Friday, November 29, 2013

To Elf Or Not To Elf

Ok, so I was a little weary about this Elf on the Shelf thing.

I see the creepy factor.

A toy elf sitting in the corner who flies to the North Pole and reports to Santa every night while you sleep.

I thought about it for months before I decided to dive in head first and just go with it.

After months of pinning ideas on Pinterest I realized that the elf's arrival was kind of a big deal. The way I present her for the very first time kind of sets the bar for the type of excitement I'll get out of Kalynn.


I thought about all the fun stuff my mom used to do with me as a kid and one of my favorites was always the scavenger hunt.
Kalynn is just about to turn only 4, so riddle clues are a little too overboard for her taste.


A picture scavenger hunt, now that's totally do-able.

We have an Autumn tree that we put up right about the week before Thanksgiving every year. We decorate it with white lights and fall colored leaf garland, pumpkins, gourds, scarecrows, little turkeys, etc and then the day after Thanksgiving we take down all the Thanksgiving crap, change the lights, and hang up all the Christmas ornaments.

So Thanksgiving morning, Kalynn walked out into the living room to this:

How to make Santa Claus footprints for your Elf on the Shelf arrival.

( Sprinkling a light mixture of red glitter and baking soda around your husband's giant size 12 flip flop makes for a fantastic magical snowy Santa footprint. )

These footprints went straight from the chimney to the tree.  

How to make Santa Claus footprints for your Elf on the Shelf arrival.

The first thing she saw were of course the footprints. The second thing she saw was that the autumn decorations were gone and the white lights had been changed to multicolored. 

Having Santa in the house way before Christmas was such a shock to her easily confused system, she immediately ran into our room and pulled us out of bed for a full assessment of the situation. Jason and I got up to check out the scene and sure enough, we both came to the conclusion that they were, in fact, evidence of a fat man in a red suit. Upon closer inspection, we found a little rolled up note left behind on the tree skirt. 

How to do an Elf On The Shelf scavenger hunt arrival And a great loophole for the DON'T TOUCH rule

Kalynn unrolled the ribbon and found the paper to be a photo of her bedroom vanity table. 

So we all walked over to her vanity table and low and behold, there was another rolled up paper which was a picture of our washing machine. 

And on the washing machine there was a picture of my jewelry box. 

And on my jewelry box there was a picture of under her bathroom sink... 

This squealing, giggling, Santa trail went on for 20 different places around our house until the last photo brought her to our bedroom closet where she found a letter from Santa, a tiny chair and a wrapped up present. 

How to do an Elf On The Shelf scavenger hunt arrival for kids and toddlers too young to read

(Bed head at its finest)

How to do an Elf On The Shelf scavenger hunt arrival And a great loophole for the DON'T TOUCH rule

So the majority of us as parents know the concept of the Elf on the Shelf. I've read the story, I've asked my friends, I've pinned the ideas...


There is one GIANT part of the elf concept that I just can't get around which is that the Elf must not ever be touched or else she will lose her Christmas magic and she won't be able to fly to the North Pole to report to Santa. 
Every morning this elf is supposed to hide in some new and exciting place doing some new and exciting activity and then she's supposed to just be left alone for the remainder of the day and we all have to just continue life around her. 

But what if our elf is found some place that we need to utilize during that day? This part of the plan is so inconvenient


I thought and I thought and I thought and I finally came up with a very simple solution. 

How to get your own Elf On The Shelf chair so he doesn't have to stay in the same place all day long . AKA: The DON'T TOUCH loophole!

Santa wrote Kalynn a letter and explained in detail about the elf not being touched. BUT, he also explained that she does get 10 SECONDS of non-magic per day. Only 10 quick seconds every morning and that 10 seconds is for mommies or daddies only to carefully pick her up, run her as fast as we can to the chair that Santa had made for her. It is sort of like a viewing chair. We had special instructions, from Santa himself, to place the chair somewhere that she is able to see the most of our household activities.

So the next day when Kalynn went looking for her morning fruit bar and she found her elf in the pantry making a snowman out of our marshmallows, she shrieked with delight and then came to get me. We both did our "ready, set, go!" and I ran the Elf from the kitchen to her fancy magic chair while Kalynn counted to 10 as loud and calm (not calm) as she could. 

It was all very exciting. 

The Elf On The Shelf, a great Loophole for the Don't Touch rule!!

The chair is one that I picked up at the Good Will for .99 cents a few weeks back and I decorated it with ribbon, glitter, and sticky gems. It is seriously going to be so much more convenient than having to step over this creepy little stalker every time she's found in the middle of the bathroom or bedroom floor. 

So now with Elf season officially upon us, may I just say good luck, parents! 
May all your children be well behaved and may your elves be creative and effortless! 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Yuletide For Yoda

A great friend of mine is the chef for the National Science Foundation and working in Antarctica at Palmer station. Not only is he a culinary commander 12 hours a day in the kitchen, but he also flip flops bi-seasonally between the fire team and the Ocean Search And Rescue team. (You know, because he's a total bad ass.) I'm constantly seeing these pictures online that he posts of breads and tarts and pies and piles and piles of food that are sadly miles and miles away from my watering mouth. He works hard and he works a lot so his time off is obviously greatly welcomed. I feel very thankful that we are able to keep in pretty constant contact given our schedules and time zone differences. We've made the effort for the last couple of decades to stay in each others lives. Our sturdy foundation has always been based off our mutual admiration for each other, hard liquor and Star Wars. It's the time withstanding equation of a true champion friendship.

We get to chit chat a couple times per week and he sends me things he knows I'll appreciate like amazing closeups of my beloved moon as seen from the South Pole, or live website updates of his station, or videos of him and the crew screwballing around or whatever. Well yesterday when I was at work,  I was sent the most amazing thing I may have ever seen floating around the world wide web: Star Wars snowflakes.

free templates for Star Wars Snow Flakes by Anthony Herrera

free templates for Star Wars Snow Flakes by Anthony Herrera

free templates for Star Wars Snow Flakes by Anthony Herrera

free templates for Star Wars Snow Flakes by Anthony Herrera

free templates for Star Wars Snow Flakes by Anthony Herrera

Apparently, Francis stumbled on the find of the season for us Star Wars suckers. It is an entire webpage devoted to these, um, what do I call them, Force Flurries?
This graphic designer turned awesome blogger, Anthony Herrera, has pages and pages of templates you can download for free. Some of them are very simple and some of them will take an extra sharp X-Acto along with many minutes of spare time. But whatever you're up for, the website is worth the looksie.

I went with Darth. 
free templates for Star Wars Snow Flakes by Anthony Herrera

So thanks, Fran. You totally made my day. I'll return the favor by showing you off and bragging that I knew you way back when...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Life Lessons

I've had a very unconventional life. I've done some crazy things, met some crazy people, learned some crazy lessons. With Thanksgiving coming up it is forcing me to think about what I'm thankful for. This year, I'm recognizing that I'm thankful I've learned some vital things from my experiences. I don't know everything, but I do know some things very well. I guess I'm just sort of taking a mental inventory.

1. Don't ever buy sandwiches from a vending machine or a gas station.

2. If someone does something awful to you, it doesn't define who you are. The past isn't a magician who casts a spell on your present. Take the blows, feel the burn, get up, dust yourself off, and carry on. You never have to forget, but you do have to let it go.

3. Having a life altering crisis is the perfect time to reinvent yourself.

4. If you don't like who you are or where you are or what you're doing, change it. That's the thing about life, you only get one. Make it one you're happy with. Plan an Under-New-Management party and reopen the place. By the place, I mean your head.

5. Tip, and tip well! Bartenders and waitresses are the people who delegate good and bad karma in the afterlife.

6. Don't ignore the connections you have with people, you'll piss off the universe that put those people in your life for a reason.

7. Disappointment is a million times worse than anger. Regardless, refer to rule #2.

8. Drink lots of water.

9. YOU'RE vs YOUR. There is difference and it is not that difficult. You're jealous of my awesome car. My other ride is your mom.

10. Travel often. A change of scenery can change your mindset. (I learned that one from my mom)

11. ALWAYS stand up for yourself. What is right for you may be wrong for everyone else, but who cares? The world isn't going to end if you go against the grain.

12. Opportunities always look larger going than coming.

13. The line between having a hobby and having a psychotic mental illness is very fine.

14. Real friendship isn't about being there when it is convenient, it is about being there when it is not. And on the subject of friends, these are the people who talk shit to your face and speak kindly behind your back. Not the other way around.

15. Chew with your goddamn mouth closed.

16. Don't ever half-ass anything. Everything you do should be with full intensity. Make mistakes with everything you've got, sneeze from the very bottom of your belly, laugh with all the breath in your lungs, work like you're getting paid a million dollars, be lazy like you'll never get another chance. Whatever you're doing, commit and kick some ass at it.

17. Don't be a victim.

18. Trust that what people do means a hell of a lot more than what people say.

19. The unknowns and the whys of the world are the hardest to take.

20. Let the other car change lanes. Don't be a dick.

21. Mediocrity has no place in love. There are far too many unexceptional things in this world, love should not be one of them.

22. Every night the Moon teaches a class on romance, you just have to sign up for it.

23. A Brazilian bikini wax hurts like a bitch.

24. There is always more to learn. Thank your lucky stars for the healthy brain that makes it possible and never take that for granted.

25. Finding your passion is important. Finding the right people to fuel it is also important. Never back down to the people who are standing next to you with a bucket of water ready to put out your fire. (A lesson I learned from BJ, who lost his battle with cancer but taught me more about passion than anyone I know who is still living)

26. Pain can be useful. Suffering on the other hand, well, there isn't anything useful about suffering. Squash that shit as quickly as you possibly can.

27. There is never an instance, never ever ever ever, where messing up your credit score is worth it. Pay your bills, and pay them on time.

28. Jimmy Fallon is always a good decision.

29. Failure and mistakes aren't verdicts.

30. Try to look cute wherever you go.  Make the effort.

31. Sometimes there are people you shouldn't let slip away. It may be inopportune, but sometimes you should just grip like hell and hold on tight. Because you just never know.

32. But with number 31 being said,  you should never hesitate to trade your cow for a handful of magic beans. It's important to know the difference.

Krista Fuller: The Brighter Writer

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Rendezvous At Meet Up Point

The thing about blogging is that it takes a lot of effort. And networking. And Time.
While this year has been great for me at The Brighter Writer as far as exposure, sponsors, and luck of the draw, I'm certainly not the world's most professional social media influence. I hear constantly about blogging conferences, seminars, and opportunities but I rarely take advantage of them. I read the advice columns about the importance of consistent writing but I just don't have the time or energy to write as much as I'd sometimes like to.

But I do just fine.

I'm very happy with my little community of readers.

And I thank the people who constantly show up to read what I have to say.

This week I'm trying something different.

It seems as though the pages in which I subscribe are all participating in NaBloPoMo. I can't write every single day for a month. I just can't. And I can't imagine anyone would want to read a post where I was really reaching for a subject. I would think after a few weeks I would just run out of things to write about. Which is why, I suppose, I've been reading all these articles lately from my fellow bloggers along the lines of "100 topics for writer's block" or "50 ideas to get your blog started" or "creative writing jump starts..." You get the idea.

Out of complete curiosity, I read one of these lists and it was totally not my cup of tea. (Idea 27: Write about the last thing that made you cry??? What the hell?!!!)

However one of them took me to the link of a photo challenge. This totally insane woman took a photograph every hour on the waking hour, for an entire year. Partly for her readers who like to see how other people live, and also to just have a journal to look back on some day.

I won't be doing that either.

But I thought it might be fun to try it for a day.

I set my alarm for every hour on the hour, and wherever I am, whatever I'm doing, will be photographed.

So in the words of Pee Wee Herman, "Why don't you take a picture, it'll last longer?"

 6AM: I meet up with this stud, Mr. Coffee, and we fall deeply in love. 

7AM: Everyone in the house is physically awake yet mentally still asleep. It's still quiet enough to get a little work done. Today's essay: The Brotherhood Of The Traveling Unicorn (final draft).

8AM: I listen to my husband sing a nice little homemade song about how much he enjoys food ("♪♫ Oh my God, I love food so muuuuuch, ♪♫ I love the way it tastes in my moooouth and I wish I could just eat all the tiiiiiime...♪♫") and an encore about how today is definitely a hat day while he tries to fix his hair. Kalynn and I eat the breakfast casserole which is freshly out of the oven. 

9AM: I (along with my entourage) listen (and dance around) to our favorite Pandora station while I put on my makeup. 

10AM: We're roaming around Target, checking out the toy section, making a mental note of our list for Santa.

11AM: Kalynn makes the executive decision of being this hour's photographer since she already has possession of my phone.  In true Marie Antoinette form, she instructs me to smile and then cuts off my head. 

12PM: We make our way downtown to the Lincoln Center to buy tickets for Kalynn's performance in the upcoming Nutcracker ballet. The door is open so we pop our heads in and check out where she will grace the stage as the cutest and most talented snowflake that ever lived. 

1PM: With half the day successfully behind us and nap time creeping up fast, we take a few minutes to construct and jump in the world's largest leaf pile just outside our building. 

2PM: It's time for my break. And by break I mean time to fold the laundry, wash the dishes, prepare dinner and pick up the living room. It is also the hour when I become queen of the creeper club and spy on my baby and her cuteness.

3PM: Both of my children are freshly awake with emotions deeply rooted in codependency. Everyone wants soy milk and a snuggle from Mommy and nothing else will substitute. 

4PM: Time to clean out the car. I'm on fruit-bar-wrapper patrol while Kalynn mans the camera. 

5PM: Jason is home! And he brought Happy hour with him!

6PM: Turkey, mashed potatoes with gravy, stuffing, green bean casserole and brown sugar sweet potato pie.

7PM: There are 2 things to remember about the gym: #1 Summer bodies are made in the Winter and #2 no matter how slow you go, you're still lapping everybody on the couch.

8PM: Bedtime for Kalynn. But first, snuggles with Daddy in the book nook.

9PM: Wine and my pup-doo. 

10PM: Goonies never say die!

10PM: Tomorrow night there is a full Moon in Taurus and a meteor shower shining from the constellation Leo. The combination of being a Leo myself and having an influential Taurus in my life, it kind of makes it feel like this particular full moon is my very own. The Universe is apparently on our side right now. 

There you have an average day in the life of Me.  Goodnight!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Brotherhood Of The Traveling Unicorn

Here's the thing:

For Halloween, Jason went as an 80's rocker. 

Finding the perfect t-shirt was critical.

Just as I was about to give up after searching almost every thrift store in town, I turned the corner and something out of place caught my eye. To the left across the bruised toys and around the corner of tossed aside wooden baskets, I saw a lone black shirt stuffed in among the soiled coffee pots. I pulled it out, unwaded the fabric and it was like a light shown down from the heavens. 
Trumpets played, angels hugged, choirs sang.

It was a glorious moment that brought tears to my eyes.
I knew this shirt was the winner I had been longing for. 

When I brought it up to the counter, the check out man smiled and held it up to his fellow co-workers who all told me about the shirt's fate saturated arrival. Apparently, they had discussed between them who was going to end up with this gem of cotton and whoever did was going to be one very lucky soul. I mean, it is pretty much the best shirt ever created.

The Brotherhood of the Traveling Unicorn

So Halloween came and went but at the end of the day, we were left debating on what to do with this fantastic electric unicorn find.

"I kind of want to re-gift it," he said.
"Hmmmm...... I have an idea..." I said.

A week prior, I had been flipping through Pinterest and I ran across "The Giving Plate." It was just an uncomplicated porcelain platter with a nice letter written on it about passing food among friends and family. The directions stated that once you receive the plate, you whip up some sort of baked good and then gift the plate and the goodies to your closest girlfriend who then does the same. The plate goes round and round and continues to spread joy wherever it goes.

Well that's nice.

And then it dawned on me...

How could I be so stupid to think this shirt was just meant for our small minded little family? This shirt was a drifter! A dreamer! A loner full of wanderlust! Of course a shirt such as this one can't be tied down to one owner, what was I thinking??


I am currently on a path to help this shirt fulfill its destiny. 
Here is how:

I have made and laminated its story to be passed along from person to person. I figure, wherever this shirt goes, wherever it ends up, we can all track it back to this web page. If this shirt ends up in your lucky hands, email me! and send me a picture of you in the shirt along with your location and I will post the picture here on this site. If you're on Twitter or Instagram, take a picture and use #TheBrotherhoodOfTheTravelingUnicorn to show us all the adventures it has been on.

Who knows where it'll go! Maybe it'll make its way around the world!

The Brotherhood of the Traveling Unicorn
The Unicorn Journey:

Updated 1/16/14 - The electric unicorn has made its way from Fort Collins, Colorado to Lake Forest, California. Thank you to Scott R. for the photo update!

The Brotherhood of the Traveling Unicorn

Updated 2/3/14 - From  Lake Forest, California to Sahuarita, Arizona! Thanks to Brian J! Best pictures ever!

The Brotherhood of the Traveling Unicorn

The Brotherhood of the Traveling Unicorn

From a lineman in Sahuarita, Arizona to a train engineer in Tucson, Arizona! 
Thanks Kyle Jackson!

The Brotherhood of the Traveling Unicorn

The Brotherhood of the Traveling Unicorn

 To Nick Jordan from Georgia!

The Brotherhood of the Traveling Unicorn

Moving along to Joshua Quesada from Philadelphia, P.A

The Brotherhood of the Traveling Unicorn

Marvin Estevez From Queens, New York! 

The Brotherhood of the Traveling Unicorn

Thanks guys for keeping it going! 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Lesson Of The Beet

Hold on to your divine blush, your innate rosy magic, or end up brown.

Once you're brown, you'll find that you're blue. As blue as indigo. And you know what that means:


The lesson of the beet ~ Tom Robbins

Monday, November 11, 2013

Totally Tubular

Look at me:

I love the 80's

Rocking my velcro KangaRoo sneakers with the little pocket on the side, homemade terrycloth jumper shorts that my mom made me, and my little blond mop of a haircut looking like a total 80's kid. 

Last night, my daughter and I piled up on the couch under the electric blanket to watch the new Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. It was an adventure story about Kansas City Mickey and his quest to find an archaic tomb shaped like mouse ears. After going through a series of educational places on his map, he ends up at his final destination and breaks open to tomb door to find an "ancient machine" called a record player. Kansas City Mickey goes on to explain how this "old time" contraption was used to play music to people who are now basically fossils...

"Mommy what is that thing??!!"

Of course this got me to thinking... (because you know, what doesn't right?)

I loved playing records with my mom when I was a little girl. Our record player was attached to our 8 track player, and we had red headphones that were way too big for my head that I would hold onto while dancing around to old Beatles LPs. 

I remember my first visit to a glorious place called Tape World (!!!) just a few short years later with my big sister:

I love the 80's : TAPE WORLD!

It's a shame that our kids will never know the correlation between these two things:

It's a shame that our kids will never know the correlation between the cassette tape and a pencil. I love the 80's

Did you ever drink Tang?
Did you ever write "Class of (insert your graduation year here) ROX!" on your Trapper Keeper?
Put blue eye shadow on your Pound Puppy?
Trade Lisa Frank stickers?
Read Flowers in the Attic or Sweet Valley High from your school's bookmobile and have to sign your name for it on one of these?

Library cards! I love the 80's :

Then get points for it with the Book It! program to trade into a personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut?

Book It! I love the 80's

Did you learn most of what happens during puberty through Degrassi Jr High episodes, burn the tips of your fingers on your Easy Bake oven, wear L.A. Gear sneakers with your Z-Cavaricci jeans and your brown leather bomber jacket sporting your Swatch Watch while applying your Bonne Bell flavored chapstick? Did you throw Koosh balls at your siblings while fighting over your Light Bright and keep all your fingernail polish in your hot pink and purple Kaboodle?

Did you spend hours playing with a water ring toss game that you could NEVER win?

Waterful Ring Toss! I love the 80's

Or get super excited for the day in gym class when they busted out the giant parachute?

Gym Class Parachute! I love the 80's

Or practice spelling your name on a Magic Slate?

Magic Slate! I love the 80's

Or hide in your closet with the lights off making your Gyro Wheel spin?

Gyro Wheel! I love the 80's

Did you drink Clearly Canadian?

Clearly Canadian! I love the 80's

Collect Weebles?

Weebles! I love the 80's

Munch on PB Max?

PB Max! I love the 80's

Constantly lose your led pieces to your Push-a-Point pencils?

Push-a-Point Pencils! I love the 80's

Learn how to use a calculator from the Little Professor?
Little Professor calculator! I love the 80's
Did all the commercials you saw while watching You Can't Do That On Television convince you that you had to have every Wildlife Treasury card?

Wildlife Treasury! I love the 80's

Did you drink Burples and then use them as bath toys?

Burples! I love the 80's

Did you lay in your bed with your scrunch socks on flipping through YM magazine and talking to your friends on a see through phone?

see through phones! I love the 80's

Did you spray Ex'cla*ma'tion! perfume on your Cabbage Patch Kid while crimping your hair and listening to Mr. Mister?

Exclamation perfume! I love the 80's

Do you remember how hard it was to get your Popple in the right shape?

Popples! I love the 80s

Remember how we all tried to eat Pop Rocks and drink Coke (Or Crystal Clear Pepsi) to see if we'd explode? Remember how hard it was to not trip over your Skip it? Or how difficult it was to stay on your Pogo Ball?

Pogo Ball! I love the 80s

Did your sister ever lock you in Mayor McCheese jail as you wiped your tears on your Hypercolor t-shirt and swore you were going to flush her Snoopy Sno-Cone maker down the toilet when you got home?

Mayor McCheese Jail at McDonaldland! I love the 80's

Did you watch Troop Beverly Hills a thousand times during your slumber parties and fight over who had the most Troll Dolls? Or play Zork on your Commodore 64 computer? Or have to sit through film strips in school while chomping on your Big League Chew thinking of last night's Alf episode? Or watch Just The Ten Of Us while playing with your Fraggle Rock toys? Did you wear banana clips in your hair when you were playing Heads Up 7-Up during recess because it was raining outside? Did you learn how to fold notes 12 different ways to write to your best friends and sign them all "L-Y-L-A-S"? 

It really is a shame that all these things are relics stuck in an antique world...

Because man! Those were the days....