Yeah, I Just Turned 36: Birthday Memories by the Year

A couple months back, I turned 36 (seriously? where have the years gone?). Just after my birthday, I wrote up this list and published it to the List App which I’ve been testing out. Since I intend for this blog to be my content hub going into the future, I thought I’d repost it over here. A nice little tribute to birthdays past — going from childhood to a full-fledged adult in PJs on her birthday.


A look back at some memorable (+ not so memorable) birthdays from yesteryears.

1985/5 years old
Held in our newly built screened-in porch. I had a Rainbow Brite cake. My Mom and her friends painted our faces. (See photo – above: me / below: my sister)


1990/10 years old
I had a slumber party — I got to invite 5 friends. One friend got me a pack of sparklers + a Kirk Cameron poster (she was a big fan). There was drama in the middle of the night where half the girls slept in one room and talked about the girls sleeping in the other room.

1996/16 years old
My 23 year old friend + neighbor took me to get my license. I drove my Mom’s red Chrysler Lebaron convertible for my driving test. That night my sister (14) and I went to the mall + cruised the streets of my hometown (Peoria, IL) while listening to DMB’s ‘Crash’ album.

2001/21 years old
I was interning at WFAA in Dallas on their morning show ‘Good Morning Texas’. After work, I went outlet mall shopping + drank giant frozen strawberry margaritas w/ my aunt. Two days later, a guy (no hablo ingles) ran a red light and slammed into my car (no hay margaritas implicados). I had a rental (a grey Saturn) for the rest of the summer.

2006/26 years old
I was packing up my apartment in Chicago — getting ready for the next week’s cross country move to Newport Beach. That night I went out in Wrigleyville and had a big last hurrah. (Note: During the lead-up to my move, the Real Housewives of OC premiered. I will forever attribute this timing/connection to my love for everything housewives + Bravo.)

2010/30 years old
My first birthday after my move to Australia. I (reluctantly) said goodbye to the twenties + having a summer birthday (damn Southern Hemisphere living). Took a chilly trip to the Barossa Valley for a fun day of wine drinking + an evening at an old hotel w/ my boyfriend (now husband) and friends. The heat went out in our hotel and I slept in my coat.

2015/35 years old
My husband (whose bday is a few days before) and I planned a dinner for 12 friends + then hit the bars of Adelaide after. At 1am my husband fell asleep while sitting at the bar. I continued on without him — playing slots at the casino then wrapped the night with McDonald’s in bed at 3am.

2016/36 years old
I spent the first half the day flying from LAX to ADL + the second half of the day napping. We had a fire in the fireplace, ordered pizza, and watched The Americans. I was asleep by 9pm. Wild times at 36.

Nicholas Sparks: The Stephen King of Chick Flicks

Last night I asked my husband if he knew of Nicholas Sparks. He replied with “no”. After confessing my love for ‘A Walk to Remember’ + ‘The Notebook’ (no brainer) and reminding him that he sat through a TV viewing of ‘Dear John’ (while I was sleeping) a few weeks back — I shared with him that Nicholas Sparks is a book author and that he’s basically the Stephen King of chick flicks. I said that if he Googled “the Stephen King of chick flicks” he’d be sure to find Nicholas Sparks’ name in the top results.

While I pride myself on being a master in the art of Google search terms, I have to admit that I did not bring my A-game this time.  Even after going 10 pages into Google — still no sign of the “the Stephen King of chick flicks”.

A bit of a brief film history lesson for you:

Anyway, because it seems that no one online has ever said “the Stephen King of chick flicks” (yes, there I go again) when speaking about Nicholas Sparks, I’m officially making the exclamation here (+ testing out my SEO skills at the same time).

WordPress: 25% of the web + counting!

When I started at Automattic in February 2012, 16% of the internet was powered by WordPress. Fast forward to this week, according to W3Techs most recent report — WordPress now has a whopping 25% market share! To put it simply, 1 out of every 4 websites have chosen WordPress to power/manage their site (based on data collected from the top 10 million websites). Yep, WordPress isn’t just blogs — it’s a quarter of the web + the world’s biggest content management system by “heaps” (as the Aussies would say)!

Matt recently wrote about this accomplishment on his blog. If you are interested in learning more, I recommend the read. It goes into a bit more detail on the growth + the opportunities that lie ahead.

Sending out huge congrats to everyone that contributed to this milestone — the thousands of people with the same goal of making the web a better place!

Halloween past + present.

I love Halloween! I’m actually baffled to why anyone wouldn’t love it. Come on — the chance to dress up in a costume (getting smiles instead of strange looks) + the opportunity to eat lots of sweet treats without too much guilt… A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.

*Me as Saturday Night Live’s ‘It’s Pat’ in 2007

In past years I have put together some pretty epic prize-winning costumes (shining moments: Peg Bundy in 2006 + It’s Pat in 2007). This year I took the easy way out costume-wise by just throwing together a few festive bits and pieces, but I aimed to up the ante in other areas (see below)…

Since Halloween is not a widely celebrated holiday in Australia, I’ve made it my mission to bring enthusiasm to the date October 31st — dressing up with fellow Americans and hitting the beaches of Bondi in 2010 (costume: Snooki) / hosting a full-on adult Halloween party with a haunted house entrance, a crock-pot full of chili, and bobbing for apples in 2011 (costume: Wilson from Home Improvement) / and in the years since… mixing up candy bags for trick or treaters (even though we’ve only had a total of five or so across the years).

I was pretty lucky to be home in the US for part of October this year. This meant lots of pumpkin treats + Halloween happenings everywhere you turn. My sister, her husband, and I decided (against our best judgement) to check out The 17th Door Haunted House in the OC (Tustin, CA) one night — 17 rooms, 2 minutes per room, you have to sign a waiver, there is a safe word, and “yes” they can touch you. I won’t spoil any of the fun, but if you like haunted houses and you are nearby, I highly recommend you check it out. It’s terrifying, but it’s a great story to be told.

*The entrance at The 17th Door

I got back to Adelaide just before the actual Halloween weekend. This year we took a bit of a different approach than in years past. We hosted an afternoon get-together for friends and their kids. I jazzed up our backyard with lots of spooky gear, put together some goodie bags for the kids, and dished up treats for the adults. We had a good turn-out with good efforts by all. While the shenanigans were over by 7pm and I was in my PJs a couple of hours later, it was a successful day with many festive memories made.

Fighting the good Halloween fight — one year at a time.

*While I forgot to snap photos of our little shindig in action, I grabbed the above just before the sun set on Halloween 2015.

Cooking with corn.

In about 90 minutes I’ll take the stage at the Automattic Grand Meetup. Each year we are tasked with sharing a 4-minute story (aka Flash Talk) in front of our colleagues. Some people talk hobbies, others talk work – regardless it’s a fun (though sometimes nerve-racking for the presenter) experience that allows us to learn something new that’s not necessarily aligned with our job responsibilities.

This year I am sharing a little background on myself which leads into my experience as a detasseler in Central Illinois over 20 years ago. For those that don’t know much about detasseling, it’s all about corn.

In my presentation, I promised folks a few good recipes involving this tasty ol’ American treat. So, without further ado…

Pinch and Swirl’s ‘Mexican Corn on the Cob’

MexicanStyleCornOnTheCob’s ‘Cowboy Salad’


BETHANYWEATHERSBY’s ‘Grandmother’s Buttermilk Cornbread’ (via AllRecipes)


Happiness in Japan.

I spent the past few days in Tokyo for the PHP Conference. This was my first trip to Japan – and I fell in love. Not only was Tokyo vibrant + full of culture, but the people were also pretty awesome. In my years of traveling around this globe, I don’t think I’ve ever come across such a collective group of kind and respectful citizens. Even as an outsider (getting by with nods + my limited vocabulary of 5 or so words)… I felt a warm welcome.

I snapped this photo yesterday as a spectator of a mikoshi parade – everything about it makes me smile.


Nathaniel Rateliff (+ his epic sound)

Disclaimer: Everyone has those “I was a fan before…” stories. This is one of mine.

From 2009-2012, I worked as the Digital Communications Manager at Universal Music Australia. Like clockwork, on Fridays I would rummage the CD cabinet next to my desk. Based on what I found, I’d have my weekend playlist. Sometimes I’d discover winners, sometimes I’d politely return the CDs to the cabinet on the following Monday.

One Friday back in 2011, I found “In Memory of Loss” – an album from Nathaniel Rateliff, a lesser-known singer-songwriter from Missouri/based in Colorado. Just after slipping the CD into my laptop, I fell in love. His tune ‘Shroud’ quickly became one of my favorites and remains a favorite to this day (bonus: the video was shot in the city that has my heart). While his album resonated with me, it didn’t get the credit that I would have loved to have seen.

Since being turned on to him, I’ve been following Nathaniel’s career + waiting for that one day when I catch a passer by talking about this awesome artist. Well, it appears that day has finally come. After the performance of his new tune ‘S.O.B.’ on Jimmy Fallon this week, the internet is buzzing about NR. ‘S.O.B.’ + the other tunes that I’ve heard from his new album (due out on August 21st) are total winners – a perfect mix of soul, country, gospel, and rock.

I’m predicting a pretty amazing + epic 2015 for Nathaniel (+ The Night Sweats). Pumped to finally see him get that mainstream recognition.