Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Charley & Mom Vs. Biliary Atresia

A few years ago, I auditioned for my first play with the community theatre in the little Missouri town where I was living. While there, I met another young actress with blond hair and bright blue eyes, who then became my cast-mate. The rest they say, is history.

Ever since that little play, Faith County, Leslie and I have been close friends. There was even a time when the Starbucks baristas nicknamed us Thelma and Louis because we were always together. Leslie helped me to get out of my little church worker bubble and get to know the town and make new friends. She and her husband welcomed me into their little family.


Even when I went back down to Missouri to visit, Leslie was one of the first people I saw. We spent the whole afternoon running around town with her kids in the backseat singing along to Frozen and catching up on life. It was just like old times.

At this time last year, Leslie was pregnant with her second child, Charley. Three weeks after Charley was born, she was diagnosed with Bilairy Atresia. (You can learn about it here.) Then, as the months went on, she also developed Rickets. (Basically, her bones break. I feel that feel, Charley.) Charley needs a new liver, has a feeding tube to help her gain weight, and has to have her diaper changed... A LOT. She's at the top of the liver transplant list and Leslie is even prepared to donate part of her own liver.

In spite of everything, Charley is one of the happiest little babies I have ever met. She's always smiling and giggling whenever I see her.

But Charley and her family need help. All of the medical bills and special formulas and cremes start to add up. They've started a GoFundMe campaign so people can help.

I know I've shared stories like this before on the blog, but this time it's different. This time, it's for a friend. This family is so special to me and I love them so much. The goal is $5,000 and right now they've raised $1,893. Let's make this happen!

You can donate through this link and learn more details about Charley and Leslie's story: http://www.gofundme.com/bo3b94

You can like Leslie and Charley's Facebook page by clicking here.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

10 Characters on a Deserted Island

We've all thought about what we would do if we were on a deserted island. Who we would want there, if we could only pick 3 books to have, 5 music albums to listen to, etc. But what about fictional characters from your favorite novels? If you could pick any 10 to have with you on a deserted island - who would you pick?

Lydia Benett- The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet



Yes, I could pick the original Lydia from Pride and Prejudice, but the Lydia depicted in Lizzie Bennet Diaries and The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet was my favorite. She might not know much about living on an island, but I have a feeling we would never be bored. She would make us all laugh when we're down and have fun all of the time.

Zuzana - Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy


Zuzana was one of my favorites parts of this trilogy! She's another one who would be there to lighten the mood and keep everyone entertained. But she's also a good friend and will do anything to help the people she cares about and is incredibly brave. Definitely needed on an island. Also- puppets.

Cinder - The Lunar Chronicles


Yeah... it might be a bit difficult with her being part cyborg and needing some mechanics. However, she's a leader and helpful in a tight situation.

Edward Zanni- How I Paid for College


I'll be honest, he's mainly on this list for entertainment reasons. He and I would be singing show tunes 24/7 and find ways to convince everyone else on the island to put on musicals. However, he is very creative and could be helpful in finding unique ways to survive.

Katniss & Peeta- The Hunger Games Trilogy


Katniss is my first choice because- HELLO! It's Katniss. She can hunt and forage and scrape for food and kill the bad guys. When Edward and I are too busy singing all of the songs from Pippin she'll get us off our asses and be sure we get work done. But then I'll add Peeta too because he also survived the Hunger Games and knows how to protect us, and Katniss will need him to keep her balanced. Also- bread for everyone!

Harry, Ron, and Hermione- Harry Potter Series


You just can't pick one of these without the other. They work as a team and with them, we could totally survive a deserted island. First, who wouldn't want to hang out with them? Second, magic. Duh. Third, they basically went camping for a majority of Deathly Hallows and could probably teach us a thing or two. Fourth, they defeated Voldemort. So... obviously.

Samwise Gamgee- The Lord of the Rings



Sam is my hero. He is the most loyal friend and can definitely survive out in the wild. Pass the potatoes please.

Peter- The Chronicles of Narnia


When trying to survive, you need some leadership, and Peter is a great leader. He also has the whole older brother thing going on so he'll be there to help protect everyone.

Technically this is eleven people and not ten. But they're all totally needed! Right?

Linking up with 10 on Tuesday. Link up here!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

My Favorite Local Restaurant

To be completely honest, I don't know of that many local restaurants. Isn't that awful? Most of the time when I go out to eat it's either Chipotle or Portillos. (Which... some Chicago people might want to argue Portillos is local because most of their chains are here and it's a Chicago staple. But it's a chain.) Even living in Missouri, one of my favorite places was McCallisters... another chain. I do go to local restaurants, I do. But it takes me a little while to think of one I really would want to share with the world. I clearly need to get out more.

The one place I did think of though is this Pizza/Itallian place in the suburb where I grew up. I guess technically it's a chain now because there are a couple of other locations which have popped up in the last several years around the south side of Chicago. However, it started where I grew up and it was just a local family place for a long time.

Barraco's Pizza.


This place is a staple for anyone who grew up in my neighborhood. I first know it for it's pizza. I can't tell you how many times we would order pizza from here on a Friday night. Pizza Hut? Poppa Johns? Pssshhh. Barraco's is where it's at yo.

They also have a dinning room where you can of course order pizza, but it's actually a nice Itallian restaurant along with a banquet hall and a bar. I've had countless dinners, graduations, and other celebrations here. In fact, I'm pretty sure this is the location for my sister's rehearsal dinner.


I actually really hate this picture of me, but in college I brought the cast of a play I was in here for our cast party. I would have chosen a different picture which actually showed the restaurant, but this was the only one with me in it and I felt like it would be creepy to put up pictures of my college friends without me. So... there we go. There's this awesome one of my friend next to a Frank Sinatra picture because that's the kind of Italian place it is. 

What makes Baracco's even better is you can order and carry out anything on the menu. So many times we don't feel like eating pizza, so we'll just order a bunch of appetizers, a roast beef sandwich, and pasta. It's amazeballs. 

Then... it gets better. Carry out and delivery is open 24 hours. Yup. The dinning room is open until 2am, but you can order Baracco's 24/7. My brother-in-law loves it for when he has late night shifts and needs something to eat as he gets home. 

So... now I'm craving it. Ordering Italian is okay for 7:30am right?

Blog Every Day in July Topic: My Favorite Local Restaurant


IGNORE THIS POST ITS A TEST FOR SOMETHING





Friday, July 18, 2014

10 Instagrams

I've done recomendations for blogs and websites before, but never Instagram. I think it's because I mainly follow people I know and other blog friends on Instagram simply because I know them or like their blog. Not necessarily because I just love their photography. So, it took me a little bit to dig through my Instagram account to see people who are genuinely good photographers to tell people about. However, I found some!

Andrew Kennan Blogger

Being a huge musical theatre nerd, and after seeing Newsies on Broadway a couple of years ago, I ended up following about 1/2 of the cast on Instagram. It turns out, the actor Andrew Kennan Blogger (he played Crutchie), is an amazing photographer. I always love looking at his photos and all of his NYC adventures.


http://instagram.com/keenanblogger

Beauty Edit Max

I have no idea who this guy is. All I know is that one day, forever ago, he followed my account for some reason and I followed back. Holy cow- he does amazing photos.


http://instagram.com/beauty_edit_max

Neil Patrick Harris

Um... who wouldn't want to see the world through his eyes?


http://instagram.com/instagranph

The Blog Baton

This is the coolest Instagram/Blogger idea ever. Basically, everyday a different blogger takes over the account. (I did it back in January.) It's fun to see everyone's lives and to get some more exposure for your own blog.

http://instagram.com/theblogbaton

Writers Atelier

This account is awesome for writers. They post different quotes, inspiration, words, writing prompts, etc. everyday. 


http://instagram.com/writersatelier

The Ugly Mug Cafe Chicago

You know that cafe sign you see on Pinterest all of the time with the best quotes ever? That's a cafe in Chicago called The Ugly Mug Cafe. They really do have the best signs ever.


http://instagram.com/uglymugcafechi

Humans of New York

This guy is all over social media. Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, etc. But I really love his stuff. I love how he takes pictures of random people in the city and shares their stories. 


http://instagram.com/humansofny

Pemberley Digital

Hello! Pictures from behind the scenes of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, Emma Approved, and now Frankenstein MD! 


http://instagram.com/pemberleydigital

Starbucks Olive and 6th

One of my closest friends who works for Starbucks runs this account. So everyone should follow it.


http://instagram.com/sbuxoliveand6th

Colin Wright

I kinda of want to be this guy. Colin Wright travels the world, writes books, and basically lives on the Internet. And gets paid to do it. Coolest life ever, right? Right now he's living in Prauge.


http://instagram.com/colinismyname

Who are some of your favorite Instagram accounts? You know... other than mine. ;-) Yes... this is a shameless plug. http://instagram.com/lovewokemeup


Thursday, July 17, 2014

On my Mind Right Now

It's been a crazy couple of weeks and it doesn't seem like things are going to be slowing down anytime soon.

First - my sisters wedding.

Last week was my sister's wedding shower. It was a lot of fun, but also a lot of work. What's crazier is that I'm realizing my sister's wedding is coming closer and closer. Shower #2 for our family in Indiana is in 16 days. The bachelorette party is in 6 weeks. Then the wedding itself is in just over two months. The bridesmaid dresses came in this week and we picked them up on Tuesday and mine is HUGE on top so I have to have it altered. We also need to get going on the centerpieces. I feel like there's so much to do still. The wedding will be beautiful and fun and awesome - but there's so much between now and then.

Second- work.

The preschool where I work is at a church and this week is their Vacation Bible School. Naturally, our kids join in. It's been a lot of fun and it's a great change of pace. However, with all of the new teachers, volunteers, and kids around, it's really throwing off the kids in the preschool. They're enjoying the week, but I can tell all of the craziness is taking it's toll on them. Also, the teacher has been out of town on a mission trip this week which just throws everyone off even more. It's been fine and a lot of fun, but I know I'll be glad when things go back to "normal" on Monday.

Third- waiting to hear from another job.

Last week, in the middle of all of the crazy for my sister's shower, I had a job interview for a position I really want. Like... I REALLY REALLY want it. It's still only part time and won't pay a whole lot. However, the hours would work with my current job and it's a foot in the door into a field I really think I would love and the extra income will be a big help. I think the interview went well, but he said he'll be deciding by the end of the month who he'll hire. Which means I probably won't heart until next week. I'm hoping for sooner because I just want to know! I can imagine myself at this job and I think it would be perfect for me. Waiting is just awful. I followed up with an email the next day and I mailed a thank you note this week. Hopefully I left an awesome impression.

Fourth- VEDA is coming up.

I'm super excited for Vlog Every Day in August this year. I've done it for the last two years and this year will be awesome as well. But among all of the other crazy in my life, my friend Kirsti and I decided to run it. Honestly, it's pretty simple. We already have the sign up form ready to launch in a few days, someone is working on getting the site up, and the brainstorming session is scheduled. Kirsti and I have been taking turns answering questions via the Twitter account and it seems like people are excited. I still can't help but worry we're missing something or I'll mess it all up somehow. This is such a fun month and I've made a ton of friends through VEDA. Hopefully it'll all go off without a hitch.

Fifth- thinking about my old youth group.

This week the youth I used to lead have been in Panama City for BigStuf. It's one of our all time favorite trips we would take. I was able to write prayer cards for a few of them and the leaders have been tagging me in all of their photos and videos on Facebook. I've loved seeing their adventures and what they've been up to. I'm so proud of them and what a great group it is, and it's a relief to know those teenagers are in good hands. But I also have been thinking back to the last time I went and everything I did for the last 5 1/2 years. I think about all of the times I failed or could have done better or disappointed people. I know I was good at my job - but I also know I wasn't perfect. I wish I could go into the past and fix some of those mistakes. I also kinda wish I was there on the beach with them. But I know it's all for the best.

Sixth- my Barnes and Noble gift card.

My sister and her fiance gave me a gift card to Barnes and Noble for my birthday a few weeks ago and I still have no idea how I'm going to use it. I know in the grand scheme of things it's not a big deal - but I want to be sure it's the PERFECT THING! I know, I know, I need to get over it. #readerproblems.

Seventh- Auditions.

I'm finally in a place where I might be able to go out for a few shows in the community. Granted, if I get the job I want I might not be able to do any shows. Which is fine. However, while I'm waiting to hear back from the job I'm preparing for a few auditions. The first one is on Sunday and I still can't decide if I want to try for it or not. It's a straight play and there are only 3 roles, all for women. It's a very different sort of role I'm going for than I usually would do, but I think it would be a great stretch for me and I could be really good at it. Then there are two musicals I want to audition for coming up if I don't make the play or decide to not go for the play. But I can't help but wonder if going for a show is too much on my plate right now.

So yeah... I guess you could say I have a lot on my mind lately. I know some of you have way bigger things happening in your lives at the moments. Babies being born, family happenings, relationship issues, etc. But right now this is my life. I'm not complaining by any means. I'm crazy blessed and most of these items I'm outrageously excited about! But, this is just a peek into what's going on in my life and my brain lately.

How are all of you? What's going on in your life? I'd love to catch up!

Blog Everyday in July Topic: On My Mind Right Now


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

5 Books I Want to See as Movies

When it comes to book to movie adaptations I'm pretty weird. I actually tend to be pretty forgiving. Whenever people go to movies which were based on books I ALWAYS hear "The book was better."

Well... duh.

I always take that as kind of a given. I can maybe count on one hand the movies which are better than the books. So why do we always feel the need to say the book was better? 95% of the time that's the case.

Also, movies and books are two completely different story telling mediums. THERE WILL ALWAYS BE CHANGES.

Let me repeat myself in case you didn't hear me.

THERE WILL ALWAYS BE CHANGES.

That's the nature of books to movies or even TV shows. I can understand to an extent being upset about changes depending on what it is. There are times when the movie makers make a change and it totally changes the heart of the story. That's not okay. But making adjustments so the story can be translated to a movie screen and audience? Yeah... it's going to happen.

Then, everyone has different views of a book. The way you read and interpret a book will be different than how someone else will read and interpret the same book. Therefore, whoever is making the movie will read and interpret the story differently than you will.

Deal with it.

There are definitely times when movies are totally awful and completely went away from the book. I'm never going to deny that. However, I also think we're way too harsh on book to movie adaptations and need to just learn to accept certain things. I always think about the movies of The Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind. Both are book to movie adaptations and there are A TON of changes in the movie which didn't happen in the book. But both movies are still excellent. They're still considered two of the greatest movies in history.

Side note: They may not be your particular taste, but they are still widely considered great movies. They're Hollywood legends. Just because it's not your taste doesn't mean they aren't good.

All of this being said, I still approach thinking about which books I want to become movies with caution. When I read books I can't help but try and think of how it would translate to the big screen. Because a book might be awesome - but that doesn't mean it'll make an awesome movie. But here are some books I'd love to see as movies (or other things...) if I was in total control of what happened.


The Christy Miller Series by Robin Jones Gunn

To be honest, I think I would rather see these books as a TV show simply because there are SO MANY BOOKS. 12 in The Christy Miller Series, 12 for The Sierra Jensen Series, 3 for Christy and Todd The College Years, 4 for The Katie Weldon Series, and the first book in Christy and Todd, the Married Years was just released. That's not including some of the other spin offs about Todd's dad and other characters. ALL of these books surround the same characters and plot lines and all intertwine. I think it would be so fun to watch all of these characters come to life on screen and see all of their drama and stories unfold.

But let's be honest - it's a Christian series. One, there aren't really many Christian TV shows. Two, if Christian movies are any basis to go on, a Christian TV show wouldn't be very good.

A girl can hope though, right?

The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick

As far as I know, the only Elizabeth Chadwick book which has been a movie is The First Knight and I believe it stars Richard Gere. So... that's exciting.

However, her books deserve way more time on the big screen. The Greatest Knight is based on the life of William Marshal who was considered one of the greatest knights of Medieval England and served King Richard and Prince John. (Thus the title. And yes... the King Richard and Prince John of Robin Hood.) He's a fantastic historical figure and his life is fascinating. I would love to see him in a movie.





The Infernal Devices Trilogy by Cassandra Clare

Yes... The Mortal Instruments movie was kinda a flop. But I really enjoyed the spin off trilogy more and if they found some awesome people to make the movie, it could be great. Right?

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

This one would be hit or miss. It's one of my all time favorite books so I would have really high expectations for a movie adaptation. But if done well - it would be amazing! If done badly... well... we'll just not think about it. Although, I actually feel as though it would translate better to the stage. Do you hear me Broadway? Let's make this happen. Besides, I tweeted the author about it once and she said she agreed with me.

WHICH MEANS IT HAS TO HAPPEN BECAUSE OBVIOUSLY.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Lani Taylor

This is another one where if it's done well it would be AMAZING. If not... ugh. But this story is so unique and lovely and exciting. I think it would make for one epic movie. Assuming everyone who is involved with making it is also spectacular.

So... if you had total control over the production, what books would you want to see as movies? (Or TV or stage productions?)


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Dream Wedding Shower

GUYS. This is a once in a lifetime blog post. Are you ready for it?

I did something DIY that's Pinterest worthy!!!!! Are pigs flying?

It's the blogger dream, yo.


Side note: does anyone else actually miss Lizzie McGuire? Because I totally do. My BFF and I rocked that show back in the day and went to see the movie together. #teamgordo

Anyways.

Over the weekend we had a wedding shower for my sister and we (my mom, my sister's mother-in-law, and I) basically did everything. Other than some catered food, it was all us. Decorations, favors, etc. Most of the ideas were my moms and we generally just followed her directions. But I did help a lot!


My sister's wedding theme is an enchanted forest with dark purples and deep reds. So, we decided to do a bit of a "spin off" of that theme for the shower. Instead of an enchanted forest, we had a fairy garden. Then instead of the really dark purples and reds, we went for more light and bright purples and greens.

The Center Pieces

This was the biggest part of the prep. We decided to get a bunch of clay pots, paint them, then make them into mini fairy gardens. The painting took awhile because they had to dry and such. But once that was done and we got going on the planting, it was a breeze and a ton of fun!

Drying on the back porch. We did a mix of light and dark purples and greens with white stenciling.


We found boxes of miniatures for a fairy garden at Michael's. They were a bit expensive, but with 50% off coupons it was a deal!


We bought little saplings from the Home Depot for the plants, and most of them we were able to split in two. We did three plants per flower pot. Then to fill in the gaps, we added fake moss and miniature stones.


While I know many fairy gardens don't have actual fairies in them, I really wanted fairies to be part of the decorations. We couldn't find any miniature fairies anywhere though! Then, at the last minute, we found a tube of them in the toy department at Michaels. It was perfect!


The Favors

For favors we gave each guest a decorated mason jar with sangria inside. The recipe was ridiculously easy and everyone LOVED it! Some girls even took multiple jars home! Basically, we got jugs of sangria from the liquor store, then added club soda and raspberry liquer and just added as much as we wanted depending on how sweet vs. bitter we felt like having. Then we added strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. You can garnish with whatever fruits you want!

To make the jars look pretty we tied purple ribbons around the tops just below the lid. Then we stuck little flowers inside of the tied bows. All we needed were two bouquets of fake wild flowers from Michaels and cut the individual flowers out.

This made about 30 jars.



Other Decorations and Food

For the other decorations we picked up a ton of purple items from Party City. Plates, napkins, tablecloths, etc.



For the dessert, instead of a cake we picked up tiramisu from a local bakery and they decorated it for us in the shower colors and we got a small cookie platter. It was a hit!



The girls also loved the candy table where they could fill up little bags of candy. Some of them even took some home to their own husbands and boyfriends.


As a gift to my sister and as a special centerpiece, we got her a fairy figurine for her own garden. The little white globe will glow when it gets dark out!

Games

I'm not a huge fan of shower games to be perfectly honest. I fought against it. (Kind of.) But my mom pointed out to me that we would have the guest at the shower for about three hours and we needed some way to entertain them. So I consented. But we kept the two games painless!

The first one was a "how well do you know the bride" game we picked up for about $10 at Party City. You can check it out at this link: http://www.partycity.com/product/think+like+the+bride%21+bridal+shower+game.do?navSet=110020

The other game was about movies and TV shows. We showed pictures of movies and TV shows with classic wedding scenes and the guests had to guess what they were. We found the game at this website for free:
http://www.fynesdesigns.com/free-bridal-shower-game/?crlt.pid=camp.qmvRUyJ4LIP9

Fun Bridal shower game based on wedding themed movies

As prizes we gave away the fairy garden center pieces. The girls were so excited!

Aren't you proud of me guys? I actually have something "crafty" and "DIY" enough to put on Pinterest! Maybe there's hope for me to be a "cool blogger" after all. ;-)