Mad Dash

I need you to sit down & settle in for part two of my blog post from yesterday. About 15 minutes after it was published, my phone rang. Thanks to caller i.d., I knew it was one of the managers from my retail job. Forgetting that my phone was charging, I grabbed it only to have it ripped from my hands. While the ringing continued, I frantically searched my room on hands & knees. I finally found it on my bed (hold your laughter), but the ringing had already been replaced by a voicemail. I will now take you back to about one hour earlier. While eating dinner, my mom implied that I had to work that evening. I replied that she was thinking of my closing shift on Friday. I was 100% sure that I had two days off before my two weekend shifts so I didn’t even bother to check my schedule, which is something I do religiously. Fast forward to my manager’s voicemail. I was 15 minutes late for my closing shift, and she was wondering if I was ok & still coming in to work. In an outright panic, I called the store to let her know I would be there as soon as I could to replace a fellow associate who couldn’t stay much longer. Feeling like a horrible person, I got ready as fast as humanly possible, which is no easy task when you’re shaking like a leaf and clumsy. It would’ve been  much easier if I hadn’t had a ton of coconut oil in my hair. I didn’t want to look like a greasy mess at work so I had to wash my hair, two shampoos required. I put on as little makeup as I was comfortable with and braided my hair, all of which looked as effortless as it actually was. A hoodie, jeans, and boots completed the look, and I was out the door. I received the call around 5:15 and made it to work right before 6. For the first hour my body was shaking uncontrollably, but I eventually settled down. It wasn’t the restful night I had planned, but everything turned out ok in the end. On the bright side, I am free as a bird today. Go ahead & laugh now. I am.

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– Lauren Michele ❤︎

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Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

I have waited all year for this movie! Part of my birthday celebration was seeing the first showing at my local theater. As a passionate Agatha Christie fan, I have thoughts both good and bad so settle in for a semi-bumpy Orient Express ride.

Many people had doubts about Kenneth Branagh’s portrayal of beloved detective Hercule Poirot. If you’re a doubter, I want to put your mind at ease. Mr. Branagh is hands down the best part of the movie. He kept the spirit of the Poirot we all know and love while adding humor and his own unique touch to the character. He is a constant source of smiles and laughs, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Overall the ensemble cast did not disappoint. Johnny Depp is fantastic as always (SPOILER) even though his part is short-lived. Michelle Pfeiffer and Penelope Cruz have some shining moments, and Dame Judi Dench’s monologue about little Daisy Armstrong made me tear up. Lucy Boynton and Sergei Polunin’s respective portrayals of Count & Countess Andrenyi are dark, a hidden gem that is impressive considering their inexperience. Josh Gad was good for the most part, but the chase scene involving Poirot felt awkward. The conflict between Hercule and Dr. Arbuthnot also felt clumsy. Daisy Ridley acted well, but I did not like Mary Debenham’s demeanor. In the book, she is polite and reserved which leads Poirot to suspect she might be the mastermind behind the murder; his suspicion makes little sense in the movie because Mary is much too bright and happy.

The book’s methodical layout is not perfectly suited for a movie. Some may find the added action irritating, but I understand the necessity to shake up the format onscreen. That being said, some of the clues got lost in the shuffle due to a speedier pace. As far as I remember, all the clues from the book were included, but they weren’t given the time they needed to simmer and encourage the audience to consider possible outcomes. Perhaps the extra, non-book stuff could’ve been trimmed to accommodate character interviews and clue discoveries, making the final reveal much more grand than it actually was. I also want to mention that I don’t remember Biniamino Marquez being named at the end. (SPOILER) The twist relies on the shock of twelve people being involved, each with a specific connection to the Armstrong family. The cast may seem large, but those who know the story well won’t miss anything, even if only one name is passed over. This goes back to details being muddled at the end. Murder on the Orient Express is one of the greatest stories ever written in the mystery genre. If you don’t lay it out correctly, you spoil the thrill and fun of the twists and turns.

I love two-thirds of the movie, but the ending is a disappointment. Things can surely get better from here so I hope Kenneth Branagh is giving the chance to continue the series, perhaps with a book that has less adaptations. I truly believe he can do great things with Poirot. The final scene hints at a sequel based on Death on the Nile. How great would that be?! 😄

🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=boSSSZpAkyw&t=25s

🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂

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– Lauren Michele ❤︎

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Night of the Living Moths

Be honest. You love my bug stories. Need I remind you of the june bug saga?! You can’t make this stuff up!!

• Big Bad June Bug Attack of 2015

• Those Summer Nights

This story begins at midnight on August 28th. I was the last person awake in my household and decided that reading a crime novel would be a great stimulant for sweet dreams. I happened to glance up and see something on the wall. I immediately knew it was a bug and what looked like a moth. Even though I know that they’re harmless, they still make me anxious. While deciding how the heck I was going to dispose of him without disturbing my sleeping family, I didn’t dare move or breathe. In a heart-stopping moment, the moth flew to a new spot on the same wall. Simultaneously I dove off the couch and ran down the stairs, making a beeline (get it?!) for the bug spray & fly swatter. Armed with weaponry, I slowly made my way upstairs. The moth had now moved even lower down the wall, low enough for me to see him up close. Even though I was scared out of my mind, I inched closer until I was halfway behind a wall but still about a foot away from my foe. I thought my fear couldn’t possibly get worse, but then I saw it. This was no ordinary moth. It was the Moth From Hell a.k.a. Mothra. I had never seen a moth with a head like this, if it was actually a moth. It had wings like a moth but a big head that appeared to be red, although I cannot defend the accuracy of what I saw since I had been reading a crime novel. The only thing I can compare it to is the round, red nose of a fighter plane; I’m not even joking.  I couldn’t swat him because my brother was sleeping right behind the wall and had to be up early for work. I knew I had to risk it and use the spray even though Mothra could potentially fly into my face. I’m sure it’s not hard for you to believe that it took me several moments to summon up the courage. Thank God he didn’t move!! I finally pulled up my big girl pants and inwardly commanded myself to JUST DO IT. I assumed the proper stance for quick reaction, said a quick but heartfelt prayer, and sprayed Mothra with the vengeance of Godzilla. Of course he moved so I naturally ran and hid. Big mistake!! When I inched back around the wall, he was G-O-N-E. I thought his movement had been downward due to the lethal spray, but I wasn’t quite ready to search just in case he still had enough life left to fly at me. It was now 1am, and I was panicking. Unfortunately my mom saw the lamplight and decided to see who was still up. She was now part of my late night soap opera episode. We spent the next fifteen to twenty minutes searching the entire house for Mothra. We never found his body. Also, my fear became too much for me, and I cried. I don’t mean pitiful tears; I mean my body was shaking and water was leaking out of my eyes like the California drought was at stake. I calmed down a little bit, but nerves still ruined my night. I shut my bedroom door, which I never do, and after a few more hours of reading because I didn’t want to shut my eyes, I tentatively turned off my light. I had a difficult time falling asleep and woke up several times but did eventually get some rest. It still upsets me that Mothra disappeared. I know what I saw was real, but that’s hard to explain when you’re the only one awake and you’ve been reading a crime novel which amps up imagination. If Mothra reveals himself again, dead or alive, I will add an update. Hopefully tonight is uneventful because I am exhausted. 😭

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– Lauren Michele <3

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Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

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Turn that frown upside down because, for once, Monday isn’t so bad. Today is Harry Potter’s 20th birthday. Actually it’s the book’s birthday, but you get the point. In honor of J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter book turning twenty, I’m sharing some amazing art with you as well as my experience with the series. The tribute will continue from this blog post to my art blog and end on my YouTube channel. Make sure you read carefully and use the provided links so you don’t miss anything. Hop on your broom and AWAY WE GO!!!

P A R T   T W O   ➡️   ➡️   ➡️   ➡️   ➡️   G O L D E N   T R I O   A R T W O R K

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– Lauren Michele <3

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2016 Wrap-Up | 2017 Reading Challenge

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I did it!  With 45 minutes to spare on New Year’s Eve, I completed both of my reading challenges for 2016.  Here is what I read for the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge:

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

📚 Published This Year •

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco 

📚 Finish in a Day •

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum 

📚 Meaning to Read •

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn 

📚 Recommended by Bookseller or Librarian •

The Series of Unfortunate Events series by Lemony Snicket 

📚 Should Have Read in School •

Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace 

📚 Chosen by Spouse, Partner, Sibling, Child, or BFF •

Harvest of Rubies by Tessa Afshar 

📚 Published Before You Were Born •

The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

 

📚 Banned at Some Point •

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll 

📚 Previously Abandoned •

Elixir trilogy by Hilary Duff 

📚 Own But Never Read •

An Expert in Murder by Nicola Upson 

📚 Intimidates You •

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen 

📚 Already Read at Least Once •

Sisters of the Quilt trilogy by Cindy Woodsmall 

• Total: 12 categories & 31 books

• Here are links to my blog updates & my Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge:

2016 Reading Challenge

– 2016 Reading Challenge Update #1

– 2016 Reading Challenge Update #2

Life Update | November 2016

– My 2016 GoodReads Reading Challenge

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I told myself I wouldn’t do it, but here I am.  I’ve decided to once again do the Modern Mrs. Darcy reading challenge.  Keep reading to find out my tentative list for the twelve categories.

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📚 A Book You Chose For the Cover – The Messenger of Athens by Anne Zouroudi

I found this gem in my local library’s teeny tiny used bookstore.  The bright yellow bird against a blue background hooked me, and the murder mystery synopsis reeled me in.  I’m trying my best not to build expectations, but I really hope this book is as good as I want it to be.

📚 A Book With a Reputation for Being Un-Put-Down-AbleSix of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews about this book.  Some people have said it’s one of their favorite books/duologies ever written.  Of course I’m going to start with the first book, but I am optimistic that I will be purchasing book two very soon.

📚 A Book Set Somewhere You’ve Never Been But Would Like to Visit – The Curse of the Pharaohs by Elizabeth Peters

Fun fact: I am dying to visit Egypt!!  Egyptology is one of my favorite subjects to learn about.

📚 A Book You’ve Already ReadThe Rook by Steven James

The Patrick Bowers Files series is AMAZING.  To be fair, I’ve only read the first two books, but how could it possibly go downhill from there??  I would actually like to read a few of the books in this series in 2017, but I’m setting the bar low so I don’t get too stressed.  I want these reading challenges to remain fun!

📚 A Juicy Memoir –  In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the Sandbox by Carol Burnett

DUH!  Who wouldn’t want to read behind-the-scenes stories about The Carol Burnett Show?!

📚 A Book About Books or Reading – Bookplate Special by Lorna Barrett

This book is part of one of my favorite cozy mystery series.  It has been on my shelf for a few years, and it’s about time I got around to reading it.  Fun Fact: The main character’s cat is named Miss Marple.  How cute is that?!

📚 A Book in a Genre You Usually Avoid – The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan

I rarely read and enjoy contemporary books outside of the mystery genre, but I’m willing to give this book a chance since it revolves around books.

📚 A Book You Don’t Want to Admit You’re Dying to ReadHarry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

I’m not embarrassed about this book.  It’s just weird to admit that I’ve never read such a beloved series.  My aunt was kind enough to give me the first book for my birthday so I will definitely be reading it this year.

📚 A Book in the Backlist of a New Favorite Author – Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar

I received all of the books Tessa Afshar has published thus far as Christmas and Hanukkah gifts.  I don’t want to set myself up for failure, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I finish all of them before January 1, 2018.

📚 A Book Recommended by Someone With Great TasteAs Sure as the Dawn by Francine Rivers

My friend Gabby recommended the Mark of the Lion series years ago, and I finally got around to reading books one and two in 2015.  The experience was so unbelievably mind blowing that I had to take a break.  There is no longer a good excuse so I need to pick up book three NOW.

📚 A Book You Were Excited to Borrow or Buy But Haven’t Read YetThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

I am on pins and needles waiting to read this book.  I’m going to watch the movie with my brother first since that’s what I did with Gone Girl.  I realize that sounds like reader sacrilege, but I’m not your average bibliophile.  Watching the movie first or liking it better doesn’t bother me. ;)

📚 A Book About a Subject or Topic You Already LoveWicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire

I haven’t actually seen the musical yet, but I am obsessed with the story and soundtrack.  I liked The Wizard of Oz growing up but fell out of love with it for a period of time.  Listening to the Wicked soundtrack every day has made me fall back in love with Oz, and I am ready to read the story that started it all.  I am on page 32 and loving it so far. 💚

• Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge 

• Goodreads Website 

• Modern Mrs. Darcy 2017 Reading Challenge 

• Modern Mrs. Darcy Blog

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– Lauren Michele <3

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Kingdom Hearts Rant

First of all, I am not a gamer so I realize that this rant is laughable to those who have mastered the gaming arts.  Second, I don’t care.  I have actually played Kingdom Hearts twice in the past.  I beat it with help the first time, and I did not finish the whole game the second time around due to my family’s big move.  I am determined to complete the game by myself.  That is proving to be way more difficult than I expected.  After a year of on and off attempts, I finally beat the Wonderland trickmaster last week and moved on to the Deep Jungle.  Tarzan is my favorite animated Disney movie so I was pumped to get started.  My balloon was immediately popped when I met a nemesis from my KH past: THE VINES!!  I cannot for the life of me swing from vine to vine for more than one minute, and I’m starting to resent Hippo’s Lagoon because that’s all I ever see due to the number of times I fall.  I know my lack of experience is a large part of the problem, but I also think the controls for this game are infuriating.  Perhaps that’s a defensive statement, but I have a little evidence to back it up.  My brother, who is a gamer, tried to play it and had to walk away.  He said the controls are different from other games, and he doesn’t understand why.  I don’t understand the details, but I do trust his judgement because he’s been playing video games since he was a little boy.  Why is this rant important?  It isn’t.  Just now I attempted to advance in the game and failed miserably.  The vines were once again my undoing, and I wanted to blog with fresh anger burning within me.  Hopefully someone somewhere can commiserate with me.  I can’t be the only who hates KH now that I actually play it!!

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– Lauren Michele <3

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May the Odds be Ever in Your Favor

(Image Source: https://creativemarket.com/Meilun/276833-Job-Interview-Task-Conversation)

I spent the last month applying for jobs and finally landed an interview this week, which went really well.  Even though I have only experienced two job interviews in my lifetime, I want to share advice from my experiences in hopes that it will be beneficial to you.  Please keep in mind that these tips worked for me, but you have to decide what will work for you.

1.  Apply apply apply!!!  I started out slow, but my mom encouraged me to keep applying because not all jobs will contact you if you aren’t chosen.  You could be waiting forever!!  My strategy was filling out two or three applications, waiting one week for an answer, and repeating the process.

2.  Carefully consider your skill set and comfort level.  Apply for jobs only if you feel confident in your ability to meet the requirements.  I would also recommend applying for jobs that make you feel comfortable.  For example my focus was retail, and I applied at stores I shop at; I trust their policies and merchandise therefore I can work without hindrance.

3.  This is advice my mom gave to me: Everyone has to start at the bottom before they can reach the top.  You may not like where you start, but don’t let that discourage you.

4.  Some people prefer applying online, and others prefer applying in person.  I have only applied online, and it worked for me.  There is a possibility that it won’t work so I would suggest that, after a month or longer of zero response, you start applying in person.

5.  If you are unsure whether or not a website is legitimate, use ScamAdviser.com.  I applied for jobs using Indeed.com and SnagAJob.com and did not have problems with either.

6.  Have your resume put together and ready before applying.  Sometimes you upload a resume, and other times you fill out the information.  Either way, if your resume is already completed, the information is in one place and ready to be uploaded or copied and pasted.

7.  Not all applications require a cover letter but have one prepared just in case.  This cover letter is a great example: http://kohlsitup.weebly.com/cover-letters.html

8.  If a business does not contact you within one week, don’t give up yet.  The first job I applied for in October did not contact me after one week so I assumed I did’t get the job.  I received a call two weeks later and was interviewed four days after that.

9.  Don’t get discouraged by rejection because it happens to everybody.  If you don’t get the job, it wasn’t the right fit.  Get back out there and continue to look for the job meant for you.

10.  When you get a call to set up an interview, don’t jump the gun and tell the world you got a job.  You are building expectations in your head that will make potential rejection harder to handle.

11.  Use a “Cheat Sheet.”  I used this method in school for exams, and it was 100% effective.  First, write out information about the business you are applying for: the name, when and where it was founded, the number of locations, what company it is owned by, and the names of other stores owned by the same company.  Second, visit websites such as GlassDoor.com and write down questions previously given to interviewees by your potential employer.  Next to each question, write your answer; use keywords instead of full sentences to make the answers easier to study and remember.  Third, study the “Cheat Sheet” forward and backward; read it quietly, read it out loud, and recite it from memory.  You should never go into an interview unprepared for the questions.  Consider that the interviewer has work to do; you don’t want to take up too much time with a lengthy thought process.  Also, preparedness is a good skill to showcase.

12.  Going along with #11, it is good to be prepared, but keep in mind that your answers should sound natural and not rehearsed.  Avoid a rapid speaking pace and throw in some short pauses.  ;)

13.  You don’t have to look like a supermodel, but your appearance should be pleasant to look at and put-together from head to toe.  If you don’t put in effort getting ready, will you put in effort working?  The outside should reflect the inside.

14. Sometimes you have to fill out another application at the interview.  Make sure you have previous job experience (Company, Supervisor, Address, Email, Phone Number, List of Duties, Dates of Employment) and professional reference (Name, Title, Email, Phone Number) information with you.

15.  Bring at least 2 copies of your cover letter and resume.  The information is good to have, and the interviewer might ask you for a copy of one or both.  Why two copies of each?  Always have a backup plan for the unexpected!

16.  Bring a pen and notebook in case you need to take notes.  You could use your phone, but a notebook doesn’t have any distractions on it.  :)

17.  Job interviews are nerve-wracking, but don’t let those nerves get the best of you.  Have confidence!  If you don’t believe you can do the job, why should the company hire you?

18.  Going along with #17, sit up straight, look the interviewer in the eye, and enunciate your words.  Make the interview worth the interviewer’s time by being professional and showing respect.  Basically, have good manners.

(Image Source: http://tripeaksconsulting.com/20-best-andy-wooten-quotes/)

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– Lauren Michele <3

48 Days Until Christmas

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Love Out Loud

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

I am going to try very hard to get these words out without becoming overly emotional and rambling.  I apologize for the serious note of this post, but my heart is telling me to write.  Because of the picture, you already have a basic idea of what I am going to discuss.  I have watched quite a few Holocaust-related movies but am not sure why because it is very hard for me to do so.  I suppose that as a Jew I feel a strange sort of loyalty, a loyalty that urges me to watch and empathize to the best of my ability.  I did not experience a concentration camp nor did my Sephardic ancestors.  However, Jews are brothers and sisters no matter the category one belongs to (Ashkenazi, Mizrahi, or Sephardic); after all, we all descend from the same bloodline.  I cannot speak for other Jews, but I can speak for myself.  When another heart hurts, I hurt, no matter how far back in history that hurt occurred.  I have been emotionally disturbed by Holocaust movies in the past, but this film wrenched my heart to the point of illness.  As soon as the credits started to roll, I ran away from my computer and wept alone in another room.  My head throbbed, and my stomach was in knots.  I do not pretend to have felt pain anywhere near that of the Jews in concentration camps, but I did indeed feel pain.  Pain and anger.  I could not speak, only weep.  One word kept coming to mind over and over and over again: Why.  Why?  Why??  Why??!  Why!!!

– If you have not seen “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas”, I suggest you stop reading now. –

There is one specific element in this movie that grabbed my attention.  It is subtle but very much significant.  When Bruno is mistakenly taken with a group of Jews to the gas chamber, the Nazi soldiers do not question his presence.  Yes he is disguised, and yes he is surrounded by numerous other Jews, but take all that away.  Cut off Bruno’s hair.  Take away from Shmuel the dirty appearance and malnutrition.  Line them up side by side in matching “striped pajamas.”  They are two young boys, same age and same height.  Shmuel could be German.  Bruno could be Jewish.  Both could be one or the other.  It is unclear whether Bruno was visible to the soldiers, but he looked just like everybody else therefore he received the same treatment and tragic death.  He was one of them, a German, and yet the soldiers could not tell the difference.  What does that tell you about prejudice?  Hatred will show you what you want to see, not what is actually there.

If you think your contribution to the fight against prejudice as one person is too small, think again.  Love goes a long way no matter the number of contributors.  I will end with some lyrics from a song called “Let It Be Love” by Family Force 5.  I encourage you to read the words, click the following link to hear the entire song, and take time to reflect.

“Stronger than every fear
Comfort for all the tears
It’s where the war is won
And it has overcome
Louder than the loudest shout
Deeper than the deepest doubt
We’ll watch the walls fall down…

Let it be a heart wide open
Bigger than the words we’ve spoken
Let it be a heart for the broken
If we’re gonna light, light, light the way to You
Let it be love…
It’s love that lights the way”

“Let It Be Love” by Family Force 5: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTZHl5cNLJE

Please don’t pick and choose who to love.  Love everyone!

– Lauren Michele :)

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Blogmas 2014 – I Just Have A Lot of Feelings

Lots & Lots of Feelings(Source: https://38.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m92wg1btYg1rc1js9o1_500.gif)

I had a to-do list set for today and that has gone right out the window.  I sat down, put on a Christmas Pandora station, and blogged in my slippers for a few hours.  I accomplished one Artmas post.  That’s it.  I was in a decent mood and then suddenly I wasn’t.  Also, the Denver Broncos lost.  Were there any highlights today?  Yes.  I watched “Love Actually.”  Lots and lots of feelings following that film.  It is scary how relatable it is.  It is also brilliant and fast becoming one of my favorites.  I ate In-N-Out for dinner, and grandma’s Christmas cookies arrived in the mail.  That was most definitely a highlight.  Ugh!!  I feel like a big, dark cloud has been following me around since December 1st.  I don’t want to be a Christmas Eeyore!!  Christmas is almost over, and I have spent the majority of the month feeling “Blah.”  Oh well.  I am making the best of it.

Stay merry readers!!  Only three days until Christmas…

– Lauren Michele :)

“It’s snowing still,” said Eeyore gloomily.  “So it is.”  “And freezing.”  “Is it?”   “Yes,” said Eeyore. “However,” he said, brightening up a little, “we haven’t had an earthquake lately.” – Eeyore

 

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