Come Together

Today is November 5th a.k.a. the date of my birth. In honor of this special day, I want to tell you a story. There has been a lot of discussion in recent years about doing more to combat prejudice. During my family’s recent vacation, I witnessed a moment that touched my heart in an unexpected way. My dad, brother, and I wasted no time in checking out the pool once we arrived at our hotel. Right before we left, a trio of teenage girls walked by, each appearing to be of a different ethnic background. There was also an older couple, possibly in their fifties, sitting near the gate. I mention age and race for a reason so stay with me. The girls saw the couple and immediately lit up, saying hello and sitting down to talk; they even took some selfies together. I watched long enough to deduce that these five people were acquaintances because of the hotel. Age didn’t matter. Race didn’t matter. They were able to find things in common and establish a relationship. It is easy to get caught up in the news and feel weighed down by the negative all the time. I want this story to be a reminder of the good in this world as well as a beacon of hope. Please hold on to the positive, no matter how small, because it does exist. ❤️

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– Lauren Michele ❤︎

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Life Update | August 2017

– C O F F E E –

This is a very important update so listen up: I rarely go to Starbucks anymore. G A S P ! ! The reason comes in individual serving size packets and pairs nicely with almond milk & ice. Have you guessed? I still drink Starbucks coffee but in the comfort of my own home thanks to Via Instant. I know that most people know about this product, but it has been unbelievably easy to enjoy frappuccinos on days when I can’t make it to my neighborhood Starbucks. In fact, I have become so obsessed that even when I’m presented with the option to go to an actual Starbucks, I choose my “homemade” frappuccino. How crazy is that??! My favorite flavor at the moment is Sweetened Iced Coffee.

– B E D R O O M –

My room is small so the arrangement requires a lot of creativity. I recently had an epiphany at work regarding how I could make it feel more spacious and homey. I am happy to report that my idea worked, and I vlogged the whole process. The three-day project was exhausting but worth the effort because I feel like I have officially settled in.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbC6KS9yYNc

– B L O G G I N G –

I’ve been trying really hard to post consistently on both my blogs. The balance was off earlier this year because I got a paying job helping a photographer maintain her blog. I have since settled in, and I think everything is back to normal. Here are my recent blog posts:

• Misadventures in Babysitting

• Dance of the Paints | Thomas Blanchard

– F I N A N C I A L  S U P P O R T –

I love blogging & vlogging, but it does require money which I don’t have a lot of at the moment due to my status as a sales associate. I’m not exactly breaking the bank with my checks! I recently discovered a brand new website that makes it fun & easy for subscribers to support their favorite bloggers, business, vloggers, etc. Here is my Ko-fi ( pronounced like “coffee” ) link ➡️ https://ko-fi.com/A3023728

– R E A D I N G –

Good news: I took part in BookTube-A-Thon 2017, my very first time doing so. Even though my camera broke on day 6 and I couldn’t continue vlogging, I did continue to participate by reading & interacting on social media. I had so much fun and can’t wait for next year! Bad news: I am in a terrible reading slump A G A I N ! ! I was in one before BTAT, and here I am right back at square one. I have the desire, but every time I attempt to read, I have to force myself to keep going. Reading is the ultimate getaway for me, and I hate being in this mood. I need to pull up my big girl pants and just do it. I’m in the middle of 6 books ( yes, SIX ), and I need to finish all of them because I have exciting books to read in October & November. I also need to make serious progress on my Goodreads reading challenge because I have only completed 26 of my 50-book challenge. Not bad but still not great. Cheer me on!!

– R E T A I L –

I still hate retail. That’s pretty much it. 😂

– V A C A T I O N –

I am counting down the seconds, minutes, hours, days, & months until my autumn vacation. I know I echo the rest of my family when I say we desperately NEED this trip.

⏰ Current Countdown: 1 month, 12 days ⏰

– W E A T H E R –

If you’re a loyal follower of my blog, you know my visceral hatred for the summer months. I love cold foods & swimming, but this season is the absolute worst. I do nothing but sweat and feel gross and uncomfortable. I would much rather be cold & snuggle up in blankets while wearing a sweater. Whether you like it or not, autumn is upon us. Even though it’s my favorite season, I am hesitant to get excited. California disappointed me last year by remaining unbearably hot until the end of the year. Please please please don’t let me down this year!! 🍂 😭 🎃

– Y O U T U B E –

Lots of exciting news! Since my Charmed Aroma review video, I’ve been contacted by two more companies for reviews. I also have a major project in the works, something I’ve been planning for several months. I am slowly compiling products for a Bookish Gift Guide, a list of gift ideas for the bibliophiles in your life. I’ve already purchased two Jane Austen pillows and five candles inspired by A Game of Thrones, Edgar Allen Poe, Harry Potter, Romeo and Juliet, & The Princess Bride respectively. Before this video comes out later next year, there will be 1-2 review videos for various book-inspired candles; I plan to make this an ongoing series on my channel so suggestions are welcome. Last but not least, I mentioned earlier that my camera broke; thankfully I was able to replace it. The Canon Powershot G7 X Mark II has amazing quality, and I feel refreshed and excited for all the new content coming soon to my channel. Things are happening, and I’m going with flow. 🎉

| • I hope all of you have had a great summer. 🌞 I will be back soon with another post. 😘 • |

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– Lauren Michele <3

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Misadventures in Babysitting

I recently reread the first three books of The Baby-Sitters Club series, and the nostalgia was overwhelming. I remember being inspired back in the day to make my own “kid kit” and be the best babysitter EVER. I’ve been blessed to care for children of all ages, and I like to think that I made some kind of positive impact on their lives. This is starting to sound heartwarming so let me put on the brakes because this is not about the good times. Be honest; you’re here to laugh at my expense. 😂 This is a more accurate description of what you’re about to read:

Just to be clear, I am a responsible babysitter, and nothing dangerous has ever happened in my care. The tales I’m about to reveal weren’t directly my fault, just a handful of humorous and unfortunate events.

– Board Game Gone Wrong –

The brother & sister I was babysitting suggested we play chutes and ladders, and I eagerly agreed because I thought it would be fun to relive my childhood. I have to be honest and tell you that I got beat fair and square. I didn’t come in first place nor did I come in second; I was dead last. This particular board game is meant for kids, and even though I had no intention of beating my young companions, I didn’t think I would be so terrible. We hadn’t been playing long before the sister turned to me and said with a straight face: “You’re really bad at this game.” There is nothing quite as humiliating as an insult from someone who is less than half your age. I haven’t played that game since.

– Late Night TV –

This particular situation was mostly my fault, but have no fear because it had nothing to do with my young charges. For an extended period of time, I had a steady babysitting job with a family who lived in my neighborhood. One night while sitting at their house, I decided to watch some television after the kids were sound asleep; of course I had the parents’ permission. It was late at night, and there was a thunderstorm brewing. Of all the things I could have watched, I settled on a crime show. That was my first mistake. I eventually decided TV was a bad idea, and picked up the book I brought with me which just so happened to be a mystery. That was my second mistake. My third and final mistake was leaving only one lamp on. I’m not sure why, but I never turned on the room light to make myself feel safer. It was a tense few hours. I didn’t know nighttime could be so noisy! I can’t even tell you how many times I checked the doors and windows to make sure they were locked ( once I built up the courage to do so ). When the parents arrived through the garage, I naturally thought they were murderers until they stepped into the house and greeted me by name. That was the last time I ever watched a crime show or read a mystery while babysitting.

– I Cry Fowl –

I will ease you into the fourth and final story with the typical babysitting story of a bird in the garage. It happened while I was outside with the “chutes and ladders siblings” for some fresh air and playing time. While taking a brief break from the sun, a curious bird joined us. He was harmless, but I couldn’t help panicking. The brother’s personality was unpredictable, and I pictured him opening the door and accidentally letting our new winged friend inside the house. Of course I had to cage (get it?!) my fear so the kids wouldn’t panic and do what I just described. I spoke softly and encouraged them to stay still so the bird wouldn’t feel threatened. He explored a little more and flew away, never to bother us again. Crisis avoided! I swear the animal kingdom is out to get me.

– Dino and the Popsicles –

I realize that the title sounds like a cool band name, but the following events are anything but cool. Literally! I was once again babysitting my neighbors, but this time it was during the day. The parents provided popsicles and told me the kids could play outside. Simple enough, right? WRONG!! When the time came, the siblings grabbed their cold, refreshing popsicles, and we ventured outdoors into the unbearable heat & humidity. After some quality playing time with their dog Dino, the sister informed me that she had to use the restroom. I thought nothing of it until she went to turn the doorknob, and nothing happened. I thought the door was stuck because that is normal in Texas, and I gave it a try. Nothing happened, and my heart started to sink into my stomach. I took some deep breaths and reminded myself that I had to stay calm because I was in charge of two kids and one dog. I made my way to the front of the house to try the garage door; I brought along the sister because she was old enough to stay calm and help me with the code to open the door from the outside. I managed to get the garage door open, but the door to the house was locked, and we had no luck finding the spare key. Trust me, I searched high and low. I had told the brother stay in the backyard with the dog; thankfully the garage wasn’t far from the gate so the sister and I pulled double duty keeping a close eye on them. Unfortunately that didn’t work. The little boy gave in to his curiosity and opened the gate before we could reach him. That wasn’t my main concern. Remember who he was with!! I spent the next 10-15 minutes running up and down the street yelling “DINO!!” No, this is not an unaired episode of The Flintstones. I desperately tried to shepherd him into the gate held open by the sister while simultaneously keeping my eye on the brother because, as you already know, he was very unpredictable (typical at his age). He tried to help by joining in with his small but mighty voice, but really it was just more noise and extra stress. Finally I got that darn dog into the backyard and locked all of us in. I had a mischievous dog and two sweaty, sticky kids in my care, and I felt helpless. I hated to pull them away from something important, but I had to inform the parents of our predicament since I had tried every other way to get back inside. Thankfully I had my phone on me so I called and left a calm, collected message. I spent the next hour or so keeping the kids distracted on the trampoline until their parents came to our rescue. I profusely apologized and fully expected to never work for them again. The parents shocked me by apologizing about their faulty lock, which they forgot to tell me about before leaving, and applauded my ability to stay calm in a stressful situation. I did indeed work for them again, and thankfully the preceding story was the worst experience I ever had, both with them and with babysitting period. It was a tough experience to go through, but I learned a lot.

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– Lauren Michele <3

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BookTube-A-Thon 2017 Wrap Up

I was M.I.A. last week, but I have a very good reason: I was participating in BookTube-A-Thon 2017!! If you don’t know what that is, it is an annual summer read-a-thon put together by Ariel Bissett. Bookstagrammers, booktubers, bloggers, & readers from around the world come together to read as much as possible and participate in fun challenges. Even though it was an emotionally and physically exhausting week, I had so much fun and already can’t wait for next year. I kept track of my reading so I could share my journal with you. Here it is:

📝 Challenges & My TBR:

• Read a Book With a Person on the Cover – The Mystery of the Stone Tiger by Carolyn Keene

• Read a Book in One Day – The Mystery of the Stone Tiger by Carolyn Keene

• Read a Hyped Book – Heartless by Marissa Meyer

• Read a Book Featuring a Character Who is Very Different From You – Wicked Autumn by G.M. Malliet

• Read a Book You Purchased Because of the Cover – Wicked Autumn by G.M. Malliet

• Read a Book Outside – Kristy’s Great Idea by Ann M. Martin

• Read 7 Books – Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories by Agatha Christie

📝 Daily Progress:

DAY 1 – JULY 24

📖 The Mystery of the Stone Tiger – 20 chapters, 175 pages | I finished this book & completed the “One Day Read”  and “Person on the Cover” challenges. ✅

📖 Heartless – 10 chapters, 93 pages

📚 Total: 30 chapters, 268 pages, 1 book complete, & 2 challenges complete

DAY 2 – JULY 25

📖 Heartless – 15 chapters, 131 pages

📚 Total: 15 chapters, 131 pages

DAY 3 – JULY 26

📖 Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls – 15 chapters, 153 pages | Book complete! ✅

📖 Kristy’s Great Idea – 15 chapters, 157 pages | I finished this book & completed the “Read a Book Outside” challenge. ✅

📖 Wicked Autumn – 5 chapters, 40 pages

📚 Total: 31 chapters, 350 pages, 2 books complete, & 1 challenge complete

DAY 4 – JULY 27

📖 Heartless – 10 chapters, 98 pages

📖 Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories – 5 chapters, 76 pages

📖 The Truth About Stacey – 5 chapters, 60 pages

📚 Total: 20 chapters, 234 pages

DAY 5 – JULY 28

📖 Heartless – 8 chapters, 64 pages

📖 Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories – 10 chapters, 186 pages

📖 The Truth About Stacey – 10 chapters, 120 pages | Book complete! ✅

📚 Total: 28 chapters, 370 pages, & 1 book complete

DAY 6 – JULY 29

📖 Heartless – 11 chapters, 73 pages | I finished this book & completed the “Hyped Book” challenge. ✅

📖 Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories – 5 chapters, 104 pages | Book complete! ✅

📚 Total: 16 chapters, 177 pages, 1 book complete, & 1 challenge complete

DAY 7 – JULY 30

📖 Wicked Autumn – 19 chapters, 211 pages

📚 Despite my best efforts, exhaustion took over, and I was unable to complete Wicked Autumn therefore failing the “Cover Buy” and “Read 7 Books” challenges. I chose The Truth About Stacey as my replacement book for the “Character Who is Different From You” challenge. Stacey is from the East Coast and has diabetes. If that isn’t enough, I could pick Catherine from Heartless who is a future queen and very wishy-washy when it comes to speaking up. I could also pick Miss Marple who is an elderly woman & amateur sleuth. Basically, I completed the challenge in more ways than one.

🎉 Final Numbers: 159 chapters, 1,741 pages, 6 books complete, & 5 challenges complete. Not too shabby for my first year!

➡️ ➡️ ➡️ If you would like to watch my reading process & video challenges, check out my BookTube-A-Thon 2017 YouTube playlist ⬇️ ⬇️ ⬇️

⚠️ YOU CAN ALSO CLICK HERE ➡️ BOOKTUBE-A-THON YOUTUBE PLAYLIST ⬅️

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– Lauren Michele <3

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Lost in Translation

Time for another story from the misadventures of Lauren Michele Stewart! Just kidding. This tale is actually very thought-provoking. *GASP*

Back in my college days Spanish dramas were my escape from reality, Isabel, Los Hombres de Paco, & Un paso adelante being my personal favorites. On top of that, I listened to a lot of Spanish music in an attempt to perfect my ear for the beautiful language of España. Never in a million years did I think that music and TV shows in another language would affect me around English speakers, but it did indeed happen. One day while I was in class, my ears started to interpret English in a different way. At first I thought I was just extremely tired, which is normal for a student, but careful listening proved that I was indeed hearing what sounded like the only other language in my life: Spanish. At one point I silently prayed that the teacher and students wouldn’t talk to me because I couldn’t understand a word they were saying. Even though I was hearing a familiar language, my brain wasn’t distinguishing the words. After a few minutes everything went back to normal, but I never forgot what happened.

The experience gave me a higher level of respect for both polyglots and immigrants learning a foreign language. I wasn’t necessarily scared or overwhelmed, but it was unexpected and left me feeling disoriented. I don’t necessarily have a moral or a mind-blowing message to share with you. I just thought the experience was unique, something I’d never heard of before. I wish my tongue had miraculously become bilingual in that moment and remained so. 😂 As a side note, I highly recommend utilizing television and music as immersion techniques for learning a language. I am by no means fluent, but I understand a decent chunk of Castilian Spanish. I refer to a specific type because that is what my ears are accustomed to; I have a very hard time understanding accents outside of Spain. 🇪🇸

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– Lauren Michele <3

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Out With the New, In With the Old | Throwback Thursday

What does that title even mean??  Patience young padawans.  Let’s look at some of the facts:

🕸️ A certain witchy drama is getting a reboot; yes, I’m talking about Charmed.

🐘 A continuation of the 1995 film Jumanji premieres at the end of 2017.

🌟 All is well with the Force because new Star Wars movies are being produced & released.

💰 DuckTales is coming back to television!  The reboot will premiere on Disney XD this year on a to-be-announced date.

👠 Fashionistas could step back in time & fit right in because many of the current trends were pulled from previous decades.

🎤 Gwen Stefani and JoJo released albums last year, a first for both since 2006.

⌚ If names like Andy Griffith, Buffy, The Cheetah Girls, and The Parent Trap ring any bells, you might want to make space in your schedule for binging sessions because Netflix has what you need.  Two seasons of Fuller House, a Full House sequel show, are also available.

📺 TeenNick airs retro Nickelodeon shows overnight, a programming block known as The Splat.

✨ The classic animated Disney movies are one by one being made into live action films. So far so good!

👾 The demand and availability for retro merchandise is widespread and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.

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That is just the tip of the iceberg, but you get the picture.  Not a day goes by that I don’t hear about nostalgia.  I’m not sure of the main cause.  It could be adults missing the carefree days of childhood; you don’t truly appreciate what you have until it’s gone.  It could also be consumer attitudes turning against the present-day options in media and merchandise.  Personally, I think it’s a bit of both.  To clarify, no fault lies with the evolution of technology & entertainment.  There’s something endearing about what we grew up with.  Those memories are ingrained in our minds and hold a special place in our hearts.  Enjoying something from the past is what I imagine time travel to feel like, a transportation of mind, body, & soul; bliss takes over the senses along with admiration for a way of life without the advances of the present.  Here is an example.  Most of us can’t live without a cellphone in our hands, but I think we subconsciously miss a time when they were nonexistent.  Each household had one stationary telephone, and phone calls were special.  There are problems as far back as history goes, but this topic is less about politics & society and more about the ideology of “simpler times.”  When circumstances become overwhelming, we revert back to when life was, in the mind of a child, simple.

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

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– Lauren Michele <3

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I Saw Frozen For the First Time | Blogmas 2016 🎄

❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄

1 DAY UNTIL CHRISTMAS (I know it’s the 25th, but this was supposed to go up on the 24th so just roll with it)

❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄

I can’t apologize enough for my absence.  To make up for lost time, I’m going to be blogging through Hanukkah.  I will call it “Blogukkah.”  Genius!  I have a good excuse for not blogging this week.  I worked myself into the ground and got the flu.  I had the worst day of work possible Tuesday, and it went from bad to worse once I got home.  I spent both my days off resting and reenergizing for my last two shifts before Christmas.  I hope you follow my art blog and Youtube channel because I’ve been active on both those platforms all month long.  I’m not sure why I haven’t been posting as often for Blogmas this year.  I think it has a lot to do with my retail job.  I’ve felt like such a grinch and haven’t done anything outside of working.  No spirit and no fun means no good material for your reading pleasure.  I do have something to share with you tonight so let’s jump right in.  I watched Frozen for the first time.  I’ll let that sink in for a moment.

❄️ ❄️ ❄️ ❄️ ❄️ ❄️ ❄️ ❄️ ❄️ ❄️ ❄️ ❄️❄️ ❄️ ❄️ ❄️ ❄️ ❄️ ❄️ ❄️ ❄️ ❄️ ❄️ ❄️ ❄️ ❄️ ❄️ ❄️❄️

Have you composed yourself?  Alrighty then!  I’ve heard a lot of different perspectives.  People loved the movie.  People liked the movie.  People hated the movie, some only because of the ridiculous amount of attention and hype.  I didn’t want my first viewing experience to be ruined by someone else’s opinion so I waited and waited and waited until the right time.  I’m glad I did because I was pleasantly surprised.  I knew the music would be good, but other than that I had no expectations.  I ended up liking it much more than I thought I would.  The animation is beautiful, and the characters are charming.  Idina Menzel’s voice is beautiful as always, but Kristen Bell’s voice stunned me.  WOW!  I love the end (SPOILER) when Kristoff is available to save Anna with an act of true love, but she ends up being saved by sisterly love.  That is a refreshing twist.  It’s adorable how Kristoff’s gruff exterior is slowly melted by Anna’s quirks.  I could watch an entire movie with him, Sven, & Olaf.  Those three crack me up!  I highly recommend this film if you love Disney, but wait until your mind is clear from the bombardment of other opinions.

❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄

VLOGMAS – https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLUvowXnQBLryeHcwz801Rsx7d1upOgV8k

❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄

ARTMAS – https://laurenmichelephotography.wordpress.com

❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄

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– Lauren Michele <3

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