Carolina Pride: What Football Makes You Feel

Our hometown of Charlotte, NC is also home to the awesome Carolina Panthers... I know, I know, if you are not from around here, you must be booing me right now, but listen! It's football season and we are Carolina proud (so let's deal with it).

 Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC.

Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC.

Let me tell you what I like about my Panther Nation.  Before I even knew anything about football (thanks to my hubby, I'm now an expert), I used to think that football was boring and quite stupid... I know! How could I?? But now, I absolutely LOVE to see the Panthers play, and win (hehehe).  The team is cohesive and the players are incredibly involved and committed to their community.  I love that. They, not only love football, but also their fans.  

I know you are probably saying...well, that's every team. I agree. They all should, but what I mean is that when you see it first hand, it's a rewarding feeling to know that those big gladiator-looking guys on the field are the same teddy-bear-like men out signing autographs and/or spending quality time with kids and people in their community.  

Football is not only about the competitiveness of the sport, but also about the feeling of joy and pride you get when your team does well; and the same goes when your team doesn't win and they still leave the field with their heads up, cheering each other in the process. 

It's about the sense of belonging to something greater than yourself. 

It's the satisfaction of watching every first down, and celebrating every touchdown.  

Football is about community and togetherness, because when we are watching football, we are all one.  It doesn't matter your race, your age, your religion, your orientation...When we watch football, we all belong to the same team.

And that's why these athletes are so significant to us.  Because we watch them every season, not only with our eyes, but with our hearts; and what they do on and off of the field has meaning to you, to me, and to any fan. 

These athletes have the power to make us laugh, scream with joy, cry of frustration, and also, hug each other in celebration.  YES, football makes us do all that.  And when our sport heros takes a stand (or a knee) to show support for their community, for those who don't have a voice, for the ones that are mistreated due to prejudice, they are doing that for you and not to disrespect our nation.  On the contrary... they do it to try to bring the nation together by creating a dialgoue. 

I've heard many people say "just play football and stop the protesting on the field".  But I just explained that football is NOT just throwing a ball and scoring touchdowns.  It's about a very complex system of feelings that run through our bodies, and evoke a sense of belonging, a sense of community, a sense of family. 

When your team scores, you FEEL happy, you celebrate, you feel the euphoria through your veins.  So, don't tell them to just play football, because if that was the case, football would be dead. There's no football without the feelings that I just described.  

Our players have a voice that is heard loud and clear.  We should be proud that they choose to use that voice to speak for those who can't.  I patiently wait for the day that people can see that...obviously, the hardheadedness (for lack of a better word) of some fans sometimes goes beyond my comprehension, and goes beyond common sense, and human nature.  Sometimes we forget that we are all humans and we harshly judge, and misjudge each other...but I'm going to stop here and leave it at that.

This football season, I will wear my Carolina jersey with pride, and I will cheer for my team, whether they take a knee or stand; hug my neighbors, respect others who are different from me, and be kind to those in my community.  Because peace starts at home, near you, in your town... be the difference today, and tomorrow you will see the change. (And all that good energy will reflect on your team, and maybe help them win the Superbowl!- wishful thinking ) 

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Cheer your team with a sense of belonging and you will see the joy that I'm talking about.

GO PANTHERS! KEEP POUNDING!

Mia

 

One Year Blogiversary

Can you guys believe it's been a year?! 52 weeks?! 365 days?! (Wait, was last year a leap year? 356? I dunno, but you get the idea, one trip around the sun!)

Our first year blogging was a big learning experience. And by that, I mean that we had absolutely no idea what we were doing but we just kind of went with it.  

We shared weekly book reviews, tried out new recipes and shared some of our own. We brought you around the world with us as we backpacked in Europe, played das boot at Oktoberfest in Georgia, and traversed the hills of Pigeon Forge, TN. We gave you a glimpse into our crazy lives and we hope you enjoyed it.

Taking what we have learned over this past year, we are going to be making some changes. Now don't get your panties all in a wad here people, you will still be privy to some awesome book reviews, travel fun, and general life craziness (whew, see...I told you it wouldn't be that bad). So whats changing then? 

Dun dun dun

OUR NAME.

Now as much as we like the name RealLifary, we found that it was not so user friendly. When talking about, and discussing our blog with others we received mixed reviews. "Oh, you blog about....real fairies?" You can see where this would pose a problem yes?

Our original intent was to have this blog become our Real Life Diary... get it? RealLifary? Makes sense to us, but confusing to others (kinda the story of my life). 

We have agonized and brainstormed until there were no more brain cells left to storm with, and we think we have agreed on something that we love.

Something clean and all encompassing.

Something fun. 

Something that captures our blog perfectly. 

Ekkkkkk, so excited!

Wait, you wanna know what it is? Gosh you're needy.

Without further ado..... This is Us: (haha you see what I did there...incorporated the name of my new fav show into the teaser)

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This is us now... So come back soon and continue to explore with us! we have amazing book recommendations and reviews coming up, as well as cool travel destinations that you will love!

Always,

Coco & Mia. 

 

My First Cruise- Preparation Stage

So, we are going on a cruise! Yay! And as exciting as that sounds, for someone like me, it is also scary.  

RELATED: TRAVELING AS A CLUMSY PERSON

This is going to be my very first cruise, because after watching Titanic as a child, I've tried my hardest to stay away from boats, and deep ocean waters. I guess there's always a time in your life when you must face your biggest fears, and just do it... and when your hubby books a trip and says "We are going" in a very manly voice, you kind of have to.

So here are my fears: Besides the obvious anxiety that deep water produces, I'm also afraid of being terribly seasick (add this sinus infection crap I have going on), falling off the boat, my child falling off the boat, getting lost without use of my cellphone (#FirstWorldProblems), being forced to speak to strangers, getting roasted by the sun (this girl will burn!, I mean, I think I might be part vampire), missing the embarkation time at one of the ports, losing important documents, and of course, drowning or getting eaten by a shark while attempting to snorkel.  

There. You can stop laughing now.

So, needless to say, I've been terribly anxious this week as we prepare ourselves for this adventure. I mean, I've never been to that side of the Caribbean Islands before (Bahamas, Half Moon Cay, and Grand Turks). I've been looking at pictures online and, well, they look amazing. So yeah, I'm excited about it....however, still nervous.

To ease my anxieties, I've been focusing on the positive things about this trip.  Like, the beautiful weather, poster-worthy beaches, and the smile on my child's face when she sees all these things. I guess I'm underestimating the fun stuff... I bought the alcohol package as well, so that will help (wink wink).

It is also my daughter's seventh birthday while we are cruising. *AHHHH I CANT BELIEVE SHE"S SO BIG!* So she thinks this trip is mainly for her birthday, yeah, we're letting her believe that...why not.

I got sunscreen, dramamine, sunglasses, and a big ass hat ready! 

Now, I must decide what to pack.... This is going to take a while.... 

I need some wine.

Always, 
Mia. 

Hello Weird!!

I am weird.  Yeah I said it.  I need to embrace it.  Most times I forget to be myself because I'm afraid of being weird in public.  My social anxiety messes with my true potential.  

I want to be weird, because it's who I am.  It gives me purpose.  

But, for some reason, I fear people.  I don't fear being weird, I fear people and their reactions.  

It's like an irrational fear that people are going to eat my face if I say something outrageous like "I fear people are going to eat my face".  

 Embracing our fandoms

Embracing our fandoms

For example, I'm the kind of girl that gets her nails and hair done...nowhere, because I don't want to talk to the hairdresser or the nail lady.  I avoid those instances because it produces a very irrational high level or anxiety... On a good note, I was kind of forced to learn to do my own nails and cut/color my own hair, at home. 

Then, I met Jenny Lawson, AKA The Bloggess.  She's amazing.  And weird.  I love it.

Jenny embraces her weirdness and it's a beautiful thing.  

I came across her blog when Coco mentioned it to me...Well, I didn't come across it.  I googled it, and I spent hours reading the random stuff on her blog.  The Bloggess gained a fan that day.

RELATED: THE BLOGGESS BOOK SIGNING

Reading the Bloggess posts was like a revelation; or better yet, an epiphany full of weird things. Good, weird things.

In a few articles, my eyes opened wide to the realization that I'm not alone.  There's many of us out there, and the world is a beautiful weird mess waiting for me to be me.  It was almost as if I was being born again.  Not literally, because that would be for real weird, and messy, and honestly kind of gross...but, metaphorically speaking.   

I was born again with the opportunity to be myself.  A new me, with the notion that there is an option of being who I was meant to be, which doesn't have to be shameful or a burden to my identity.  I woke up to the knowledge that I can face fear by simply be me.  

 That's me...embracing my weird and delivering ice cream to our local fire department dressed as a fairy...this was for a  scavenger hunt called gishwhes  in 2016

That's me...embracing my weird and delivering ice cream to our local fire department dressed as a fairy...this was for a scavenger hunt called gishwhes in 2016

Now, that being said, it doesn't mean that it will be easy.  It's a rocky journey between what I discovered and where I am now.  Social anxiety, like other anxiety disorders, is a real thing and a feeling so real, it's tricky.  It will be hard.  I will be embarrassing at times, funny at others, and overwhelmed most of the way, but I know I can do it.  There are more people in the world that embrace weird than there are not, although not everyone knows it.  

It is my mission to free others from the oppression caused by commercialized behavior.  I'm making it my duty to wake up the weird in me, and the fellow humans (and magic creatures) who are searching for happiness in all the wrong places.  

Let's be weird together (not in a gross way). 

 My family.  no lie. 

My family.  no lie. 

Always,

Mia  

P.S.  If you feel that you need support because the world doesn't understand your beautiful weirdness, you can always count on us! follow us on fb.com/reallifary, or twitter AND Instagram @RealLifary  OR comment here! I'll send you a virtual hug.  

No Excuses. Make time to READ! Here's how

Y'all know I'm a huge bookworm. I mean duh, we have a blog about books with weekly book reviews, this shouldn't be a shocker here, people. You wouldn't believe how many times I get asked some variance of the question, "Coco how do you read so much?! When do you find the time?"

So I'm here to tell you all, as a mother of two, a full time night shift worker, classroom volunteer, carpool queen, soccer game cheering dance mom, that you too can find the time to read.

Now I am of the belief that everyone should read. Why? What better way to explore your imagination, learn new things, see the world from another point of view, experience new cultures or parts of the world, or just to plain old have fun.

In today's technologically advanced times there are SO. MANY. ways to get your hands on a good book. You've got physical copies, digital copies, audiobooks. You can go to the library, the bookstore, order same day delivery from Amazon, get a digital copy instantly uploaded to your phone/kindle/iPad/tablet. They are everywhere!

So now you've got your book(s), the tricky part, time?

Me personally, I have a book handy in my purse anywhere I go. (Anniversary dinner downtown? Yep. Going to see a play at the local theater. You betcha.) Why? You never know when you may have some downtime, or when the zombie apocalypse may happen, either way, I like to be prepared.

Ok, so you have your book AND you have it with you. If you ask anyone who knows me, you can find me reading anywhere and everywhere I can snatch a few minutes including: carpool line (not while I am driving obviously- just while I sit and wait in the car for dismissal), soccer practice, lunch breaks at work, while I'm blow drying my hair, hell, I've even been known to read while cooking dinner!

And these are just my "stolen minutes" my non dedicated to reading time.

To maintain ones sanity with children (or a husband for that matter), self care is important. Taking some time away each day to do something you enjoy, or to even do nothing at all. Just time for yourself. Sometimes I use my self care time to read, sometimes I use it to sleep (third shift here people) sometimes I use it to binge watch the Gilmore Girls. The important thing is to carve out some time weekly (or daily) that is yours.

Although I haven't personally used audibooks before, I know several people who get their "reading" done while commuting to and from work, or while on business trips. Load up your smart device with your audiobook of choice and listen in the car, airplane, bus, train, bike ride to work. This is a really easy and time effective way to "read" every day.

Too often while I sit in a waiting room, hang out on the bleachers at soccer, idle in carpool line at school, all I see are people with their heads buried in their phones. (I admit- I am occasionally guilty of this as well). If you think of all the time you spend staring, scrolling, snooping on your device, I think you would be surprised to see how much time you could actually sneak in for reading.

Ok, so now you have your preferred reading method AND you have it with you AND you have time so what are you waiting for, get outta here and go get lost in a book!

I'm always open to book suggestions, what are you favorite books to get lost in? Need some recommendations, check out Cocos Corner for weekly book reviews!  

  HOW DO YOU FIND TIME TO READ? Share your experience below!

Bloggess Book Signing

 Review coming soon! 

Review coming soon! 

In case you guys didn't know, my birthday was this past week! (I am still accepting gifts, flowers, and dinners for the entire month of March just FYI) In addition to the freaking amazballs picture she drew me for my library room *see below*, Mia  took me on a day trip to Raleigh for the book reading/signing event for Jenny Lawsons latest book, "You are Here". (She's kinda the best that Mia). 

  A "Mia" original drawing. 

 A "Mia" original drawing. 

Jenny Lawson, or The Bloggess as she is known on her blog, is the type of blogger we can only aspire to be. Her quick wit and ability to humorously and ironically write about all the shit life throws at you is hysterically relatable.

I stumbled across her first book, "Let's Pretend this Never Happened" while googling a memoir to fulfill a 2015 Goodread Book Challenge item ("a memoir"). I was hooked from page 1 and started following her blog shortly after. I laughed, snorted, and chuckled my way through her first book and preordered her second, "Furiously Happy" as soon as I was able through Amazon. 

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Of course, I got Mia hooked on her hilarity, and we were both pumped when we read she would be making a stop in Raleigh, NC (at the beautiful independent book store Quail Ridge Books- seriously guys, a must see) on her latest book tour (about a 2 1/2 hour drive from our house). Being the super friend that she is, Mia preordered us copies of the book, and snagged us seats for the event!

Y'all I'm not gonna lie, I was pretty nervous to meet Jenny. I know, I'm a weirdo, but what can I say? It's irrational, yes, but that didn't make it any less true. Rest assured y'all, she was a doll. Just as humorous and kind as I had imagined she would be. We waited three hours to get our books signed, and you would think after so long to sit and ponder on just what we were going to say during our 45 seconds with Jenny we would have something witty and fun, something that would make her laugh and remember us by, but sadly, no. Of course we were tongue tied, and awkward, and the best we came up with was a few rambling sentences on how we were worried about her hands after signing so many books..... yeah..... I mean, who says that?!!! *insert facepalm here*

 Us and Jenny! 

Us and Jenny! 

RELATED: HELLO WEIRD

Anywho, we came, we saw, we listened, we had signed, and we made it home in one piece. 

Thanks Mia for a fun day trip girls day- you truly are my best friend and only you could make 3 hours of sitting in hard plastic chairs fun.

And thank you Jenny Lawson for not giving us a look of total bafflement when all we could talk about for those 45 seconds was your hand health....

LET US KNOW HOW YOU HANDLE BOOK SIGNINGS OR MEETING YOUR IDOL! We would LOVE to hear your stories! Comment below!!!!

Releasing your inner child... Laser Tag edition

My nephew’s (Coco’s son) birthday celebration was this past weekend, and like every cool ten year old kid, he wanted to invite his friends to play laser tag and have some pizza and cake.  Obviously, I was invited because I’m the cool Aunt…. and because my daughter is very close to her cousin so she had to go….mostly because of the latter.  Maybe I made up the part about being the cool aunt...whatever.

Anyway, we all gathered at this place in town called SportsConnections; an arcade kind-of place where they showcase a large selection of arcade games, jumpy houses, mini-bowling, wall climbing, ropes course, laser vault, bumper-carts, and yes, laser tag. 

It was the first time playing laser tag at this place.  I decided to play because my daughter wanted to be on my team… and because I wanted to beat the hubby.

The place was a big warehouse looking room, with a maze of tall walls with holes and columns, so you could see through them and spot the adversaries. They asked us to grab a vest/gun set and step into two lines; each of about 10-15 people.

One “marshal” took one of the lines to the left of the room, the others were taken to the right of the room and towards the very end of the play area.  That was our zone; the red zone. 

We realized that we had all adults and two 6 year old in our team.  All other, agile, sneaky, intrepid kids were on the green team. 

Oh lord. 

We were going to get beat. 

RELATED: HELLO WEIRD

I admit, I’ve only played this game once or twice before.  And you all know I wasn’t the sportiest person in the room, so the idea of getting blasted by a group of ten year olds was, well, not very appealing and quite ego-painful. 

I was determined to defend my self-esteem, and I released my inner child. 

Oh boy, I released my inner child.

As soon as the game started, I crouched and carefully made my way towards their “base” for a surprise attack.  Nobody was guarding it, as they didn’t expect a hit so soon.  I took advantage of this and took many points out of their board and into ours. 

Then I got killed, and had to shamelessly return to base for a “recharge”.

I got ready, ducked, and sneaked silently like a hunting cat waiting for its prey as I made my way around the rubber walls. 

I got killed.

Again.

Re-charge.

I decided I was going to change my approach and stay put to defend our base. 

I patrolled the perimeter, making sure every green light was turned around by the beam of my red laser.  I was the defender; the all-powerful guardian. 

Until a group of 4 ten- year olds blasted me out of my base, forcing me to run and recharge.   

Apparently you get points taken out when someone hits you, so the “millions” of points I thought I got, I didn’t.  I lost most of them.  But I still did OK. 

Game was over fairly quickly.  We played six short games in one hour.  All of them packed with unique roll-playing action and fun. 

By the time the game was over, I was drenched in sweat, and thirst took over my will to speak. 

Pizza and cake worked wonders to quench the tiredness.  All the kids were still excited although sad that MY TEAM WON.  Apparently, the other adults in my team were pretty good, so we beat the green team.  No thanks to me, I’m sure.  Either way, we had so much fun; I seriously want to do this again.

Maybe an adult game so I don’t feel bad for defeating the kids. They didn’t care that much though.  They were happy just to play. 

By the way.  My legs hurt so much!!!!! Crouching and sneaking for an hour is not good when you are not in the best of shapes.  Oi Vay! 

Valentine's Day Shenanigans of a Married Couple.

Oh Valentine's Day... the day of love.  The day every woman looks forward to.  The day I circle on my calendar counting down with anxious expectations....NOT.

I don't do that anymore.  In fact, I've never done such thing, and I consider myself a pretty normal woman... well... not-so-normal, just..nevermind.

Anyway.  My point is that in our "culture" we have learned that us, women, must never be single on Valentines's day (as if that was a sin), and must expect a bouquet of roses, and chocolate, and teddy bears from our significant others, ALWAYS.  If he doesn't, he's not a keeper.  

NOT TRUE.  

Valentine's day is just that, a day.  Being single on any other day doesn't kill you, why should it be different on February 14? It's not.  Don't believe Hollywood, or Facebook. You are beautiful in February too. 

If you happen to be in a committed relationship on this day, good for you! If your significant other is planning a load of gifts and candlelight dinner, that's great! Enjoy it!

If you are single, use this day to remind yourself of how amazing you are and pamper yourself. Eat your favorite meal, take a bubble bath, and binge on your favorite TV show (here are some ideas). 

When hubby and I were dating (a long, long time ago), he used to go over and beyond to impress me on Valentine's day.  Yeah, I enjoyed it, but, as our relationship grew, so did our love for each other...wow, no cliche intended. 

Since we love each other, we show our love on a daily basis, and not just in the middle of February. Over time, Valentine's day becomes less important. We don't need a box of chocolates to know that we are there for each other, or a romantic dinner at an overpriced restaurant after a three hour wait... maybe on our anniversary, on our terms, and not because we are told by commercialized teddy bears and candy hearts that we should show love.  

So, after so many years of marriage, Valentine's day is a day where we cook at home, open up a bottle of good wine, and binge on our TV shows. Life is good.  

But, don't drink too much wine or you might break your hand... that's a story for another time.

Valentine's day is just an over-commercialized day, like any other day, so ladies (and sensitive guys), don't take it too hard if your loved one plays blind to the millions of ads and Facebook posts, and forgets to get you gold earrings. Instead of exchanging gifts, save up your money and take a trip! (I wish I would've had this mentality when I was younger) Or just look into each other's eyes and express your love sincerely, not just on Valentines Day, but every day.  

RELATED: DATE NIGHT IDEAS

We don't exchange gifts on this day.  We spend time together, and recognize that cupid didn't make it a rule to present chocolates to your loved one on a particular day.  Not just because we have been together many years...SERIOUSLY, it is NOT a rule.  Going out to dinner, or mandatorily being in a relationship on this day is NOT a rule either.  You are free to go about your day, as you would do any day.  Mind blown? you are welcome.

Feel special every day, and/or make your boo feels special every day.  Not just one day.  Every day.  That's what Cupid really wants.  

Whats your favorite Valentine's day story? Comment below and let us know!

Always,

Mia

Did I just eat that? Anecdotal accounts of weird food tasting

Oh food! How we love thee.  Yes, you all know how passionate we are about good food, different food, and great places to eat. We hunt for the perfect place to dine in every city we visit, and we are not afraid to try new plates. We love ethnic food, simple food, elaborate dishes, or just plain different. Never say no to food tasting should be our motto.

Here are some foods that we have tried and successfully eaten. The golden rule is to remember that things do not taste the way they look.

BLOOD SAUSAGE

I've tried two versions of this sausage. Come to find out, this is a very common food product in many European and South American countries. Growing up in Colombia, we ate this on a regular basis. I'm pretty sure my sister stopped eating it the day she saw my aunt preparing a large batch for the family but that's besides the point. Now before I get a bunch of "ewwwws" and "grosssss" and a rapid clicking of the x in the top right corner of your screen, just hear me out. Blood sausage is just what it sounds, but it has lots of other yummy ingredients and spices in just the perfect combination to make you forget you are eating....well....blood.  A blood sausage is the delectable mixture of rice, onions, spices and coagulated pork or beef blood housed in a fresh sausage casing. The Spanish version, Morcilla is very savory, while other variations such as the Polish blood sausage contains different spices (but still very tasty!)  If you ever have the opportunity to try this weird sausage, do it! It's exquisite.

RAW FISH (whole- eyeballs and all!)

While in Rome, we stopped at a little neighborhood restaurant which served amazing food. One of us had an appetite for fish, so fish was ordered (keep in mind that we didn't speak Italian, so we were guessing the menu). What we didn't know was that the fish was raw and solely cured in salt. I've heard of this before but had never tried it. We had eaten raw fish before (duh! Sushi!), but this fish was whole, with intact eyes and everything. Before they serve it to you, they will hammer the rock salt coating in order to break it open and extract the fish. Next, they will clean the scales off the body, de-gut it, and deliver it proudly to the table. WHAT? We tried it and O.M.G. Here goes the BEST fish I've ever had in my life.  So fluffy, so savory, so fresh.  

TRIPE

We love beef, so when we saw a dish called Tripa in Italy, and we guessed the word "cow" on the menu... it couldn't be that bad, right? Well, come to find out, Tripa or tripe is the lining of the cow's stomach. COW STOMACH! If textures aren't your thing when you eat, you may want to think twice about trying this one, it's a tad chewy but I will say, the spices it was cooked in made the whole experience much more pleasant. Although very tasty, the thought of eating a cow's stomach makes me feel a little...well, icky.  

TURTLE SOUP

Turtle is one of the things I'd never even imagined as a thing to eat in my life. When a dish called Turtle Soup showed up in one restaurant while in NoLa, we had to try it (duh- we ordered everything that sounds weird on a menu!) And I've gotta say, it wasn't bad. It was very savory, but the gritty texture of the meat is something that I'll have to pass on next time. 

We have also tried snail, alligator, conch salad, and frog legs...all tasty in their own way, yet not something we would eat as comfort food.

What is the weirdest thing you have eaten? We want to know! COMMENT BELOW!

Always,

Mia

Vote 2016

Election Day is almost here! Tomorrow is the big day. We have (hopefully) watched the debates, read up on the issues, and weighed our options with careful consideration. 

There is no doubt about it, this election is one for the record books. Never have we had two such polarizing candidates who seem to evoke such strong feelings in the hearts and minds of not just Americans, but people from all over the world. This election has caught global headlines, and people everywhere are holding their collective breath to see which way the tide will turn. (Trust me on this, we had quite a few political discussion with people from Paris, Italy, and Ireland while we traveled abroad this summer.) There is no in between, you either love them or hate them it seems. 

I, for one, will be happy to finally be able to enjoy Facebook and Twitter again without the constant bombarding and posting of political propaganda (I learned early on- STAY OUT OF THE COMMENTS SECTION- it was a hard lesson to learn...) and go back to the funny cat videos and pictures of your dinner. (Like really, the foodie pics have taken a sharp decline in the past months peeps, what gives?! Show me your latte! I wanna see your omlet!) All joking aside, this election is of monumental importance. I urge you all to do your homework, and not just on the two major party nominees for President but for all the smaller roles within our government which need voted upon (think Senate, House, Governor, Attorney General, etc). Find out who your states candidates are, how they have voted in the past (if they are up for reelection), and what their stance is on major political and social issues. Give your voice to someone who will represent your ideals and beliefs. This is an often overlooked part of the voting process and most don't give it the thought and consideration it deserves. Don't get caught up in the political drivel and bigotry that seems to be crawling all over social media. You know the posts, the long winded arguments played out on Facebook or in the comments sections of news articles, wrought with misinformation and hypocrisy. Steer clear! Focus on the facts!

Read up. Inform yourself. Vote!

May the odds be ever in your favor.....

 

Writer's Platform? What it is and how to start

A few years ago, well... let me rephrase that.  Many, many years ago, I decided I wanted to write a book.  I had a great idea.  Unique, fresh, mysterious; to me, it was the perfect way to start my writer's career.  

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I spent, also many years, creating characters, plots, and twists, and a few months writing everything down.  It also took several months to do editing (thanks Coco!). This book was my baby. Sweat and tears (not really tears, but lots of sweat, yes) and many hours of insomnia were involved in putting together my masterpiece.  

After I had, what I thought was the finished product, I proceeded to do some research as far as publishing. Self-publishing vs traditional publishing, agent vs publishing directly, publishing boutiques, how to spot a fake agent, how to write a query letter, etc. Believe me, I did my homework on that one! But, despite of all those hours of research and learning, I felt like I was missing something. 

I learned that in today's market, author involvement is crucial for a successful career. It's not just the fact that you find an agent and wait for them to sell your book. You, as an author, must be involved with your audience and potential readers. Think about it. There's nothing cooler (major nerd-girl issue here) than getting a tweet reply or a Facebook like from your favorite writer, or actor, or famous person. Nothing beats that (don't quote me on this one).  

WHAT IS A WRITER'S PLATFORM?

RELATED: WRITER'S BLOCK. BEAT THE BEAST

Putting it in simple terms, a platform is somewhere where you can stand. A writer's platform is where you stand as a writer. In a technology driven world, where the internet rules our lives, this platform is digital and you must build it.  

So, I slowly realized that in order for me to find the perfect agent, the perfect publisher, the perfect deal, not only my book needed to be superb - and honestly it's still a work in progress- but also, I needed to build my audience. I needed to find a way to create a fan-based group, and network with other authors. I knew I needed to learn more from others before I could even imagine publishing my book.

HOW TO START

I'm going to be honest with you. Starting is very easy, but you MUST maintain your enthusiasm and your will to make it happen. It's not just a matter of opening hundreds of social media accounts, but it's a question of interacting, building bridges, meeting people, attending events, blogging, taking advantage of technology. You can't gather hundreds of fans if you don't interact. You can't possibly assume people want to read your work, if they have no idea who you are. The beauty of building a platform is that, even if you have NEVER published something before, little by little your followers will start getting to know you, and eventually they'll be willing to read, share, and cherish your stories.

So here are some ideas on how to start:

OPEN A TWITTER, INSTAGRAM, AND FACEBOOK ACCOUNT

Choose the same username across all social media accounts to create uniformity. Like, comment, and follow other authors, artists, and community leaders. Share stories related to writing or to the subjects you are going to write about. And this is important: do not share personal opinions about controversial topics, politics or religion, UNLESS that is the topic of your target audience and work. Also, DO NOT abandon your accounts after a few weeks. Post something at least two- three times a week (minimum)... or several times a day for twitter. Research how to use hashtags! They are your best friends when using social media!! 

CREATE A BLOG PAGE

Blog, blog, blog blog.  I can't say this enough.  If you want people to get to know your style, they need to be reading something you write. If you are a writer, blogging shouldn't be a hassle. Writing is what you love, right? You can write about what inspires you, or you can tell your fans short stories, or things that happened to you throughout the day. Blog with a pseudo-name, or with your real name. Either way, blogging is writing, and the more you write, the better you become at it. You don't have to spend lots of money by buying your own domain (but if you can afford it, go for it!).  I like blogger, or world-press - they both have free versions and are easy to work with as well and very customizable.

NETWORK WITH OTHER AUTHORS

Regardless of where you live, I guarantee you that there are successful, published authors living in a city near you. Do some research about the authors in your area. Participate in book signings, conferences, or simply reach out to them through Facebook, email, or other social media platforms. Many writers will be glad to speak to you and give your advice, tips, or let you pick their brain.  

Whatever route you choose to get your name out there, do it consistently and be motivated to continue, despite the ups and downs that the road will bring you. My first book hasn't been published yet. Instead, I'm gathering stories of a different genre into a different project. I'm still building my audience, and continuing to work on my platform.  It takes a while, but consistency and willingness will get you there.  

As always, happy writing!

Mia

Do you have other tips or ideas on how to build your writer's platform? Share them with us!

Halloween Hunting: Finding the perfect haunted attraction

In case you guys didn't already know, I am a huge fan of Halloween. Second only to Christmas (because, hello? Christmas rocks! Pressies, cookies, huge dinners, snow, Santa & elves...you seriously can't beat that) I have tubs upon tubs devoted to all my decor. Every year on Oct 1st the decorating begins. I agonize for weeks about my costume and always delight in planing and prepping for the annual Halloween party, so it should come at no surprise that making a night of experiencing a local haunted house is a yearly must. We have frequented tons of spots around our hometown of Charlotte, NC and want to give you a run down of the top picks if you are in the area to go check out for yourself!

1) Scarowinds, Charlotte- Every year the local amusement park, Carowinds, transforms itself into spook central. This option is a tad pricey at a $55.99 per person ticket but you can always find a deal online, they are running right now for $31.99 if you purchase online. While that may still seem steep for a haunted house you have to keep in mind that you have a whole amusement park of rides at your disposal, including the worlds tallest gigacoaster, Fury 325. Top it all off with a handful of mazes, spooked out decor, you are set with plenty of thrills for a night of terror...errr...fun. 

2) Boogerwoods, Rockwell- This is probably one of my favorite haunted attractions. Boogerwoods is a haunted trail located in Rockwell, NC. This one has some amazing displays, plenty of terrifying props and people, and a perfectly desolate wooded location. Boogerwoods is only running for 5 nights this year with tickets going on sale at 2pm each day for that day only. Tickets are $15 per person and proceeds go to benefit cystic fibrosis. Don't want to wait in a long line? They offer a fast pass for $25 which allows you to skip line! 

3) The Haunted Mill, Belmont- The Haunted Mill is a haunted house located in, you guessed it, an old mill. Opened Fridays and Saturdays from the end of September through October, this 20,000 square foot house boasts loads of thrills and scares and is even rumored to have experienced a run in with real paranormal activity. Snag your tickets on Groupon for a deeply discounted price of $19 for 2 tickets! 

4) The Amazing Maize Maze, Huntersville- This is definitely a more family friendly Halloween activity. Opened for day or night time maze exploring, The Amazing Maze Maize includes 265 acres of corn field, a pumpkin patch, corn hole, hayrides, and various other family friendly activities. Pack a picnic lunch and make a family day of it! Normal ticket prices range from $6-$18 depending on adult versus child and day versus night tickets. Be sure to check Groupon for deals! 

5) Spooky Woods, High Point.  This is also a favorite in our family.  Spooky Woods has been featured in USA Today, ABC, the Travel Channel, and Forbes Magazine due to its movie quality sets and super scary trails. Tickets are a little pricey but if you are looking for a good thrill, they are worth it.  $25 - $50 will get you in, depending if you want a general or VIP admission. You can also get discounts on their website!

6) Campground Massacre, Fort Mill. Michael Myers lives here. Seriously, he roams the camp and he will get in your face.  It's realistic and terrifying.  Tickets are $22 with offered discounts on certain dates.  Check their website for more info! http://www.campgroundnightmare.com/

7)Maze of Terror, Albemarle.  If you go in the afternoon, this is a very family friendly corn maze. Amble about the fields and loose yourself in the rows of golden corn. At night, it transforms into a field of terror. Take a menacing school bus out to the middle of the corn field before traversing through a guided tour of mayhem. Just imagine walking in total darkness, through a corn field, where the only thing you can see is the sky. If you scream, no one will hear you...yeah...enter at your own risk.  Tickets are $15 but several discounts are available in their website.  http://www.getlostcornmaze.com/maze-of-terror/

8) The 13th Acre at Aw Shucks Corn Maze, Monroe.  If you dare to go into the 13th acre you are a brave soul. But if you still want to enjoy a family-small-kid-friendly Halloween experience, this is the place for you.  For the not so brave member of the family, there's Aw Shucks Corn Maze. There's so much to do in this place! Besides the main attraction, the huge and challenging corn maze, there are games, bonfires, spooky story time, pumpkin patch, animal barn, an 1800's train cart, paddle boats, and much more!  Fun guaranteed! visit http://www.awshuckscornmaze.com/things-to-do/corn-maze/ for more info!

Where do you get your scares from?

How to learn a language fast. Ten tips that will help you say Hola.

So many people have asked me before for tips and tricks to learn another language (especially Spanish) throughout the years, that I actually took the time to think about it.  For me, learning another language was a natural thing,  I learned Spanish and English since I was a kid.  I’m not going to deny that it took a little while to get good at it, but everything gets better with practice.  

Our fast growing society goes through changes every day.   If you must learn a new language due to necessity, travel or just simply because you want to expand your knowledge, there are a few simple steps that could help you engage in this task. NOTE: these tips will only work if you are willing to learn.  Just so you know, there is no magic formula that this muggle can provide.

  1. HAVE A POSITIVE ATTITUDE

The first thing you need to understand is that your attitude towards something has a great effect on the product.  You have to want to learn a new language in order to prepare your brain for the mission.  Motivation is a key element in initiating and keeping up with the desire of learning something new.  Try to change your state of mind from “I need to learn Spanish” to “I want to learn Spanish”.   Once you had convinced yourself that this is something that you want, it is time to search for a good course.  

2. TRY A CLASS

There are a variety of classes, books, DVD’s, CD’s, and a combination of all of the previous that will work just fine.  The price varies, as well as the technique.  You need to look for one that can accommodate your needs as far as how much time you are going to dedicate a day, or how many days a week you are willing to spend studying.  Once you have found the class, or book, or course that you feel comfortable with, is time to start.  If taking a class is not your thing, try a tutor instead. For instance, Preply.com is a great source to find the perfect tutor for your budget and needs.  

3. NOTHING IS THAT DIFFICULT

Never think that learning another language is difficult.  Saying this to yourself will undo your desire and motivation.  You already learned to speak a language once.  So you are living proof that language is part of our brain, you just need to find the right approach.

4. THINK LIKE A CHILD

Yes, as weird as it sounds, we all learn to communicate as children.  So, in order to learn a new language, think like a child.  Children learn word by word first, and then they learn to put phrases together.  Start with the objects around your house.  Tape little signs or label random objects around your home with the corresponding word in the language you want to learn.  If you tend to forget how to pronounce the word, make sure you also write down the phonetic spelling in a way to can understand it.  When you are at home, practice out loud by naming the object around you and try to incorporate them in sentences, even if the sentence is half in English and half in your targeted language.  Doing this exercise will familiarize your brain with the association of a certain word and an object.  

5. AVOID LITERAL TRANSLATIONS

Again, the same way children learn a new language.  Associate words with things you already know.  For example, if you want to learn the Spanish word for happy, “feliz” you should picture a smiley face in your mind, and not the actual word “happy”.  If you want to remember the word for “cold” then picture the feeling you have when you open the refrigerator.  Thinking about the feeling, emotion, or object will make it easier to remember than just trying to memorize the definition.  

RELATED: INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL WITH KIDS

6. TV SAP FEATURE IS YOUR FRIEND.

Practice by watching television shows in the foreign language you are trying to learn, if possible or use the SAP (Secondary Audio Programming) when available.  OR  Watch videos, or listen to music in the foreign language online and try to pick up all the words you can.  Download lyrics to a slow song, and follow the lyrics while listening to the same song will help you practice your listening abilities, and will also help you with pronunciation.

7. START A CONVERSATION

Once you have a more extensive vocabulary, it is time to expand your conversational skills.  Follow the instructions on your chosen method of learning to engage in grammar and sentence structure.  This will be much easier if you already have the needed vocabulary.  This is perhaps the trickiest part of learning a new language.  It is very important not to get discouraged at this point.  The most important thing to remember is not to be afraid of making mistakes.  Practice as much as you can, even if you are not saying the word or phrase one hundred percent correctly.  If you have a friend that speaks the language you are trying to learn, ask them to help you by engaging in conversational exercises.  

8. YOUR BRAIN WILL DO THE WORK

Remember, once you had practiced and repeatedly listened to native speakers, whether in person or on video, your brain will create its own idea of how this new language is supposed to sound.  You will eventually know if something doesn’t sound grammatically correct when you say it.  Follow your instincts and use your resources.  

9. NETWORK WITH OTHERS TRYING TO LEARN

Networking is a good tool when you are trying to achieve anything.  It’s imperative to create good business relationships, and to further your social skills.  But it’s also a good way to meet and learn with others, like you, who are in the same situation.  There’s nothing better than to exchange anecdotes and tips with fellow language-mates.  They might have ways to learn that you wouldn’t have otherwise thought of.  

10.  MOVE TO A FOREIGN COUNTRY.

This is perhaps the more radical way to learn, but also the most efficient.  If you want to learn Spanish, consider moving to a Spanish speaking country for a little while and mingle with the natives.  When no one speaks English around you, you will be forced to learn the language and the survival instincts of your brain will kick in, allowing you to learn without even noticing it.

RELATED: PARIS, CITY OF LOVE AND MANY OTHER AMAZING THINGS

Motivate yourself every day in the quest of learning a new language because you want to do it.  Don’t be embarrassed to say something wrong, as long as you correct yourself in the process.  Perseverance, dedication and practice will ensure your success in learning a new language fast.  And remember, you got this!

DID YOU LIKE THIS ARTICLE? LET US KNOW! PLEASE COMMENT OR SHARE BELOW! GRACIAS!

Need some date night ideas?

If you read my post about my recent 10 year wedding anniversary- you know that my husband and I take the idea of date night seriously. We love to try new and exciting things, foods, places. Falling into a date night rut is easy, especially after you  have been together for 10 years, so here are a few date night ideas to try if you are looking for something outside the dinner/movie routine to spice things up!

Lazertag: We have ventured to play lazertag quite a few times and let me tell you, it makes for a really fun group date night! (And if I'm being completely honest, a really good workout!) Playing a couple rounds of guys vs girls or couple vs couple is a great way to blow off some steam and have some fun. Loser buys a round of brews when you're finished!

Drive in movie: While we haven't tried this one out yet together- It's on the short list of date night ideas. Bring a comfy blanket, snacks, and settle in for a couple new release movies. Much cheaper than a traditional movie theater at around $6 a person. Bring some cash for the snack bar! 

RELATED: NETFLIX NIGHT

Paintball: What better way to work out pent up aggression than to shoot your husband with paintballs? (I kid, I kid....kinda...) Another great group date idea, this one is best reserved for the colder months. Trust me on this- you will want to have several layers of clothes on for this one, those suckers sting! 

Take a cooking class: We tried this out while visiting NoLa earlier in the year. It was definitely a fun and unique experience. We got some great recipes and ate some freshly prepared food! Check out local universities or Sur la Table to find one near you! 

Try out a local ethnic restaurant: Hubby and I thrive on trying out new and exciting food spots. We have sampled some great restaurants in and around our area including Ethiopian, Vietnamese, Thai, and Colombian. Not only do we get to sample unique cuisines, but they often times take us into areas of the city that we have yet to explore. 

Brewery Tour: Breweries are popping up left and right these days and for good reason, they rock! Go take a tour (or two) and check out some local craft beer. You can often times check out live, local music while you sample new brews, this is a perfect summer month date night idea! 

RELATED: Want to experience good beer? Try GOOD HOPS Brewery

Murder Mystery Dinner: This was definitely, by far, the funnest date night! I actually found a Groupon for this one (half priced? Yes please!) and immediately snatched it up. We were treated to a night of murder, intrigue, dining, and drinks. The actors were all great, and really got everyone involved in the plot and figuring out the "who dun it" Professional photographers greeted us at the door to snap a 20's inspired shot. The almost three hour event flew by and we had a blast!

Catch a Game: Living in a large city like Charlotte, NC offers us lots of options for this one. Charlotte Checkers (ice hockey) , Knights (baseball),  Hornets (basketball), and of course, the Carolina Panthers (Go Cam!) No matter what time of year, there is always some sporting event to go see! Live in a smaller town? Head out to the local highschool/college games! Relax with a beer and some nachos and enjoy the night. (Can you tell snacks/food play a large part in our date night ideas- I'm a foodie at  heart!)

I am always on the hunt for new and exciting date night ideas, what do you guys like to do? Anything I should add to the list?

Kids are Weird: Part Three

If you haven't already heard, my kids are weird. I enjoy chronicling the absurd and ridiculous, and sometimes downright creepy things they say. I'm banking on using this as blackmail when they enter their ornery teenage years. 

RELATED:  KIDS ARE WEIRD

RELATED: KIDS ARE WEIRD: PART 2

  • I notice my 5 year old sniffling in the backseat. "What's wrong with her?" I ask my 9 year old. "Oh she's just upset that she's not psychic..."
  • "I love the way your armpits smell"
  • "Oh my gosh you scared me! I almost had a heart-a-cat!"
  • "I'm more mean now than when I was 4" *shrugs shoulders* "It's just how God made me"
  • When I tell my five year old that she is, in fact, not allowed to bring a purse filled with cosmetics to the Carolina Panthers Fan Fest "But Mommy, I need my lipstick so I can look good for Cam Newton!" 
  • L: "I am definitely getting married when I grow up." Me: "Oh yeah, why do you say it like that?" L: "Because I am NOT doing all the chores by myself"
  • "Why does music make me feel special inside and make me want to move around?"
  • S: "Mom have you ever been to a warehouse?" Mia: "Yes? Why?" S: Weren't you scared of the werewolves?!"
  • "Wouldn't it be great to be like a queen a never have to get out of bed, just have people come and carry you around on a chair like in the movies?" ** Glances disapprovingly at me** "Well maybe they could push you around in something that has wheels, you might break their bones if they had to carry you like that"

what at things do you hear from your kids? We want to know!!!!!   

Harry Potter Midnight Release Experience

Coco and I have spent numerous hours of our teenage and early twenties years devouring every single Harry Potter book, more than once.  In fact, we devour everything Harry Potter (and J.K. Rowling) related.  From movies, to spin-offs, to Hogwarts textbooks, souvenirs, and merchandise, you get the point. Harry Potter has been a part of our adult-ish lives and will continue to be, forever. Needless to say, when we heard about the release of "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" we squealed - seriously, squealed out loud.  Now in our thirties, we are still young at heart.

RELATED: OPEN LETTER TO JK ROWLING

So Coco did some research and found some local bookstores that were having a midnight release. Midnight releases are not foreign to Harry Potter experts like us. We've been to numerous release parties before, including VIP movie releases (it is sooooo great to watch a movie before anyone else can!). We chose to go to Barnes and Nobles.

Since it's been so long from the time when we last adventured to a book release, we didn't know what to expect. Do we dress up (like we used to when we were younger)?, do we bring our own wands to walk around in silly-playful mode? Do we wear normal clothes? I had no clue, so I opted to wear my not-so-obvious Harry Potter gear. Earrings, Necklace, Bracelet. Coco wore her Hogwarts t shirt as well as her HP accessories.  

We arrived at 10pm. The party had already started, but we figured that two hours was enough for us. This Barnes and Nobles was set up to resemble a wizardry school experience.You signed up at a desk (where you got your pre-order reservation ticket). Then we were directed to the sorting hat station. Answer three multiple choice questions and you are sorted to one of the four houses. I got Gryffindor and Coco got Hufflepuff (they marked us with a letter stamped on our hand)- I was a little disappointing that they didn't provide pins or stickers of your house like they have done in years past, but I moved on.  

Then, we walked around the two story bookstore, navigating through the shelves, with various decorations of HP related themes. There were raffles, look-alike contests, and trivia competitions at the main station downstairs. It was a pleasant surprise to see other adults our age there. Most of whom were dressed up like the HP characters (At that point I regretted not wearing more Harry Pottery stuff). There were also a lot of teens and little kids dressed up in their best HP outfits. While we were in line, there was this little 10 year old boy who was dressed in full HP gear, from the robe, to the scarf, wand, and glasses. He -very enthusiastically- stated that he had read all HP books twice. His dad was shaking his head as he'd never read a HP book. By the way, after speaking to them, I think we convinced dad to read the books with his son, mission accomplished. 

We roamed the store and visited the Houses. There were stations of activities to do. I was super excited to see a "make your own wand" station, and a "Golden Snitch" station as well. After we decorated our hand-made wands, feeling like a true Ollivander's apprentice,  we took pictures at the "wanted" wizard photo op, had an encounter with Moaning Myrtle in the bathroom (they had a recording of Moaning Myrtle playing on a closed door near the bathroom, it was quite clever), and shopped for some HP Funko Pop figurines (LOVE THEM!).  

Our geeky hearts were full, and right at 12:01 am the registers opened and we were able to get our hands on Harry Potter and the Cursed Child ten minutes after. My life is complete. 

***** READ HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD REVIEW TOMORROW!!!

Did you guys go to a midnight release? I want to hear other's experiences! leave me a comment with your story...

GISHWHES 2016: A Recap of a Week of Absomness

Another week of GISHWHES has come and gone. I am sleep deprived, behind on work for the blog, my house is a mess, and my kids have eaten more frozen dinners than I care to admit (but hey, they ATE, so that's something right?!) 

Being that this was only my second hunt, I still consider myself a novice Gisher, but yet again I am blown away by the creativity and sheer awesomeness of not only my group, but GISHWHES as a whole. Of course Mia participated with me, and we wrangled Stephanie (read all about this lovely lady here) as well as Mias hubby into our shenanigans. Since we had such an awesome experience in our previous hunt, we joined up with some previous members in both Australia, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.  

If you're not familiar with GISHWHES, read about our experience in 2014 here. This year was filled with just as many random, crazy, artistic, altruistic, and creative items. Yet again I was forced to step outside of my comfort zone, flex my creative muscles, and be weird

Trust me when I tell you, you haven't lived until you've fashioned a panda bear from nothing but sanitary pads, hosted an "all holiday party", or had red wine poured onto you (while dressed in all white might I add) from a second story window.

 

In addition to these insane acts of creativity, we also did some real good not only in our local community, but as a global community as well. We delivered cold ice cream on a hot August day to a local firehouse, created a donation page and solicited 10 donors to assist in raising money for Syrian refugees, and completed 7 acts of kindness (one for every day of the hunt). While crazy and nutty, this hunt is always a "faith in humanity restored" kind of week. It not only reminds me that there is good in the world, but reminds me to be it as well. 

 Wold Famous Dessert Fairy! ain't she cute ;)

Wold Famous Dessert Fairy! ain't she cute ;)

Wanna take a look at some of our submissions? Of course you do, who am I kiddin?!

# 118Time-lapse this submission to 30 seconds or less. Paint a Bob Ross painting. We must see both the painter replicating the Bob Ross painting and the playback of the Bob Ross video the painter is replicating. You must paint in real-time while he is painting. The video should end with a side-by-side comparison of your masterpiece and Bob Ross’s.     

 

#81 This submission may be 25 seconds or less. Jason Manns is well known for his rendition of "Crazy Love." Show the Crazy Love you have for your fellow humans by surprising your favorite barista, convenience store clerk, or other underappreciated worker with a serenade. Don't forget to bring an instrument of your own creation.

This one was awkward, but we serenaded our waitress, Jessica (fake flowers and improvised glass instruments included)

Either way, Misha made us do it. 

 

#18 Recreate a painting by Goya in candy.

 

#47 Submit two images, side-by-side. Recreate a famous, iconic photo from junk food. For example, you could submit the black and white photo of Einstein sticking out his tongue, next to another photo of your best attempt to recreate that photo using various junk foods as your paints. I hope that makes sense. For some reason it sounds confusing as I type it. But you have to somehow figure out what I mean here and then do it. Best of luck.  

#102 Don't you hate that feeling when you walk out to your car and you see the dreaded ticket under your windshield wiper? Let's change that. Find small envelopes and stamp them in red ink with an ominous: “PARKING SALUTATIONS BUREAU!” Then find a row of cars and put positive messages in your envelopes under their windshield wipers.

#6 Submit two images, side-by-side. If you have or know a child under 6, have them draw a family portrait. Now, get your family to pose EXACTLY as they drew you all in the drawing. Try to replicate the clothing, individual heights and anything you need to do or add to your bodies to contort them to what the child drew.

#116 Submit two images, side-by-side: let's see what existential angst looks like next to what the meaning of life is. - Stephanie Magnolia

# 86 As you all know, Saturday the 6th of August is International Find Another Gisher Day. Meet up (reach out over social media to find gishers in your area) with AT LEAST 5 other Gishers that aren’t on your team at a bus stop and, together, decorate the bus stop with post-it notes inscribed with a mix of delightful, surreal, and uplifting messages. One must read, “Be the unicorn you want to see in the world.” Submit one image of all 5+ people standing in, on, or around the decorated bus stop. The submission description must include the gishwhes usernames of each Gisher in the photo. Each team can submit the same image if a team member was there representing the team.

 

#124 Submit a screenshot. Create a website, blogpost, or in-depth social media post explaining an aspect of the elusive Miss Jean Louis’ biography. - Inspired by Holli DeWees

Read the hilarious post here!

**For those who don't know, Miss Jean Louis is known to the Gishwhes community as "Misha's babysitter"**

 

This is just a drop in the bucket of all the crazy, weird, exceptional things we were able to accomplish this week- not to mention all the hard work our other teammates in Australia, Oklahoma, and Arkansas put forth to create equally amazing moments in time. 

Until next year my GISHWHES loving friends! Stay weird and don't forget to leave a little sparkle wherever life takes you! 

**If you enjoyed this post, please let us know by commenting below! thank you gishfriends!

The Elusive Miss Jean Louis

The Elusive Miss Jean Louis, A Little Known History

Little is known of the background and upbringing of the elusive Miss Jean Louis, she seems to have popped up on our radar sometime back in 2011 with the advent of GISHWHES. Beloved by all, and the well-known leash keeper of our friend and comrade Misha Collins, she has quickly won the love and adoration of Gishers worldwide (I myself have a 5 foot statue made out of kale displayed in my home in her honor).

As for what we do know of Miss Jean Louis, it’s mostly conjecture and hearsay but I do have it on good authority that she actually saved Mishas life, which henceforth,forever more, bonded the two rapscallions to a lifetime of friendship.

The year was 1994 and Misha was just a young buck, only 20 years old. Taking a break from his woodworking and carpentery in the Berkshire Mountains, he decided to indulge in a week long cruise to the Caribbean (he always was one to indulge, that Misha). Lounge singer and sometimes stand-up comic, Miss Jean Louis was working the cruise lines. It was a hard life, on the road (or seas) months at a time pandering to drunk, happy go lucky cruise goers. No friends, alone and adrift in the world, it was a lonely life, one she despised. But still she carried on (like a wayward son) for it was all she knew.

It was day 2 into the cruise when the high winds and rough waters began. Tossing the large cruise ship like the ball in a drunken game of hot potato (not that I would have any experience in that, obviously..), the vessel was tossed and heaved for 2 long days and nights, battered with rain, winds so high as to give you wind burn if you so much as dared to step out on deck.

Being the unwaveringly dedicated soul that she is (I’ve heard that she once won a staring contest against the Mona Lisa- but that’s neither here nor there), Miss Jean Louis sang for those 2 days, without rest or nourishment to provide comfort to those fearful (and at this point severely nauseous) cruise goers. Never wavering in her commitment to fulfill her job duties of providing quality musical entertainment for all aboard.

It was the end of day two when the winds, rain, and waves had finally reeked so much havoc on the ship that it could bear it no more. Under the strain and stress, it began to take on water. It began to sink.

The deck was filled with screams and panic as people quickly made their way to the life boats. Having no clue about proper emergency disembarking procedures (he had enjoyed perhaps one too many Mai Tais during the mandatory safety class on day 1) Misha panicked and jumped overboard. He quickly realized his mistake as he had never mastered the art of swimming began screaming for help.

 Miss Jean Louis witnessed the incident and quickly jumped into action, diving overboard to the rescue (it is rumored she once competed in the Olympic Games back in 1984 bringing home the gold in the 800 meter freestyle or the USA under the pseudonym Tiffany Cohen- but that’s just conjecture at this point).

Floundering around like bacon grease on a griddle, Misha gasped and gurgled. Miss Jean Louise quickly and deftly free styled her way to Misha, battling the choppy waves and needle piercing rain to grab ahold of Misha , flip him on his back, and safely place in a the America Red Cross approved hold while making her way to the nearest life raft. (There is some debate at this point if she delivered a death dealing blow to a circling shark with nothing but her well chiseled right leg, scissor kick style but I feel it’s worth mentioning in any case.)

Once they were both safety aboard the life raft (Misha a blubbering mess at this point so I’m told), Miss Jean Louis had an epiphany. Amid the torrid waves, unrelenting rain, and hurricane like winds, a small ray of sunshine peeked between the clouds, shining almost as if Rob Benedict himself was highlighting the significance of the moment. Bathed in a heavenly glow of otherworldly light, Misha (laying on the floor of the raft, fetal position) suddenly became her mission. It was clear to her that her lifetime of solitude was over, she had found her cause. From that moment on she left her life of riding the high seas and devoted it instead to babysitting…errr….friending Misha. The two became thick as thieves, inseparable. In fact, it was due to this life changing event that Misha finally decided to finally become a certified lifeguard.

And so goes the tale of the beginning of the lifelong, inseparable bond between Misha and Miss Jean Louise. 

Reflections on 10 years of Marriage

Today is our ten year anniversary and so I find myself reflecting on marriage. Husband and I were young, still in college, and (surprise!) expecting a child. We had NO idea what we were doing. We knew we loved each other, we knew we wanted to be a family, but other than that, we had no idea how to "be married". So we figured it out. Together. I can't say that our story would have turned out the same for anyone else, but it worked for us, and here's why:

RELATED: DATE NIGHT IDEAS

1) We take time for ourselves (individually and together). We are so lucky to have amazing parents who really support us and our marriage. My parents live locally and take the kids every Saturday overnight so that husband and I can enjoy some time alone. The work week is crazy. We see each other in passing as I work night shift at a local hospital and he does his 9-5 thing downtown at a bank. It's SO IMPORTANT that we have that time to reconnect and be present with one another. Hubbys mother lives in Colombia and even though she is far- she checks in on us daily, encouraging and supporting us from afar. We also have friends and interests separate from each other. Hubby is a member of a local beer club and goes weekly to sample new, local brews and unwind with his friends/colleges. I make time with my girlfriends to watch the latest RomCom and binge on popcorn or attend a bookclub to devour coffee and discuss books. It's equally as important to have time apart, doing things we love separately, as it is to do things together.

2) Understand that marriage isn't disposable. Although we were young and star-y eyed when we exchanged vows, we both understand the gravity of promising your life to someone. Through the good and the bad we know at the end of the day- neither of us is going anywhere. There is something comforting in knowing that no problem we encounter can't be worked through. Don't get me wrong- there have been times I have wanted to pull my hair out (and his hair out) in frustration. We have argued and bickered and been stubborn and unforgiving, but we are human, we are going to have bad days. But bad days don't equal a bad life. And that's important to keep in mind.

3) We don't take ourselves too seriously and we have fun! While we both are working professionals, raising children, doing the whole "grown up" thing- we are both still kids at heart. Date night for us may be paintball and drinks at a local bar, running in a "Wipe Out" style 5k (also please note I am NOT athletically inclined), lazer tag, epic gin rummy showdowns (I AM THE RUMMY MASTER!), haunted corn mazes, you get the drift. It's so easy to get caught up in "adulting" that you don't take some time to just have fun. We make it a point to have adventures and never shy away from trying fun things together.

In a world where people treat marriage as such a disposable commodity, I am proud that we have made it 10 years. We have fought hard for it, worked tirelessly at it, and loved fiercely through it. Looking forward to however many more decades God gives us on this merry-go-round of life!

 

What do you all do to keep your marriage alive? Any fun date night suggestions?

Fairy Gardens 101

Let me let you guys in on a little secret, I'm kind of obsessed with fairy gardens. Really all things whimsical and magical, but fairy gardens hold a special place in this fantasy lovers heart. 

"What in the world is a fairy garden?" you ask.

A fairy garden in a small little container garden where fairies come to hang! You can jazz them up with moss, miniature sized furniture and gardening equipment, flowers, houses, the possibilities are endless. 

I've put together a little "how-to" on creating your fairy, I mean very, own!

First you need some sort of container. You can really use anything, I happened to have this flower pot from a recent move that the sellers left behind (free? score!)  

Next you need some moss to cover the dirt inside the pot. I purchased all my supplies from Hobby Lobby (tip: download the lobby lobby app for a 40% off one item coupon). Here is an example of what to look for- check your local plant nursery or crafting store as well! 

Using scissors, cut the moss to cover the container you chose:

Now decorate with your choice of fairy decorations! As with the moss, you can find these miniaturized accessories at crafting stores (Hobby Lobby, Michael's) or local plant nurseries. Amazon also has tons to choose from. 

Ready to see the finished product?

For more examples and ideas for inspiration, check out this little garden my mom put together:

 

I wanna see your fairy gardens! Tag us on Instagram and Twitter with your magical creations! 

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