kill and shoot your blogging mojo down faster than looking at someone else's blog and saying, "I've got nothin'. I'm just pushing the chair away, turning off the computer, and it was nice while it lasted, but I got nothin'."

The thing is, we are all different. We bring something new and unique to someone's world, and those we strike a chord with, will return. The readers that like us, will come back. We can't be all things to everyone. I mean, yes, some can, like The Pioneer Woman...who, holy hell, just go look over there: what CAN'T she show you is more like it.

But, for the rest of the human blogging race, we can only offer who we are, and our own special experiences and style.

We can always improve, learn new things, take on a technical bit of new knowledge, improve stick figurin', and photography know how. All those things are ways we can get better, or offer more. But, for the most part, we can only give what we know.

What I've learned, is that I have to have faith. I have to have faith that there is something in my writing and my blog, that feeds someone out there what they like.

If I go to a blog, and see all sorts of stupendousness there, and then I head back home with my head hanging, well, I can barely lift my shoulders off my knees high enough to hit the keys on the keyboard.

What I have learned to make myself do is:

1. Straighten up that spine.

2. Take a deep, deep breath.

3. Put on a smile, literally.

4. Put the fingers on the keys.

5. Tell myself I am who I am. And only I can do that best. Only me.

6. Just do it. Type away. Smile. Check for typos. Then Post.

If you love to blog, and love to connect and find people who get you, then keep doing it. Don't look at what someone else can do that you can't. Don't tell yourself that someone is so much better than you, they know more than you, their blog is so much cooler than yours.

Just don't.

Your love for what you do, and for who stops to check on you daily, will cross over into those fingertips that tap the keys, and put words out there that will speak to someone.

In other words, only listen to what the good voices in your head tell you to do. The bad guys, pfffffffffft....shove them out the door.

Thank you, Empress. I have struggled with this a lot over the past year, and I wish we had met each other sooner.

So what do you think guys? Did anything stand out to you?

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Homeschooling: My side of the story.



Everybody has something they are afraid of. Kurt is afraid of debt. Chantel is afraid of feet (which is NOT my fault). I am afraid of spiders, guest posting, and people breaking into my apartment and peeing in my trash can.

My mother was afraid of homeschooling.

I was in third grade when we moved into a terrible school system. After exhausting every available option, mom realized that homeschooling was the only thing that made sense for our family.


And so she started teaching all four of us at home.

And then a few years later, when she had another baby? He joined in as well.

That's right. 5 kids, all home, all the time.

And It.Was.Awesome.

Back in the 90's, homeschooling was not exactly popular. Especially not with my grandmother.

Everybody worried constantly about, well, the same things that they worry about today:

"How will your children socialize?"

"How are you qualified to teach?"

"What about standardized testing?"

"Will they ever get into college?"

"Will they ever shower??" <---that one was mostly aimed at me.

"Will they end up living in a cave, afraid of human contact, only going out at night to drink the blood of stray bats?"



(....let's not talk about this one)


This was back before the internet. Before The Pioneer Woman. Before educational tools and curriculum were available at the click of your mouse.

Sometimes it was a struggle to get us to focus. Sometimes she would cry in frustration, and give up for the day. Or the week. Or even the month.


And yet, we turned out just fine.

More than fine. I'd say we turned out awesome.

When we weren't learning, we were helping each other learn. And when we weren't fighting, we were becoming best friends.


We are still best friends.

I'd say I turned out pretty normal (stop laughing).

Most people would never guess that I didn't spend my pre-adolescence dressing like a felony and picking on my classmates (or maybe hiding in the bathroom, praying the mean girls didn't find me).

I think it helps that I started showering regularly.

Most of us went to college. Most of us are married. All of us have good jobs. None of us have kids yet, but since we are all younger than 26, I'd say that's pretty normal.

Despite my Grandmother's dire predictions, all of us are happy.


(see?)


I guess the moral of this story is, not all homeschooled kids are weird.

Or maybe, if it's right for your family, go for it.



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This post was inspired by one of my favorite bloggers, Loralee, who recently decided to homeschool her son.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Did you pee in my trash can?



"Hi this is Helena, from apartment xxxxx. Was there an unscheduled maintenance visit today? Because things were moved around while we were out, and I am really hoping that was you guys. If not, someone broke into our apartment."
---------

Last night I came home from work, and almost tripped over a trash can on my way to the computer.

Rolodex 22351 Mesh round wastebasket, 11-1/2 diameter x 14-1/4h, black
(it looks just like this)


"Weird. Why is this pulled out from under the desk?"

I grabbed it, and went to stick it back where it belongs...

...when a bunch of water came pouring out of it, onto the carpet.

"What the heck??"

That was a lot of water. At least 6 ounces.

I ran to the bathroom and grabbed one of our spare towels. As I knelt there, mopping it up, I sniffed it suspiciously. No scent.

Once I had that under control, I turned my attention to the trash can. There were no cups. No bottles. No bowls or anything else that would hold water. Just a bunch of office papers and tissues.

I checked the ceiling. No leaks.

"What was Kurt thinking?"

---------


A few hours later, I asked him about it.

"Dude, did you move the trash can from under the desk?"

"Nope. I didn't."

""....are you sure?"

"Yeah, Why?"

"And you didn't poor water into it, or put anything wet into it? And by wet, I mean full of water?"

"No. What is this about?"

"Crap. Someone has been in our home."

And so I left that voicemail for the office, the one up at the top of this post.

(They still haven't called back. But I guess it's only 11am.)

Later that night I remembered that the door was locked when I got home. It only locks from the outside, with a key.

How suspicious.

My dad thinks that it's a maintenance worker, sneaking in and using our computer for nasty or illegal things.

Yuck.

(I immediately added a password)

He recommended we get one of these:


Teddy Bear Nanny Cam Hidden Camera - Wired B/W
Teddy Bear Nanny Cam Hidden Camera - Wired B/W



I want to get one of these.


(source)


And one of these.


(source)


And one of these.



Oops. Just kidding, Kurt...


I'm hoping it was nothing. I'm hoping there is a simple explanation. But I'm worried that there's not.


Do you guys have any suggestions?

Or any idea why there was 6 oz of water in my trash can?



**UPDATED: Thy just called back. And it wasn't an office sanctioned visit.**


--------

I am linking this to my sister's Blog Carnival, Small Treasures Tuesday. Because living in fear is a treasure.





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Friday, October 15, 2010

The Pirate's side of the story



Yesterday, I told you guys my side of the story in Who melted my underwear???

And then the Mysterious Pirate left this comment, which I added to the bottom of that post:

For no reason?! Seriously? Are you KIDDING me right now? Have you forgotten that a couple days before this little incident, you stole all of my clothes and my towel from the bathroom while I was showering and I was scared to shower for a week? Or how about the time that you pantsed me while I was dancing in the front of window of our apartment WITH BOYS AROUND? Or when my arch nemesis Gold's Gym called me obsessively because "I" had entered my name in their contest box thing 5 times in one week?! Where are the cutesy little paint drawings of THOSE things, I ASK YOU?!! Yeah you're right, my actions were completely unprovoked.

-Mysterious

Apparently, I left a few details out.

And so here it is, the unabridged version of The Pirate's side of the story. This was originally published on her Xanga account, way back before we knew that her online journal was actually a blog.

An epic tale of shame and embarrassment
Monday, April 10, 2006

I wrote this in an email to my old roommate. Since I spent some time writing it, I thought that I'd post it.

"So me and my roommies have been having a prank war lately, and, considering your love of pranks, I thought that I'd tell you about what happened last night.

I was taking a shower, minding my own business, when my roommate came and stole my towel, my clothes, everybody else's towels, etc and put them all the way on the other end of the hall.

I screamed (like a man) and my other roommate heard me and was going to give my towel back, but then apparently she decided that it would be more fun to see how I would handle the situation. I'm glad that at least she had confidence that I would come up with an appropriate and modest response.

I was starting to get nervous, because, knowing my roommates, if I didn't take matters into my own hands, I could have been in that bathroom for hours, days, etc. And, even worse, I was a sitting duck for whatever other pranks they were undoubtedly planning.


Just as panic was starting to set in and I was considering begging for my book so that I could at least study while I waited, I saw it.

The shower curtain, in all its majestic, mildewy glory.


I swallowed my dignity, wrapped myself up in it, and strutted out with confidence. (Okay, I'll admit that while it was my intention to handle the situation with dignity, when I saw my roommates with the cameras, I probably reacted in a less-than-dignified way.)


That shower curtain was gross and so, naturally, once I had gotten the towel back, I had to shower again.

And then after they stole my towel again (I thought that I had a good hold on it, but apparently I didn't.


In retrospect, I probably shouldn't have yelled "You'll never get it again!" unless I felt some degree of confidence that they wouldn't be able to get it), I had to shower AGAIN.

It was crazy, but, don't worry, I got revenge. (That was after they laughed off my idea of having a roommate meeting to talk about the potential sanitary dangers of one roommate being afraid to shower.)

Okay, I'll admit that my revenge wasn't great. All I did was return the book that my roommate was reading to the Provo library, but, oh man, was that ever a minor inconvenience for her! She chased me the whole way and then she had to beg for her book back.


And I can't wait until our normal roommates find her underwear in a bag in the oven...

(I'll admit it: that last one is pretty immature. That's probably why I'm so proud of it.)"


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Ummmm…sad news. Apparently some people don’t check the oven before they turn it on. So the underwear that I mentioned in my last entry: burnt to a crisp.

The roommate who did it said that she couldn’t even tell what it was when she took it out, because it was so burnt. Oops…my bad. At least it wasn’t ALL of her underwear!

(I added the pictures)

And that is her side of the story. Which may or may not be true.

You guys know me. What do you think?


My Favorite Comment:

"....And thank you for setting the record straight so I don't sound like a lunatic, running around randomly stealing people's underwear and storing it in my oven."

-Mysterious

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Who melted my underwear???



It was our junior year of college, and we had just moved from a really ghetto apartment to a pretty ghetto apartment. It was a step up, if you didn't count the shower (which was more like cement a hole in the wall with a drain than an actual "shower").

Kendar took one look at this place, and announced that she loved us, but not that much, and she was moving into a condo.

Nessa was taking the Fall semester off, to spend with her family back in Texas.

The rest of us all piled into the small 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 6 girl apartment.

It was crowded.

The three random girls who moved in with us were really nice, but kind of proper and disapproving of our ways. And by "ways" I guess I mean our general craziness.

-----


I had a lot of underwear. I kind of collected it. Partly because I had worked at Victoria's Secret two summers before, and ever since then I couldn't pass by a panty table without seeing a pair I just had to have.

....and partly because I hated doing my laundry, and it was easier to just buy new stuff.



One day, The Pirate decided to steal some of that underwear, and stuff it in the oven.

(I still have no idea why)

She only took about half of it, and I didn't even notice.



A few days later, one of our more proper roommates decided to bake some banana bread, and pre-heated the oven.

Without looking inside first.

Even though she had lived with us for months by now, and she really should have known better.

"It was awful! I couldn't even tell what was in there. It was just this melted blob."



That's right, The Pirate melted my underwear in the oven. For no reason!

...well, ok. Maybe she did have reasons.

But this?? This was going too far.

It was so on.

-----


Here is my favorite comment:

For no reason?! Seriously? Are you KIDDING me right now? Have you forgotten that a couple days before this little incident, you stole all of my clothes and my towel from the bathroom while I was showering and I was scared to shower for a week? Or how about the time that you pantsed me while I was dancing in the front of window of our apartment WITH BOYS AROUND? Or when my arch nemesis Gold's Gym called me obsessively because "I" had entered my name in their contest box thing 5 times in one week?! Where are the cutesy little paint drawings of THOSE things, I ASK YOU?!! Yeah you're right, my actions were completely unprovoked.

-Mysterious

(whoever this person is, she is creeping me out. How did she know all of those things??)

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The usual suspects



Let me introduce you to some of my favorite people: My college roommates.


(an eye patch has been added to protect the not quote innocent)


------



Kirky was my very first roommate, back in the dorms. Our organizational styles didn't really mesh (she had them, I did not), and living in such close quarters was not good for our friendship. Once we moved on to bigger and better apartments, however, we became friends for life. She loves tennis, nail polish, running, and her stuffed gorilla named Gonads (she has since married and had a daughter, and I assume she loves them both to pieces. But we are focusing on the good old days).



I met Nessa on my first day of Freshman Orientation. We hit it off right away. She is incredibly sweet, funny, and short, and she does not do well in awkward situations (for example: when guys sit too close to her, and stroke her hair). Nessa is from Houston, and she loves Korean Soap Operas.



Kendar is the youngest of the group (by almost 2 months). She is stylish, and sporty, and incredibly well traveled. When she isn't running races, or interning in DC, you may find her playing Cello for a world class orchestra, or breaking bones out on the hockey rink. What can I say? She is a girl of many talents.



And then there is Wesha The Pirate. This mysterious person is from the Midwest, and she has a heart of gold.....Surrounded by a layer of crazy, impulsive fun. You cannot be around this girl for more than a few minutes before you are either laughing hysterically, staring uncertainly, or off on a crazy adventure (Probably all three). She loves ABBA more than anything. Except Micro Biology. And Gonorrhea.


Tune in tomorrow for one of the most important lessons I learned in college:
Why You Should Never Leave Your Underwear In The Oven.

(SPOILER ALERT: It's all Wesha's fault)

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