You Just Made The Naughty List | Blogmas 2017

I’ve been a busy bee working on Artmas, Blogmas, & Vlogmas these past few days. I’m working at my retail job almost every day for the next two weeks so the time to get ahead is running out. I’m trying to think happy thoughts to keep my mind off of the impending insanity. First of all, I’m seeing Star Wars: The Last Jedi tonight with my family. FINALLY!! Second of all, I have a funny story to tell about my neighbor:

A few days ago, I was standing at the kitchen sink looking through the window at the backyard (let’s pretend I wasn’t simultaneously looking and wishing for snow that will never fall). Out of nowhere, a medieval-looking tool moved into view above the fence and slowly made its way to a frond on the nearest palm tree. Against such precise motions, the poor frond never stood a chance. The tool disappeared from view only to reappear and cut down another frond. This seems like a good time to mention that the palm tree is in my family’s backyard. It would’ve made more sense if any of the frond victims had been hanging over the other side of the fence, but they weren’t. I know there is a certain amount of give and take between neighbors, but that sort of action seems so childish. Oh well! It gave me a good laugh. 😂

❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄

➡️   ➡️   ➡️   A R T M A S   ⬅️   ⬅️   ⬅️

S e v e n   D a y s   U n t i l   C h r i s t m a s . . .

❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄

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– Lauren Michele ❤︎

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A Series of Unfortunate Events | Friday the 13th

• Don’t get excited because the worst show ever is now available on Netflix.  Don’t watch it because you will immediately regret the decision •

• 👧🏻 • 👦🏻 • 👶🏼 • 👁️ • 👧🏻 • 👦🏻 • 👶🏼 • 👁️ • 👧🏻 • 👦🏻 • 👶🏼 • 👁️ • 👧🏻 • 👦🏻 • 👶🏼 • 👁️ • 👧🏻 • 👦🏻 • 👶🏼 • 👁️ • 👧🏻 •

I recently read A Series of Unfortunate Events for the first time since my childhood and was shocked at the effect it had on me.  The Baudelaires suffer one misfortune after another without respite.  I’m not talking about stubbed toes and stuffy noses but rather abuse, deception, hunger, and loss among other things.  The story was much more grim and depressing than I remembered.  More than once I had to resist reading before bed because I found my dreams turning into graphic nightmares.  I tell you this not to deter your interests from the show but rather to prove the point that books are powerful.  I am a twenty-three year old adult, and the content of a middle grade series still affected my mind and imagination.  I find the plot of Lemony Snicket’s tale to be both horrifying and brilliant.  It introduces kids to new vocabulary (I could go on and on about the intricate use of wordplay) and exposes them to bleak circumstances that are not at all far-fetched from reality.  It also teaches the importance of telling the truth no matter what.  Time after time the Baudelaires’ warnings about Count Olaf and his sidekicks are ignored by the adult characters, and one by one the doubters suffer the consequences.  Life doesn’t get any easier, but the siblings continue to tell the truth and hope that eventually someone will listen.  The books also deal with the difference between good and evil.  The Baudelaires are seemingly good, but they find themselves compromising on more than one occasion to fight against various enemies.  There is an inner struggle to decide whether or not they are any better than their main nemesis Count Olaf.  I don’t think there is a simple answer to such a question, but I will say that these thought-provoking subjects are what shape young readers into intelligent adults.

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

I hope I haven’t scared you off!  The Baudelaire saga is sad but also quirky and funny.  I’m so excited to watch this new adaptation, and I hope you will give it a chance as well.  There are thirteen books in the series, and each book will play out over the span of two one-hour episodes, twenty-six episodes and fifty-two hours total.  The first installment contains eight episodes and covers the first four books: The Bad Beginning, The Reptile Room, The Wide Window, & The Miserable Mill.  Personally, I didn’t hate the 2004 movie adaptation.  I loved the cast!  However, I have to agree with the main criticism that the story felt rushed; too many books were squeezed into one film.  The Netflix format will allow each book to play out at a much more natural pace.  Enough chit chat!!  Go watch the show!!

• 👧🏻 • 👦🏻 • 👶🏼 • 👁️ • 👧🏻 • 👦🏻 • 👶🏼 • 👁️ • 👧🏻 • 👦🏻 • 👶🏼 • 👁️ • 👧🏻 • 👦🏻 • 👶🏼 • 👁️ • 👧🏻 • 👦🏻 • 👶🏼 • 👁️ • 👧🏻 •

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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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2016 Reading Challenge Update #2

Mount, Jane. Ideal Bookshelf 753: Shakespeare. 2014. Web. 29 Apr. 2016. https://www.idealbookshelf.com/collections/prints/products/ideal-bookshelf-753-shakespeare.

Mount, Jane. Ideal Bookshelf 753: Shakespeare. 2014. Web. 29 Apr. 2016. https://www.idealbookshelf.com/collections/prints/products/ideal-bookshelf-753-shakespeare.

The time has come for a second update on my 2016 Reading challenge progress.  If you have no idea what I’m talking about, take some time to read my first two blog posts:

• 2016 Reading Challenge

• 2016 Reading Challenge Update #1

If you’re subscribed to my Youtube channel, you may have already seen my update #2 video.  However, I filmed almost two weeks ago, and I’ve finished a few more books since then.  Let’s jump right in and chat about books.

* * * SPOILERS AHEAD * * *

Buckle your seat belts because I have some notes about this trilogy.  I was a HUGE Hilary Duff fan back in the day so when I found out she had written a book series, I was all in and ready to read it.  The basic premise is as follows:

The main character Clea is an only child and a photojournalist.  Her mom is a politician, and her dad was a doctor.  He disappeared while out of the country and was pronounced dead.  Clea believes he is still alive but keeps quiet around her mom who is trying to move on.  After a photo assignment, Clea discovers a male being in every single one of her photos.  He’s not immediately visible, but he is always there.  Following a series of conversations and events, she finds out that her dad and his employee Ben, who is also Clea’s friend, were researching the elixir of life.  During that process, they discovered that Clea had a “guardian angel” of sorts, a soulmate who is tied to her.  Hundreds of years ago, Sage, Clea, & Ben were all alive.  Clea was the love of Sage’s life, and Ben was his friend.  Unintentionally, Ben betrayed Sage by speaking openly about the protectors of the elixir of life, a group Sage belonged to.  His confidants brutally murdered the group and Clea who happened to be present despite not being a member.  They kidnapped Sage and gave him the elixir of life followed by torture to make sure it worked.  He eventually got away but found himself trapped in a vicious cycle.  He cannot die therefore he has lived many lives in each of which his friend Ben betrays him and his girlfriend Clea dies.  The reincarnations of Ben and Clea always have different names and appearances, but the series of unfortunate events is always the same.  In the present, their main mission is breaking the cycle.  On top of that, they have to protect Sage from two groups of people.  The elixir keeping him alive runs through his veins instead of blood.  One group wants his blood to make them immortal, and the other group wants to kill him and break their family curse of dying before 30.

That synopsis is informative about the first and second book, but there is a lot more to the story.  I read the first book and was instantly hooked.  I liked the plot because it was different from anything I had ever read before.  Sage and Clea’s relationship is “Insta-Love”, a term that describes relationships in which a boy and girl fall for each other at a quick, ridiculous pace.  I know why that is annoying, but in this case, it didn’t annoy me… yet.  The sequel kept me interested in the story, but it felt different, which I liked; it didn’t feel like “Elixir” in a different cover.  The third book is where the story crashed and burned.  I had expectations and was thoroughly disappointed.

* * * SPOILERS AHEAD * * *

It’s cute to think of Sage and Clea as soulmates, but their relationship isn’t as perfect as it seems.  The circumstances seem like smooth sailing for a short period of time, but chaos is never far behind.  In the third book, new events cause Sage to be violent.  Clea keeps getting hurt emotionally and physically, but she stands by him determined to fix his problem.  I don’t disagree with that, but I do disagree with the decision to let them live happily ever after.  Sad endings are hard to deal with, but they can benefit a story or series.  In this case, the death of Clea or Sage would have been more believable.  One of their first predicaments was the cycle of Ben’s betrayal and Clea’s death.  If Clea had died following Ben’s betrayal in the third book, it would have completed another cycle except this time Sage is no longer immortal, and he will eventually die.  Another thing that irritates me is the fact that Clea’s dad is rarely mentioned after the first book.  His story is never resolved, and I am left with many questions.  I know that disappearances are often unresolved, but he discovered Sage and the elixir of life.  Readers deserved closure considering he was so important to the story.

FINALLY!!!  I’ve been waiting to read The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings for years.  It is dangerous for a reader to build up expectations, but I am glad to say this time my excitement was justified.  I want to save my final thoughts for after I finish LOTR, but… I LOVED The Hobbit.  No complaints!!

This series is a blast from the past!  I’m thoroughly enjoying the books, even at 22 years of age.  My final thoughts will be shared after I finish the series.

• These are the books I’m currently reading:

“Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen

“The Fellowship of the Ring” by J.R.R. Tolkien

“The Vile Village” by Lemony Snicket

• After 4 months, this is what my list looks like:

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 – “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien | “The Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien | “Zoo” by Michael Ledwidge & James Patterson | The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

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” series by Cindy Woodsmall | “River of Time” series by Lisa T. Bergren

*Note: I put checkmarks by categories in which I have already completed one book.  Everything else after the first title is extra.

It is not too late to join in on the fun.  Here is the source of this challenge: http://modernmrsdarcy.com/2016-reading-challenge/

Happy reading!! 📚

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– Lauren Michele <3

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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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Early Morning Pondering

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I should most definitely be in bed considering I have had intense headaches on and off for the past three days.  However, here I am at 3am wide awake; my brain is working overtime.  Many changes have taken place in my life over the past three years, and the process has been overwhelming.  There have been moments when I chose to not think, ignore the problem, and pretend like everything is A-OK.  The emotional pain has been easier to deal with in parts.  I have a breakdown, struggle through the resulting depression, feel a little better, and wait for the next breakdown.  It is incredibly hard to move away from a place you called home for thirteen years.  No words can describe the pain of letting go of a life I thought I would have forever.  I never once considered that God would uproot me and my family and take away the house, the people, and the atmosphere I was familiar with.  Routines are my comfort zone.  Anytime change comes along, I panic.  Hence my earlier statement about shutting down and becoming a zombie.  I have no regrets about the jobs I accepted, the events I volunteered for, and the people I associated myself with.  I have vivid memories, both positive and negative; at least I have something to remember.  During this time of transition, social media has been a great tool for staying in contact with friends.  However, it has also been a window for watching life go on without me.  As I said before, I never once thought my life would change so drastically.  Now that my comfort zone is gone, I realize how much the small things meant to me.  For those of you who are letting go of something or someone right now, I am right there with you.  The process sucks, plain and simple.  Cling to the happy memories and the hope that something even better is right around the corner.  Oy vey!  That was cheesy enough to stop my tears.  But seriously, give yourself time to mourn and adjust.  I stayed up late Monday night eating goldfish and watching episodes of “Make It or Break It.”  I know, I know.  I am practically the conductor of the crazy train.  My point is that taking the time to do something you know will instantly make you happy works wonders for your mood.  One step at a time.  Breathe in, breathe out…

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This quote scares me to death, but I suppose that is a good thing: “The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”  – Alan Watts

Think happy thoughts readers!!  :)

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