Show Your Colors

July 4th, the day that Americans put the flag on display and shout their pride from the rooftops in honor of freedom.  Now is the perfect time to share what makes me feel patriotic.  I love my country, but I’m not the most vocal about it.  However, there are two things that make my blood run red, white, & blue.  Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and I respect that.  But, I can’t help feeling rage when someone born and raised outside the American borders feels the need to judge.  I am American-born and American-raised.  I can count the number of times I’ve left this country on one hand.  I speak English with an American accent.  I received education and now work as an adult here.  I can criticize this country because I am a citizen and know what I’m talking about (for the most part 😉).  Think of it this way.  As a brother or sister, you can tease your sibling(s) to your heart’s content, but God help the outsider who feels led to do the same.  Suddenly you’re on the defensive!  Perhaps that paints a clearer picture of my point.  Moving on.  I see or hear stories about soldiers every day, but nothing compares to seeing or meeting them in the flesh.  As a retail employee, I meet military personnel of all races and ages and feel an indescribable level of honor and pride to serve them.  I respect the diverse group of people willing to train and fight for this country.  If any soldiers, past or present, are reading this, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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Go out & have fun readers!  I wish you a safe, happy holiday.

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– Lauren Michele <3

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Those Summer Nights

It’s that time of year folks, the time when earth feels like it’s roasting inside a sauna over the flames of hell.  When I’m not concealing sweat at work, I’m sitting in front of a fan at home pretending I live in a colder climate.  Not only is it hot, but California is rain-free, dry, and on high alert for fires.  Fun times!  Now that I’ve brought you up to speed on the weather report, prepare yourself for a story eerily similar to one I told one year ago.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, click the following link and study up:

https://laurenmichelelifestyle.wordpress.com/2015/04/09/the-big-bad-june-bug-attack-of-2015/

The night was June 21, 2016 and the time approximately midnight.  The night air was refreshingly cool.  The window was open and the fan blasting.  I was spread out on the couch preparing to enjoy some therapy a-la-Netflix.  In one moment, my seemingly perfect summer night came screeching to a halt.  I heard the haunting buzz of a large insect and wasted no time in jumping off the couch and turning on the light.  As soon as I did so, I caught sight of movement in the window.  The volume of my voice raised slightly as I exclaimed that there was a bug inside the house.  He was not very happy with my actions because next thing I know he’s flying at me.  I ran down the stairs yelling “NO NO NO NO NO!!!!!”  My mom came out of her bedroom to see what was going on, and my dad expressed concern from the comfort of his bed.  Armed with a shoe and Lysol, I made my mom accompany me while I checked every single window in the house.  I was not about to sleep with a huge bug on the loose!!  After many tears and a panic attack, I shut myself in my room (after numerous inspections) and did my best to sleep despite intense anxiety and a migraine.  The next day my mom informed me that she had found a dead June bug in her bedroom.  I felt immediate deja vu.  What is it with my mom and I fighting June bugs??!!!

Don’t you just love summer?? 😡

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– Lauren Michele <3

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My Favorite Disney Channel Original Movies

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Someday I will write about subjects other than Disney & nostalgia.  Today is not that day.  😂  In honor of Disney Channel’s original movie marathon this Memorial Day weekend, I am going to share my favorite DCOMs.

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• Stand-alone

Stuck in the Suburbs – 2004

Taran Killam is one of my favorite Saturday Night Live cast members.  When I realized he played Jordan Cahill, I freaked out.  Baby Jordan!

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• Series

Cheetah Girls – 2003

Cheetah Girls 2 – 2006

My friends and I listened to the soundtrack on repeat.  We would pretend to be The Cheetah Girls, touring and making music videos with my camera.  Since there were three of us, I was a Chanel/Dorinda hybrid. ;)

High School Musical – 2006

High School Musical 2 – 2007

The HSM movies are the only DCOMs I still own (besides Camp Rock).  That about sums it up.

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Stuck in the Suburbs is my favorite because it possesses the DCOM spirit.  The only reason it’s above The Cheetah Girls and High School Musical is because both of those series blew up and became something beyond just Disney Channel films.  They were revolutionary and to this day hold significance in DCOM history.  A random person on the street might know about T.C.G. or H.S.M. but most likely not S.I.T.S.  Hopefully that makes sense!

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• Others

Cadet Kelly – 2002

Lizzie McGuire and Kim Possible are two of my favorite Disney Channel shows.  A movie with Christy Carlson Romano (Kim) and Hilary Duff (Lizzie)??  Yes please!!

Camp Rock – 2008

I was obsessed with Mitchie’s wardrobe.  Also, the Jonas brothers.

Cow Belles – 2006

Fun fact: Aly & AJ songs still play on repeat on my Spotify account.  No shame!

Go Figure – 2005

Figure skating, hockey, & Everlife music.  Need I say more?!

Jump In – 2007

I’m pretty sure I asked my mom for a jump rope after this movie premiered.

Kim Possible: So The Drama – 2003

I already mentioned my love for KP.  No other words are necessary.

Now You See It – 2005

This movie is a hidden gem.  I found out about it after seeing Johnny Pacar on Flight 29 Down and doing further research about his career.  I’ve been hooked ever since.

Pixel Perfect – 2004

I totally forgot about this movie until I saw it on the Disney Channel TV schedule.  I flipped out!!  Hands down one of my favorite DCOMs.  I wish I could watch it more often.

Read it And Weep – 2006

It’s always special re-watching movies that I saw commercials for before they premiered.  I got the full experience!

The Even Stevens Movie – 2003

My brother and I loved this show growing up.  Of course I love the movie!

The Proud Family Movie – 2005

I wish Suga Mama was my relative.  I love her so much!  😂

Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior – 2006

I had the biggest crush on Shin Koyamada.  Also, girl power!

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All of the previously mentioned films fall below my favorites but are in no way on the bottom.  I could watch them over and over and never get bored.

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• Honorable Mentions

Avalon High – 2010

Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam – 2010

Get a Clue – 2002

Lemonade Mouth – 2011

Starstruck – 2010

The Cheetah Girls: One World – 2008

Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century – 1999

Zenon: The Zequel – 2001

Zenon: Z3 – 2004

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These are movies that I like but don’t love.  Some may surprise you, but keep in mind this is my personal opinion.  I also want to point out something.  I like the Zenon series, but I haven’t watched the movies many times therefore I don’t feel right putting them in the favorites category.

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If you’ve missed part of the marathon, have no fear!  There are many DCOMs available on Netflix.  Also, more will be airing throughout June in preparation for the premiere of Disney Channel’s 100th original movie Adventures in Babysitting.

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I suggest you tune into the Thingamavlogs livestream.  They are staying live through the entire marathon for a great cause: The Pablove Foundation.  Necessary links below:

• Livestream – http://www.dcommarathon.com

• Pablove Website – http://www.pablove.org

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– Lauren Michele <3

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Springtime Daze

Sarnoff, Arthur. (n.d.). [Painting]. Retrieved May 3, 2016, from http://www.artsfon.com/download/27930/2560x1600/

Sarnoff, Arthur. (n.d.). [Painting]. Retrieved May 3, 2016, from http://www.artsfon.com/download/27930/2560×1600/

Good evening readers!  I felt like it was time for a chatty blog post with lots of information about what I’ve been up to.  I’m making significant progress on the 2016 Reading Challenge.  I am currently making my way through the A Series of Unfortunate Events series by Lemony Snicket and The Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkien.  After the first of the year, I had to take a break from reading, but I am back in tip top shape and determined to keep moving forward.  Books make me extremely happy, and life is never enjoyable when I don’t feel like reading. 📚

In an odd turn of events, I started having nightmares about death a few weeks ago.  I thought perhaps it was because I was reading before bedtime.  The Series of Unfortunate Events series is very grim and depressing, but the content isn’t presented in a manner that is terrifying.  I suppose I could test out that theory, but I am doubtful that those books are the cause of the problem.  I already struggle with insomnia so nightmares are something I don’t need to deal with.  It takes me hours to fall asleep, and once I do nightmares wake me up.  Needless to say I am exhausted.  The other night I got so freaked out by a nightmare that I got up and asked my mom to pray for me; I only had one other nightmare and fell asleep within an hour or two.  I slept soundly last night so I am hoping that the nightmares are finally making their way out of my mind. 💀

Moving on to a happier subject.  I got a job!  If you followed me over the holidays, you know that I had a seasonal retail job.  Unfortunately I was not able to stay on permanently so the search for a new job began.  I did not have to search long because I immediately found an open position through networking.  I was blessed to secure the job after just one interview, and I should be starting within the next two weeks. 👠

I’ve just seen that my Youtube channel has reached over 10,000 views.  That is amazing!!  I feel so encouraged and motivated to keep doing what I’m doing.  To those of you who are subscribed, thank you from the bottom of my heart.  To those of you who aren’t subscribed, what are you waiting for?!  Speaking of which, you should check out my most recent video.  I went hiking in Malibu this past weekend and filmed most of the hike plus the last minute trip to the beach.  What an adventure!  I’ve been hiking in recent months, but this hike unexpectedly required some rock climbing.  I still have cuts and bruises, but it was so much fun.  Because I’m at home most of the time, I forget how much I love being outdoors and exploring.  It was good for me to be outside in the fresh air and sunshine. 🌳

I hope all of you are having a lovely evening.  I am currently sitting in a recliner blogging with a book (The Hostile Hospital) on my right side and Call the Midwife on the television.  I’m not in the best of moods, but that’s nothing some frozen fruit couldn’t cure.  Does anybody else eat frozen fruit as a snack or am I just weird??  Think of it like a deconstructed popsicle. 😜 I shall stop rambling now.  Good night!  Sweet dreams! 😴

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The Walking Dead Season 6 Finale | April 2016

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Take a deep breath TWD fans.  Let’s talk through the pain.

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* * * Warning: I will be talking openly so please DO NOT read this if you have not watched the season 6 finale.  There may be SPOILERS ahead.

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1.  I have no idea what is wrong with Maggie, but I’m scared.  What happens if she miscarried??  Every human that dies becomes a zombie.  What does that mean??  Are things about to get really weird??

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2.  I’m pretty sure Carl and Enid will never be friends again.  He locked her in a closet!!  I know he was trying to protect her, but I don’t think she will be very understanding.  On the other hand, maybe she will be.  The group has worse things to deal with now.

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3.  I loved watching Carol’s progression into the kick-butt category but didn’t realize the toll it had taken until this episode.  She stared death in the face and taunted her shooter to finish the job.  She has managed to stay alive, but fear and emotion are starting to make her unstable.

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4.  I was concerned when Morgan told Carol’s shooter he could leave alive.  He has tried my patience this season with his “zen” approach to the zombie apocalypse.  Thankfully he did what he had to do: shoot the enemy.  Seriously though, the one time he decides to kill a (bad) human, and he wastes all of his bullets.  One headshot would have sufficed.

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5.  The Saviors taunted Rick’s group the entire episode, but the worst blow was the stunt they pulled dressing two zombies with items from Daryl and Michonne.  That was cruel considering no one knew Daryl, Glenn, Michonne, and Rosita were in danger.

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6.  This episode had me on edge the entire 90 minutes.  By the end, I had cried and said goodbye to every character just in case.  When Eugene left with the RV, I was sure he was a dead man.  Next thing I know, I’m watching several beloved characters kneel before Negan and fear for their lives.  My body was shaking.  My hands were partially covering my eyes.  Tears were streaming down my face.  I was not okay.  I’m still not okay.

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Closing Thoughts:  First of all, let’s take a moment to appreciate the stellar cast.  The regulars did a fantastic job, especially those who came face to face with Negan.  Watching Rick go from confident leader to powerless victim was heartbreaking.  The Saviors’ whistling sent chills down my spine and freaked me out, paving the way for Negan.  I knew Jeffrey Dean Morgan would kill it, and he did not disappoint.  In the end, it was implied that someone died a la Lucille, but the identity was not revealed.  I was so emotionally shaken that I didn’t think twice about the cliffhanger until I read social media comments.  I have come to expect cliffhangers from TWD so I wasn’t bothered, but I understand why fans are upset.  After numerous mid-season and season finale cliffhangers, people were craving some closure, closure they once again did not get.  I trust that the writers know what they’re doing, but I do think the show has lost some of its edge in the eyes of viewers.  I have not given up and don’t plan on doing so anytime soon.  The Negan storyline is promising in terms of edgy content, and I’m nervous/excited to see what happens next.

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Life of an Insomniac

Oh.  My.  Gosh.  I have slept so well these past few weeks.  Of course that couldn’t last long.  The United States recently sprung forward one hour, and all my precious hours of sleep crashed & burned.  I thought I hated “Spring Forward” before, but in this moment, I absolutely 100% despise it.  I have tried all of my usual tricks: early bedtime, lavender spray, eucalyptus spearmint lotion, and reading a book.  Nothing is working!!!!!  I am beyond exhausted.  I have so many goals set in place for my blogs and Youtube channel, but working this past week has felt like beating my head against a wall.  I need sleep to function!!  I’m not fun to be around when I’m tired.  Actually, I’m not fun to be around when I’m well rested so scratch that last sentence. ;)  Hopefully tonight will bring peaceful sleep.  I need my rest.  I’m seeing “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” with my brother tomorrow.  Exciting!!

• This is what I’m dealing with: http://www.buzzfeed.com/elliewoodward/ffs-go-to-sleep#.ox58pEjBGv

I know the holiday is basically over, but I wish you all a belated Chag Purim Sameach!!

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The 88th Academy Awards | Part 1

Welcome to the winners’ circle!  I am going to list each of the categories and their respective victors.  Part 2 will be available tonight on my art blog; it will feature my favorite looks from the red carpet.  First, I want to congratulate Chris Rock.  Hosts make or break award shows.  I rarely tune in because I lose interest quickly, but thanks to Mr. Rock I thoroughly enjoyed the Oscars this year.  Two thumbs up! 👍 👍

* * * Note: Videos of all the acceptance speeches will be posted in this article as soon as I can find good quality versions.

– Opening Monologue –

Source: https://www.facebook.com/ABCNetwork/videos/1144808155563319/

– This Year in Film –

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m88THpMK590

🌟Best Actor – Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Revenant”

Source: https://www.facebook.com/ABCNetwork/videos/1144973592213442/

🌟Best Actress – Brie Larson, “Room”

Best Animated Feature Film – “Inside Out”

Best Cinematography – Emmanuel Lubezki, “The Revenant”

Best Costume Design – Jenny Beavan, “Mad Max: Fury Road”

🌟Best Director – Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, “The Revenant”

Best Documentary Feature – “Amy”

Best Documentary Short Subject – “A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness”

Best Film Editing – Margaret Sixel, “Mad Max: Fury Road”

Best Foreign Language Film – “Son of Saul”

Best Live Action Short Film – “Stutterer”

Best Makeup – Damien Martin, Elka Wardega, and Lesley Vanderwalt, “Mad Max: Fury Road”

Best Original Music Score – Ennio Morricone, “The Hateful Eight”

Source: https://www.facebook.com/ABCNetwork/videos/1144900588887409/

Best Original Screenplay – “Spotlight”

Best Original Song – Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith, “Writing’s on the Wall” from “Spectre”

Source: https://www.facebook.com/ABCNetwork/videos/1144835135560621/

* I congratulate Sam Smith on his win, but I was rooting for Lady Gaga.  What a powerful song!

Source: https://www.facebook.com/ABCNetwork/videos/1144912732219528/

🌟Best Picture – “Spotlight”

Best Production Design – Colin Gibson and Lisa Thompson, “Mad Max: Fury Road”

Best Sound Editing – David White and Mark Mangini, “Mad Max: Fury Road”

Best Sound Mixing – Ben Osmo, Chris Jenkins, and Gregg Rudloff, “Mad Max: Fury Road”

🌟Best Supporting Actor – Mark Rylance, “Bridge of Spies”

🌟Best Supporting Actress – Alicia Vikander, “The Danish Girl”

Best Visual Effects – “Ex Machina”

Best Writing Adapted Screenplay – “The Big Short”

• Here are the trailers for all of the movies that won an award:

– A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness –

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gk2OcKVu8qU

– Amy –

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvmFr_OCLgU

– Bridge of Spies –

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBBuzHrZBro

– Ex Machina –

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gyKqHOgMi4g

– Inside Out –

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=seMwpP0yeu4

– Mad Max: Fury Road –

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEJnMQG9ev8

– Room –

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_Ci-pAL4eE

– Son of Saul –

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6MJZnDV27U

– Spectre –

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4UDNzXD3qA

– Spotlight –

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EwdCIpbTN5g

– Stutterer –

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnlBGQUn0tM

– The Big Short –

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgqG3ITMv1Q

– The Danish Girl –

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d88APYIGkjk

– The Hateful Eight –

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_UI1GzaWv0

– The Revenant –

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoebZZ8K5N0

There are three more things I want to highlight:

1.  C-3PO, R2-D2, & BB-8 made an appearance.  How cute was it seeing the droids all together on the stage?!  Dream come true for me! 💕

2.  Dave Grohl performed “Blackbird” during the In Memoriam presentation.   It was beautiful!  What else can I say??  The performance speaks for itself. 🎶🎶🎶

3.  I am sure Brie Larson doesn’t want any kind of special attention for her kind deed during one of the commercial breaks, but I think it deserves attention.  She stood up and hugged each and every one of the sexual assault survivors as they left the stage following the Lady Gaga performance.  That speaks volumes about who Miss Larson is as a person.

Source:  https://www.yahoo.com/celebrity/brie-larson-hugs-every-sexual-assault-survivor-052750529.html

Part 2 – The 88th Academy Awards | Part 2

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2016 Reading Challenge Update #1

Hello readers!  If you reside in a part of the world that is currently snowed in, allow me to bring up the topic of books and lift your spirits.  I am very proud to announce that I have completed 2 out of 12 categories in the 2016 Reading Challenge.

This series is flawless!  Ms. Woodsmall took on the delicate subject of rape and succeeded in telling a story that is candid but comfortable to read and engaging.

“Hannah Lapp was born and raised in an Old Order Amish home, without electricity, a telephone, or the right to follow her heart. Without her parents’ knowledge, she’s been in love with Mennonite Paul Waddell for years. When he asks her to marry him, she accepts, even though to do so will cause her family to avoid her for the rest of her life.  Before Hannah and Paul reveal their relationship, tragedy strikes. In one unwelcome encounter, all that Hannah has known and believed is destroyed and she faces losing everything: her family, her fiancé, and even her faith in God.”

 

Because I overwatched the movie as a child, it is not high on my list these days.  I was not sure I would enjoy the book, but I am so glad I was wrong.  I thoroughly enjoyed every single page and would love to finish the series.

Let’s revisit my list to see the progress:

• Published This Year – “Land of Silence” by Tessa Afshar | “A Spy’s Devotion” by Melanie Dickerson

✔️ Finish in a Day – “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum

• Meaning to Read – “Zoo” by Michael Ledwidge & James Patterson

• Recommended by Bookseller or Librarian – “A Series of Unfortunate Events” by Lemony Snicket | “The Girl on The Train” by Paula Hawkins

• Should Have Read in School – “Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ” by Lew Wallace

• Chosen by Spouse, Partner, Sibling, Child, or BFF – “As Sure As The Dawn” by Francine Rivers

• Published Before You Were Born – “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” by Truman Capote

• Banned at Some Point – “Alice in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll

• Previously Abandoned – “Elixir” series by Hilary Duff

• Own But Never Read – “First Light” by Bodie & Brocke Thoene

• Intimidates You – “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen

✔️ Already Read at Least Once – “Sisters of the Quilt” by Cindy Woodsmall

Are you participating in the challenge?  What are you currently reading?  Feel free to leave comments down below. :)

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2016 Reading Challenge

I am SUPER DUPER excited about what we are discussing today.  Thanks to a friend on Facebook, I was introduced to the “2016 Reading Challenge.”  Don’t know what that is?  Stand by for a photo…

I am starting to feel like my old self in regard to reading so this challenge came at the perfect time.  I’m going to share my tentative list in hopes that you will get some inspiration.

• Published This Year – “Land of Silence” by Tessa Afshar | “A Spy’s Devotion” by Melanie Dickerson

• Finish in a Day – “Bookplate Special” by Lorna Barrett | “A Caribbean Mystery” by Agatha Christie

• Meaning to Read – “Zoo” by Michael Ledwidge & James Patterson

• Recommended by Bookseller or Librarian – “The Girl on The Train” by Paula Hawkins

• Should Have Read in School – “Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ” by Lew Wallace

• Chosen by Spouse, Partner, Sibling, Child, or BFF – “As Sure As The Dawn” by Francine Rivers

• Published Before You Were Born – “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” by Truman Capote

• Banned at Some Point – “Alice in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll

• Previously Abandoned – “Elixir” series by Hilary Duff

• Own But Never Read – “First Light” by Bodie & Brocke Thoene

• Intimidates You – “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen

• Already Read at Least Once – “Sisters of the Quilt” by Cindy Woodsmall

A few of those titles refer to a series so I am challenging myself beyond what is necessary.  However, I am only expecting one book in each category.  I don’t want to set myself up to fail and be disappointed before I have even started.  Can I do it?  Can you do it?  Yes we can!  We shall reconvene and discuss our triumph next January.  On your mark.  Get set.  READ!!!!! :D

“The whole world opened to me when I learned to read.”  – Mary McLeod Bethune

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Rain Is My Favorite

I woke up to the sound of rain, the most beautiful sound in the world.  Rain never fails to put a smile on my face and inspire me.  I jumped out of bed, made a peppermint mocha latte, and sat down by a window to blog.  I hope your 2016 has been as wonderful as mine so far.  This didn’t happen in 2016, but my family took a mini vacation the week after Christmas (not our best idea) and visited the San Diego Zoo.  Subscribe to my Youtube channel and keep an eye out for my vlog that will be posted VERY soon. :)  My brother and I started watching the Star Wars and Hobbit movies.  YES! :D  I saw Riverdance for the fifth time, and it still made me emotional.  More to come on that subject!  On Sunday, my family and I sat and watched not one but two movies: “Get Smart” & “Nacho Libre.”  It was a cozy movie night. <3  Yesterday, despite not wanting to go to work, I was blessed with a slow flow of customers and a bigger than usual paycheck from the last week of Christmas madness.  Even though my bank account is a happy camper right now, I’m still waiting for one million dollars to fall from the sky. ;)  I’m off to read “The Pawn” by Steven James (thrillers were made for rainy days) and watch some Netflix (after the reading of course).  Enjoy the rest of your day readers!

“The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain.”  – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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