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)

READ EXPLORE REPEAT RGB LOGO.jpg

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. 

 

Library Room Makeover

So it's been a year since we bought our home, and slowly but surely we are getting things done around the house, making it our own. (Find making a garden post here!)  

One of the requirements on my "must haves" list that we gave our realtor while looking at houses, was a room that I could convert into a library. I had lofty dreams of an airy, two story monstrosity of a room (think library from Beauty and the Beast, complete with a gliding ladder and all), but alas, our budget was not very accommodating to my lavish plans, so I had to settle for something a tad more realistic. The house we put an offer on, and eventually signed the next 30 years of our life away to, had such a space. 

Once a formal living room, this room was perfect. In the front of the house, tons of natural light from the wall of windows, I knew the minute I laid eyes on it, it would make a beautiful library room. I'm not even ashamed to admit I dedicated boards on Pinterest to planning and plotting the decorating to my own personal treasure room. 

In keeping with the light and airy feeling the room projected, I opted for white bookcases. Not wanting to break the bank and working within a strict budget, I found these great pieces at Ikea. They are solid and sturdy and were fairly easy to assemble. 

The next items I saved my pennies for was the seating. My Aunt had mentioned that she had found lots of really nice pieces on the Wayfair website so I gave it a whirl. My only hesitation buying online is that I couldn't see/feel/sit on the items in person but I took a chance based on some positive anecdotal advice and went for it. I ended up purchasing two chairs, an end table, and a rug. Everything arrived in great condition and within two days no less! 

RELATED: DIY BOOK-INSPIRED RUG

The last, and most fun, part of completing my library room was the decor. This is the one room in the house that I can fill with all of my fandom related decor and hubby really doesn't complain. I set up all my books on the bookcases and interspersed them with fun trinkets and decor, including my favorite nerd girl collecting pieces, FunkoPops! I don't know what it is about these little guys but I am insanely addicted to purchasing them.

Of course I couldn't leave the walls bare, and adorned them in similar nerd girl fashion. I found these awesome reading inspired vinyl decals to stick up on the walls from Amazon

IMG_1840.JPG

 

Mia, talented artist and best friend that she is, also took the time to draw me up a couple original sketches of two of my favorite mythical creatures, a unicorn and a mermaid. I found these cute frames at Hobby Lobby for 50% off (I love me a good deal). 

This canvas was made my non other than yours truly. A good friend of mine is a crafting whiz and we made these (and similar style with different sayings) as Christmas gifts one year. I may do a "how-to" on these another day. They are pretty simple and a lot of fun to make. 

This next section of wall space is kind of my favorite. Yes, you're eyes saw correctly, behold, a unicorn head! Another Hobby Lobby find, this guy just screamed my name and at 50% off, of course he had to come home with me. The two wooden signs beside it came from  Kohls, and kind of fit in perfectly if I do say so myself. 

So there it is, my completed library. My safe haven, refuge from the mean muggle world. A place where magic is alive and well and a good book can always been found. I will undoubtedly continue to add to my collection of books as well as my trinkets over the years, good thing the room next door is only a dining room. Who uses those anymore anyways? Quite convenient for extending my library into one day...

Where is your "space"? Do you have a room dedicated to your books and nerdy treasures? I wanna see it!

XOXO,

Coco

DO YOU LIKE MY LIBRARY? LET ME KNOW! Share or Comment below!!!!!

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. 

IMG_3841.JPG

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! 

DIY Book-Inspired Rug. *A Bookworm's Dream*

IMG_3180.JPG

OK you all know this, because I've said it over and over.  I LOVE Harry Potter and everything that has to do with the wizarding world.   So, you can only imagine how heart-broken I was when I realized that they actually don't sell any Harry Potter themed BIG rugs.  

I searched, and searched the web for a while, and all I could find were small mats and welcome mats, but nothing bigger...Unless I was willing to pay hundreds of dollars from a sketchy website and get my credit card stolen, no way.  Not me.  I've learned my lesson the hard way.

So I took it upon myself to research other ways to complete my library room.  After almost all search results showed me Harry Potter blanket throws that were about the size I was looking for, I stopped for a moment to think.  "What if I do it myself?"

I swear I love Google, because I can almost do it ALL after reading and watching DYI videos....no magic wand needed.  Granted, some people make it more complicated than what it really is, OR make it look easier than reality, but I like to try it out myself....I'll tell you later how I discovered a great way to cut and color my own hair, and how to clean those annoying spots in between the oven glass...Oh Google.

Anyway, let me tell you the easiest way to make your dream rug and feel proud about it when you are done.

 Here's what you need:

* A blanket, tablecloth, or throw that inspires you. I chose the Marauder's Map throw, because the colors matched my library room (and look at it...it's just awesome).  Don't worry if it's not 100% Cotton. I think the one I got is mostly Polyester and it worked just fine.

*WATER BASED Polycrylic OR Polyurethane.  Make sure it's WATER BASED, and CLEAR Satin.  I got a small can (32 oz) and it was enough for 3 layers on my 4ft x 5ft throw.  If your rug is bigger, you will definitely need the bigger can, as you will need at least 3 layers. 

*  A small paint roller.  A cheap one would do.

* A plastic paint tray

* A Rug pad, or no-slip mat.  Big enough to cover your rug.  You can trim it accordingly.

* All purpose, permanent bond glue spray. I bought Elmer's permanent spray glue because it was only $2 add on when I bought the rug pad on Amazon, BUT it didn't work as good.  I recommend something stronger.

*Scissors, measurement tape, and a tarp (I used a large open box) so you don't stain your work area.

WHAT NEXT?

Prepare your work area with a large tarp, plastic cover, or something to protect your floor. PLEASE do this next step in a highly ventilated area.  I used my garage, with the door open, and still got a little loopy.... believe me, it doesn't seem like it, but that polycrylic is no joke!

Make sure your throw is not wrinkled. This step is important because if you apply the polycrylic and it's wrinkled, it will dry wrinkled. Iron it first if you have to. Once you have your throw set up on the tarp, apply the polycrylic with a paint roller, as if you would paint. Try to cover all surfaces. Do not apply too thick of a coat, as you will do this step two more times, so there's no need. Let it dry for at least one-two hours in between layers. 

Once you are done with the last layer, you'll notice that the throw/blanket has changed in texture.  It's no longer soft and foldable, but rather stiff, but still flexible. Once it completely dries, it's time to measure the rug pad and trim it to fit your throw.  

Then glue the rug pad to the throw, and let it dry.  VOILA! you have a new, unique, beautiful rug to suit your nerdy needs. Oh I was soooo happy with my rug. I can't stop staring at it.  

What are you waiting for? Get started and make your own! For your room, your work, for your book-lover friends. This can make the best birthday, or Christmas gift for ANYONE! The possibilities are unlimited! 

Have a questions?? Ask me or tell me about your rug!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Always, 

Mia

******* READ MORE IN OUR DIARY****

Cocos Christmas Edition: Top 10 Christmas Movies

My love of all things Christmas is pretty well documented, so it would only be natural for me to share my top 10 Christmas movies with you all. Bound to fill you up with Christmas cheer, make you laugh, make you cry, or simply sigh with nostalgia, my 10 picks are a must-watch each year at Christmas time. So pop that popcorn, warm up some hot chocolate, and cuddle up with a fuzzy blanket because you have some serious binge watching to do!

10) Die Hard (1988)- Now I know this may not seem like your typical Christmas movie, but Christmas just isn't the same unless I watch Bruce Willis outwit Hans Gruber as he takes his wife hostage during a Christmas party at Nakatomi Plaza. And can we all just go ahead and agree that Bruce Willis is a total hottie in this movie?  

9) Elf (2003)- Quite possibly Will Ferrells best piece of work to date. I could listen to Buddy the Elf one liners all day. "Buddy the Elf whats your favorite color?!" You seriously have no heart if you can watch this movie and not be infected with the Christmas spirit. 

8) Prancer (1989)- Perhaps not as well known on the Christmas movie circuit, this was a favorite of mine as a girl. (It doesn't hurt that Sam Elliott is a total babe in a rugged/cowboy kinda way). Young farm girl Jessica Riggs finds, and nurses back to health an injured reindeer she believes to belong to Santa. Her infectious spirit and kind heart are the epitome of Christmas spirit, eventually reaching her emotionally dejected father. 

7) Miracle on 34th Street (1947)- This one has been remade a couple times, but I prefer the classic, black and white version. Proving Santa is real in a court of law? And making one skeptic of a little girls Christmas wish come true is enough to leave even the grinchiest among us with not a dry eye. 

6) Scrooged (1988)- A modern take on the Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol, cold hearted TV executive (played by Bill Murray) is visited by three ghosts on Christmas Eve. Now you know ANYTHING by Bill Murry, especially from the 80's is gonna be golden. 

RELATED: CHRISTMAS LIGHTS! FROM NASCAR TO CHRISTMAS TOWN USA.

5) National Lampoons Christmas Vacation (1989)- Hands down, no questions, my favorite Christmas movie of all time. Perhaps it's because they remind me so much of my own family dysfunctions, but the Griswolds are legends in my eyes. As is any big event in their family, the Christmas celebration planned by Clark turns into a hilariously delightful disaster. 

4) A Christmas Story (1983)- Played on a loop for 24 hours every Christmas and I still never get tired of Ralphie as he tries for 94 minutes to convince his family, friends, and teachers he should get a Red Rider BB gun for Christmas. "You'll shoot your eye out!"

3) Home Alone  (1990)- Back before Macaulay Culkin fell off the map and sunk into child star oblivion, he rocked it as 8 year old Kevin McAllister who gets left behind in Chicago as his large family travels to Paris for Christmas. His trickster trouble-making with the bumbling burglers Marv and Harry are hilarious and clever. 

2) A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)- What better way to learn the true meaning of Christmas than with the lovable Charlie Brown? A Christmas classic, I can remember watching this on VHS as a child (yes I know, I'm old...). These classic characters are sure to bring a smile to your face. 

1) How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)- An oldie but goodie, watching the recluse grinch learn the turn meaning of Christmas is a good reminder to us all this time of year! "Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more!"

What are some of your favorite holiday movies? Did I miss any goodies? Let me know! please comment below.  Happy Holidays!

 

**photos used courtesy of www.IMBD.com

Game night fun! -Grown up edition

You all know we LOVE to spend time with the kiddos and we often have family game nights or family movie nights, which are great...but from time to time, we, the adults, need our own "adult-time" with our friends. I typed adult-time in quotations because, when we get together we don't really act like adults... We are all kids at heart (which makes our night that much more fun).

Here's a list of games and activities that we recommend. We usually have some drinks and cocktails mixed in, but all these are also totally fine for a sober night.  Just enjoy and play!

1. CARDS AGAINST HUMANITY

Yes, this is REALLY a game for horrible people, but the truth is that it is sooooooooo funny, my belly aches every single time we play this game, because we all laugh so hard. The objective of this game is basically be the first one to collect a certain number of black cards (usually 7). If you do, this probably means that you are the worst of them all... in a dirty-mind kinda way. Players take turns drawing a black card and reading it out loud. Whoever reads it is considered the "judge" for that round. Then, players throw in their white card (facing down) so the judge doesn't know which card belongs to who. The black cards have a question, fill-in-the-blank, or statement that you must pair with what you think is most appropriate using your white cards. For example, the judge can read "What's that smell?" and you will answer that with the white cards, which I probably shouldn't type here (in case a kid reads this...lol). The white cards are outrageous and surprisingly politically incorrect at best. The combination depends on how dirty your mind can get.  P.S. to win this game you must play the player, so if you know the judge well, play to their sense of humor.

2. REVERSE CHARADES

Just like the regular charades game, reverse charades is played in groups. The twist is that instead of one person performing in front of the teammates, the group must act out the card and only ONE person guesses. The more you guess correct, the more points you get. Trying to get a group of people to act out the same thing in a few seconds WITHOUT talking is both challenging and hilarious!

3. HEADBANDS

Everyone wears a headband on their foreheads, and every person places a card on the slit of their headbands, facing the group. You can read everyone's cards, but you have no clue what you card says. Each player takes turns asking questions to the group to gather clues and guess your own card. You only have 30 seconds per turn. You must ask only yes or no questions like, "Is it a thing? An animal? A place?" "Can i find it in a house?" etc, you get the point... kinda like playing 20 questions but everyone takes turns, and you must remember where you left off when your turn comes back around. If you guess your card, you keep it and put another one on the headband. The player that gathers the most cards wins.   

4. SPOONS

This game is truly hilarious. You only need a regular deck of cards (or two depending on how many players) and spoons (forks might be a little too dangerous). Let me explain; if you have five players, you will need four spoons. One less than the number of players. Everyone sits around a table and the spoons are placed in the middle (making sure everyone can reach them). Each player starts with four cards.Then one person starts passing cards to the left from the remaining deck (facing down). The objective is to gather FOUR of a kind (four queens, four 8's, four 7's etc). When you get a card from the player beside you, you will try to match it with the cards you already have to see if you can gather four of a kind. You will have to make a split decision and choose one of your cards to pass to the left. This is a very, very fast paced game, and you must have four cards at a time and pass the rest. If you get four of a kind, you have to reach out and grab a spoon. Once someone reaches out for a spoon, all other players must reach and try to grab their own spoons. One person will be left out each round. Get ready to laugh all night.

5. SCATTEGORIES 

This is another one of our favorite games! The game contains different cards with a series of 12 categories each. Things like, "a boys name", "things that are cold", "a villain in a movie or book" etc.  Then a letter is produced with a unique 20-sided die. Each player must then jot down an answer to the category which contains a word that starts with the letter that was rolled. For example, if you rolled the letter J, all your answers MUST start with J.  "a boys name" you can answer Jacob, "things that are cold" juice, and so on.  You have three minutes to answer the 12 categories. It's fun to see who's more resourceful with words in the group. This game is always a lot of fun!

We often make up our own games, or try to find new ones. For example, can't wait to try the new "Watchamouth" "Speak Out" or "LOLz" which are both played using a mouth piece to distort your words.  We also like to play Cranium, Monopoly, and just plain 'ol rummy. Mix a little wine in the games and you will have an amazing game night.  P.S.  You can make any of these games drinking games if appropriate.  Just remember, drink responsibly and don't drink and drive.  

What are your favorite party night games? I want to try some new ones!

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

IMG_2143.JPG

Mia and I have been anxiously awaiting the release of this movie for months. So it should come as no big surprise that we bought tickets online weeks in advance and saw the movie opening night. And it should also come as no big surprise that we have to dedicate a post to discussing the newest movie from our favorite wizarding world (or really just our favorite world in general if we're being honest here).  

So, without further ado, lets dish people!

*Disclaimer- there will be spoilers so save this read for after you watch the movie if you plan on doing so!*

As any Potterhead would be, I was anxious for this movie to be released. And not just  "I'm so excited, I need this in my life now!" sort of anxious (although trust me, there was certainly a fair share of this anxiety as well) but there was also the anxiety that this wouldn't quite live up to the "Harry Potter level" of amazing. That it would be a huge let down. 

So what did I think?

IT. WAS. FANTASIC!

Now, don't get me wrong, this isn't Harry Potter. There will never be another Harry Potter in my opinion, but this movie is authentic, magical, and hopeful, perfectly in line with what I expected from the wizarding world. 

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is based on the wizarding world in New York City circa 1926. Newt Scamander has been traveling the globe collecting and cataloging the multitude of magical creatures in the wizarding world. His quick stop in New York City turns into an international incident when his case of magical creatures is mistakenly swapped with a similar case owned by Jacob, a No-Maj (American term for muggle!) who accidentally releases some of these animals into the city. These two unlikely allies work together to track down the creatures while a separate deadly creatures wrecks havoc on the city simultaneously. 

One of the unique aspects of this movie, which sets itself apart from the Harry Potter books/movies, is that it incorporates both the magical and non-magical worlds. It was simply hysterical to watch Jacob Kowlaski be introduced into the world of magic and navigate the city with Newt in search of the lost creatures. His humor and comedic timing were on point, he made such a wonderful addition to the cast of characters. Newt Scamander was thoughtful, tenderhearted, and brave (as any good hero in this universe ought to be!) I was absolutely tickled to hear talk about Dumbledore and had a sense of foreboding foreshadowing was happening with the mention of a mysterious LeStrange in Newts past. Anyone else feel like she is going to turn up in a later movie to tug on poor Newts heartstrings?!

Now for the stand out character in this movie? 

This quick fingered Niffler had me rolling with his crazy antics. Snatching up every bright and shiny object within reach, plundering jewelry shops, and pilfering the pockets of unsuspecting No-Majs, he was a hoot! 

And can we talk about Newts suitcase for a minute?! Anyone else just want to LIVE in that thing? God, all the beautifully exotic magical creatures were almost too much for my heart. And the tender and loving way in which Newt tends to them all is so charming. That case is like a magical breath of fresh air. I have also decided that I need a BowTruckle for Christmas...I'm gonna need someone to look into this for me.

While we don't learn too much about Newts background, other than the fact that he was kicked out of Hogwarts (gasp!) and had a once very close relationship with a LeStrange, I get the feeling Newts story will come into more focus as the series progresses. The big reveal was a shocker at the end! I was hoping Graves would have been our Snape for this series. The one you were certain was bad all along until he is finally revealed as the ultimate hero? Well that theory went out the window pretty quickly when he was revealed as non other than GRINDEWALD! Like, THE Grindewald people! Ekkkkk, did NOT see that one coming. 

Overall, I can't write enough good things about this movie. To be back in a world that gives me so much joy, is, in a word, magical....

What did you guys think of the movie?! Did it live up to your Harry Potter Hype? And who was your favorite new character? (Human and creature both!) 

 

 

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.  

IMG_1599.JPG

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!

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. 

Got Scared? Best Horror/Mystery TV Shows to watch

We are BIG fans of horror, mystery, sci-fi and supernatural genre shows.  It’s the mysteriousness of the plots that twists our minds into this never-ending web of happiness.  It’s food for our minds, I guess, if I had to simply explain it.  So I put together my top 10 shows to watch, if you want to feed your mind with our kind of fuel. From number 10, to my number one, they are all worth your time.

 

10. LUCIFER (Fox)

 Lucifer on Fox

Lucifer on Fox

This show just aired its first season over the winter/spring 2016 on Fox.  I wasn’t so sure about it, as it seemed kind of dumb. The devil himself decides to take a vacation from his devil-ing duties in Hell and moves to L.A. only to meet a beautiful lady detective, and help her solve crimes. I watched the first episode, and then the second, and the third, and next thing I knew, I was into it.  It has the perfect combination of crime, drama, comedy, and mystery. The plot of the series got better as it went on (I was a little afraid it was not going anywhere), as more characters are introduced and a more substantial storyline is revealed.  Plus, Lucifer is British, and, well, he’s quite charming.

 

9. ARROW (CW)

 Arrow - The CW

Arrow - The CW

Arrow first aired in 2012 and since it's debut, it has stolen a piece of my heart. Stephen Amell, who plays millionaire (spoiled-brat-womanizer) Oliver Queen, is a fantastic actor. After a boating “accident” Oliver gets stranded, alone, on a remote island, where he must learn to find his real-self in order to survive. Throughout the show, flashbacks of Oliver’s life on the island explain why he does the things he does, as he returns home. Oliver adopts the alter-ego/vigilante identity that everyone knows as “The Green Arrow”.  This storyline is so rich, dark, and full of surprises that you will not be disappointed.  

RELATED: NETFLIX NIGHT

8. SHERLOCK (BBC One)

 Sherlock - BBC One

Sherlock - BBC One

I love everything to do with Sherlock Holmes.  From the many movies and books to the random stories incorporated into other shows; so when I learned about the series Sherlock (starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman) I squealed. The episodes in this series are broken into only three, one and ½ hour, episodes.  Each episode is like a mini movie in itself. The ingenuity, and the level of acting, along with the cleverness of the plot is just marvelous. The only thing I dislike is the fact that the seasons are so far apart. You must wait over a year (or two) for a new season to be released.  Season 3 ended in 2014, and season 4 is set to be released sometime this year, hopefully.  

 

7. HUMANS (AMC)

 Humans - AMC

Humans - AMC

The first season came out in 2015 and it was only 8 episodes. This show explores a world where artificial intelligence takes a step forward, and humans are trying to deal with it, both morally and technologically. In this story, “synths” (as they call AI-robots) are here as helpers and each household has one to assist with chores. But a few synths are not who they seem to be. They are more than intelligent; they feel, they reason, they remember. And there is, Leo. A human who also has part synth in his body (must watch to know why).  He will do anything to find his synth family and be reunited them, before they are destroyed.  

 

6. SLEEPY HOLLOW (Fox)

 Sleepy Hollow - Fox

Sleepy Hollow - Fox

A spin off on the original movie. Yes, it has a headless horseman, and the iconic Ichabod Crane. It is filled with witches, demons, and even angels. I was very skeptic at first because a whole TV show dealing with a headless horseman can get old after a while; but they found a way to make it interesting and, now going on season 4, they’ve introduced other folk characters and villains to keep things fresh. Can’t wait to see what season 4 brings!

 

5. AMERICAN HORROR STORY (FX)

 American Horror Story- FX

American Horror Story- FX

What’s really neat (if you can call horror and gore neat) about this series is that while all 4 seasons consists of (roughly) the same cast of actors, the story lines change from season to season. A haunted house,  an insane asylum in the 40's, a coven of witches in New Orleans, and a traveling circus/freak show in the 50's. Season five which hasn't been released yet on Netlix was my favorite so far alternating time periods in a haunted hotel. (Lady Gaga nailed it in her TV debut!). It should be available in October 2016 at the same time that Season 6 will debut on TV.

 

4. DAMIEN (A&E)

What I like about this series is the fact that it reminds me of the Omen; which was a big part of my childhood mystery/thriller-watching upbringing. The Omen was one of my favorite horror movies, and the whole idea of Damien Thorn fascinates me. In this series, Damien starts off not knowing he is the Antichrist. Now 30 years old, he’s lived his life as a news photographer, photographing the world's most dangerous zones, without a scratch. But, when mysterious deaths start to occur all around him, he realizes something is wrong. Little by little he learns his fate. The question is, will he allow the monster in him to be woken?

 

3. BATES MOTEL (A&E)

 Bates Motel on A&E

Bates Motel on A&E

Another spin-off of a classic. Roughly based on the storyline of the movie Psycho, Bates Motel integrates the good-ole Norman Bates, and his crazy, but not-so-crazy mother, Norma. The depth and the way the characters are written, combined with outstanding acting, makes this series one of my favorite. Its mysterious, terrifying, twisted, sad, real, and surreal all at the same time. It’s one of those things that makes you say “well, this could happen in real life” or “I wonder how many people think like that”. Yeah, it’s spooky because it’s very realistic. By the way, this show gets better and better with each season.  

 

2. THE WALKING DEAD (A&E)

 TWD on AMC

TWD on AMC

No horror/thriller list is complete without mentioning zombies. But, for those who don’t know, this show is way more than just dead walkers. It’s about people, and the aftermath of the end of the world as everyone knows it. It’s about the most inner feelings of our society, it’s about how far, we as humans, would go to survive and to defend our family. It’s not about the zombies at all (well, yeah, just a little bit about the zombies), but about the depth of the characters and their individual stories. This show is amazing as far as the complexity and the freedom it provides to explore human behavior in a end-of-of the-world setting.

 

1. SUPERNATURAL (CW)

 Supernatural on the CW

Supernatural on the CW

And now my number one pick. Supernatural. 11 seasons of awesomeness. We have been watching this show since the beginning, that’s back in 2005. I mean, after 11 seasons (going on 12) it becomes part of your family. In fact, the Supernatural fandom considers itself a family. Dean and Sam Winchester are two brothers that were brought up in a world of demons, ghosts, ghouls, witches, and angels. A world where they grew up hunting (the family business) supernatural creatures, in an effort to keep their world secret from the rest of humanity. Throughout the course of 11 years, they have made friends with angels and demons alike, and have fought Lucifer himself when preventing Armageddon from happening (thanks boys). I love this show because it has the perfect combination of action, horror, mystery, comedy, not to mention that the Winchester boys are delicious eye-candy (insert cheesy smile here). The main actors, Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, and Misha Collins are constantly involved with the fandom, as well as their own charities and events to help society overcome many “real ghosts”, like mental illness, and depression, which are overlooked and dismissed by many.

Besides my top 10 favorite thriller tv shows, are others that I actually just started to watch.  Preacher on AMC is a great one so far (only a few episodes into the first season). And of course there's the cable TV shows like Game of Thrones and Dexter - but that's another review.  So many great shows to choose from! What's your favorite and why? 

*** READ MORE IN OUR DIARY!**

Always,

Mia

Writer's Block? Beat the Beast.

Let's be honest.  You can say you write a lot and that you have been writing since you were young, but everyone goes through a scary (for us in this profession) condition called Writer's Block.  Symptoms include: inability to think, lose of appropriate wordage, thesaurus-constriction, lack of plotting capability, and overall sense of unwillingness to create the next chapter/page.

Writer's Block is not something you expect.  You may have an amazing idea one day, and, right in the middle of your writing, the block takes place.  Suddenly, you can't find what to type next.  Nothing makes sense, and everything (if you can think of anything) seems dull.  

So, how do you solve this problem?  The answer is not easy, but you can certainly work on it, as you do with any kind of therapy (for physical or mental conditions).  The cure comes with time. BE PATIENT! Here are some tips to help you get back to writing:

1. RELAX.  Don't panic.  Relax your body and mind as soon as you feel the block happening.  Can't think of the next word?.  Take a break.  Drink some coffee, go for a walk.

2. NARROW DOWN THE THINGS THAT INSPIRE YOU.  Whether is your pet, nature, your kid, a tv show, books, fairies, monsters.  ONLY you know what inspires you.  We all have the one thing that makes us think about a million stories when we look at it.  I like to look at trees and the stars.  Yeah, that sounds weird, but for some reason trees and fresh air fuels my imagination.  It's hard to find your muse, but once you do, keep it in mind in case of a block emergency.

3. WHEN AN IDEA COMES...WRITE IT DOWN.  Even if it's not related to whatever you're working on at the moment, when you have an "aha!" moment, jot it down! don't rely on your memory as the writer's block will, well, block it when you need it the most.  

4. WORK ON SOMETHING DIFFERENT.  If you are working on a project and you get to that point where you can't write the next chapter, simply stop.  Start a side project or work on something totally different for a little while.  Go out of the house for a walk in the park.  This will trick your mind and inspiration will flow back to you when you least expect it.

5. MAKE A MOVIE.  Yes, a movie, but not literally.  I always treat all my project as if I was a director of a Hollywood movie. See it in your mind, imagine your characters as if you were looking at them on the big screen.  What's gonna happen next? what's the twist of this story? Do this as you go to bed, or when you have a time to spare.  Start from the beginning of your story and add a little scene every time.  You will eventually (and unexpectedly) get some clue or inspiration that will unravel the rest of your masterpiece.  

6. MEDITATE: I know you hear this all the time, but seriously, meditation is literally exercise for your mind.  Your imagination is your strongest forte...let's face it, if you are a writer you know this.  Meditation will allow you to travel places in the comfort of your mind, and get inspiration from places hidden in your own world.  

7. READ.  I'm not telling you to copy and paste someone else's idea, but reading good literature will expand your own imagination.  Sometimes, one little word can inspire a whole new world of ideas in your mind.  

RELATED: WONDERING WHAT TO READ: CHECK OUT OUR BOOK REVIEWS!

8. TAKE A TRIP.  Yes! traveling might be the way to go.  If your mind is blocked from producing the next chapter, jump in you car (or better, a plane) and go somewhere that you've never been before.  A new place might wake up your inner muse.  

You can always find inspiration where you never thought to look.  Maybe a history book? or an old movie.  Reality, and the world around us, provides a constant feed of amazing stories that need to be told.  all you have to do is look around and listen.

Hope you unlock your muse!

Always,

Mia

WHAT FUELS YOUR IMAGINATION? LET ME KNOW!Please comment and share below!

An Open Letter to J.K. Rowling

Last week I read an article about an open letter to J.K. Rowling.  “That could’ve been me writing that letter” I immediately thought.  In fact, I wrote a letter to Ms. Rowling many years ago.  A not-so-open letter that I never sent.  

 

If you don’t know who she is - stop reading right now, we are no longer friends- just kidding! J.K. Rowling is the amazing author of the Harry Potter series.  You might not know this about me, but I’m a die-hard Harry Potter fan. I can also say that this wonder wizard saved my life. Here’s my open letter to Jo.  

 

Dear Ms. Rowling:

image.jpg

I came across the fourth Harry Potter book when I was still a teenager.  I used to be an avid reader, but at that point in my life my love for books had slowly faded away along with my willingness to breathe.  For this reason, I had never read any of the three previous books before Goblet of Fire. As I wondered about my life in my post-adolescent years, I picked up your book and embarked on the best journey of my life.  I couldn’t put it down. I didn’t know Harry before his fourth year, so I took it upon myself to investigate, and what better way than to read the three previous books.  

As Harry grew up throughout your amazing narrative, my lonely soul grew with him.  He was my companion, and my best friend. He showed me that you're not alone, even when you think you are, and that there’s always a way to defeat your demons (or your dementors).

I got to know and adore Hermione, and Ron, and to experience their own frustrations, sadness, and happiness.  Hermione showed me that being nerdy is cool (in my own way), and that being a girl is synonymous with being strong.  

I walked the majestic hallways of Hogwarts, and rode the train to Hogsmeade a million times, just to have a butterbeer at the the three broomsticks. I never got lost at Hogwarts because I always had the Marauders Map handy, and I enjoyed every Care of Magical Creatures class Hagrid taught. I wanted to help Hermione with SPEW, and was annoyed by Peeves. I learned about dragons, and how to calm down a three-headed dog. I wished I could try out for the quiddich team, and I always wondered if I was a Gryffindor, or a Slytherin. I could also -probably- see a thestral, and ride on a hippogriff while fighting a dementor with my very own cat patronus.    

I followed Harry through his journey of discovering himself, as I also discovered myself.  I cried like a baby when Sirius died, and laughed every time the Weasley brothers played a prank.  

Ms. Rowling, thank you.  Thank you for saving my life, as I entered in a deep depression, immune to medication and conservative treatment. My heavy spirit was crying helpless in the face of the emptiness filling my life.  Nothing worked until I picked up your book. Harry showed me a different, magical alternative to my pained reality.  Reading your words worked better than anything I’d tried, because your story showed me that happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light (thanks Dumbledore).  

Thank you for allowing us to enter your world, for teaching me that I don't need felix felicis to be lucky, for showing me that being strong is hard, but possible, for letting me discover magic where none exists, and for opening the door to the unlimited possibilities of my own imagination.  

Thank you for saving my life, as I completed the three tasks and earned my own tri-wizard cup.  

I'm a muggle forever humbled by your creation.  

image.jpg