November 2016: In a Nutshell.

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Thanksgiving 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

We’re in the final stretch, everyone! December is here- and that means Christmas is right around the corner and 2016 is nearly over! We’re almost to 2017!

I fully intend to finish the last of my holiday shopping within the next couple of weeks so I can actually enjoy Christmas this year and not have to worry myself with finding gifts, facing large crowds of people at the stores (or paying extra for in-time-for-Christmas shipping costs with my online orders) wrapping them to deliver, or mailing them if necessary- so on and so forth. I really just want this last month of the year to be as relaxing and as stress-free as possible. I don’t think I’m asking for much, right?

But I digress. Before we can get into the full-swing of December and Christmas- we have to talk about the month of November, first- and it was quite the circus, wasn’t it? Between the election (and I won’t even start on the fact that the results are now being reviewed/investigated in certain states since that’s a whole new can of worms I don’t have the patience to open right now), the subsequent protests, feuds and overall continued division within this country- it all seemed to sort of overshadow the rest of November- including Thanksgiving. I know a lot of people can and usually do have some sort of tension at family gatherings due to differing political opinions- but this year the tension was multiplied considerably for a lot of my friends who spent this past weekend with their extended relatives whom they don’t always see eye to eye with even when politics are taken out of the equation.

Thankfully, I managed to escape that most dreaded of family traditions all together. We didn’t talk politics at dinner- that was the one rule in the house- and instead we all gathered around to watch football and a couple of the Christmas movies the networks had already started to air before the night came to a close and some of my family had to prepare for their Black Friday shopping. I’m happy to report that no one got trampled this year- and my mom was really excited that she picked up a brand new toaster for a pretty good price- so it was a win, I think?

The election and Thanksgiving aside- November was a pretty busy month anyway. My hours at work were recently adjusted- meaning that I have my weekends off again for the first time in nearly a year- which is really exciting! I rounded out the 2016 Comic-Con season by meeting the amazing Jeffrey Dean Morgan in Providence (and to confirm in case I didn’t mention it in my original RICC post- yes, he’s very handsome in person), I watched the Cubs win The World Series in one of the most intense and satisfying games imaginable, and not that it impacted my schedule in any way- but it is worth noting we had our first very light snow this month, too!

I’m looking forward to sharing a couple more recipes over the next month, some of my favorite holiday activities and local destinations to visit in order to get into (and stay in) the Christmas spirit- and of course I’ll be summarizing 2016 in it’s entirety before we head into 2017. It’s going to be a long one- I can tell you that.

See you all in December!

xx

Dessert Table! Thanksgiving 2016

Dessert Table! Thanksgiving 2016

November Hits List!

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I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend! Mine was spent in the company of my family and friends (for the first of two annual “Friendsgivings”. The second and larger of the gatherings usually happens shortly after New Years when it’s easier to coordinate a dinner with so many people after the hectic holiday season winds down and schedules open up a bit more!) and also putting in a bit of overtime at work.

December and Christmas are upon us- but before I bid a fond farewell to the roller coaster that was November and focus on getting my decorations set up and my gift shopping list organized- I wanted to share some of my favorite things from this past month, first!

There’s only a few things I photographed- but plenty of other random things that made the list, too!

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I used to snicker at jokes about “basic bitches” who collected UGG boots and drank pumpkin spice lattes all the time- until I turned into one, anyway. While these boots are not UGG brand- they are just as comfortable for half the price. I’ve been sporting these almost daily since we haven’t seen more than an occasional flurry of snow around here lately. The faux-fur lining on the inside keeps my feet warm and dry, and walking or standing for any length of time feels like I’m simply wading through marshmallows. These boots are super cozy and go with just about any pair of skinny jeans, leggings or tights.

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Speaking of being cozy. Now that it’s considerably more chilly outside (and sometimes indoors, too)– I’ve been bundling up in anything with Sherpa material underneath my winter coat for extra warmth. I’m particularly fond of this lined flannel pullover with Sherpa material around the collar. I usually bring this to work with me to put on at my desk in case there’s a draft. It’s long enough to wrap around me but it’s still chic- so I don’t look like I’m wearing a bathrobe in public or anything.

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While my home typically smells like pine, gingerbread, peppermint and vanilla (with a hint of brown sugar) around the holidays- I thought I’d add a touch of something new this year and purchased one of Yankee Candle’s new “All Is Bright” jars. The fragrance- a freshly popped bottle of champagne- is already getting me ready for New Years. It’s sweet and bubbly- just like the drink. If you see this candle around- definitely grab one. It’s lovely!

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I received a sample of this brightening moisturizer with SPF 15 from Garnier with a recent purchase of my usual micellar water- and I’ve been hooked ever since. This oil-free formula is lightweight, loaded with vitamins, keeps my skin feeling soft all day, and has visibly evened out my complexion (which usually gets a little blotchy and patchy with the dropping temperatures) with continued use. I’ve already picked up a full-size tube for when I run out of the decently-sized sample- and I plan on using it religiously throughout the Winter.

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Finally, in an attempt to cut back on my spending for the holidays (and overall, really)– I’ve started taking the time to prepare my own coffee in the morning using my K-Cup brewer instead of making speedy early morning stops at local cafes. I’ve been loading up on homemade peppermint mocha lately (with a touch of chocolate flavored creamer. So good!) and my mom was kind enough to pick up this spill-proof and durable Vera Bradley travel mug for when I head to work. It’s definitely better for the environment than multiple discarded plastic and Styrofoam cups- and the painted feather design is really pretty.

And now, onto some of the other odds and ends!

– MUSIC/MOVIES/TELEVISION –

  • The Killers – “Don’t Waste Your Wishes”: Now that’s it acceptable and not way-too-early to listen to Christmas music, I strongly recommend The Killers’ new album- a compilation of all of their holiday singles- to benefit charity. While “A Great Big Sled” and “Don’t Shoot Me Santa” will forever be my all-time favorites, hearing Brandon talk about his childhood in the album’s closing cover of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” is especially poignant, too.
  • TCM’s Natalie Wood Marathon: This past month, on the nights when I would get home from work and just wanted to veg out on my couch or in bed- I flipped on any one of the TCM’s choice Natalie Wood (one of my favorites) movies since she was the network’s star of the month. I loved re-visiting “Rebel Without A Cause” and “West Side Story”- but “Searchers” and “Kings Go Forth” were fun to see for the first time, too.

– MISCELLANEOUS –

  • Planning my New Years: 2016 was, essentially, a dumpster fire- and a year I plan on giving the proper attention and criticism it deserves for my “In A Nutshell” post at the end of December. Until then, I’ve been starting preparations for my New Years Eve- and while I’m keeping quiet on what my final farewell to this past year that was will look like- I can say that the details have me very excited. It’s nice to have something to look forward to considering how rough 2016 has been so far. Not just for me- but for a lot of others, too.

And I think that’s pretty much it for my November hits! As always- if you’d like to share your own list of favorites for the month- feel free!

Have a great Monday!

xx

Giving Thanks

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alwaysbethankfulAlthough things have seemed downright bleak and depressing lately- be it the daily news, Christmas music being played everywhere before we’ve even finished Thanksgiving, or (in my case, anyway) the dropping temperatures and occasional snow flurries outside- tomorrow’s holiday is a reminder that even in the most trying of times: there is always something to be thankful for. It may be a difficult thing to remember or even believe now and then- but it’s true.

It goes without saying that I’m thankful for my family and my friends, or that I’m thankful for my career and for my company for taking care of me as well as they have over this past almost-year since I first started there. I’m thankful for the roof over my head, the clothes on my back and the food (specifically the pecan pie) I’m going to enjoy in the company of loved ones tomorrow. I’m thankful for my good health and the advantages/blessings I have in my life that those less fortunate than me do not have. Those things are certain. They don’t need repeating.

But I wanted to take the opportunity to give thanks to some of the other, not-so-conventional things that I’ve been thankful for in 2016:

  • My Breakup: I know this one seems a little unusual, considering how much stress and heartache my split from my ex caused me earlier this year- but I truly am grateful it happened. Otherwise I would have carried on being blissfully unaware of what was going on behind my back. Now that I know the truth and I’ve mustered up the courage to walk away from him and the toxic nature of our relationship- I’ve felt less tense, more optimistic and confident about myself and my future- and proud of my resilience and strength (that I didn’t even know I had in me, to be honest.) It’s nice to have a blank page to start a new chapter with. It gives me something to look forward to.
  • My Car: I’m not a materialistic person, and I know being thankful for an automobile might be a little crazy- but I truly am thankful to have a safe and reliable vehicle to get to/from work and my daily affairs. My last car- destroyed by my since-fired “mechanic”- was a danger to myself, any passengers I had in it, and other people on the road. It’s such a weight off my shoulders to know the car I’m driving runs properly and efficiently. The extra bill I have to pay each month for it isn’t enjoyable by any means- but it’s a small price to know I’m safe and can commute without issue. I’m truly grateful for my local dealership who took care of me and helped me get it on the road.
  • My Special Event/Comic-Convention/Upkeep Team: I wanted to give a special shout-out to the team of women (specifically Barbara and Stephanie) who always make sure I look on-point when attending any type of special event or comic-convention. These ladies pluck, pin and pamper me so that my hair, skin and nails are always done perfectly when I have somewhere I need to be that isn’t work or the gym. They’ve made me look as superb as they can for multiple weddings, celebrations and costumed gatherings this past year- and I cannot thank them enough for it!

I also want to thank those who have helped me with crafting props and accessories for some of my costumes during the convention circuit in 2016. You are all so immensely talented and I truly admire and appreciate the work and effort you’ve put into making sure I look legitimate over these last few months. I really hope to work with some of you again in 2017.

  • Opportunities From the West Coast: Although I’m still in the “carefully considering” phase of potentially leaving for the West Coast- I cannot stress enough how thankful I am for the opportunities that have been rolling in- both from Southern California and Las Vegas. The offers aren’t just for gainful employment, but for adequate housing as well- and that’s amazing. Although I still have a lot to think about before ultimately making any type of decision- I am so beyond grateful that these sorts of things are even falling into my lap right now.
  • The Brands I’ve Partnered With: This blog was never intended to be lucrative by any means, and I never expected it to go that route since I always thought “Legally Redhead” was purely a hobby- but despite my hardships over this past year- brands still reached out to work with me and I am truly flattered and grateful that they did. Not only did I network with some fantastic companies who provide wonderful services and create life-changing products- but I was able to extend their reach to my readers, too. It was a win/win for so many people and the opportunities are forever appreciated.

And finally:

  • My Readers/Subscribers: For any and all of you who had followed “Legally Redhead”, linked to my social media, shared my content, left comments, or contacted me privately to voice your support- THANK YOU. This blog would be nothing if not for you and your continued kindness and I want you to know that I love and appreciate each and every single one of you. Your continued support is the reason I continue to write. I could not do this without you and I am truly thankful for all of you. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. Again, I thank you so, so much.

I think that’s pretty much it right now. Anything or anyone who may have been accidentally omitted will surely be included in my 2016 wrap-up post at the end of December. I promise.

I hope you all have a safe and wonderful holiday tomorrow- and if you’re planning on going shopping for Black Friday- please be careful and look out for one another!

Happy Thanksgiving!

xx

Quick Eats: Cheesy Cauliflower Bread

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It’s been a short while since I’ve shared a recipe post, but that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped experimenting with new ideas and ingredients in my kitchen. My current “flavor of the month” is cauliflower. When I’m not eating it raw or mixed in as part of a vegetable stir fry- I’m researching the ways I can include it in my diet with new and tasty dishes I wouldn’t have thought to try before.

I love garlic bread, and I definitely love cheesy bread- so finding a recipe that combined both, but without the actual “bread” part- pretty much made my week. This low-fat, low-carb, healthier-with-cauliflower-substituted-for-dough combination takes just under an hour to prepare and cook- and the results are so good- you’ll never guess that this isn’t really bread at all!

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WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 4 cups of riced cauliflower (about 1 large head of cauliflower)
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese (1-2 cups will be used for topping)
  • 3 teaspoons of oregano
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Dipping sauce(s) of your choice

OKAY, HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

1. Preheat oven to 425°F degrees. While the oven is heating, prepare a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Make sure your cauliflower is chopped in florets. Add the florets to your food processor and pulse until it resembles rice.

3. Place the cauliflower in a microwavable container and cover with lid. Microwave for 10 minutes. From there, place the microwaved cauliflower in a large bowl and add the 4 eggs, 2 cups of mozzarella, oregano, garlic and salt & pepper. Mix everything together.

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4. Pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and shape into a rectangle for the bread sticks.

5. Bake the crust (no topping yet) for about 25 minutes or until golden. Once done, sprinkle the top of the “bread” with the remaining mozzarella cheese and put back in the oven for another 5 minutes- or until cheese has melted.

6. Slice and serve with dipping sauce of your choosing.

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I can’t stress how good these things taste (without making you feel bloated or gross the way typical bread sticks can.) If I hadn’t prepared them myself, I would have just assumed they were a thinner, crispier bread instead of a vegetable. They were crunchy and cheesy with just the right amount of garlic- and when topped with marinara or ranch- I could have eaten the entire pan all on my own (for the record: I shared these!)

I’m thinking this recipe may make another appearance at Thanksgiving if I have the time to bake them before my family gets here. I’d like to see how many of my relatives would be able to tell if these were actually made out of cauliflower or not!

xx

POPSUGAR Must Have Box: November 2016.

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First, let me start off my apologizing for the quality of these photos. Daylight Savings Time and my work schedule do not agree with one another at all. By the time I get home from my office, it’s pitch black outside- and the current lighting in my place is not exactly what you’d call cooperative. I tried my best with these given the circumstances- but I understand they aren’t exactly the brightest and clearest pictures around.

Secondly, with Thanksgiving just a short week away- I have been so preoccupied with preparing as much as I can in terms of cooking/baking/decorating that I’ve been a little scatterbrained lately. Thankfully, POPSUGAR sent me over some things in their “Must Have” box this month that are going to come in handy and help me out a little bit!

Per the enclosed pamphlet that is included in every month’s assortment of items- November’s box was inspired by the themes of TOGETHERNESS, ELEGANT, ESSENTIALS, INVITING and CELEBRATION.

Let’s take a look at what I got!

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While this won’t necessarily come in handy for Thanksgiving- this limited edition toffee butter popcorn from Oogie’s Snacks WILL be helpful the next time I start getting hungry at work and don’t have time to run out to grab a proper lunch. I just love popcorn in general, so I had no problems hiding this away in my purse for the next time I’m pulling some overtime and want something salty, sweet and crunchy to hold me over. It’s gluten-free, too- which isn’t really important to me- but that’s great for anyone who needs it!

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The item that took up the most space in November’s “Must Have” box has got to be this gray-colored nest wire bowl from AJ Goods. I love the design of this bowl- which was handmade in India- and how lightweight it is. For Thanksgiving, I think I’ll be using this to store the napkins and silverware (or the dinner rolls, depending on how much room I have left over after the rest of the food is laid out)– but post-Thanksgiving I know I’m going to be filling it with Christmas tree ornaments to give my dining room table a more festive feel.

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I was really excited when I saw this fringed, champagne and wine-colored table runner from Pehr Designs in this month’s assortment of items. Every year- without fail- my mother always drives herself crazy trying to find a chic runner to adorn her table with for the holidays. This one actually matches her kitchen and dining room perfectly, so I’ll be gifting this to her as an early Thanksgiving Day surprise so she doesn’t have an anxiety attack when she’s trying to put the finishing touches on her decor.

Mom, if you’re reading this right now- surprise! And you’re welcome!

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My dad used to say that I was like a crow in the sense that I am always drawn to anything sparkly or shiny. That being said- this was the first item I noticed in November’s “Must Have” box so I’m pretty sure that means he was right. I’m all about these star party picks from Meri Meri (who make the CUTEST stationary and gift cards ever.) If I don’t use these by Thanksgiving- you can bet they’ll be making an appearance for Christmas.

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The item I knew I’d be receiving in November’s “Must Have” box was this compact “Dawn to Dusk” eye shadow palette from Stowaway Cosmetics– and I’ve been wearing it every single day since I opened it up. The colors are super pigmented, easy to blend, and really make my eyes pop. I’ve been wearing the lighter, more neutral shades during the day at work- and then adding a touch of the darker shades, like the royal blue along my lash line- to give myself a more dramatic look if I have anything planned for after I leave the office at night.

You can pick up this palette at Stowaway’s website, too! It’s not a limited edition product and it’s available to order!

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I adore rose gold- so much, in fact- that I’ve been debating incorporating the hue into my highlights in my hair for a completely new look for the coming New Year. That’s neither here nor there, however- what IS here is this gorgeous, adjustable rose gold and white pearl bracelet from Kendra Scott. This item was a total surprise, and I am absolutely in love with it! This is one of those pieces that looks great when worn with jeans and a fluffy sweater, or with a more dressed up and fancy ensemble. It’s so versatile and like the above-pictured palette from Stowaway- I’ve been wearing this non-stop!

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POPSUGAR included some digital goodies in their November “Must Have” box, too. A 20% off voucher for Kendra Scott, 25% off a purchase of $50 or more from Stowaway Cosmetics, and 25% off an entire order through Pehr Designs. Sometimes the vouchers are hit or miss with me- but I have a feeling I’ll be taking advantage of each of these discounts when it comes time for me to start my Christmas shopping!

Overall, I loved November’s “Must Have” box. It had a little bit of everything and I can’t wait to use some of the items for the holidays. I’m really looking forward to seeing what POPSUGAR has planned for their end-of-the-year box. Judging from how on the mark they’ve been throughout 2016- I have a feeling it’s going to be good!

xx

Curtain Call for Comic-Con 2016.

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Taking a break at Rhode Island Comic-Con 11/12/16

I’ve only been actively cosplaying at comic conventions for a couple of years now (in the years prior to that, I would just walk around in my every day clothes and admire everyone else’s costumes while simultaneously feeling too shy or not nearly talented enough to participate myself) but each time I do, and with every convention I go to- I personally feel like my work gets better and better and I get to meet more and more people who share the same interests and the same passions as I do while we all put our hard work and craftsmanship on display.

I love it. It’s fun- and I encourage anyone who has been on the fence about cosplaying and who might be feeling shy or self-conscious like I used to be to give it a try. Chances are, you’re going to feel right at home when you do. You don’t have to be a master metal fabricator or a whiz with a needle and thread to come up with something that looks great- trust me. It all comes down to proper time management and knowing when to ask for help if you need it. There’s a lot of really great resources and tutorials online, and plenty of places to shop for materials you may need without breaking your budget.

I digress. While 2014 saw me go above and beyond with Cheryl Blossom, Daryl Dixon AND Poison Ivy costumes for my first ever pilgrimage to San Diego Comic-Con, and 2015 was the year I put together a top notch Peggy Carter ensemble- 2016 was all about Negan from “The Walking Dead”. While I’ve mixed and matched my previous costumes in the past for different events- this year’s Negan costume was the one I wore to every. single. convention. I went to from Spring right up until this past weekend’s 2016 Comic-Con closer in Providence, Rhode Island.

And it was the perfect ending to a fun convention season- specifically because I got to meet Negan himself- Mr. Jeffrey Dean Morgan!

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Forgive the reflections and how FRIGGIN’ PALE I AM. OH MY GOD.

Now, I had never been to Rhode Island Comic-Con before this past weekend, and leading up to my stopping by on Saturday- I had heard a lot of mixed things about it. Overcrowding. Long lines. Rude and agitated staff- but having survived the general clusterfuckery of Wizard World a few years ago while I was in NYC- I didn’t think it could be any worse.

Boy, was I wrong.

The heads of the convention, having booked stars like Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Millie Bobby Brown, and Stan Lee- did not take the limited size of the venue vs. the amount of people who would turn up into consideration and continued selling as many tickets and passes as they possibly could to make more money. As a result, the lines were long enough to (supposedly) catch the attention of the Fire Marshall since stairwells and exits were pretty much overflowing with people to the point where no one could move and it was extremely dangerous.

The lines for JDM were so full that he ended up staying later than he was supposed to in order to sign more autographs for the crowd. As a result, his scheduled photo op was delayed by a couple of hours- however none of the staff thought this was pertinent information to share with anyone and hundreds of us remained in line for the duration, waiting for it to start. When it came time to prepare for the actual photo, the volunteers herded us around like cattle in four different directions- screaming and shouting at us the entire time.

Picking up my photo was another nightmare in itself. Rather than having the photos ready on a table post-photo op the way other, more organized conventions do- the staff instead would stand on tables, hold up a photo- and scream over a sea of waiting people “IS THIS YOU? DO YOU KNOW WHO THIS IS?” like an auction. Thankfully, a woman in line recognized me in my photo and managed to grab it and pass it to me before it could get damaged while changing multiple hands- but it was enough to get me teetering on the edge of my patience and sanity.

Finally, after debating how much more I could take- I made my way back to JDM’s booth to see if I could get my Lucille replica signed. I had come that far, I reasoned with myself- so I could go a little further. The line was once again insanely long (and they were still selling tickets, mind you) while he finished up his designated photo op- consequently missing his scheduled panel and returning to his table nearly an hour before the convention closed for the day to meet fans and sign more autographs. There was looming fear that those of us near the back would be turned away come 7 p.m. if we didn’t make it up to his booth in time.

But I will say this: Jeffrey Dean Morgan is a class act. Not only was he a sweetheart during our photo together, but he made it a point to stay late- well after convention hours wrapped up- to make sure each and every single one of us got a chance to have our things signed and talk to him. While the majority of us were exhausted, hungry, and maybe a little delirious (a security guard brought me peanut butter crackers when he saw me swaying where I stood in line shortly before I reached the front, and the people waiting around with me had the absolute best senses of humor- which helped keep everyone sane and help the time go by a little quicker, too)– but JDM was so kind, so funny, so humble- and just an overall decent guy who went above and beyond the call of duty to accommodate those of us who had been screwed over by the convention right alongside with him.

I honestly cannot say enough good things about what he did and how he managed to keep a genuine smile on his face even though we all knew how worn out he must have been. Celebrities should take note and follow his lead. He is a truly awesome person with the best sense of humor and I have all the respect in the world for him.

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Will I return to Rhode Island Comic-Con? I honestly don’t know. Considering I didn’t get to actually SEE the rest of the convention because I was stuck in multiple lines for hours at a time was a huge turn-off of going back again next year. Also knowing that this isn’t the first time this has happened per the convention’s social media (which was flooded with complaints from angry attendees who were encountering similar, if not the same issues that I did on Saturday) or that it wouldn’t be the last time it happened- since another uproar with “Wonder Woman” Gal Gadot’s scheduled photo ops/autograph line unfolded on Sunday- I’m not exactly keen on willingly spending another day dealing with it.

Other popular, fairly new-to-the-scene conventions are able to get it together and keep things running smoothly. I have no idea what RICC is doing.

Oh well. At least JDM was fantastic and at least his kindness was the beacon of light in an otherwise stressful day. That’s my take away. That, and him yelling “you heard the lady- NO EXCEPTIONS!” in full-on Negan mode after I shouted that security was going to “shut that shit down” when people started getting antsy. So, so good.

There are no other conventions around here until Spring of 2017- which gives me enough time to prepare my next round of costumes: including an updated version of one of my favorite “Walking Dead” characters and a little something from my other AMC-based obsession- “Preacher”.

I’m excited to get started!

xx

#NotMyPresident

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My mother, having grown up though Nixon and surviving under Reagan (which is when I came into the picture and the world!) once told me in her infinite and experienced wisdom that there are two things you should never discuss in a crowded room: politics and religion. “Both bring out the worst in everyone,” she explained to me. “And no one ever agrees. It just comes down to who can yell the loudest.”

But I take after my father- opinionated and not afraid to let the world know exactly what’s on my mind at any given time. It’s gotten me in trouble plenty in the past, and I’ve incurred the wrath of more than one or two people who didn’t like what I had to say- but I never, not once- backed down or fell silent. Freedom of thought and freedom of expression are fundamental rights in this country, and one that many women in many other countries do not get to have, let alone actively practice. For that reason- I embrace them and exercise them daily- even in the face of adversity (usually because of my gender) and even when I am threatened or endangered for it.

This blog is a lot of things: a scrapbook, a cookbook, a journal and maybe even a memoir- but the point is- it’s mine. It is my one corner of the internet where I can be myself, unapologetically- and share my life, what I’m thinking, and how I’m feeling. And following Tuesday night’s election results- I can tell you I am feeling pretty sad- but mostly enraged. A fire has been lit beneath me and within me- and I’m ready to fight.

I’m sorry, mom- but I need to talk politics for a minute.

I grew up in a liberal household. From a very young age, my parents instilled in me the ideals that I could be anything I wanted- provided I worked hard and never gave up. I was raised to not only value but to also always demonstrate kindness, empathy, and acceptance for all races, religions, orientations and economic backgrounds and/or circumstances. A quote- from George Washington Carver- was popular in my home:

“How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these.”

I was also taught to stand up to bullies- to fight against injustice, intolerance, racism, sexism, bigotry- and hate. I was encouraged to not only defend myself, but to defend those around me who could not defend themselves from the uglier side of humanity. For that reason- I started my legal career. I wanted to help people. I wanted to do my part to make sure those who used fear, aggression, and violence to seize power and control or harm others were held accountable and punished accordingly.

And now we have elected perhaps one of the most ignorant, the most intolerant, and the most aggressive and repulsive of cowardly bullies to lead us as our next President. His supporters- frothing at the mouth at every despicable and reprehensible word that dribbles out of his mouth- have attempted to steamroll those of us who are shocked and appalled into being complicit with their animal-like behavior since the start of this ugly, messy presidential race leading up to right now through the post-election haze many of us have found ourselves in.

And I cannot and will not stand for it.

I have been a vocal supporter of Hillary Clinton for a very, very long time now. I know she was and is not perfect. Like the rest of us- she has flaws- but her strength and capability as an efficient and thoughtful leader surpassed any overblown e-mail scandal the media hyped up. She has composure, class, viable plans to better our country- and most important of all- experience. Hillary Clinton has years upon years of experience in public service and in politics. I felt safe voting for Hillary because I knew I would not get someone with the temperament of a toddler who did not want to eat their vegetables at the dinner table and who actually had some idea of what her position would entail. I had no hesitations about entrusting Hillary with my future- our future- because I knew she would fight hard to get things done the same way my parents encouraged me to fight hard to achieve my own goals.

Instead, an admitted sexual predator, a racist who would not denounce endorsements from hate groups like the KKK during his campaign, a bigot and a bully (and possibly someone guilty of treason given his ties to Russia)– with no political experience, with questionable business practices under his belt, with impending CRIMINAL TRIALS looming on the horizon, and someone with no real plan of action to actually “make America great again”- is going to be sworn into office because angry, conservative and mostly white men couldn’t bear the thought of an overly-qualified woman being President after our country had an intelligent, poised, hard-working and immensely likable black man in the Oval Office for two terms. It was just too much for them- and an actual monster won the election as a result.

I shouldn’t even say Donald Trump won. Hillary won the popular vote, but the archaic concept of the Electoral College tends to screw us all over every now and then. A man with less votes than the other candidate still becomes President for a reason that is beyond me at this point.

I feel like Rick Grimes when he wakes up from his coma and the world had completely gone to post-apocalyptic Hell.

I digress. I took to social media to voice my frustrations with the results and my despair at what it meant for our country’s future. As a result- I have incurred the wrath of Trump supporters across all facets of the web. I have been insulted, harassed, threatened with violence and on two separate occasions- threatened with rape. I have attempted to engage these very same people in a dialogue to better understand their rampant hatred for Hillary and their support for Trump. I have asked them to specify the ways they feel their candidate was qualified or offer insight into how they felt he will “make America great again”. Each request, much like the way Trump dodges answers about his policies or plans- has been met with deflecting attention to Hillary’s e-mail scandal and with hurling obscenities and personal attacks at myself or anyone else who dared question them.

I repeat: This man has no plan for our future and his supporters are blindly eating it up anyway.

The night before the election, following one of my tweets unintentionally going viral after I compared voting against Trump to being a real life Marvel superhero (I was participating in a hashtag game in jest, I should mention)– I was bombarded once again by Trump supporters. I was called every name in the book: whore, cunt, bitch- you name it. I decided to return the treatment in kind and began openly mocking and humiliating those men (and yes, they were ALL MEN) who had tried to bully me into silence and who tried to strip me of my voice and my opinion using intimidation tactics.

Their response? I was immature and mean-spirited. The very same men who were threatening me and calling me a cunt could not take being made fun of on a public forum.

Why is it, that me- a woman- cannot defend myself using the very same low-blow methods their presidential elect uses on a regular basis? And then I realized that was why: Because I’m a woman. And I realized why it is that they hate Hillary so much. Because she’s a woman, too.

These are people are deciding the future of our country and it is appalling and horrifying.

I am also disappointed by those who voted for the third-party candidates “out of conscience”, those who wrote-in joke candidates (like Harambe, for example) or those who didn’t vote at all. This election was so close- and each and every single vote could have made a difference. Not voting or throwing your vote away unnecessarily has cost us all. Dearly.

As a woman- I am afraid for the direction this man, his fellow Republicans, and his followers will take us. I am afraid that I will be stripped of the rights myself and so many other women fought so hard to achieve. I am afraid that “grabbing women by their pussies” sets a dangerous tone for men to treat my gender worse than usual by limiting our worth to that of being purely sexual- but I am also white- and that gives me leverage in a country that seems to be not bothered in the least by a sickening white supremacy mindset running rampant.

I cannot even begin to fathom how my minority, Muslim, disabled and LGBT friends and family members are feeling right now. My fear is nothing compared to what they must be experiencing. I am at risk for sexual assault, humiliation, my right to make choices for my own body being taken away and my hard work and deserved pay to be undermined and compromised. Those groups I just mentioned are at risk of all those things AND potentially losing their lives, too.

I cannot stand for this. As someone who values human decency and who got into law to help others- I can’t sit back and simply let things like this happen- and I hope anyone reading this feels the same way.

So, what do we do now? We take action. We rally. We protest (peacefully.) We participate. We make phone calls and we write letters to our elected officials. We petition. We do everything and anything in our power to block any attempts being made to interfere or endanger our lives, our livelihood, and anything that will slow or halt the progress we have made as a country to date. We pay attention- and we never stop paying attention. We watch everyone- from our President, to our House of Representatives, to our local mayor to our meter maids. We make our voices heard anywhere and everywhere we can and we do not back down when those who do not agree with us try to silence or stop us.

Most importantly? We must stick together. Those of us who are vehemently opposed to Trump, what he stands for, and his followers’ thirst for violence and for division must have each other’s backs. We have to look out for each other. We have to keep one another safe. We have to show them- all of them- that they cannot intimidate us, break us, or make us disappear. We are here to stay and we are going to change the world by rejecting their ignorance and their hatred and coming back stronger than they could have ever imagined.

We must not let The United States of America be set back 8,20,40,100 years. We must push forward. We must continue on our path so that our country is not the laughing stock of the world but something to be respected and admired again. We must salvage our reputation by driving out the fear, racism, sexism, and xenophobia that has gotten us to this point where we have allowed a reality TV star and corrupt businessman with shitty hair to become the face of our Nation. We must educate his supporters to the best of our ability. We must fight for equality for everyone- and we cannot stop until our work is done.

Love really does trump hate, after all- and so does intelligence, perspective and common sense.

We’re gonna’ need all the luck and good vibes we can get to make it through this. Godspeed.

xx

October Hits List!

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When I said this past October was insanely busy, I wasn’t kidding. My days were so packed, in fact- that I’m only just now getting around to sharing a few of my favorite products/items/odds & ends from the past few weeks before I go and do my part as an American citizen and vote in this year’s election and then spend the next few hours fighting nausea as I wait for the results to come in. I’ve honestly never been more terrified of politics than I have been this past year- and it all comes to a head tonight.

I fully plan to talk about this bizarre, ugly and embarrassing Presidential race and election for my end of the year wrap-up post- but for now I want to focus on the good things I liked throughout last month while I try to avoid the sobering realization that my country could very well be heading into an actual apocalypse within the next few hours.

As always, to start things off- here’s the things I was able to photograph, first:

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The first two items are those accidental finds we’ve all come across when we’re on the road or away from home and realize a little too late that we forgot to pack something. In this instance, it was makeup remover and concealer- which resulted in a pit-stop at a local pharmacy to see what I could scrounge up on short notice. The first things I picked up were these black-colored charcoal wipes from Yes To! I love this makeup remover- because it takes everything off with  couple of swipes and purifies my skin without drying me out or feeling too harsh. My skin is left feeling super clean and really refreshed.

Next, I snatched up this full-coverage, but lightweight in texture “Age Rewind” concealer from Maybelline. I know, I know- the sponge applicator is kind of gross after a few uses- but I typically dab this stuff onto my ring fingers and gently tap it around and under my eyes to give myself a more “I actually got some sleep last night” look. This stuff blends with my skin tone perfectly (no discoloration or creasing!) and lasts all day. What I like most, though- is that it hydrates my eye area so they stay soft and smooth even after I remove this at the end of the day.

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October marked another year at my hometown’s ‘Rock & Shock’ convention- where I spent the weekend with friends stocking up on all sorts of horror gear and getting the opportunity to meet and talk to some of my favorite horror actors/actresses- including the talented, funny, and very kind Matthew Lillard (Scream, 13 Ghosts). I also got to see one of my all-time favorite actors/artists again for the first time in a few years- the always amazing Malcolm McDowell.

Naturally, I got a signed photo and picked up the cutest “A Clockwork Orange’ figurine from FUNKO while I was there, too. I couldn’t resist. I’m a sucker for those toys and Alex DeLarge is the character I adopted my pen name since he is one of the worst villains in literature and cinematic history (and doesn’t have to do anything supernatural or magical to pull that off.)

He’s currently sitting proudly and deviously on my desk.

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And finally- Halloween night is hit-or-miss in my neighborhood when it comes to Trick Or Treating. Some years, I get a CRAZY amount of kids at my door, to the point where I worry that I’m going to run out of candy and will have to hand out random things like staplers or Yankee Candles I have around my home- and then other years my street is like a post-apocalyptic wasteland where there isn’t a soul in sight.

Regardless of the outcome, I always stock up on candy in case it’s the former so I won’t be caught off guard- but this year was pretty quiet. Whether it’s because it was chilly, a little damp out from the previous days’ rain- or because Halloween fell on the much dreaded Monday night this time around- I’m not sure. All I know if I have a bunch of leftover candy and it’s been pretty awesome because I have an undeniable sweet tooth.

I’m running low on peanut butter cups, though- which is cause for concern.

And now, onto the other random things!

– MUSIC/MOVIES/TELEVISION –

  • “The Walking Dead” – This one goes without saying. This season started off BRUTALLY and it’s just been picking up momentum and intensity ever since. I’ve been loving it. Jeffrey Dean Morgan was the perfect casting choice for Negan and the recent introduction to King Ezekiel and his Kingdom had me so moved that I’m just waiting on edge for more episodes featuring him. There are still so many unanswered questions from the premiere, of course- like where the hell is Maggie and is she okay- but I’m looking forward to the coming confrontations between the different groups and communities.
  • “HarmonQuest” – Sean got me into this one-season-so-far show from Amazon that I’ve nearly finished watching. The premise is simple and silly- three comedians and a weekly guest star play ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ in front of a live audience. Their story is animated as it unfolds. Think “Drunk History”meets an intricate dice game and the results are golden. I’ve never played ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ before but honestly this show has me tempted to give it a try. It’s really funny.

– TECH/APPS/GAMES –

  • “7 Days To Die” – This is another thing Sean got me into when he failed to entice me into playing MineCraft with him since this is essentially MineCraft with better graphics and zombies. We’ve been playing this on PS4 lately and as frustrating as I find most first-person-anything- I’ve been enjoying this. The story is easy enough to follow: the world is overrun with zombies and every 7 days they hunt and attack you in hordes. In-between those attacks- you have to find food, sew clothing/armor, and build shelter and weapons to defend yourself. It includes a fair amount of tree-punching to pick up wood like it’s blockier and less-zombie-filled counterpart- but it’s still fun.

– MISCELLANEOUS –

  • MY NEW CAR!!! – Have I mentioned how much I love my new car? Because I really, really love it. It’s sleek and clean and quiet and beautiful and I absolutely adore driving it. Definitely a highlight of my October and in 2016 in general.

And that, I think- was it for the month of October. Short and sweet! I’m already putting things together for November now that I’ve had some time to stop and breathe for a bit while I catch up on everything I’d inadvertently fell behind with- but we’ll get to that when it’s closer to the end of the month.

I’m off to vote. Good luck, America! I think we’re gonna’ need it.

xx

October 2016: In a Nutshell.

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The Many Looks of Halloween 2016

The Many Looks of Halloween 2016

Good Morning and Happy Halloween, boils and ghouls (I’m going to miss typing that until next October!) I can’t believe my favorite month is coming to a close and the holiday season is upon us. I’ve been anxiously waiting for Halloween to get here for a while now, watching horror movies and dressing up in costumes- which isn’t really all that different than how I spend any other month out of the year, but still- in order to prepare for taking my niece Trick-Or-Treating when I get out of work and tonight’s last spooky hurrah with friends shortly after that.

In just a couple of weeks I’ll be getting ready for Thanksgiving, and then- Yikes– Christmas and New Years. Where does the time go?

While October is almost always a pretty busy month for me, anyway- these past few weeks have been nothing short of crazy. For starters, I hit the ground running- kicking off things in Vegas and then San Diego for a few days before I headed back home and immediately dove head-first into work and preparing for/budgeting a potential move to the West Coast in early-to-mid-2017. Also around that time, I began putting things into place for my annual Halloween giveaway while simultaneously adding the finishing touches on a series of Halloween costumes for multiple parties I’d been invited to near the end of this month.

DeLarge Family Reunion! Malcolm McDowell and I at Rock & Shock 2016.

DeLarge Family Reunion! Malcolm McDowell and I at Rock & Shock 2016.

Then, there was the Rock & Shock Horror Convention in my hometown a couple of weeks ago, getting things in order for the last Comic-Con I’ll be attending for 2017 in Rhode Island in early November, recovering from the psychological torture and despair from the recent season premiere of “The Walking Dead”- and fighting off both food poisoning and a relentless cold I’d picked up during a layover in Chicago on my way home from San Diego within mere days of each other.

And then, of course- there was my car. My 2010 Kia- which has been experiencing a multitude of issues for the better part of two years now due to the shoddy work and negligence of a local mechanic I won’t name publicly- finally died for good early last week- prompting me to take some time off in order to find a new vehicle in order to go about my daily routine and get me where I need to be at any given point. I finally decided on a 2016 Elantra which I’m scheduled to pick up either later on today or tomorrow. It’s my first brand new car that I’ve purchased entirely on my own- which was both a stressful and kind of terrifying experience- but I’m really excited to get it on the road and to have something I can drive where I WON’T feel like I’m constantly risking my life by simply starting the engine.

My new ride! I named it Glenn.

My new ride! I named it Glenn.

Such an unexpected and abrupt change definitely delayed things for me a bit. While I focused on finalizing details with the dealership, my agency, my insurance company, and the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (a daunting task if there ever was one)– I fell behind on my blogging. My “Horrors of Netflix” series was short and bitterly sweet this year- which left me feeling rather disappointed in myself since I love writing those posts so much- and recipes/reviews/eerie photography trips I had every intention to take and make were postponed if not cancelled outright due to my schedule being jam packed while I had to travel to sign papers and make calls to push things along.

I’m hoping that now that the dust has settled and everything is sorted out for the time being- I can catch up on posts and be more prepared for next October- where I have every intention of going above and beyond with my blogging and horror movie reviews to make up for this year’s unplanned lapse in activity!

For November, prior to the usual holiday craziness- I’m hoping I can take a moment to just relax and catch my breath. I’d like to get caught up with everything: from something as small as personal e-mails all the way to the more important stuff like my workload at the office. I want to get organized and ready before things start getting a little more festive around here. I have plenty of posts planned that I’m looking forward to sharing and more than enough food I look forward to eating once Thanksgiving rolls around.

Thanks to everyone who regularly reads this blog for your patience while I dealt with a LOT this past month! It’s truly appreciated! Here’s hoping the last leg of 2016 is a bit more calm and forgiving for all of us!

Have a Spooky (2SPOOPY) Halloween!

xx

The Echoes They Left Behind….

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My fascination and appreciation for abandoned buildings is well documented by now. Apart from the photos I take of food or my dog- abandoned buildings comprise most of my photography- and the Holy Grail of abandoned places (up until it was converted into condominiums a few years ago, anyway) was Danvers State Hospital in Danvers, Massachusetts- birthplace of the pre-frontal lobotomy and the source of some of the most chilling tales of questionable- if not just plain unethical- medical experimentation on patients, overcrowded and deteriorating conditions, and pretty gruesome deaths over the years leading up to the hospital’s closure and eventual abandonment in the early 1990s.

While most of the hospital was demolished to make room for modernized studio apartments and spacious high end condos- the main administration building remains standing (and is now the lobby/leasing office, I believe)– a testament to the Kirkbride-style architecture frequently seen in mental institutions in the late 19th century- and sadly a dying breed of building now that more and more places are being razed or renovated.

Last week, while out for brunch with Sean- we were heading North on the highway when the former Danvers State Hospital came into view in the distance- not as ominous as it used to be when it was a gigantic and sprawling series of boarded up decaying buildings- but still pretty impressive on the horizon. Sean admitted to never having seen the place up close, so we took a quick detour so he could catch a glimpse of the administration building and take in the breathtaking view from the top of the hill.

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While there, we opted to take a stroll on one of the many trails throughout the property. It was on one trail in particular that we stumbled on the sign pictured above. Turns out, the bodies of the deceased patients at Danvers were never moved- simply given some updated headstones, a memorial plaque with a bench- and left alone so the elements could reclaim the clearing after what looked like weeks (if not months) of not being tended to adequately.

The mood in the cemetery was already somber and unsettling- Sean and I both admitted to each other that we felt like we shouldn’t be there- but things went from simply uneasy to downright creepy when we stumbled across a stack of numbered patient grave markers piled and thrown in the edge of the forest. I’d never seen anything so eerie in my life. There were just so many- and each one represented a person who had lived and died in God only knew what kind of conditions on the very spot that people were now living and raising families.

It was so surreal.

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And for you ‘Session 9‘ fans (a 2001 horror movie filmed on location at Danvers when it was still an abandoned hospital)– unmarked grave #444 does exist in the farthest corner of the cemetery- all by itself. Sean and I took some time to clean it off of leaves and weeds before we left- but we were both pretty floored it was there and hidden away from the rest of the cemetery.

As creepy as the place was- I do still feel compelled to go back with some flowers or something to pay proper respects. The cemetery is pretty unkempt- with high grass and broken fences- which makes it all the more depressing given how luxurious the nearby condominiums are by comparison.

And I have no doubt in my mind it’s haunted. None at all.

xx