Happy Book Lovers Day!

Calling all bookworms! Bust out your bookmarks, because it’s #BookLoversDay! I just finished reading The Player of Games last week, as you may have read in my latest book report, so I don’t have a full book review for you today, but I will share what’s on my reading horizons!

In honor of today, let’s start with Goodreads. Do you have a profile? I have been using Goodreads ever since I bought my first Kindle. I think it’s a great site because you can easily reference books you’ve read, keep a running list of books you want to read, write reviews to share with your friends, and get recommendations for new books to read! Want to be friends? Click here to add me! 

My “Currently Reading” list is pretty long… but I have certain books that I only read a bit per day (or month! lol) and others that I’ll sit and read for hours. It all depends on what it is! Let’s take a look:

  • 2018 Radical Self Love Almanac – I check in once a month and read up on the fun ideas and tips for each month, and fill out the monthly worksheet to help me become the best me!
  • Heart Talk: Poetic Wisdom for a Better Life – Another book that I read sporadically. This is a book that I turn to when I’m feeling sad and need something heart-warming to boost me up. I have this book in print and I really like how it’s designed, it feels like a scrapbook/journal.
  • A Victorian Grimoire: Romance, Enchantment, Magic – This book is fun to sit and read for a bit, but I haven’t quite committed to it yet. I like how it revisits the history of magick and explores what life was like during the Victorian era, while showing readers how to incorporate these things into modern life.
  • The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History – My current book that I read when I’m on the train. I needed something that was the opposite of the sci-fi that I read last month – so I went for a nonfiction book that explores the science of how different species came to be extinct on this planet. It’s weird to think about how evolution and extinction are concepts that have only been around for a couple centuries.

That’s only what’s going on NOW, of course! With my Kindle, I’m always collecting new books to read, thanks to my Amazon Prime account, which grants me free books every month. I have a few classics that I’ve been meaning to read, such as the complete Peter Pan collection or Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea… I also have been meaning to read this book I had received from a book club and never got around to, The Self Love Experiment. It can be hard to keep up with all this reading, since my free time is also spent playing video games and going to happy hour and stuff lol! But commuting is a good time to read and I carry my Kindle almost everywhere. I can never have too many books! Escapism is TOTALLY in for 2018…

What are you reading for Book Lovers Day? Do you have a FAVORITE book? Let me know what you’re reading in the comments!

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Planning My Planner

Are you like me? Do you enjoy the feeling when your schedule (and LIFE) is organized? Do you hate forgetting appointments, parties and plans? Do you like WRITING in a BOOK once in a while? If so, chances are you already have a planner.

The Simple Elephant Planner

There are SO MANY kinds of planners. It’s very overwhelming. There’s a Bullet Journal craze going on, and I do like to explore my artsy side, so this past year I’ve been using what’s called the Simple Elephant planner.

This planner has absolutely been meeting my needs – it is undated, has monthly and weekly spreads, goal setting pages, and a big section of blank note pages where I can do my own thing. I liked this format because I wanted to try to make a bullet journal, without the additional work of writing out a monthly spread myself, and setting up layouts each week. I don’t quite have time for that! I’ve been using the blank note pages whenever I have a Bullet Journal (#bujo for short) idea, and it is a lot of fun.

Admittedly I’m not the BEST artist, nor do I always commit a huge amount of time to doing this, so I use stickers a LOT. Because stickers are fucking awesome. I subscribe to two different monthly sticker clubs, and I highly recommend both and here’s why:

  • Stickii Club: This club has more of an Asian flair, with a lot of imported stickers from Japan and Korea. Each month the stickers are shipped in an adorable A5 organizer binder page, and includes a binder ring, a funky shaped paperclip that matches the month’s theme, a fun stationery sample, and several sheets of stickers. You can buy previous month packs on their website, so if you don’t want to commit to a monthly club, you can just buy what you like! Check em out!
  • Pipsticks Club: This club feels like it’s marketed to women who grew up collecting stickers in the 80’s and 90’s, and now want to get in touch with their childhood hobbies, or share their love of stickers with their kids. (They offer a kids sticker club too!) There are no monthly themes with this club, but every month you get several sheets of fun stickers with funky designs and characters, and they always throw in a blank postcard to decorate. One time, I got a giant roller skate sticker too!

I’d like to add that both of these sticker clubs have phenomenal customer service, so don’t be shy! If you had a sticker book in elementary school, you might understand what the RUSH of excitement feels like when I see a monthly sticker pack waiting for me! They are pretty affordable too. Me likey.

Some bujo spreads that I made in my Simple Elephant (plus my cat Twinkie)

So I’ve been having lots of fun with my Simple Elephant planner, making bujo pages, writing in my events and appointments and keeping my life organized. It’s definitely fun to design a custom bujo page, but sometimes I feel like it’s a bit too much work. I don’t do it enough, and lots of the blank note pages in the back section are going to waste. This has lead me to search for a new planner that might fit ALL of my needs.

I’ve learned that during the summer, most of the planners available are Academic Calendars, meaning they are from July – June of next year. I don’t want that. Amazon was proving to not be helpful in my research.

Last year, I was using the Passion Planner. While it is AWESOME in terms of setting goals and goal tracking, I didn’t like it. My problem was with the weekly spread – it was too regimented by hour, and I don’t have enough meetings and appointments in my day to day that requires such an intense spread.

Passion Planner Weekly Spread

If you DO have a crazy schedule that you must track by the hour, then absolutely give this planner a strong consideration. It’s definitely great. I think it encourages a lot of creativity while also engaging the right brain’s love for organization. But it just wasn’t for me and decided to keep searching.

EVO Planner

Another planner that caught my eye in my search is the EVO Planner. Wow this thing is REALLY cool! It has a slightly different format based on how your brain operates, which I think is super neat. (My brain type is Oracle!) I love the design. Plus it has a cool feature that allows you to scan your page and it interacts with a mobile app! But here comes the downside… each planner is only a quarter of a year. You have to buy four to get an annual planner. And it’s expensive AF. Maybe once the hype dies down I’ll get one, or when a few copycats make knock-off options?? lol

Well, I was still at square one in my search for a new planner. I didn’t want to spend a ton of money on a planner that doesn’t function the way that I want it to. I don’t want intensive daily spreads. I want monthly grids, weekly overviews, some space for reflection and goal setting, plus FUN! I need fun. Fun is vital.

Remember that sticker club Pipsticks that I mentioned earlier? That company knows all about fun. So much so, that they started sending out emails that they too were selling a planner. I was intrigued! They teamed up with Workman Publishing to create fun planner that is unique and creative. Check out the three designs here!

Planner Size Comparison

I decided to purchase it because I’m already a happy Pipsticks customer, and I also happened to have a coupon. I decided to get the “This Changes Everything” planner. But when it arrived, I was in a panic… because it was DIFFERENT!

After opening the package, I was dismayed that I didn’t look at the dimensions of this planner before ordering. It’s considerably larger than my Simple Elephant. At first I thought this was a MAJOR issue, but the more I’ve been holding it and flipping through the pages, the more I love it. The planner creators really made an effort to create a planner that was fun and functional. Here is the August monthly spread, to give you an idea.

Pipsticks Planner Monthly Grid

There is a little creative challenge in the corner of each month. There’s room for special dates and notes, plus PLENTY of space in each calendar square. There is also plenty of room for STICKERS! Now take a look at the weekly overview.

Pipsticks Planner Weekly Spread

It may be hard to read, but on Wednesday there is a little mini-quiz. I love how the days are split up into sections, so I can separate work and after-work activities. At the bottom there’s space for any big DAY reminders or notations. There is also a little YAY in a circle on each date, this is to be used with the included stickers to indicate if I’ve done something that I’m tracking that day – such as working out, drinking enough water, or whatever my current goal might be.

Pipsticks Planner Sticker Page

The included sticker pages are really cute too, and are separated by season and have fun stickers that coordinate with the theme and color schemes of the monthly pages in that season. They clearly put a lot of thought and care into this planner.

Yes, I wish it was a little bit smaller. But I will embrace this planner, and all the extra space that it allows! One thing I can’t seem to remember (and I am writing this at work so I don’t have it in front of me) is if this planner has blank pages in the back for me to get my bujo on. I want to say yes, but I’ll have to check at home and update later lol! However, even if it doesn’t have blank space, every month has a review page and that’s basically the only thing I’ve been writing in the bujo section of my Simple Planner the past few months anyway. I think once I adjust to this planner I will really love it. Change is good. And as my new planner states, THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING.

The end of July is upon us and I will start using this new planner in August! Do you use planners to stay organized, or does Google Cal handle your life? If you like to use a planner, please share what you use! I’m all ears!

 

Tarot: A Pet Project

Lately I cannot get enough of tarot cards! I am addicted to doing at least one reading a day. I’d like to do more, honestly. I’ve recently started reading a book about how to write fiction using tarot cards and it sounds like so much fun! I’ve decided that since the Manga deck has such storytelling illustrations, I will use that deck for writing purposes. So of course that meant I needed to get a THIRD deck to keep in my backpack and use for travel or readings for friends. What kind of deck does one carry around with them?? A pet, of course. I got the Pagan Cat Deck. Now I have kitties with me all the time! As always, I must start with a deck interview. I tried to shuffle as best I could, but…

Tell me about yourself.

4 of Swords: Purrrr…. I’m napping right now. I like to rest and have deep thoughts. Contemplation is one of my favorite things to do. Aside from sleeping.

What are your strengths?

10 of Chalices: I’m an expert snuggler. I love to help create a happy home. Harmony and alignment are my specialties. 

What are your limitations?

3 of Chalices: I only come out when friends are around! I’m here to be a travel companion and to guide your friends and community. Just don’t call me an emotional support animal!

What are you here to teach?

The Magician: My abilities to share knowledge will spread magick to others. I will teach you and your friends to learn more about your inner powers, skills, and to find your own answers. And I’ll teach the world to love cats, of course. Mrow.

How can we best collaborate?

Hierophant: You, the hooman tarot reader, must establish yourself as a trusted tarot interpreter. Together we will uncover the mysteries of daily life for yourself and others. I’ll bring the catnip.

What is the potential outcome of our relationship?

9 of Chalices: If we work together, we can grant wishes. Bowls and bowls of tuna can be ready for us to feast upon. Satisfaction and happiness is in the future!

What breed of cat are you?

Mreh! I cannot be defined. Sometimes I am a gorgeous longhaired Persian requiring grooming and maintenance. Sometimes I am a black cat deeply in touch with the occult. And at all times, I am the QUEEN of the house, so don’t forget that. What matters most is that in my heart, I care about others and I want to be an inspiration.

I think this deck will require lots of petting, I mean shuffling, to make sure it gives concise answers. But I love it’s compact size and it’s already in my backpack ready to go on adventures! Who wants a reading from the Cat Deck??

Napping in the City that Never Sleeps

People love New York City because of all of the hustle and bustle. So much opportunity! If you can make it here you can make it anywhere! It’s the city that never sleeps! No wonder we’re so stressed out.

I’ve been lowkey going on a spiritual journey and exploring new ideas and methods of finding true happiness. (Sounds deep, I know.) My first step was reading self love books, which I still do and enjoy very much. And there are TONS OF BOOKS about this. After doing some reading, I realized there was a lot of potential in meditating regularly. (Since then I have also been exploring tarot cards, crystal grids and more… but I want to stay on topic here.)

Meditation can be a powerful tool in helping you to focus, calm yourself, or seek answers to a problem that you are having. In my meditations, I have experienced various kinds of visualizations, from out-of-body experiences to seemingly traveling to far off places… But this doesn’t always happen. Sometimes it can be very hard to focus; my mind wanders, or an outside element distracts me. This setback has caused me to start looking for new places to meditate, or maybe a class.

My search brought me to Nap York, located right near Penn Station. (Conveniently located for commuters who might have missed their train and need a place to chill while they wait for the next.) Nap York provides various services: the first floor is the Nap York Cafe, which I haven’t tried, but serves a variety of healthy looking organic fare. At the cash register you can enroll in a yoga or meditation class, or you can reserve a private nap pod. I had received a token for a free 30 min nap pod, so that is what I tried out.

I was told to walk up the stairs to the fourth floor, and to go into Pod 19. Admittedly, I was a little nervous – it was VERY dark and quiet. I was worried about making a noise and disturbing someone. When I got to the fourth floor, I found a wall of giant cubby holes. It was like a pod hotel; there were 2 rows of pods stacked one upon the other, with little steps to get into the top row pods, if that’s where you were assigned. Along the opposite wall were leafy green plants and a humidifier or some kind of incense burner. It wafted out a light, pleasant smelling fog.

Inside the basic nap pod is what you see in my photo: a pillow, a blanket, a little shelf with what looked like ear buds, and a strobe light. I say strobe bc it flashes briefly occasionally to give you your bearings without turning a light on. I have a feeling if I had messed with it, I could have turned the light on and used it for a reading light or something. But that’s not why I was there. I crawled into my little pod, drew the black curtain closed, and turned on one of the guided meditation recordings I have on my phone (using my own ear buds bc that’s not the kind of thing I like to share with strangers lol). On the top of each pod ceiling was a small sea of illuminated stars.

I felt that the nap pod was a great place to meditate. While there were a few dim lights in the pod, the overall deep darkness of the space allows you to really tune into your other senses. My meditation was deep and refreshing, and the time went by quickly. I definitely recommend Nap York for someone who needs a quiet escape, even if for just a half hour. (You can absolutely book much longer reservations, btw.) I am extremely interested in checking out one of their guided meditation classes.

Now, a review wouldn’t be complete with a few negatives. Here were my minimal gripes:

  • The “studio” space reserved for classes looked really small. I saw two girls warming up for a yoga class on the second floor, and their studio space was simply a part of that room, sectioned off by large planters. I would imagine if there was a class with more than 5 students, it would be very cramped.
  • There was nobody on the fourth floor to guide me to my pod. I think someone was supposed to be there. Since I felt very alone, I also felt a little insecure. Was I in the right place? What if some stranger jumps into my pod?? (Turned out that I actually did go into the wrong pod, but I didn’t notice until I was leaving, and nobody was there so it didn’t matter.)
  • I had a headache basically as soon as I left. Not sure if that was going from the darkness to the light or what, but that was kind of weird.

ANYWAY, I still liked Nap York. I think it is a great place to take a break and recharge my spirit. I think I might join their membership because I will get a discount on all services – which would allow me to try out one of the more DELUXE nap pods. I like the convenience of the location by Penn Station. They are open late too, which is nice to know. You can learn more about their services and pricing here: napyork.com/rates

Do you have any secret spots like this that are good places to escape? Let me know where you go to recharge, I’m open to new ideas!!

Danaeryzard & Alaria: The Crystal Cursed Diadem

OK y’all it’s time to get nerdy. After completing my first-ever DnD session with my awesome friend Carney and our always patient DM “Tall Sven”, I realized that I took diligent notes. Naturally, I’m going to keep writing out the adventures of Danaeryzard & Alaria in our DnD game!

…………..

Danaeryzard knew she had done it this time. The black smoke rising from her latest wildfire had attracted… something. Or someone. She could sense the approach – but only barely, as though the footsteps were gliding along the wind itself. There was no sense in trying to hide, her guilt was proven by the steam still pouring from her lizard-like nostrils. Dany shrunk back into the hood of her cloak and hoped the approaching figure would pass her by.

When she saw the horns peeking out from the side of an overgrown bush about a yard away, Dany felt an instant wave of relief. Maybe it was only a goat? 

The Tiefling female seemed so small when she stepped out, but her face was brave and confident, albeit a little lost. Her horns were her most prominent feature, followed by her long flowing hair. She would be beautiful, if only she had dragon scales…

“Was that you, roasting all of these birds?” the Tiefling asked with a wink.

Dany noticed that the Tiefling was carrying a few dead and fire-singed quails. Her intuition told her that this was not a threatening approach. Danaeryzard dared not reply, her mouth still hot with flames.

“My name is Alaria… I’ve been trying to make my way through this forest. Are you alone out here?”

Dany gave a shy nod in response. Alaria motioned to sit nearby, and without speaking Dany indicated consent. Alaria passed one of the smoking birds to Dany and they sat together sharing their small meal in silence. Eventually, after eating and drinking some water, Dany gathered the courage to speak.

“I am called Danaeryzard the Dragonborn. Truth be told, I have been exiled from my home, so yes, I am on my own. I know this forest quite well, maybe I can point you in the right direction.”

The two spoke a bit more about where the Tiefling was from, and Dany learned that Alaria was a Rogue traveling alone and seeking companionship. Dany worried, as she always did, about getting too close to anyone. But accompanying someone towards the edge of the woods, that wasn’t much risk was it? 

They walked no further than 50 feet before they came across the small clearing in the forest. A tiny field, surrounded by large trees, was enclosing a peculiar scene – two large Bullywugs leaning over what appeared to be a recently killed human fighter. They were dressed in typical Bullywug fashion, their humanoid bodies in soldiers uniforms, only with bulging frog heads bursting from their necks. They were croaking out laughter about their latest kill, and didn’t notice the approach of Dany and Alaria. The sight of these Bullywugs repulsed Dany. She had seen these kind many times back in her homeland. Bullwugs often associated with some of the baddest and least savory members of her family’s Dragonborn clan and she had heard tales of some of the nasty business they did. Dany was certain that these Bullwugs in the forest were not any more innocent and would pose an immediate threat.

Without a word, the two silently readied their bows and began the battle. It was terrifying for Dany; she had never seen real battle before, and felt completely unprepared. Her light crossbow shots were missing and the Bullywugs had a nasty bite. She was attacked first, and was brutally bitten by a fast-moving Bullywug. Before long, Dany found herself on the brink of passing out, but saw Alaria handling the fight with great proficiency. As she blinked in and out of consciousness, Dany felt a jolt of pride for her new friend. 

It must have been a few hours later when she finally woke up, but Alaria didn’t seem too worried that Dany had blacked out. Maybe this sort of thing had happened to her new friend before, Dany couldn’t be sure. But she could tell that the battle had been won. Apparently Alaria had also checked the dead human body for anything useful, and this was when Dany realized the benefits of being friends with a professional thief.

After the success of their quick battle, they decided to continue traveling together. Dany lead them through the edge of the woods and they could see the Castle of Drachen from miles away before they got close to the city limits. The white castle shone brightly like a beacon and they reached the castle gates easily. The two were welcomed as friendly travelers, which was a bit of a shock to Dany. She had grown accustomed to strangers being afraid of her due to her lizard-like appearance, but everyone in Drachen seemed to be unaffected by her unique race. They decided to stop at the pub first to rest up and get a drink.

Inside, the pub was bustling with all kinds of people. Dany and Alaria nervously kept to themselves, and chose a table near the door. Within a few moments, an impressively large Magistrate was joining them at the table. He introduced himself as Kolari, an officer of the Royal Expeditionary Guard. They barely finished their polite replies before Kolari began pleading for help.

Kolari explained that Princess Pema, the beautiful royal princess who lived in Castle Drachen, was distressed. One of her favorite Diadems had been stolen by a pack of Jackalwere bandits in the desert between Drachen and Dragonlance! Kolari implored to them to please come to her aid, as they had no  more soliders available in the barracks for this quest. He promised to pay them 100 GP if they could return the Diadem safely to the castle. 

Dany and Alaria weren’t quite sure what to make of this random stranger’s desperate request, and by the looks on their faces it was pretty obvious to Kolari as well. He told them that they could think it over, but if they were interested in joining the Expeditionary Guard, that they should meet him that evening at the castle.

Just as Kolari was finishing his speech, a mysterious looking elf walked by and scoffed at Kolari. “Recruiting again, are we Kolari? Why don’t you leave these people alone for once?” The moment became awkward and Kolari made his leave. The elf lingered a few moments more. She introduced herself as Ezra and said that she too wanted that Diadem – but not to give back to the Princess. Ezra offered that the two join up with her and the Midnight Ring, and they would be paid 200 GP for completing the task. It seemed that Alaria knew more about this Midnight Ring, but Dany was oblivious. Dany thought that Ezra seemed a bit shady, and expressed her preference to help Kolari.

In the end, they decided to go to the castle and see if they could speak to the Princess directly. Inside the glorious Castle Drachen, they were taken directly to the throne room. Princess Pema awaited them and asked again that they help her. Dany and Alaria were outfitted with extra rations, some extra gold, and horses by the Quartermaster Thamdid. Dany was also gifted a Cloak of Protection, which was beautiful and exquisitely crafted. Before they realized what had happened, they were on their way to retrieve the stolen Diadem.

While she wasn’t thrilled to be heading back towards Dragonlance, Dany and Alaria began their journey with full speed. After two days on the road, they came upon a road that lead through an ancient ruins. The crumbled remains of old buildings lined the road, and as they approached they saw a wounded warrior laying by a tree. He was clearly alive and struggling, so they approached him with concern. 

They told the wounded man that they had come from the castle. He immediately asked if they were searching for the Diadem. He began to speak frantically about a curse and how they needed to stop the ritual being planned by the evil Sun Wizard. Dany had no idea what he was talking about, but she wanted to help him. He was very handsome, even with his bleeding wounds. The man says that his name is Hendricks and he thinks the Jackalweres that attacked him must not be far away. Dany and Alaria scouted the area and discovered that there were indeed two Jackalweres hiding out in a nearby ancient building with broken stone walls. 

Dany used her magic orb to create a minor illusion cantrip to draw out the Jackalweres. Again, she learned that her lack of combat skills were going to be a problem if she gets too close to an enemy. Much like in their last battle, Dany found herself as a giant target, fending off foes while Alaria did most of the real attacking. The outcome was another success, and while everyone was a bit worse for wear afterwards, they came out with extra gold and a health potion. Alaria offered the potion to Hendricks, which Dany thought was very generous for a Tiefling. Once they had completed a long rest, the trio continued onward to find the Diadem.

As the dirt ground began to turn into yellow sand, Dany knew that they were getting closer to Dragonlance. When they approached the mouth of a large dark cave, she found her confirmation – the cave door was guarded by a magic stone dragon head. Beneath the head of the dragon was a message scrawled in Draconian: “The password is Gold.”

This clue gave Dany a sinking feeling in her core. Gold Draconians. Would she never escape the demons of her past? Or would they continue to find her and torment her? She whispered the meaning of the message to her travel companions. They deliberated for quite a while, arguing with the magical stone head who responded to their questions as though it thought it was a real dragon. “What are you talking about, ‘password’? I haven’t the slightest idea,” the stone dragon head replied, turning its dragon snout upwards snootily. 

“But it says right beneath you that the password is GOLD!” Dany insisted, feeling very foolish to be having an argument with a dragon-headed gargoyle. 

“What are you talking about? That’s nonsense. ‘The password is gold?'”

As soon as the stone dragon head spoke the word gold from it’s own mouth, the door swung open and the three rushed in. They made their way down a dark, barely lit cave hall, which ultimately led into a torture chamber. It was empty, aside from a dead human body still outstretched in what must have been an extremely painful position. They looked at the body with pity as the door swung behind them and locked them in. 

The resourceful group realized that the only way out now was through a hatch in the ceiling. They stacked up storage boxes littered around the room and climbed their way up, and they barely made it to the second floor of the dark cave. Alaria fell on her way up, knocking boxes and crates over with a loud bang and commotion, but no enemies on the second floor heard it… because they were all distracted by what appeared to be a magical seance.

Three Jackalweres were standing before a masked man floating in a protective, bright yellow magical orb. The Sun Wizard! He was holding the Diadem and appeared to be in deep concentration. His lips were moving, speaking inaudible words with great speed. 

“The ritual! He must be stopped!” cried Hendricks as they closed in on the enemies. But as soon as they made their move, the Jackalweres quickly turned to confront their challengers. Dany and her companions began to fight these strong werewolf-men. Hendricks told Dany and Alaria to proceed and stop the ritual while he distracted the Jackalweres. Dany was more than happy to sneak away from the fight, after how the last two battles had not gone well for her. Alaria and Dany each stepped deeper into the cave towards the Sun Wizard, and they noticed that the impenetrable shimmering orb was actually being held up by 4 crystals located in the corners of the room. Each taking one side, Dany and Alaria began to attack the giant magical crystals that controlled the Sun Wizard’s orb. 

For the first time in her life, Dany’s breath weapon was useful. She was able to aim her firey breath properly and attacked one of the crystals – burning up a slimy Flying Snake in the process. Each crystal only took two hits before they broke down into shards, which ceased the magical spell that created the orb protecting the Sun Wizard. 

Dany saw that Hendricks had handled the Jackalweres decidedly by this point, and all that was left was to attack the Sun Wizard himself and get the Diadem back. But before she could even raise her light crossbow, the Sun Wizard threw the Diadem towards the group and disappeared with a high-pitched screeching laugh that made their skin crawl. 

Hendricks confirmed that the ritual had not been completed and that the Diadem was safe to take back to the castle. They didn’t defeat the Sun Wizard – and that was certainly a problem – but they did achieve their goal! They successfully retrieved the stolen Diadem!

The ride back to the castle seemed to go much faster than the trip out to the desert. Dany was feeling so good about being able to control her breath weapon that she didn’t even mind that Alaria insisted on wearing the Diadem during the entire ride home. She felt that Alaria was a great teammate – the Tiefling was agile and had wonderful aim. With practice, the two of them might be a serious force!!

Back in the throne room, Princess Pema was grateful. On top of their promised reward (which had increased to 120 GP each due to the success), she offered them official positions within the Expeditionary Guard, with a weekly pay! Dany felt so proud. Never before had anyone given her a smile – let alone a reward! Maybe being exiled from her homeland was the best thing that could have happened to her. 

………………….

I hope you enjoyed the latest chapter in the Dany & Alaria DND saga! After our next session, I’ll post another novelesque blog! It might take a few weeks to get to the next chapter but stay tuned.

Facebook Detox

It’s time for a rant. This is something I think everyone should strongly consider!!

I remember the day in 2005 when my small private art college was FINALLY accepted onto a new social website called Facebook. It was hard for my school to get on board with the site, because we were so small. All my friends at major universities were already on Facebook. I was jealous! At the time, you were required to have a college email address from an approved college in order to create an account. (It was initially intended to be an ‘online yearbook’ for students.) Then my nerd friend told me that sva.edu was finally an accepted school email address and I signed up right away!

Fast forward a year to when the iPhone was first released, and the era of the smartphone began. It took me a while to get a smartphone, but when I finally did I regarded my phone as a status symbol. I could now reach the internet regardless of my location! Of course, Facebook was one of the first apps I had on my smartphone.

 

It’s something about the NOTIFICATIONS. They draw you in. You feel compelled to check them, even when the content they are notifying you about is most likely the most unimportant thing you need to read. On Facebook notifications are literally a RED BOX begging for your attention in the corner. They show a number if you have multiple notifications – “Oh jeez why do I have 43 notifications??” You suddenly feel both popular and important, but also overwhelmed and anxious about having to review them all, and possibly follow up in some way. How did we suddenly feel the need to be this busy?

Our society has developed a form of self-imposed ADD. I noticed this around 1999. When I was in high school I was in a video program and we had some film history workshops. One of the directors I studied was Stanley Kubrick. If you’ve ever watched a Kubrick film, you might recall that the movies feel ‘slow’ by today’s standards. Kubrick’s movies were edited in a way that was not rushed… shots would linger on for many seconds before cutting to an actor saying a line… then another long pause… It was about soaking in the imagery as much as it was about telling the story.

But as the “MTV” style of editing began to gain traction, fast edits were everywhere. If a shot lasts more than 5 seconds on screen today (other than news), I am shocked. It’s constant, flashy cuts with moving transitions and letters flying across the screen… there is no stillness. There is no pause. There is no time to soak in anything. You must pay full attention or it’s likely that you will miss something. So what happened? Commercials got shorter. Today there are commercial spots as quick as :6 seconds long. And that’s just TV – there are flashier ads and content on the internet. You don’t even realize it when you’re watching, but this is so that companies can sell more ad space and shove more content down our throats!

I’ve decided I’ve had enough of this self-imposed ADD. I can’t do much about changing how advertisements are created and sold, but I can control what content I am looking at on my smartphone. I decided to delete the Facebook app from my phone. This doesn’t mean that I deleted or deactivated my account. (The Glux Blog Facebook Page is still there and I have no plans of taking it down!) Honestly, I use Facebook to log into other sites, that I just can’t be bothered with dealing with that headache if I were to delete my account. And I don’t want my friends to think I’ve dropped off the face of the earth, so I still repost my IG photos to my FB profile.

But, Facebook has actually been proven to be detrimental to the mental health of young people. I’m pretty sure it’s also not great for Facebook to be so ingrained in the lives of everyone else, regardless of age. There is a toxic mix of FOMO, Keeping Up with the Joneses, having to be perfect, politics pulling people apart, internet trolls, cyber bullying and mind-rotting memes on Facebook. I’ve had enough. I don’t need to argue with random people about sports and politics. I don’t need notifications distracting me during the work day. I just don’t need Facebook in my life.

Not to mention the recent scandal regarding the privacy concerns with Facebook!

So I deleted my app on Sunday. I still have Messenger to talk to my friends. I still have Instagram to share my photos bc that’s mostly what I enjoy doing on the internet these days (besides blogging of course!). I realize that these apps are both owned by Facebook and my little ‘protest’ isn’t exactly sticking it to Zuckerberg… but I am already seeing positive effects in my daily life. I am not wasting time looking at memes. I’m not getting anxiety because I can’t afford a lavish vacation, fancy car, new kitchen, huge game collection, or whatever else people like to show off on their newsfeeds. I can focus on my own happiness without comparing myself to others. I can focus on work without constant distraction. Not to mention… my phone battery lasts longer now!

This is my Facebook Detox. And I like it. 😎

Day 85: Today Release a Red Balloon

I remember when I first picked up “This Book Will Change Your Life.” One of my best friends from college had purchased it and showed it to me and I was immediately in awe. The year was 2004. I was trying to start off the year right by following this book. Each day you are given a totally random – and sometimes completely outlandish – daily task to complete. The author snarkily claims that by doing each of these instructions will expand your life, invite you to try new things, and be more open minded. Technically, it could. Some of the objectives are truly ridiculous. (For example, go through the day without your sense of sight.) I read through the pages that I had completed, all those years ago. A lot of them I had skipped, writing: “Yeah I’m not doing this.” I completed the pages until Day 85 and stopped. The task?

Day 85: Today Release a Red Balloon

I remember putting this off several times. It haunted me. Why was I afraid to do this simple task? I think at the time I felt that it would make me look like a crazy person in public. Maybe I needed someone to come along as I did this. I don’t know. All I know is, it took me 14 years but today I was ready to do it!

I’ve been going through some changes in my love personal life, and thought that today this would be a therapeutic activity. I’ve been reading a lot of books about self love and today was exploring the idea of letting go of resentment. What a perfect fit – I decided to get a red heart balloon and use it to symbolically let go of my grudges and resentments towards the male species that hold me back in new relationships. Plus the fact that it was raining made the whole thing seem more emo, which was fitting.

The entire moment was kind of sweet. I walked to the local park with my red mylar heart balloon, and the park was deserted due to the rain. I let go of the balloon, with the intention of letting go of my grudges so that I can start fresh as I go forward with my life. At first, the balloon wouldn’t fly away – it was still attached to me. The balloon’s ribbon had coiled around my arm, as if it didn’t want to let go. I freed the ribbon and the balloon finally began to rise. The rain was starting to get heavy, and I chucked as the balloon buckled under the weight, sinking back towards the earth slightly. I turned and began to walk back home. When I looked over my shoulder, the balloon was completely gone. It must have been swallowed up by the rain clouds, lost forever. Goodbye resentments! Goodbye negative energy! Time to move forward with clarity and nothing but good intent. 🤗

(…or maybe Mayor Gluxie ran in and shot it with the slingshot. I guess I’ll never know.)

Crate Crazed!

Now for a rare blog post that isn’t about video games. This is more on the general  gamer girl theme… I’m here to talk about CRATES. Basically everyone has heard of some kind of monthly crate subscriptions that you can purchase to get a surprise of goodies curated to meet a certain theme or topic sent to you. I think it’s time to start talking about the good, the bad and the ugly of these subscription crates… because let’s face it, they are not all created equal. Plus, I’d love to hear your suggestions for your favorite crates too!

My first subscription crate was Japan Crate. I was a Premium Box subscriber, which was the biggest box they had on offer, and was always packed with stuff! It is definitely a good quality subscription crate, you got plenty of stuff for your money. For a while I was pretty happy with Japan Crate, since I’m a total weeb and I had always heard about crazy Kit Kat flavors in Japan, and things like that. However, after many months of being a member, I realized that half of my snacks were going uneaten. I’m a picky eater and I am not really into eating mysterious corn puffs covered with powdered artificial shrimp dust. One time I did get a dark chocolate Kit Kat, and occasionally there would be a Pokemon themed candy, but overall I wasn’t loving the snacks. Then finally, the last straw came. The company was based in San Francisco, and then they moved to Japan. I’m sure for them it was an important business move that helped them in the long run. In the short term, it meant that my shipments were late. I wasn’t thrilled and I ended up canceling the subscription. But I still go on their website from time to time, because you can order some of the popular snacks directly from them. If you’re a more adventurous eater than I am, this may be a good crate for you!

The second crate I ever tried was the Gamer Girl Monthly crate. I just looked up the website for the first time since I ended the subscription (over a year ago) and it seems they have restructured their subscriptions and now you can personalize what items you want to get. So I can’t really comment on how GGM works now. But I can say that it is more expensive that it used to be – I believe I was paying $13 a month when I was a member. However, the downside was definitely that I was getting items that were not from fandoms that I was into. I would also get a lot of earrings and… I don’t have pierced ears. So eventually I decided to cut the cord. I will say that I did get some SUPER cute items, like the Kirby plush coin purse, Zelda necklaces, and some cosplay quality accessories. If you like girly gamer stuff and can afford the new price point, it might be worth a shot for you!

For a little while, I was on a subscription crate hiatus. I’ve joined other monthly services, like JustFab and Adore Me. However, I’m about ready to stop those services because I often forget to tell them not to charge me, and then I end up with credits that I’m obligated to spend… it’s just a hassle. I hate having to send stuff back when it doesn’t fit. Just ugh. I need to shop in stores more lol. If anything, maybe some day I’ll get Stitch Fix instead.

Anyway, when the calendar turned to 2018, my amazing friend Carney (check out her blog!) and I decided to go hard with planners, bullet journals, self love books, and overall life organization and wellness. We each purchased the planner that we thought was best for us, and went to work organizing our lives. It’s actually a lot of fun and helps me stay on task and work toward my goals. However, as we have been sharing photos of these beautifully designed bullet journals (#bujo on Insta, check it out!!) with expertly drawn hand lettering… I felt a little inadequate. I can’t draw, and that’s ok. I got colored gel pens and started writing in bubble letters. Not QUITE as cute as I wanted it to be though. So what did I do? I went to Cratejoy.

I wanted to find a sticker subscription to help take my planner to the next level. And oh boy do they have sticker subscriptions! There are tons of sticker and stationery crates to choose from. I opted to try out the Stickii Club crate and after only one month, I am so happy that I did! I love it so much that I am considering adding an additional theme to my current subscription, since they are only $10 a month. You can choose from Cute, Retro or Pop stickers. I went with Cute… and it was f’ing CUTE!! They sent me several sheets of stickers with a cute bunny theme, featuring stickers representing different emotions and foods and lots of other fun stuff. They also sent a “Stickii Storage” which is a translucent folder sized for an A5 6-ring Filofax style binder, and it neatly organized all of the cute stickers for the month. So what did I do? I went on Amazon, ordered an A5 6-ring binder, an extra folder to hold more stickers… and I ordered some cat stickers while I was at it. I’m clearly out of control with stickers already, and I’m reliving the joys of my 10 year old self by creating this new sticker book to use with my planner. Whew. Stickers never go out of style!! I totally recommend this club to anyone who ever loved sticker collecting. Your love will be renewed!!

Now that my planner is helping me organize my life, and my sticker collection motivating me to continue to use said planner, things are definitely moving in the right direction! But Carney and I also enjoy reading and thought it would be fun to start a book club for ourselves. (Wanna join? Comment or PM me!) We both had picked up the crazy political exposé “Fire and Fury”, so we figured we’d start with that. (Brace yourselves, I’m going to post a book report about it here on the blog when I’m done!) But what about next month? We figured we’d try out a book crate subscription.

The Inspired Book Club crate is a monthly subscription featuring a book and some items that are on theme with the book. After some drama of waiting much longer than expected to receive tracking info, I finally received my first crate yesterday. Now, I haven’t read the book yet – saving it for next month’s book club book – but it’s not as long as I expected. But it does say New York Times best seller. I don’t want to post the contents b/c Carney didn’t get her box yet (compounding on the shipping drama!!), but the items that came along seem very nice, good quality… but I have no idea what they have to do with the book. They seem like completely unrelated self-pampering products. Which I’m fine with, but it wasn’t exactly what I expected.

So that’s really the bottom line – these crates often do not deliver what you expect. Sometimes you are surprised and delighted, sometimes you are disappointed or feel like you wasted money. It’s important to read the reviews (Inspired Book Club also does not have good reviews) and remember that some of these crates are shipped out by an individual to hundreds or thousands of subscribers. Other times, the crates are shipped from overseas and have kinks to be worked out, like what happened with Japan Crate. But that is what makes these subscription crates fun – you never know what you might get!

Do you subscribe to any monthly crates? Have you had a great experience, or maybe a terrible one? Please share it in the comments, I’m very curious!!

わさびの新聞#5

Week of 2/24 – 3/2

Wasabi Cafe Grand Opening!

Everyone in Wasabi is celebrating the construction of a new building – the Wasabi Cafe!  As promised, Mayor Neko set in motion the funding and construction plans for this new coffeeshop on as soon as the Windmill was completed (see the Public Works section below for more details!) and in less than a week, on 3/1, the doors were open!  Brewster is the owner and main barista at the Wasabi Cafe, and rumors are going around that if you can get on Brewster’s good side, you can get a part-time job working there!  The whole town is very excited about the Wasabi Cafe, as it is sure to attract visitors from all over.  In fact, when Mayor Neko visited the Cafe for her inaugural cup o’ joe, she noticed Kapp’n was already seated inside.  Guess he needed a quick break from all that ferrying back and forth from Wasabi to the Resort Island…

PUBLIC WORKS UPDATES

It has been a busy week for Mayor Neko and the Town Hall.  Two construction projects were completed, and one more has gone into the planning stages.

2/24 – Windmill Completed!

An earth-friendly Windmill has been constructed in Wasabi to bring in some renewable fuel sources.  On a windy day you can hear the “whoosh” of the Windmill from pretty far away!  The townies are all very excited for this new Public Work, especially Teddy, since the Windmill was built right near his house.  Mayor Neko is also quite pleased, she can see the Windmill from her house – it’s right across the river!

3/1 – Cafe is Now Open!

Read our headline story for all the details!  Construction and funding began on 2/25 and only 4 days later, the Cafe was fully funded and constructed.  Mayor Neko attributes the fast turnaround to the “helpful donations of the residents of Wasabi, as well as the Resort Island for having an abundance of rare beetles to sell.”  Thank you to everyone who contributed to this Public Work project!  Blathers, the curator of the Wasabi Museum, was especially pleased to see the coffeeshop, as he and Brewster are old friends.

3/1 – Funding for the Mayor’s Fountain Has Begun

Any Wasabi resident would agree that one of the main attractions of their town is the Mayor’s Estate.  Located in a private nook by the beach, Mayor Neko’s large two story mansion is surrounded by Delicious Cherry Trees and guarded by hedges.  In an effort to make the Mayor’s Estate even more beautiful, Mayor Neko opted to decorate the outside of her house in the Cabana Style.  In addition, Mayor Neko has set up funding for what is being dubbed as the Mayor’s Fountain.  The Mayor’s Fountain is going to be situated right next to the Mayor’s house, overlooking the waterfall and beach area.  The Wasabi News is excited to see the finished product!  Fundraising has already begun, and at the time of printing, the Mayor’s Fountain only needs ฿80,000 to reach completion.  If you’d like to donate, please visit the Gyroid next to Mayor Neko’s house.

SPRING HAS SPRUNG!

Much to everyone’s surprise, spring came early this year in Wasabi!  On 2/25, the snow officially melted away, revealing lush green grass underneath.  While almost everyone is very excited for the new fish and bugs of springtime, only one wasn’t happy about the arrival of spring… the poor Snowman.  😦  For the information of our readers, the Wasabi News would like to remind anyone playing AC:NL that if you have a Snow Daddy, he will not play Snowman Bingo with you once the seasons change.  Be aware!

A NEW PETITION

Occasionally, one of the townies will come up with a brilliant idea for something or other, for which they will want a petition signed.  When this happens, it is up to the Mayor to visit another town to collect signatures.  (That’s right – you cannot simply ask your own townies to sign a petition!  They are obviously biased.)  So when Kitt approached Mayor Neko on 2/26 to have a petition signed, Mayor Neko took it upon herself to visit the neighboring Kasen Village to get the necessary 6 signatures – and also check out the Meteor Shower while she was there!  The Kasen townies were more than happy to oblige, and Mayor Neko’s task was completed easily, leaving plenty of time for her and Mayor Yumi to take some adorable photos.

When you see a shooting star, don’t forget to make a wish!

Double Meteors!

Yumi is wondering why Neko is blushing at creepy Nelson…

Soo… can anyone tell us what the Petition was for, anyway?

NEW CAMPUS DLC AVAILABLE

The latest installment of the Campus DLC series was distributed on 2/27 via a Letter from Nintendo.  This week’s special furniture is the Eraser Bench.  Like the Campus Notebook Closet, this Eraser Bench can be redesigned in a variety of colors, and costs an exorbitant amount of money to buy from the Catalog Machine in the Nook Shops.

NOOKMART STORE EXPANSION

After a quick reconstruction on 2/27, the Nookmart has expanded once again!  This time, the Nookmart is even bigger, and now the Flower Shop next door has a side entrance incorporated directly into the Nookmart!  In addition, there are now 5 furniture items available for sale per day, 2 carpets and 2 wallpapers per day, as well as a new item – K.K. Slider albums!  The Flower Shop has also expanded their inventory, now offering shrubbery on a daily basis.

A MAYOR ABROAD

Being the Mayor of a thriving village is no easy task.  Mayor Neko spends countless hours fundraising for Public Works, checking the Stalk Market for decent prices (the Wasabi Stalk Market maxed out at ฿153 this week, not too great but at least no money was lost), and of course making connections with Mayors from other towns.  This week, Mayor Neko made three trips abroad!  As described earlier in the Wasabi News, Mayor Neko visited Kasen Village on 2/26.  In addition to this, she visited Mayor Zen and Mayor Aya.

Mayor Zen – Zui Village – 3/1

Zui Village has the astounding Department Store!

Visiting with Gracie in the Department Store, and dropping a pretty penny on some fabulous fashions!

A beautiful fountain and plaza in Zui Village

Mayor Aya – Shakure Village – 3/2

It was raining in Shakure – thankfully both Mayors had umbrellas!

A delicious meal was set up on the table in Mayor Aya’s house!

A Japanese themed room in Mayor Aya’s house looks like it is prepared to celebrate Girl’s Day on 3/3!

COMMUNITY CALENDAR

  • 3/3/13 – Girl’s Day
    • Meet Shizue at the Town Plaza for a special item!
    • Dainty cakes will be served!  Yummy!
  • 3/31/13 – Bunny Day
    • Special Guest:  The Easter Bunny
    • Spend the day hunting for eggs!  Eggs can be found in the ground, floating in balloons, hiding in trees, even in the river!  Rumors claim that you can even go diving and find Easter Eggs during this holiday.
    • Inside each egg is a special foil which can be used to trade in for the limited edition Egg Series.
  • 4/1/13 – April Fool’s Day
    • Special Guest:  Blanca
    • Be careful – the villagers are set to play pranks on you!

Season’s Greetings from the Shire!

If you haven’t been following my friend Vella’s blog, then you are missing out on a LOT of news regarding the newest Animal Crossing game.  I read her blog every day and I’m always amazed by all the cool, cute, super fun new stuff that they’ve packed into the game.  It’s making me fiend out HARDCORE for some AC.  So I decided it’s time to pay a visit to my friends in my ACWW game, TheShire.  Pippin likes to speak for herself so here’s her latest news:

Hallo there!  Pip here.  Sorry I’ve been gone so long, but journeys tend to take twice as long when you’re a hobbit!  Recently my fellow hobbits and I were requested to serve as consultants on the new Peter Jackson film, “The Hobbit” and so we all packed up some lembas bread and left the Shire for several months.  We assumed that the rest of our enchanted residents would maintain our homeland whilst we were overseas.

However, upon our return, Merry and I were surprised to find that our town was over-run with weeds!  Of course, we don’t particularly mind, so I spent most of my first day back in the Shire collecting all the pipe weed and filling up the corners.  I couldn’t trust Merry for that job – no doubt she’d have smoked it all away!

I probably don’t need to tell you that, as usual, Frodo has been busy sleeping ever since our return.  He never helps with any of the duties of maintaining the Shire.  He usually just mumbles something about asking Samwise to do the work and then rolls over.  Something tells me he’s depressed that he wasn’t able to go to the Grey Havens with Lady Galadriel.

Luckily, despite our absence and lack of maintenance, the town was not damaged by orcs.  One of my dear friends Rasher apparently had decided to leave the Shire while we were gone, only to be replaced by Camofrog, who must be an old friend of Tom Bombadil.  Only Tom could have enchanted a frog to look like Camofrog!

There is snow on the ground and a chill in the air.  We are all preparing to celebrate the Solstice Feast of Yule at the end of this month.  Normally, Merry and I would simply prepare a modest seven course meal for everyone.  But this year, the shopkeeper Nook was pushing me to buy a large festive tree covered in decorations and ornaments.  Not wanting to seem rude, I did set up the tree at Bag End.  However I’m not quite sure what I’m supposed to do with it.  Now I’m being told that Frodo plans to have the Elves of Rivendell bring us an Elvish feast for the Solstice Feast of Yule this year, so I guess that leaves me with nothing to do but fish and wander around the Shire!

I’ll report back after the solstice.  Your good health!

– Peregrin Took