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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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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The New Normal

Moving HouseDavis, Katy. Moving House. 2012. Web. 24 July 2015. http://www.gobblynne.com/blog/womans-weekly/.

Wow!  I really need to do a better job of balancing my blogs.  I set out to write an even amount of posts on each but always end up focusing on one or the other.  Sorry about that!  If you want to see what I have been up to, go check out my art blog: https://laurenmichelephotography.wordpress.com/

I am back and ready to do some reflecting.  My family has been reunited for 3 months and finally, as of earlier this month, live in a house.  We were previously living in a loft above someone else’s garage, a space meant for two people max (+ a small child).  It feels amazing to spread out, have my own room, and not live out of boxes.  There are many day-to-day things that I took for granted before.  I don’t want to make this some cheesy promise that my outlook has changed, and I will never take the small things for granted again.  I am human, and I will mistakes,  However, the adventure I have been on these past few years has definitely taught me to be grateful for the mundane.  I have an actual bed to sleep in, not an uncomfortable couch.  I have a closet and a dresser, not boxes and suitcases.  I have my own sink, and the shower has hot water.  I have plenty of space to exercise without tripping over a box or having to let someone pass me.  I have cable and Wi-Fi, not a DVD player and internet the speed of a snail.  I have kitchen appliances, not just a microwave for ramen and a refrigerator for sandwich ingredients.  I have the choice not to balance my plate on a pillow and eat on the couch because there is a table.  The list goes on and on.  Those struggles are nowhere near being the worst that could happen, but they were hard to go through just the same.  The past three years were not easy, but I will cherish the memories for the rest of my life.  Getting up at 4 am with my mom to hike and take landscape photographs for my portfolio so I could graduate college and reunite with my brother and dad.  Eating ice cream and watching movies with my mom in the one and only furnished bedroom in our old house.  Having Christmas dinner at a Mexican restaurant because the loft didn’t have a full kitchen.  Squeezing four people onto a three person couch for family movie night.

I must ride on to my next adventure (guess the reference, and we are instant BFFs).  Have a great week!  I will be back very soon.

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass.  It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”  – Vivian Greene

“Things may never go back to normal.  You may need to create a new normal.  And that’s okay.”  – Unknown

Go with the flow readers!

– Lauren Michele <3

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Musical Tag

Musical Tag Thumbnail

This is the musical tag.  If you are not interested in musicals, I would suggest that you stop reading and stay tuned for my next blog post.  If you would like to watch the Youtube version, click the following link: https://youtu.be/jla9o38LHxE

If you are prepared to read, proceed.  :)

Q: What is your favorite stage musical?

A: I have never seen a musical performed by a professional group.  However, I saw a homeschool group from my childhood city perform plays and musicals, and they did an excellent job.  The productions were so well done, they might as well have been professional.  Brava!

Q: What is your favorite musical film?

A: “Fiddler on the Roof”

“Fiddler on the Roof” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QegNUOg2ajE

***Note: I added the following question.

Q: What is your favorite animated musical film?

A: “Prince of Egypt”

“Prince of Egypt” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmBDY-fSlIs

Q: What is your favorite musical performance?

A: I think this question refers to live productions, but that does not apply to me.  I am changing the context to my favorite singular performance within a musical film: “Singing in the Rain” performed by Gene Kelly.

“Singing in the Rain” Movie Scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1ZYhVpdXbQ

Q: What is your favorite genre of musicals?

A: Every era has at least one good musical, but most of my favorites come from the Post-Classical Era (Post 50s).

Q: Who is your favorite composer and/or lyricist?

A: Alan Menken, Hans Zimmer, and Phil Collins.

Alan Menken Medley: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-WhOZZstiU

Samples of Hans Zimmer’s Work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdgUhz2F0Mg

“Two Worlds” by Phil Collins: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGn4zSfw6K4

“On My Way” by Phil Collins: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDtBnTMpltM

Q: What is your favorite underappreciated musical?

A: All of the musicals I like are well-known and liked therefore I do not have an answer.

Q: What musical are you dying to see?

A: “Wicked”, “Phantom of the Opera”, and “Aladdin.”  Anything else would be icing on the cake.  :)

“Wicked” 2012 Broadway Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrpLayS57cY

“Phantom of the Opera” 2013 Broadway Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNWUdSxxnHM

“Aladdin” 2014 Broadway Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4sl3sQPzgc&list=PL0kqHD3g0haHgDgqMW-5tX2k6U5rOiMMQ&index=14

Q: What musical did you not like?

A: I apologize to anybody who likes these two musicals.  I did not enjoy “Gigi” or “Cry-Baby.”  The character Gigi annoyed me , and I could not connect to the characters or storyline in “Cry-Baby.”

“Gigi” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rH8aVaeHqq4

“Cry-Baby” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yB1bLlguZVY

Q: What is the best musical adaptation?

A: “Fiddler on the Roof”

Q: What is the best original musical?

A: “Once”

“Once” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWJIylZ8VyM

Who is your favorite character from a musical?

A: Tevye from “Fiddler on the Roof”

“Tradition” Performed by Tevye/Chaim Topol: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRdfX7ut8gw

Q: What is your favorite song from a musical?

A: “Falling Slowly” and “I See the Light.”

“Falling Slowly” Performed Live by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koPjCqb3igw

“I See the Light” Music Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYbHzzWmKUs

Q: What is your favorite soundtrack?

A: “Fiddler on the Roof”, “Into the Woods ” (2014 film), “Prince of Egypt”, and “Tarzan.”

“Fiddler on the Roof” Soundtrack Playlist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SLTxj-kXhg0&list=PL6vJR5WPUWn_-zubC0hU4BuQVqmi_tJbM

“Into the Woods” Soundtrack Playlist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KId_A5H-BXw&list=PLuovSEX8xEHes6AJxPnrTcxShMEc9XOBi

“Prince of Egypt” Soundtrack Playlist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WKN0XF8-3Q&list=PLrjhOUTfRro7ro9MjrNV_W5gwFCMbSxEu

“Tarzan” Soundtrack Playlist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4hVVn5OlnI&list=PL7FE43190CD86C300

Q: What musical would you love to see happen?

A: A musical based on the ABC TV show “Once Upon a Time”, a story about Disney characters set in modern times.

“Once Upon a Time” Season One Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9QjaxiuIa7A

Q: Why do you like musicals?

A: Musicals were a normal part of my life growing up as a dancer, and they still hold a special place in my heart.

Q: Describe yourself using one lyric from a musical?

A: Defying.  Fear is one of the biggest obstacles in my life, but I constantly find myself taking on challenges and completing what I thought was beyond my limits.

“Defying Gravity” Performed Live by Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3g4ekwTd6Ig

Q: Who is your favorite actress from a musical?

A: Julie Andrews.  QUEEN!!

“The Hills Are Alive” Movie Scene, “Sound of Music”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4R462Ro5fqU

“Feed The Birds” Movie Scene, “Mary Poppins”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHrRxQVUFN4

Q: Who is your favorite actor from a musical?

A: Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly.

“I Got Rhythm” Performed by Gene Kelly, “An American in Paris”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LvglHa_P9BA

“Funny Face” Performed by Fred Astaire, “Funny Face”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xo1onGh3us

Here is a list of all my favorite musical films:

“Aladdin”

“Aladdin” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWLa6y7Z2TE

“An American in Paris”

“An American in Paris ” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2WAMZRCbpU

“Chicago”

“Chicago” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9EpaMmF9WVU

“Fiddler on the Roof”

“Funny Face”

“Funny Face” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6VLdVrVQGQ

“Grease”

“Grease” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wzWmxjYNfz4

“Hercules”

“Hercules” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ds88gvnEVo

“Into the Woods”

“Into the Woods” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Byk9Is3TjY

“Music Man”

“Music Man” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIPL8Yb25T4

“Phantom of the Opera”

“Phantom of the Opera” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44w6elsJr_I

“Prince of Egypt”

“Singing in the Rain”

“Singing in the Rain” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36QiuRc_3I8

“Sound of Music”

“Sound of Music” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UY6uw3WpPzY

“Tarzan”

“Tarzan” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfciC33t3M0

“Thoroughly Modern Millie”

“Thoroughly Modern Millie” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCug0golA6c

If you would like to know more details surrounding my answers, watch the Youtube video (https://youtu.be/jla9o38LHxE).  If you love musicals, I highly recommend you do this tag.  It is so much fun!

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– Lauren Michele <3

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