Quick Eats: Carol’s Cookies

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It’s hard to believe that in just a few short weeks, the season five finale of “The Walking Dead” will air and undoubtedly bring a week’s worth of misery following it’s ending (after an extension to 90 minutes instead of just it’s usual hour-long time slot.)

It’s been a bizarre season thus far, to say the least- and one I will pick apart following the finale once I’ve wrapped my head around whatever direction it looks like the sixth season will be heading in- but one thing I’ve enjoyed immensely is watching the character development of former battered housewife turned bad ass assassin turned even more bad ass spy Carol Peletier over these past few episodes. This season has, without question, belonged to Carol and her rise to leadership and full-on “Flawless Queen” status (right alongside Michonne.)

In a recent episode, Carol- playing possum while trying to feel out the new community of Alexandria and it’s residents to determine whether they are friend or foe- sweetly shares a cookie recipe with the head of the community’s pantry in which she supplements eggs with applesauce.

The good folks over at AMC, knowing that people might want to try this in their own kitchen, put together a helpful recipe card for quick reference- and having done a post inspired by the “Walter Mitty” clementine cake not too long ago- I decided to make my own Carol Cookies and share the results!

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The only part of the recipe I changed was the 1/4 cup shortening (because I find it gross,) where I substituted butter, instead.

The cookies baked incredibly easy and tasted surprisingly delicious- like crispy chocolate chip cookies without the actual chips in them. I plan on making these again for the finale, and might even wear a hideous floral printed cardigan when I do- just like Carol.

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Top 10 Photographs of 2014.

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Last year around this time, in the midst of drafting my summary of 2013, I had compiled a list of my ten favorite photographs that I had taken/were taken of me throughout the year. I’ve recently completed my “In a Nutshell” post for 2014- due to be published on New Year’s Eve, and thought that I would put together another post ’til then of my ten favorite photographs from this year!

It was hard to narrow it down to just ten photos, because I saw so many great places, did so many fun things, and met so many wonderful people this past year- so I was frequently re-arranging my list- adding and omitting things- but I think I finally have it sorted. Here’s my “Top 10” pictures that span the course of 2014!

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# 10: Fireworks in Cape Cod (July 5th)

The best thing about the Fourth of July landing on a Friday this year was that any and all celebrations of the holiday were extended well into the weekend. Such was the case when my girlfriends and I headed to Cape Cod on Saturday, July 5th, to spend a day at the beach and watch some delayed fireworks displays. The shot above, taken as the sun was setting over nearby Hyannis, captured a group of teenagers setting off some smaller firecrackers near where my friends and I were lounging. It was a beautiful, memorable night.

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# 9: Brighton Sharbino smothering me at Boston’s “Walker Stalker Convention” (June 14th)

While I met a lot of really fun actors and actresses at Boston’s very first “Walking Dead” centric-convention (Jon Bernthal and Steven Yeun being two of my favorites,) I had the most fun posing with Brighton Sharbino- the beautiful young lady who portrayed the unhinged Lizzie Samuels in Season 4. Brighton was a sweetheart, and was more than happy to oblige me when I asked her if she could smother me for the photo the way her character attempted to do to baby Judith in one of the most unnerving scenes of the show to date.

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# 8: Abandoned House, Rhode Island (May 24th)

On a beautiful, sunny Spring day, after cleaning out and washing my car- I found myself traveling along the back roads heading towards Rhode Island to spend an afternoon in Newport. On the way, I passed this abandoned house- nearly being taken over by the elements and plants growing around it- and had to stop to snap a few photos of it, the partially collapsed garage next to it, and the abandoned VW Bus tucked away under a tree across the street. This was my favorite picture out of the bunch that I took that day.

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# 7; The William H. Mason House. Thompson, CT. (March 16th)

This was another find while driving aimlessly one Sunday afternoon after grabbing a coffee and running some errands. I found myself in Connecticut, and spotted this beautiful (and unfortunately decaying) home off the side of the road. Some research into the area turned up information- specifically that this beautiful structure was once known as The William H. Mason House, and is currently scheduled for demolition due in part to the current owner (a wealthy New York-based interior designer,) failing at any attempt to preserve it. It’s a shame, really- because the building is gorgeous and could be turned into a number of things.

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# 6: “Is my grin cheesy enough?” Old Orchard Beach (June 22nd)

While I visit Hampton Beach a lot throughout the year (it’s one of the easiest beaches to get to, after all-) June 2014 saw me returning to one of my favorite locations, Old Orchard Beach in Maine, for the first time since my teens. In the photo above, taken by my best friend Sean, I attempted to re-create an identical picture of me that was taken in the exact same spot when I was 16. Although my hair is much redder and my fashion sense is considerably better than it was at the time of the first photo- my big, cheesy grin is pretty much the same.

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# 5: My favorite Starbucks date (October 2nd)

In the Fall of 2014, my niece began kindergarten and my brother started a new job. Because of scheduling conflicts- he recruited me to bring my niece to school a couple days every week. Since then, we’ve mastered making pancakes or french toast sticks in the a.m. while still getting her to her classroom on time. Sometimes, on the days we’re running a little behind and don’t have time to cook in my kitchen- we stop at Starbucks. I snapped this picture of her, mid-sip of her hot chocolate (because I’m not giving caffeine to a six year old,) while we were walking to her school.

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# 4: Sleeping Red Panda, Roger Williams Park Zoo (May 18th)

As someone who has to bribe my dog with treats to get him to hold still for photos, it was a pleasant surprise to be able to snap a couple of pictures of some Red Pandas during a Springtime visit to the zoo/conservation society in Rhode Island. Granted, they were sleeping soundly at the time, so it wasn’t a challenge getting good shots- but this one, taken from a distance- is my favorite. His/Her little face is just so precious!

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# 3: The Lizzie Borden Sofa, Fall River (February 15th)

I traveled, on a whim, to quite a few places in 2014. One of my earlier outings in the year, a short drive to Fall River, brought me to the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast one snowy afternoon where I, and maybe 5-6 other people, were given a tour of the legendary crime scene. I took this picture of the couch where, in 1892, Lizzie’s father Andrew was found murdered (the picture of the scene is easily available on Google- if any curious minds have the stomach to see it for themselves.) The tour was fun and informative, and the home is beautiful, if not a little bit creepy- and this will always be my favorite photo from the day.

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# 2: Oliver’s Sunday Best (April 20th)

As a joke to surprise my mom this year, I dressed up my miniature schnauzer, Oliver, in a button up dress shirt, vest, and bow tie that I had picked up in the children’s department of a clothing store for Easter dinner at her house. I only kept the outfit on him long enough to take the photo above while he sat on her couch, but all of my relatives that were present at the time thought it was the cutest thing ever. Since then, I’ve turned this picture into a greeting card for friends and family alike. My little guy looks like such a dapper gentleman!

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# 1: Ashley Dixon, San Diego Comic-Con (July 27th)

I hope a photo of myself ranking at #1 doesn’t come across as conceited or egotistical- I just really had the time of my life dressed as Daryl Dixon from “The Walking Dead” while at the biggest comic convention in the world over the Summer. This picture, snapped on the last day of SDCC by a stranger who had asked me to pose with his children a few minutes earlier outside the convention center- was taken just a half hour or so before the event and weekend came to a close. I was tired, hungry, and my feet hurt more than a little- but it was worth it and I really hope I can do it again someday.

And there they are- my top 10 photos from 2014! It’s been a blast going through all of my photos and albums from this year. So many good memories and great pictures from throughout the months.

Here’s hoping there’s even more of them next year!

“The Walking Ginger-Dead”

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“The Walking Dead” mid-season finale aired a little more than a week ago, thus beginning the show’s brief hiatus until it’s return in February- and I’m already going through withdrawals. My Sunday nights feel empty and meaningless now, and I find myself curling up in the fetal position- and weeping- when I’m not checking off the days on the calendar until the show comes back (not really, but you know what I mean. I can’t wait for the second half of the season!)

Luckily, I have the upcoming holidays to distract me during the first few weeks of Michonne deprivation. I also have this “Walking Ginger-Dead” cookie kit I picked up in Western Massachusetts a couple of weeks ago to give me my walker fix with a semi-festive (and more delicious) twist. I haven’t made actual Christmas cookies in a couple of years, and it’s been even longer than that since I’ve baked and decorated gingerbread men- so I was excited to give this box full of slightly-morbid fun a try. I even included one of my numerous Daryl Dixon FUNKO figurines to help out while I snapped some photos of the process and finished cookies.

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The kit comes with everything: the gingerbread mix, four “walker” molds, white frosting mix, red and black icing, and a bag of multi-colored candy balls for decorating. I only had to scrounge up a minimal amount of supplies on my own (water, butter and honey.)

From there, it was just a matter of mixing the gingerbread, letting it settle and harden in the fridge for twenty minutes, and rolling it flat to make the molds. My Daryl figurine was there to keep a watchful eye on things.

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After the shapes were cut from the dough and stuck on a baking sheet, I only had to heat them up in the oven for about 10-15 minutes to get them warm and solid enough for decorating. As always- Daryl stayed vigilant.

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Now, I’m no artist, and the decorating process was messy, to say the least- but I personally think the cookies came out rather (and unexpectedly) cute once the icing had dried. It’s hard to make gingerbread men look gory and scary- but I did my best!

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The box made a total of ten cookies, and the entire process- mixing, baking, AND decorating- took just under an hour to complete. It was a lot of fun. Maybe not the most Christmas-y confection I could have whipped up, but fun nonetheless! Best of all? The cookies are delicious- although it felt a little weird biting into them when it’s usually the walkers biting into people.

If you’re in the mood to bake some unconventional gingerbread men of your own, or if you’re just as big a “Walking Dead” fan as I am and need something tasty to get you through the hiatus- you can purchase your own “The Walking Ginger-Dead” kit at Amazon for $11.25 by CLICKING HERE!

Thanks for the help, Daryl!

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Halloween Giveaway!

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I’ve been occasionally mentioning it in my past few posts, and the time is finally here to announce the details of my 2014 Halloween Giveaway! As most of you have probably figured out by now- October is my favorite month of the year- and Halloween is undoubtedly my favorite holiday. For that reason, I wanted to do something a little different this year and curate an assortment of items  to give away to one lucky Legally Redhead reader! And unlike other giveaways I’ve hosted here on the blog in the past: this giveaway isn’t limited to United States residents only. I’ll be paying for the shipping and handling myself- which means it’s open to those of you across the pond, below the border, and anywhere in between, too!

Before I get to the important part: how to enter- let’s take a closer look at what’s inside!

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As an avid collector of Funko figurines, included in this giveaway is a POP! Vinyl figure of one of my favorite horror movie villains- Freddy Krueger. From the detail on his burned and scarred face, to his infamous striped sweater- to the even more infamous metal clawed glove- this toy is too adorable to be afraid of. Put it up on a shelf, in a display case, or- if you dare- near your bed.

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To help get the winner into the Halloween spirit, I’ve also included the medium sized “Pumpkin Patch” candle from Yankee Candle in the giveaway. A mix of the “Harvest” and “Spiced Pumpkin” scents from the same company, this swirl candle will get your entire room/home/wherever you light it smelling like a delicious combination of sweet cinnamon and pumpkin pie- perfect for the season.

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I couldn’t possibly have a Halloween themed giveaway without including SOMETHING “Walking Dead” related, could I? To help the winner catch up just as we’re set to begin the fifth season (one week to go!) or even just provide them with something to gift to a TWD-enthusiast they may know, I included a new copy of the recently released fourth season of the show. This particular edition is Blu-Ray – Digital HD formatted and is loaded with special featurettes and deleted scenes that will keep you occupied for hours after you’ve binge-watched every single episode.

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Fable & Fury has been one of my favorite Etsy-based jewelry shops for a long time. Their pieces are well-made, unique, and guaranteed to garner attention. This stainless steel Nosferatu pendant is no exception. This would be a perfect accessory to wear on Halloween night to whatever frightening plans you have lined up- although I’m the type of person who would wear this year-round, too.

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On the surface, this brown bar from Fortune Cookie Soap– scented like berries and cinnamon- may look a little bland, but inside- it’s loaded with bugs. Not real ones, of course. From the “Nightmare Before Christmas” collection, this “Oogie Boogie” bar soap is made from natural ingredients and adds a bit of fun to any bath or shower as the soap begins to melt away with each use, revealing a bunch of creepy crawlers lurking on the inside, below the surface.

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Lastly, most people my age can recall reading Alvin Schwartz’s “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark,” “More Scary Stories to Tell in The Dark,” and “Scary Stories 3 : More Tales to Chill Your Bones” in middle school around this time of year. Admittedly, the stories weren’t particularly terrifying, but when paired with the haunting illustrations by Stephen Gammell- the books became timeless. This hardcover compilation of the best works from the three novels is a nice shot of nostalgia to keep for yourself or to gift to a friend or loved one.

Not shown in the above photos, but will definitely be included in the giveaway- is the candy I plan to send the winner after contacting them (just to make sure he/she doesn’t have any allergies, of course!) and a personalized card once someone has been selected!

So now, some important stuff:

The giveaway is running from now through midnight (EST) on Sunday, October 19th, after which time a winner will be selected  at random through Rafflecopter and contacted directly to obtain additional information to process shipping. If selected, you’ll have 72 hours to respond to the confirmation e-mail. If I don’t receive a response in that time, I’ll unfortunately have to select another winner, instead!

Nothing in this giveaway can be traded or swapped for something else. What you see is what you’ll be receiving if you win!

HOW TO ENTER:

First and foremost- please visit the Rafflecopter page for the giveaway by CLICKING HERE to make sure your entry is properly counted!

1. Comment on this post with your name and e-mail address. Please keep in mind that I have comment moderation turned on to avoid spambots- so if your comment doesn’t appear right away; don’t panic! I’ll put it through as soon as I’m able!

2. You can tweet about the giveaway and link back directly to this post or to my homepage: legallyredhead.com

That’s it! Just two simple steps and you’re in!

Good luck to everyone who participates. I’m really looking forward to selecting a winner!

xx

Walker Stalkers Take Boston!

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When I’d first heard rumors that a “Walking Dead”-centric convention was possibly coming to Boston, my curiosity was more than piqued. When the rumors were confirmed to be true, and the convention in question was actually the fairly new “Walker Stalker Con,” created by the wonderful minds behind the “Walker Stalkers” podcast– James Frazier and Eric Nordhoff- I was elated. I’d heard an overwhelming amount of good things about past Walker Stalker conventions in other cities- so I couldn’t wait to check it out. What better way to prepare myself for San Diego Comic-Con, and really kick off the whole Summer/Fall convention circuit in general- than by enjoying one centered around my favorite franchise- right in my own backyard?

It wasn’t until I saw the impressive full list of confirmed guests and the schedule for some of the panels and events planned that I had to refrain from throwing on my (nearly completed) Daryl Dixon costume a little too early and have a full-blown fan-girl freak-out. I grabbed my weekend pass and I headed down to the Westin on the Waterfront this past Saturday and Sunday to get my zombie aficionado on.

First and foremost, I really want to commend the staff involved in the Boston “Walker Stalker Con,” which includes both hired hands as well as the tons of eager volunteers I encountered during my two days in the hotel. Every single person I spoke to who was involved in pulling this off were so friendly, so helpful, and so, so funny- that I was at a loss for words more than once. I’ve been to various conventions over the past few years- and some of the people working different booths, panels, or photo areas- have all but ruined the experience for myself and others with their rude, condescending, and mean-spirited attitudes. That wasn’t the case with “Walker Stalker Con.” I was met with smiles, laughter, more than one high-five, and even patience at one point when I got lost trying to find an area of the convention I was supposed to be in at a certain time. The upbeat attitudes of the staff and volunteers didn’t falter once- which only helped to make my weekend even better. It’s always more enjoyable when EVERYONE is having a good time.

Secondly, not to sound too cheesy- but I consider it an honor to be a part of such a wonderful community of fans. You’d be hard pressed to find people more dedicated to a comic/show/game than “Walking Dead” fans. Best of all? There’s no competition or rivalries within the fandom. Generally speaking- everyone gets along. At least that was the case with this past weekend’s convention. I met so many interesting, talented, sweet, knowledgeable, and passionate people of all ages and from all walks of life over the past couple of days who inspired me with their creativity and who truly made me feel welcome during discussions- ranging anywhere from cosplay to post-apocalyptic survival preparation to what our predictions were for season five. Getting to know so many people with common interests was not only refreshing- it was ridiculously fun.

Lastly, the cast of “The Walking Dead,” past and present, who were able to come to Boston this past weekend were fantastic. Every person I spoke to (and there were a lot of them!) were kind, humble, appreciative, and definitely hilarious. It was  an incredible experience to be able to ask questions and have some one-on-one time with each of them. Much like the fans of the show- the actors who have played a role in it are also some of the coolest people you could ever hope to meet.

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I’m not quite sure what was happening here.

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Out of all the panels, I think my favorites were Jeff Kober’s (who played Joe near the end of this past season, and who never fails to scare the living hell out of me in nearly every role he takes on,) and a “Little Dead Girls” one that featured Madison Lintz (Sophia,) Addy Miller (Zombie Girl) and Meyrick Murphy (Meghan) which was absolutely adorable- and maybe a little morbid.

Sean Patrick Flanery was also in town for a “Boondock Saints” 15th Anniversary Celebration that extended through the weekend and included Q&A’s and a screening of the movie with Brian Mahoney and David Della Rocco. Sean had his own panel on Sunday afternoon- which was a pretty wild event in itself and included a lot of really funny stories from his days of filming different projects- including a few near-death experiences.

When I wasn’t checking out the panels, saying hello to friends at different local vendor booths (many of whom I see every October at the ‘Rock N’ Shock’ convention,) or snapping photos- I was posing for some, instead.

Me with Jon Bernthal (Shane Walsh)

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And Chad Coleman (Tyreese!)

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And Jeff Kober:

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And Brighton Sharbino (Lizzie,) who had me “just look at the flowers.”

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Sean Patrick Flanery, OF COURSE:

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Lauren Cohan (Maggie,) who was even more stunning in person than she is on TV:

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And Steven Yeun (Glenn!)

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There were so many other people who I didn’t have time to photobomb with my ridiculous grin, but who were lovely none-the-less, including Alanna Masterson, Lawrence Gilliard Jr., Sonequa Martin-Green, Michael Cudlitz, and Jose Pablo Cantillo.

All in all, I had an absolute blast. If you’re a fan of “The Walking Dead” and this convention comes to an area near you, I highly recommend going. You won’t regret it. Between the guests, the incredible staff, and the other fans in attendance- this might be one of my favorite convention experiences ever.

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Geek Chic Cosmetics: “This Isn’t A Democracy” Eye Shadows.

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I had mentioned it in a post last week, but in case anyone missed it- the lovely Imogen recently sent me the entire “This Isn’t A Democracy” Walking-Dead themed eye shadow collection from Geek Chic Cosmetics. It’s definitely not a secret by now that I love everything TWD-related, and I certainly love makeup, so the mash-up of the two brings me an indescribable amount of joy. As much as I wanted to wear all of these six shadows at once, I paced myself- limiting my eyes to one color per day so that I could get the best sense of application, pigmentation, and longevity for each one individually.

Geek Chic Cosmetics, a vegan and cruelty-free company based out of Oregon, was founded and is run by Chantel, Deb, and Phil. They have a wide array of eye, lip, face, and body products with “geeky” themes and collections geared towards different fandoms- like ‘Sherlock’ and ‘Lord of the Rings,’ among others. Browsing their site is a lot of fun and I fully plan on purchasing some of the stuff from their other collections soon.

But first, let’s talk about “This Isn’t A Democracy.” For $5.99 per shadow ($1.25 per sample,) these shades come packed in a nice round pot with an image of Rick Grimes, gun in hand and Carl’s future hat on his head, overlooking what’s left of Atlanta. If the packaging wasn’t enough to sell me on this collection- the names of the colors included in it absolutely did.

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Shade # 1: “We’re All Infected”

From Geek Chic’s website: “Yeah, Rick, that’s approximately number one on the list of things I’d want to know. A bright blue teal with violet interference and sparkle, darkens when wet to also make a great eyeliner. Can stain.”

This deep and dramatic teal was the first shade from this collection that I tried, and with it’s rich pigmentation and glitter- my eyes definitely popped! As someone with very blue eyes, I’ve been told that blues and aquas are shades to be avoided with shadows and liners- but this color was beautiful and definitely something I’d wear for a bold look during a night out, or blended with one of my golden shadows for a more subtle, Summer-y/beachy daytime look.

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Shade # 2: “He’s Korean”

From Geek Chic’s website: “You got some balls for a chinaman.” Daryl figured it out eventually, okay. A ruby pearl shadow with soft golden shimmer.”

One of the best throwback lines to Season 1 came in the form of Daryl Dixon, who had previously disregarded Glenn’s ethnicity way back when, bluntly correcting his big brother Merle by telling him Glenn wasn’t, in fact, Chinese- in the second half of Season 3. It’s also the name of this beautiful (and very sparkly!) rose-hued shadow that didn’t look too dark on my lids. This is a gorgeous neutral color that is suitable for daytime wear, but please be advised- this shade has a LOT of sparkle- so be sure to gently sweep a clean powder brush under your lower lids and along your cheekbones to collect any fall-out.

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Shade # 3: “You Best Pray I’m Dead”

From Geek Chic’s website: “Am I the only zen one around here?” Definitely most likely to survive a zombie apocalypse. It’s good to be the fan favorite. A survivalist badass with a soft nougaty center. Aww. Golden green with a subtle red glow.”

Although this shadow is described as having a subtle red glow- I couldn’t see it at all. On my lids, this shade looked like a light mint green/gold. It was considerably lighter and less sparkly than the previous two shadows, but still noticeable. I liked that I could wear this shade by itself for a subtle hint of color, or blend it with other shadows to create bright, fun looks for work.

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Shade # 4: “I Ain’t A Judas”

From Geek Chic’s website: “I know how the safety works.” Andrea stuck to her ethics and trusted her gut. Unfortunately, and it got her labeled untrustworthy by all sides and got her killed in the end. It’s okay, she’s still alive and well in the comic. A soft silver with golden interference and copper sparks.

Comic Andrea > Show Andrea. With that fact out of the way, this was another lighter, less-sparkly shade that, like “You Best Pray I’m Dead,” is tame enough to be worn during the day all by itself- or blended with other eye shadow shades. Personally, I think this is the perfect grey to use when creating a classic smokey eye since it’s not too dark or loaded with glitter.

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Shade # 5: “Clementine Will Remember”

From Geek Chic’s website: “So often, games saddle us with with kid characters that are basically luggage who exist solely to artificially inflate tension. Clem broke the mold and made our hearts melt every time we had to dash her tenuous hopes, either on purpose or when our thumbs “slipped”… either way, Clem will remember that. Steel grey and packed full of red, gold, and copper sparks. A color to remember.”

I think I may have actually wailed when I saw the name of this shadow, because Telltale’s “Walking Dead” game, and specifically the horrors and devastating losses poor little Clementine has had to face through each episode- has pretty much destroyed me. This shade, venturing back into the darker, more pigmented territory- was a very cool looking grey/black with multi-colored sparkles that showed up brilliantly in the light. I plan on blending this with “I Ain’t A Judas” to create that classic smokey eye I was talking about.

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Shade # 6: “Stay in the House, Carl”

From Geek Chic’s website: “He’s definitely not in the house. Try out by the swamp near the loose zombies. Unsupervised. A luscious chocolate brown with copper and golden highlights.”

And finally, my favorite named shadow in this collection. This color, while dark and without a lot of glitter or sheen, looked really pretty around my blue eyes. This would be a phenomenal color to use in the fall, but I think the hint of gold/bronze in this shadow would make for a very pretty dramatic, nighttime look for the Summer.

Overall, I really enjoyed “This Isn’t A Democracy” as a whole. The shadows were pigmented, applied easily and evenly, and lasted all day without fading, smudging, creasing, or flaking. I like that I can mix and match the shades, the lighter ones and the darker, bolder ones- to create different looks as opposed to being stuck with a cluster of difficult colors that are near impossible to work with or blend. I will say that if you are not a fan of sparkle, you might want to steer clear of shades like “He’s Korean” and “We’re All Infected,” both of which are very glittery. I loved the look of them, however- and any excess could be easily fixed in no time at all.

And with all that being said, count me among the newest fans of Geek Chic Cosmetics. They’re fun, affordable, and their eye shadows are really good quality. I’m already compiling a list of some of their other products and collections I want to try soon!

And thanks so much again to my beautiful, sweet, and amazing friend Imogen for sending me these shadows!

Odds & Ends.

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“Ashley, I’m wearing my ugly sneakers. Don’t show the internet my ugly sneakers.” Me (left) and my mom. Mother’s Day 2014.

In my teens, my relationship with my mother was strained and tumultuous, to say the least. I was a stubborn, rebellious, and often ungrateful pain in the ass who thought I was right about everything- and my mom, who was just as stubborn, had the common sense- and what I considered to be audacity at the time- to tell me I wasn’t, in fact, right about everything- and what an obnoxious twit I was being. I vividly remember shouting matches between us being a weekly occurrence while my poor father or older brothers tried to play referee before tempers flared too much and something in my parents’ house got broken. I’m pretty sure I damaged more than one door from slamming them so hard on a regular basis.

In my early twenties, things hadn’t improved much. My mother and I could never really see eye to eye on a lot of things- be it my wardrobe, my impulsive and sometimes reckless travels, my circle of friends, or the guys I dated (in her defense- she did end up being absolutely right about them- although back then I’d never have given her the satisfaction of letting her know that.) I never thought things would improve between us, and I had vowed that if and when I had children of my own- I would never be the type of mother to them that mine was to me.

But naturally, as I got older, matured a little, gained some perspective about myself and the world around me- the underlying bitter tension between my mother and I seemed to diminish slowly but surely and was instead replaced with patience and understanding as we started to connect and bond. When my dad became ill a couple of years ago, my mom and I drew strength from each other, and came to rely heavily on one another to get us through the toughest of times when he passed away a short time later. We grieved together. She’d lost her husband- the love of her life, and I’d lost my father and best friend. In the wake of that loss and the grieving, we’d finally fully-developed the mutual respect that had been missing during my teens and early twenties.

It’s not always easy. Sometimes I drive my mom nuts and vice-versa. Sometimes we argue or make each other cry- because, like I said- we’re both stubborn- but we both finally understand how much we truly love each other and how that love comes with no strings attached.  I love my mom. I respect her, and I’m grateful for all the sacrifices she’s made for me (including some of her sanity, I’m sure.) I don’t have kids- and probably won’t for a long time- but if and when I do- I can only hope to be at least half the type of mother to them that my mom is to me.

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For Mother’s Day this past weekend, my mom and I spent the day shopping (including buying each other lovely candles!) disregarding our healthy diets to scarf down a platter of deep fried seafood and fries- and go for a nice, long drive through the back roads of picturesque Western Massachusetts to take in the scenery, sunshine, and fresh air. It was a beautiful, relaxing day- and set the tone for the remainder of this week.

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Another thing that set the tone for this week? An AMAZING belated-birthday (or on the flip side- a very, very, very early birthday present) from my wonderful, beautiful, incredible friend Imogen across the pond! It was on my table when I came home from work yesterday afternoon, and I admittedly teared up- in a good way- while reading the very kind words she wrote inside my card. I will cherish it always.

I was more than content with the card and the caramel mini eggs, but Imogen had included a couple more surprises for me, too!

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In the world of Harry Potter, my favorite house has always been Slytherin. Save for a few genuinely bad eggs, I’ve always thought Slytherins were misunderstood, or, such as the case with Draco Malfoy, misguided- as opposed to just genetically downright evil (yes, I’m aware I’m talking about fictional characters. I just have a lot of feelings, okay?!)

Anyway- any quiz, game, or questionnaire related to determining which Hogwarts House I’d belong in, I’ve hilariously always ended up in Slytherin. Imogen (a Ravenclaw for sure,) knows this, and sent me a pair of Slytherin leggings to wear to proudly show my support for what is CLEARLY the best house.

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And last, but certainly not least, Imogen- who is a huge “Walking Dead” fan like me- sent me the full collection of TWD-themed eye shadows from Geek Chic Cosmetics. With fun names like “Stay in the House, Carl,” and “He’s Korean,” I CANNOT WAIT to try these out. I’ll be doing a separate post within the next few days dedicated entirely to these shadows- including swatches and reviews.

Imogen, THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. I’m seriously at a loss for words right now because of how surprised and appreciative I am. I adore you! This was one of the best belated/super early birthday presents ever!

These past couple of days have been so phenomenal!

That’s a Wrap! Dissecting Season 4 of “The Walking Dead.”

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WalkingDeadSeason4PosterSunday night marked the final episode of the fourth season of AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” Not since the season two finale have I been so psyched and eager for the show to return as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, I, and every other fan of the gory drama- have to wait until October for the season five premiere.

Like the seasons before it, the fourth season of “The Walking Dead” had it’s fair share of strengths and weaknesses in terms of it’s writing, story execution, and character development, which I’ll delve into momentarily. There was no shortage of heartbreak, horror, and action these past few months. In fact, there was so much of it that I’d dare say season four may be one of the most traumatic to even the most mentally and emotionally prepared of viewers. It was, in one word: gruesome.

On the plus side, however, fans of the comic were treated to quite a few “ripped straight from the pages” moments this season: both with certain shocking, jaw-dropping scenes, as well as with the introduction of a few familiar (and fan-favorite) characters. Again, I’ll get into that shortly.

I’m putting my spoiler-heavy summary under the safety of a “READ MORE” tab. If you have not yet caught up with “The Walking Dead,” or otherwise don’t want to be spoiled- I implore you to avoid clicking the tab and reading the rest of this post.

AGAIN, ALL SORTS OF SPOILERS UNDER THE “READ MORE” TAB. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED.

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A Bloody Good Birthday.

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I know that getting older can be a terrifying and dreaded thing- especially for those of us in our late twenties as we inch closer and closer to 30, but personally, I embrace it. With age comes more experiences, more possibilities, and sure- more tough choices- and while your body and desires may change from what they were in, say, your teens or early twenties (i.e. staying out and partying all night or gorging on greasy fast food can and will come back to haunt you,) there’s nothing wrong with aging. Getting older is a privilege that many people unfortunately don’t always get to have.

Having a birthday right smack in the middle of a work week blows, however. Such was the case with my 28th birthday yesterday. It’s hard to coordinate plans to celebrate with friends and family when you get out of work in the evening and have to be up at 7 a.m. the next day- so when my mom told me to come by after I’d left the office for the night because she had a surprise for me- I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’d already spent most of the day completely stunned by the amount of incredibly sweet messages and birthday wishes that poured in from friends and family from all over. It was overwhelming- in the best way possible!

What I got when I arrived at my mom’s house was a “Walking Dead” themed surprise party with some of my relatives. When my mom knows I’m a big fan of something- she goes all out. The Daryl Dixon cake pictured above was something she had made for me that I loved so much I didn’t want to cut it at first.

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Apart from the cake, my “Walking Dead”-geekiness was further fueled with toys, a huge poster, a shooter-style video game, the best socks ever created, and a W.W.D.D.D t-shirt. Also? This:

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Yeah. That’d be a life-size Daryl cardboard cut-out. I told you all my mom went all out, guys. I may be 28 now, but my space will no doubt resemble that of a teenaged fangirl/fanboy’s by the time I’m done moving and rearranging all of this stuff into it. It’s going to be awesome.

Another non-“Walking Dead” related surprise came in the form of an ASUS Transformer Book my mom bought me in an attempt to make my staying connected while traveling 100000000x easier. I was speechless. For years I’ve been taking my laptop everywhere, and for years it’s been such a pain in the ass to carry around or fly with. I’d been meaning to finally downsize to a decent and thinner tablet for the longest time, but have never actually gotten around to it- instead relying on my SmartPhone when on the road. Out of all the wonderful, geeky, and totally “me” presents I received this year- the ASUS was the one that nearly moved me to tears.

Yesterday was truly one of the best birthdays I think I’ve ever had. Between the flood of calls and messages I received to the completely fantastic surprises my family had planned for me- it was an amazing, wonderful day- even if I had to work!

Thanks to all who wished me a good one! It meant the world to me!

xox

Rock N’ Shock 2013 Recap: Day 2.

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While Friday night’s kick-off to the 2013 Rock N’ Shock Convention was all about meeting and greeting actors and performers, yesterday evening was spent almost entirely in the artists gallery discovering new work, and perusing different vendors who had set up shop for the weekend. My VIP access had granted me my own “swag bag” upon entry, which was filled with little trinkets, a commemorative t-shirt (that I’ve already wrinkled,) and vouchers for some of the local businesses and upcoming events/promotions in the area. I got some other neat stuff, too:

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Initially, the only autographs I had wanted were from the cast of ‘The Walking Dead,’ to add to my collection of signed paraphernalia, and Michael, Scott, Lew, and IronE were king enough to help out (the Daryl Dixon laminate poster was a bonus,) but when I saw Gunnar Hansen and Zack Ward (FARKUS!) were in attendance, I couldn’t resist- I picked up a couple of photos and asked them for their signatures, too. They both portrayed two of my all-time favorite movie villains- but were, of course, so lovely in person. I briefly forgot how badly Leatherface had traumatized me as a kid while I talked to Gunnar, since he was so kind and polite- but then I look at the picture he signed and get chills all over again.

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One of my absolute favorite apparel companies, SKULLebrities, had a booth set up with a bunch of their morbid/fun/cute designs on display (I currently own the Amy Winehouse-inspired t-shirt and I get a lot of compliments on it,) and although they were unfortunately out-of-stock on their recently released Breaking Bad shirts- they did have this great Boston design for sale. I picked up a t-shirt (and they threw in a matching sticker, too,) that I wore proudly today as a way of celebrating the Sox making it to the World Series last night.

I really can’t say enough good things about SKULLebrities. Truly. I was first introduced to the brand about 2 or 3 years ago, and I’ve I loved their stuff ever since. It’s so unique and well made, and the folks who run it are just some of the nicest, most fun people around. I highly recommend taking a look at their website and checking them out on social media. You’ll definitely find something you like.

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I had met up with my friend Evan last night at Rock N’ Shock, who bought me this little plushie Daryl Dixon doll as a present. I’m pretty sure I squealed when I saw it. Between the poncho and the crossbow, it could very well be one of the most adorable things I (now) own. My friends know me all too well.

Now I just need a matching Merle plushie doll to go with it.

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Lastly, there was a booth set up that sold authentic Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) items. The holiday fascinates me, and I find myself marveling at the colorful, eye-catching sugar skulls used to commemorate the days. This particular skull, while made of ceramic instead of sugar, was so bright and beautifully painted that I knew I had to have it. There’s a hole carved in the bottom where you can place a candle or a tea light to illuminate the space you place it in through the nasal and eye cavities- which will make it a pretty interesting decoration for Halloween, too.

I did stop by Rock N’ Shock briefly this afternoon for the third and final day, as well- but it was mainly to take one last stroll throughout the convention center, bid farewell to a few familiar faces, and have a brief chat with Robert Englund while it was quiet. If you ever want to meet a man who is so grateful, open, and warm to his fans- Robert Englund is the man to see. He was very excited to talk about his upcoming projects (one that involves Malcolm McDowell- the love of my life,) and to get to know some of us who had come by to say hello. Total class act.

All in all, I had a phenomenal time this year. It was fantastic to get to see and speak at length to some of my favorite actors and meet some wonderful new people who are working on incredible things. Rock N’ Shock, despite being considerably smaller than other conventions I’ve been to, remains one of my favorites for the overall laid-back attitude of the guests and attendees. There’s no insane rushes to get from panel to panel, no ridiculous lines, everything (except food or water, of course) is reasonably priced, and as long as you aren’t behaving like a rowdy drunk or a creep- security are pretty lenient and very helpful.

I’m looking forward to seeing what they have in store for next year.