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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Is Zootopia Too Political?

There is a time and a place for everything.  I am the first person to speak up if I think political topics are being discussed through an inappropriate medium.  Certain subjects are too much for kids to process at a young, immature age.  Zootopia deals with bullying and prejudice, two issues relevant to to this day and age.  Brava to the cast and crew because the subject matter is palatable for kids and poignant for adults.  The concept will keep kids’ attention while the story plants questions and leaves a lasting impression.  Why can’t bunnies be cops?  Why can’t foxes be trusted?  Do all predators have to be isolated because they are carnivorous by nature?  Prey and predators have been living together peacefully in the city of Zootopia for decades, but cases of predators reverting back to wild behavior create panic and tension.  The citizens start looking for the worst in each other rather than considering that evil intentions are at play.  This movie had me hooked from start to finish.  I highly recommend it both as entertainment and a teaching opportunity.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWM0ct-OLsM

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Farewell Rizzoli & Isles

🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨

I know I’m a little late to the party, but wild horses couldn’t stop me from paying tribute to this show.  Rizzoli & Isles will always hold a special place in my heart because it is one of the few TV shows, if not the only, that I have watched from episode one to the show finale.  I finished what I started, and I couldn’t be happier with my decision.  The cast did not get half as much recognition as they deserved for their unbelievable chemistry.  There were many tears and many laughs, and I enjoyed every single moment.  To the cast and crew, thank you!!  I will forever be a Rizzoli & Isles fan. <3

🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨

Hyun, Doug. Rizzoli & Isles - Season 2 - "Rebel Without a Pause" - Lee Thompson Young, Bruce McGill and Jordan Bridges. Web. 14 Sept. 2016. http://www.tvguide.com/tvshows/rizzoli-isles/photos/304667/879191.

Hyun, Doug. Rizzoli & Isles – Season 2 – “Rebel Without a Pause” – Lee Thompson Young, Bruce McGill and Jordan Bridges. Web. 14 Sept. 2016. http://www.tvguide.com/tvshows/rizzoli-isles/photos/304667/879191.

* * * I want to say a special thank you to the Rizzoli & Isles crew for including a mention of Barry Frost in the finale.  Lee Thompson Young will always be a member of the R&I family! <3

View this post on Instagram

Happy memories.

A post shared by Adam Sinclair (@adamrsinclair) on

 

Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/BH5LiAFDDlw/?taken-by=adamrsinclair

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QfEG7vKXwNw

Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/BE6pDK6zd5v/?taken-by=thesashaalexander&hl=en

Hyun, Doug. Rizzoli & Isles - Season 2 - "Sailor Man" - Angie Harmon, Sasha Alexander and Lorraine Bracco. Web. 14 Sept. 2016. http://www.tvguide.com/tvshows/rizzoli-isles/photos/304667/838943.

Hyun, Doug. Rizzoli & Isles – Season 2 – “Sailor Man” – Angie Harmon, Sasha Alexander and Lorraine Bracco. Web. 14 Sept. 2016. http://www.tvguide.com/tvshows/rizzoli-isles/photos/304667/838943.

🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨 🚨

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– Lauren Michele

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The Great Mouse Detective

Continuing to stew in nostalgia, I watched this movie Thursday night, and it did not disappoint.  The influence of Sherlock Holmes is evident in all the right ways.  The overall style and vibe is Victorian and dark, and the dialogue is witty.  There are easter eggs that are sure to put a smile on your face:

1.  Mr. Holmes resides at 221 Baker Street.  Basil resides at 221 1/2 Baker Street

2.  Basil’s small, cozy home is located under and resembles Sherlock Holmes’ residence.

3.  Basil’s name refers to an alias of Sherlock Holmes and actor Basil Rathbone known for his film role as Holmes.

4.  Basil’s wardrobe and personality are obviously inspired by the famous detective.  The cape, hat, magnifying glass, and quirks are all there.

5.  What is Holmes without Watson??  I give you Dr. David Q. Dawson, the mouse version of Dr. John H. Watson.

6.  Sherlock Holmes’ shadow and voice make an appearance.  Because Basil Rathbone had passed away before this movie was made, an audio clip from a previous film was used.

Source: http://findingmickey.squarespace.com/disney-animated-features/the-great-mouse-detective/

For more information: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091149/

What are you waiting for??  Go watch the movie!!  😄

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– Lauren Michele <3

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Farewell American Idol

🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶

*Note: There were a number of contestants unable to be involved in the Idol finale.  Some of those absences were disappointing, but it must have been a nightmare trying to organize so many different people and schedules into two hours of television.  I am squelching my feelings and focusing on the positive in this post.

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Going into the Idol finale, I knew I would be emotional, but I didn’t realize the tears would fall so soon.  Familiar faces from past seasons appeared during the opening song, and the floodgates were open.  In that moment I buckled my seatbelt and prepared for a two-hour storm of nostalgia.  The majority of the show was dedicated to a flow of performances by contestants and judges.  I really like that the contestants were mixed rather than organized by season.  It was fantastic to hear duets and groups that I would never have dreamed of seeing perform.  Even Larry Platt (“Pants on the Ground”), Sanjaya Malakar, and William Hung made an appearance.  I died from laughter when I realized Sanjaya was moving around the audience and wearing different wigs.  😂  Of course the original judges had to make an appearance: Paula, Randy, & Simon, the trio that started it all.  Judges come and go, but they will always be the most memorable panel.  I noticed that the current judges were very emotional throughout the night.  It’s hard to say goodbye to the show, but I think it had more to do with the slew of past contestants & winners making an appearance.  This show has been on the air for 15 seasons, and the numerous performances proved that more times than not, the judges and voters got it right.  Not every contestant made it to the pinnacle of fame, but they are spread out all over the world of music sharing their unique gifts.  Last but not least, America found out who the final “American Idol” is.  The winner is… Trent Harmon!!  Even though I was rooting for La’Porsha, Trent is incredibly talented.  I wish both of them nothing but the best.  I believe both of them can go very far in the music industry.

🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4eWXM5CYFU

🎶 Uh oh… here come the waterworks!! 🎶

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kkgz31z3IJE

🎶 This song was performed by the original top 2 Justin Guarini and Kelly Clarkson.  One boy & one girl.  Bookends!! 🎶

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jNCX5cgfiY

🎶 “I have won and I have lost.  I got it right sometimes, but sometimes I did not.  Life’s been a journey.  I’ve seen joy, I’ve seen regret.  Oh and You have been my God through all of it.”  Sing Colton Sing! 🎶

– Kelly Clarkson Medley –

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1PEC1yVCAE

🎶 Chris Daughtry, one of my favorite voices EVER. 🎶

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EiCz05ZY7Nc

– Country Medley –

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8_BYnpJhAo

🎶 How adorable is she??  Such a beautiful voice! 🎶

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQHdMkaJnv8

🎶 I didn’t know I needed a Casey James & Katharine McPhee duet, but I did.  One of my favorite parts of the show. 🎶

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A42LQdytWdY

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCHJ5Qm8NuY

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=txFl3teEUJY

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SzNu26Z3JrY&nohtml5=False

🎶 These are my boys!!  I’ve always felt that the singer-songwriters from “American Idol” were underrated. 🎶

– Gag Reel –

– Original Judges Reunite –

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWjnS31C_hY&nohtml5=False

🎶 Oh.  My.  Gosh. 🎶

– Ford Memories –

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfJiBg8r95g&nohtml5=False

🎶 I see you mouthing “Praise the Lord” at the end.  Preach girl preach!! 🎶

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4t267JTtalw

🎶 Once again, congratulations Trent!! 🎶

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*Note: The videos that are missing will be posted once I find them on Youtube.

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I didn’t start watching this show until season 6, but it impacted my life long before then and continues to do so.  I have owned Chris Daughtry, David Archuleta, David Cook, Kelly Clarkson, and Lee Dewyze CDs.  My ipod playlist has included Angie Miller, Carrie Underwood, Colton Dixon, Jason Castro, Jordin Sparks, Kris Allen, and Phillip Phillips.  My diary (2006-2014)  is full of “American Idol” predictions & celebrations.  I still own Kelly Clarkson’s album “Breakaway” on CD.  Over the past decade, I have played that thing to death.  Watching Kelly’s medley tonight, I was reminded of just how talented and special she is.  She was a huge part of my childhood, and I will forever be grateful that she took a chance and auditioned for a brand new reality competition TV show.

🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶

Farewell American Idol!!  Your legacy lives on in the careers of the numerous stars you have produced.

🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶

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We’re All in This Together

I can’t believe it!  Today is the ten year anniversary of “High School Musical.”  I just finished watching the cast reunion on Disney Channel.  I am so glad they maintained close relationships with one another.  I had a huge, goofy smile on my face listening to them reminisce.  HSM was a HUGE part of my childhood, and I want to take a trip down memory lane to share with you my most vivid memories.

1.  I don’t actually remember watching the premiere of HSM.  I may not have watched it on January 20th, but I discovered it soon after because I remember following the cast’s every move  and watching the premiere of “I Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You.”

2.  I freaked out when the music video mentioned above premiered.  It was an extra song featured on the soundtrack but not in the movie.  I watched it to death!  It also fed my suspicion that “Zanessa” was real. 😍

Video Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFB54wp41zo

3.  Seeing Zac Efron sing in the music video strengthened my belief that he sang in HSM.  He didn’t, but I believed and fought for him until the 2nd movie came out (he sang in the last 2 movies).  I’ve learned to live with it. 😂

4.  I might as well follow #3 with the fact that Zac Efron was a 2000s heartthrob featured in Bop, J-14, M, Tiger Beat, etc.  Yes, I did have posters of him on my wall, but I also had posters of the other cast members.  No shame. ;)

5.  I believe this happened in either 2009 or 2010, but me and my dance friends put together a big sleepover complete with food, games, and a “High School Musical” marathon.  There was a lot of squealing, laughing, singing, and crying.

6.  Every time we did jazz squares in dance class, me and my friend Katie would look at each other and quote: “It’s a crowd favorite.  Everybody loves a good jazz square.”  Every time without fail!!  Nailed it.

6.  Up until 2010 (the big bad Zanessa breakup), I followed the cast’s every move.  They were the BIG Disney celebrities of the 2000s.  I wouldn’t say I was obsessed, just genuinely curious and in awe.  I think every young girl goes through that phase.  I looked at every publicity photo, listened to every solo and group song, and read every magazine.  I also want to clear up that the breakup wasn’t the reason I lost interest.  I still look up the cast from time to time, but everybody grows up and leaves behind the things of childhood.

Favorite Character:  Gabriella Montez

Video Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4lv9xVA3Tk

Favorite Scene:  The very first scene featuring “Start of Something.”  That moment started the whole HSM phenomenon.

Video Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6EOUaWscrE

Favorite Song:  “Breaking Free”

Video Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLa__49Ltv4

Favorite Quote:  “It’s a crowd favorite.  Everybody loves a good jazz square.”  Also, everything Ms. Darbus says.

Only Ms. Darbus could pull off these quotes:

*Chad is playing with a basketball at his desk*  “Mr. Danforth! This is a place of learning, not a hockey arena.”

“Holidays are over people.  Way over!!”

“This school is about more than just young men in baggy shorts flinging balls for touchdowns.”

“The theatre is a chapel of arts, a precious cornucopia of creative energy.”

“It’s called crime and punishment, Bolton. Beside, proximity to the arts is cleansing for the soul.”

Say it loud, say it proud:

What team?  Wildcats!

What team?  Wildcats!

What team?  Wildcats!

Wildcats!  GETCHA HEAD IN THE GAME!!!!!

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– Lauren Michele <3

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