New Year, New Layout!

 

You may have noticed a change here at Plastic Stars & Pixel Hearts….

That’s because this year, I hope to learn a little bit more about blogging, and brush up on some coding (the last time I did any CSS was in 2007).  Please bear with me, and if you notice any errors don’t hesitate to let me know!

For someone who used to be really into .gifs and pixel art, I feel my blog is lacking a bit in the graphics department, and I hope to start incorporating a lot more artwork- from memes to animations and other sorts of graphics to help liven up these lengthy posts!

I’ve been a casual blogger, but this year I really would like to start learning more about blogging in-depth and what makes a blog good, as well as how to run a successful blog. If you’ve got tips or tricks, hit me up!

I’m always open to suggestions here as well, so if there is something you’d like to see on here, maybe a list or article you think I should cover, let me know!

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Hello 2017!

Well, it’s official. 2016 is now a thing of the past. While many are grim about the era upon us for one reason or another ( the mass of celebrity deaths in 2016, Trump as President, global warming,  and other concerns), I am trying to turn over a new leaf.

Now, I’m not a “new year, new me” type person, and I very seldomly make a resolution and stick to it, but this year I have 2 resolutions I would like to try to stick with:

  1. Finish something all the way through.
    This is a big one. Having ADHD can be hard, especially if you are unmedicated. I have never been treated for my ADHD, and as an adult who has lived with this their whoel life, I’ve learned how to use it to my advantage, and how to work around it. However, I have that typical ADHD symptom of starting a hundred things and never finishing any of them, no matter how hard I try. I just loose steam and drop the commitment.  I’m setting this as a goal that I will start something(not a book, series, or game) and see it through.

2. Try to be healthier/take better care of myself.
This is the big one. I hate doctors in general, and I’ve said numerous times I’d rather not know I was dying, so I could continue to live peacefully until my ticket was up. I practically have to be in serious states to even GO to the doctors aside from physicals and check ups. I suffered strep throat a few years ago for 3 days before I went to the doctor and got put on antibiotics, and I only went because I couldn’t swallow or eat. I fell down steps a few years ago, and twisted my ankle. I elevated it and convinced myself I was fine until the next day when it puffed up and I couldn’t stand. It was sprained pretty bad, to the point I was in an air cast and on crutches and off work for a week. So, as part of my get healthy plan, I am going to TRY to make appointments to get checked over by a Dermatologist, and at least  make a gynecologist appointment (since it’s been awhile..lol)
I also plan on starting vitamins, specifically vitamins for hair, skin and nails with lots of Biotin, and also getting back on SkinnyMint TeaTox system, eating healthier and utilizing my Fitbit to help me reach my goals. I’m starting over with C25K, plan to exercise 3 times a week, drink 64 oz of water a day, and maybe just maybe join a Yoga or Zumba class.

I also intend to write a lot more, not just on here but in general. I enjoy writing, and I would like to finish one of the several “books” I have in limbo right now. It’s always been a dream of mine to publish a book, despite my ADHD and writers block getting in the way. I don’t want to say I’ll finish a book this year, but I will say I intend to shed a little more light on my lesser known talent.

Right now I think those are good goals, and I’m not going to try to overload myself. I’m hoping that our luck gets better with a lot of things, and I’m hoping that this will be a better year in general.

Cheers, and Happy New Year.

—Kei

Book Review: Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

Where do I start?

This book was amazing and perfect. I read the synopsis briefly as I cleaned over the summer and found it among a stack of books. I added it to my “Want to Read” list on GoodReads.com. The story was about a girl who was different and unique, and her struggle to fit in. As an outcast myself, I was drawn to this book from the get go, and reading about Stargirl’s unusual character and quirks sometimes made me feel like I was looking back in a mirror.

Stargirl-She changes her name when she feels it no longer suits her. She drops pennies and change just so someone can find it and smile. She photographs life as it’s happening as an observer on the sidelines. She cheers for the other team, sends cards and gifts to people with no name. She carries a pet rat, a ukulele and wears crazy clothes.  She doesn’t seem to care what people think. She’s funny. She’s kind. She is the kind of person you would be lucky to know.

I was never “normal”. I am still not “normal”. What hit me in the mega feels was that Stargirl didn’t seem to care what others thought about her, she just wanted to be herself and so she was. But deep down, she DID care, and when her boyfriend tells her she should be a little less her and a little more like THEM, she changes herself to try to fit in. This really resonated with me, reminding me of my own struggles to accept my differences. I was the “weird” girl that no one wanted to be friends with (except for a very small few who found a kindred weirdness with me), and that boys were scared to death to be liked by. Granted part of that weirdness was due to my ADHD and constantly being on meds-the other part was purely my quirky personality.  I’d always defined myself as a bright pink crayon in a box of black and grey crayons.  Why fit in when you were born to stand out? That’s something I embraced in my later years, but not so much in middle school or high school. It wasn’t until middle school where the bullying I’d been dealing with for years hit something of a high point, and school became literally miserable.  When a new kid arrived instead of befriending them, I caved into the societal norm of middle school and made fun of them (and felt terrible about it). I rectified this quickly by trying to be a friend instead because I felt so awful. One of the best lessons of my life-trying to be like someone else will NOT make you happy. Be the change you want to see. I lived in a world of them, much like Leo and Stargirl, and tried to be one of them too even though I despised THEM.  My heart clenched as Leo who supposedly loved Stargirl for all her uniqueness- told her to be normal and regretted it THE REST OF HIS LIFE.  She cared deeply for others, wanted to spread joy and make others feel special in an otherwise dull world of black and grey crayons.

Spinelli’s novel addresses the issue of being popular, conforming to societal norms, and needing the validation of others. To this day, I still seek that validation much like Leo, because as my life has changed and I have embraced that I will never be like everyone else-in a strange way I still need validation that that’s ok.  Stargirl changed Leo’s life not in the way that they grew up and lived happily ever after, but because even though they fell apart-he was a better person for knowing her and experiencing kindness and compassion through watching her and helping her bring those things to others.  The school body adores Stargirl in the beginning and then turns on her in a way so fickle as high schoolers can be. They shun her for the very things they liked about her. Negativity wins out, as it usually does and in the future at their reunions they bring her up in passing and humor.

This book shows you why it is important to own who you are, and why it is important to stand out above the rest, that life isn’t about who your friends are in high school (some of us are lucky to keep the friends we had when we were teenagers, me being one of them)- it shows that you don’t have to live in between the painted lines that society has laid for you. You can cheer for the other team. You can show empathy even to total strangers. You can brighten someone’s day without even trying. You can notice the details in life and not just the vast picture.

I cried at the end, because unlike so many happy ending stories, this one ended realistically. I also heard that there is a sequel, “Love, Stargirl”- in which I must read. If it’s anything like this book, I know I’m going to love it.

I would recommend this book to probably any teenager, but most definitely to the pink crayons who don’t know how beautiful they are yet. To the outcasts who feel isolated and alone because they are different- this is your validation. In a world of Hillari Kimble’s, be a Stargirl. Always, be a Stargirl.

 

Kailyn’s Favorite Things of 2016

 

I know I’m not Oprah or anything, so I can’t give away gifts or yell really loudly “YOU GET A CAR!”, but I can tell you some of my favorite products and items from 2016. Why make a list? Because I want to share these cool things with you, that’s why.

So, without further ado, my list of favorite things of 2016

 

  1. JewelScent Candles

    This is one that’s been building up awhile, and I can honestly say I am nothing short of thrilled with this company. I wrote a review on the candles earlier when I started this blog, and since then my appreciation for the company has continued to grow. The products speak for themselves, so much to the point that I actually threw my first online JewelScent party back at the beginning of November. I ended up selling $248 worth of product, and ended up with $24.80 off a total order. I also got 24 reward points to use in the vault should I decide to do that instead. Their items make wonderful gifts, and every time I give one as a gift it’s always a hit. Check out their candles, soaps, tarts, body scrubs, creams and more at www.jewelscent.com

  2. Subscription Boxes

    I can’t begin to verbalize how much I’m loving subscription boxes. I started out with Ipsy and Fab Fit Fun, and have since added Marvel Collector Corps and Graze to my subscriptions.  There is something both equally fun about not knowing what you’re getting in your box (I don’t always look ahead) and getting a little pick me up when your package arrives. Ipsy has proven to be worth the $10 alone, and I’ve tried lots of great products and received some full size, great products such as nail polish, hand cream and even brushes. Fab Fit Fun has also proved to be a great box that is well worth the money. $50 every quarter for $252 worth of full sized products? It’s truly amazing.  Marvel Collector Corps also ships out on an every few month basis and has helped provide me with some great gifting options for the Marvel fans in my life. I’ve also found the snacks I get from my weekly Graze boxes help me feel a little bit better about my snacking habits.  There’s plenty of subscription box services out there, and I’ve got a few on my list I can’t wait to try such as MerLady Box, LoveFood, and Sephora Play. Joining My Subscription Addiction, I could search and check out other cool boxes, read reviews, and it has definitely helped when choosing boxes I’d like to try.

 

  1. LuLaRoe (specifically leggings)

    I have become seriously addicted to LuLaRoe. I started with a pair of leggings last February. There was a local fundraiser at the High School where I worked, and I kept seeing the signs for this “LuLaRoe”. I did some research as I always do, and found out that they make a variety of clothes but were popular with their leggings. I also found out that they make only 5,000 items with one print, so everything is limited quantities and designs. I got the card from the consultant, because that’s how you buy it. Much like Avon or Tastefully simple, consultants sell the items through at home parties but also online in weekly “pop ups”.  I got a pair of pixel heart leggings for Valentine’s day and they are the softest leggings EVER.  One consultant led to Multi- Consultant sales, which lead to more consultants and multi sales and before I knew it I added SEVERAL consultants and sale groups and can be found combing Facebook entering giveaways and hunting cool prints and items. I own 3 pairs of leggings so far and I can’t wait to try their dresses and shirts.

 

4.Marrakesh Argan & Hemp Oil

I received Marrakesh hair oil in one of my Fab Fit Fun boxes. I had always wanted to try hair oils, most predominately Moroccan Oil- so this full-size bottle got my attention. I loved the way it smelled and it’s applicable to wet or dry hair. It definitely helps my dry ends and provides beautiful and weightless shine to my hair. I loved the product so much, that when add ons came around for the Fall Box, I added another bottle of it as well as a Marrakesh gift set (shampoo, conditioner and body butter) to my box order. I use it daily, and I love it.

  1. Rose Gold

    Rose gold itself has been around awhile, but recently has been on the fast track to becoming popular.  I can’t get enough of the hue- the pinkish bronze color has me feeling some kind of way, and I’ve become slightly obsessed. My phone is rose gold colored. I asked for the limited edition rose gold Fit Bit for Christmas. I want to highlight my hair with baylayage rose gold.  I’m googling rose gold jewelry at the jewelry store. I love rose gold colored eyeshadows and glitters. I just can’t get enough of this classy, modern hue.

  2. ModCloth Clothing

    While I’m not as crazy for ModCloth clothing as I am for LuLaRoe, I have become enchanted with ModCloth. Their clothes are pretty pricey, which is why I have only bought during their Stylish Surprise, when they are cleaning out their inventory and your mystery items are a fraction of the price. Both of my Stylish Surprises have been great, and I’ll probably continue to do that sale. Other than that, I have bought 2 pairs of shoes from the website and loved them both. I have also joined an online resale group on Facebook called “Modcloth B/S/T” which people sell their brand new, like new or excellent used condition clothes for a fraction of the price. I’ve bought at least 3 dresses off the BST that were sold from ModCloth, brand new with tags-and the prices I paid are well worth it. $25 including shipping for a dress that costs $180? Brand new with tags? Yes PLEASE. I comb the sale groups looking for really great deals on brand new with tag dresses almost daily.

 

  1. The Skinjacker Trilogy by Neil Shusterman

    This year I saw an influx of books. I started reading after Christmas last year and made myself a reading challenge. I started reading a lot more, and while I read some adult fiction, I really fell into the Young Adult Literature. I read a few books on my break during Summer Work, as I work in a middle school the selections are all pretty much YA. I started the Percy Jackson series which I think is great, and the Skinjacker Trilogy which I think is one of my all-time favorite series now. While the first book was ok enough to keep my attention, the second and third book were spectacular. I was enthralled with the series and obsessively ready it every waking hour I could to finish the story. At the conclusion of the 3rd book, I literally CRIED.  The series is dark, twisted and hauntingly beautiful and hard to believe it is a young adult novel at times with some of the themes incorporated.  This is the book that resonated with me this year, and stood out above the rest.

  2. Theraflu Drink Packets

    This one might sound odd as a favorite thing of 2016, but it deserves its spot. I got pretty sick recently in October, with a very very sore throat. I didn’t want to keep spraying chloraseptic, and I wasn’t coughing so cough meds were out and I was well above halls or lozenges. Worried about getting Strep Throat, I needed something to take care of my irritated throat and knock it the hell out. I intended on getting Nyquil at the store for that night, and came across Theraflu hot drink packets to sooth sore throat. They were packets that contained pain reliever and fever reducer, as well as Lipton tea powder. I got Apple Cinnamon flavored. The packet is to be mixed with warm water and you need to drink it in the course of 15 minutes. Not only did it soothe my throat almost immediately, it knocked my cold clear out of me. The next day I felt better, and followed up with a packet just to be safe. The tea itself was pleasant and flavorful and not a nuisance to take like some meds. Theraflu makes its other medications in the drink packet as well, so I may be adding those to my medicine cabinet too.

  3. Stranger Things

    I can honestly say I am obsessed with this show. It came out in July, but I wasn’t ready yet. I watched it in September when we were cat sitting.  At Dragon Con, Stranger Things cosplays were EVERYWHERE, but I had no idea that was what they were. When I finally caved in to the hype, it was a little tricky to get into. the first 10 minutes of the first episode were kind of boring, but I continued to watch with the kitty cat in my lap.  By the end of the first episode I was hooked.  I binged all 8 episodes in one day, as it seemed to be the only thing that kept Precious in my lap all day. Precious is a rambunctious kitten and very active, so I was loving that she didn’t seem to mind sitting in my lap and watching the show with me. It made it that much cooler of an experience. (For those who don’t know I am pretty allergic to cats but totally enamored with them. Watching 2 kittens for a week was somewhat miserable to my allergies, but I loved every sneeze. They were totally worth it.)  I think what I really enjoyed about the show was it’s 80’s feel. It was made to feel like a Spielberg/ Stephen King horror flick set in the 8o’s and it feels like such. The music, the styles, and the environment and characters feels pretty genuine to me. I loved the main characters, the group of kids. These kids were lightning in a bottle. I especially loved Eleven, and could not get enough of her story arc.

Favorite Memories From This Year:

  1. Conventions!!!!

    I funded and attended 5 conventions this year with several new cosplays. Each convention was fun and great in its own right, but I think my #1 convention memory this year would be meeting Jared Padalecki from Supernatural, and being hugged by him. It was totally unexpected, but totally awesome.  Also, meeting Brett Dalton at Dragon Con, and Philo Barnhart (one of the key animators from The Little Mermaid) at Replay FX are going down as awesome convention memories.

  2. Weird Al Yankovic Concert

    This year Weird Al came to town, and Jeff was thrilled. He’s been a fan for a long time, but was worried that the concert fell on our 5-year wedding anniversary that I would be against going. On the contrary, I was all for going- knowing how much this would mean to my husband. It was hands down one of the best shows I’ve seen in recent years. Full of comedy skits as well as songs, incredible costumes and performances, I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun it was.

  3. Mother’s Day Brunch

    This year I invited the mothers in my life to a special brunch held at a banquet hall by my house. My Grandmothers, and future step-mom were in attendance. I got them all gifts (JewelScent, of course!) and could pay for both my grandmother’s. It made me feel very blessed to be able to do so, and share something special with them, and we all had a wonderful time. I would like to try to do the brunch again this year and include some other mothers in my life this year as well.

Honestly, I think that about sums up the year for me. 2016 was kind of a bum year for me, it certainly wasn’t one of my better years, but there were some great times, and fun things.

Bring on 2017!

 

Episode 5 Living The Dream: Dragon Con

 

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When we decided to go to Dragon Con, it was kind of surprising and spontaneous. Nicki brought up the idea, to which we said sounded cool, and then when tickets went on sale after last year’s con, we had a short window to purchase the tickets for the lower price and we said “let’s do this.” That was it, Nicki bought the tickets and then it hit us that we were going to Dragon Con, one of the biggest cons on the circuit, and we would be traveling to Atlanta, Georgia to do so.  This would be the biggest con ever for us. We knew it was going to be amazing, and huge- but nothing could have prepared us for the sheer force of this mega con.

Attending a massive convention like Dragon Con takes some planning.  Flights, hotel accommodations, transportation, and the planning of costumes.  My Ariel Kiss The Girl Dress cost me a whopping $265 alone. I was fortunate that I didn’t have to pay that upfront, instead the designer let me make payments on the costume over the course of several months, until it was paid off and delivered in July. The costume was customized to my measurements, and while there were some issues with it, it was definitely worth the price, considering it was the CHEAPEST costume on Etsy. I considered several designers on Etsy, and most of the costumes ranged over the $270 mark.  Wigs are also pricey when it comes to cosplay, and most styled character wigs on Etsy start at around $100 or more. I was extremely lucky to find my wig, styled for $40. I even got character shoes off Amazon for $25, so that the costume would be authentic.  Add Supernatural, and TrotCon to the mix- 2 more costumes I hadn’t planned on funding, and I was seriously glad most of our money was spent in advance. Upon our arrival to the con, nothing could have prepared us.  Brony Con’s 4,000-10,000 people was nothing compared to the 80,000 people attending Dragon Con. I have never seen so many people crammed in one place. The first day didn’t seem like much on Thursday, as we attempted to get the lay of the land. A super friendly and helpful employee at one of the hotels helped show us around a bit, and told us that the next day we would not be able to see the floor. She was right.

Dragon Con is held not in a convention center, or a hotel, but in multiple hotels AND a convention center. 5 Hotels are host to panels, photos, parties and more; and the convention center is 3 levels of vendors. We lined up for our first panel, at 10 am. The panel didn’t start until 11:30, but we thought we’d line up since we thought it might be a popular panel and the line might be long. That was an understatement. The line for the Firefly panel with Alan Tudyk and Adam Baldwin wrapped through the hotel, out the door, around the building and around the block. When a staff member came out and stood a few feet from us, he bellowed “The ballroom only holds 2,000 people. This is usually the cut off, and anyone after this point may or may not get in.” We had been in line for a while, and decided we wanted to take the chance; which paid off in our favor as we were able to get in to the panel.  It was however a bit of a shock, and also kind of a wake up.  We were going to have to be in line at least 1-2 hours ahead of time if we wanted to get into a panel we really wanted to see.  Below is a photo of the long line that seemingly goes on forever.

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While panels were a lengthy waiting time, we managed to do a few.  The highlight of the trip for me was the cosplay, the food and experiencing the massive and overwhelming environment of the con itself.  We attended the Dragon Con Night at the Georgia Aquarium on Saturday, which was the day we cosplayed as princesses. I cosplayed as my idol Ariel, Dani cosplayed as Aurora, and Nicki cosplayed as Yvaine from Stardust.

 

The night at the Aquarium was definitely worth leaving the con, and I had a blast indeed but we ended up leaving early because I was pretty exhausted. We all were. The first couple of days at the con we were utterly beat. Cons are not for the faint of heart- I know some people who think it’s nonstop geeky fun; which it is, but it is also really tiring when you consider all that it entails. Waking up very early to get ready and in full cosplay, so you can be out the door to arrive early at your first panel to ensure you get a spot in, rushing from place to place to try to hit everything you want to do (especially in a big city with a big con like Dragon Con), you don’t always have time to eat (best to pack snacks and bottled water) sometimes unless you’re sitting in a panel, which you might have to leave early to make your photo, autograph or next panel, stopping constantly to be photographed, and literally trying to do everything.  Dragon Con has programming that runs 24 hours, including big parties, and by mid-day you seriously feel in need of caffeine. By 9 you might feel ready to enter a comatose slumber.

Saturday was Princess Cosplays, and of course those were some of the more intricate, tricky, lengthy costumes. Dani had some major wardrobe malfunctions. I was the only one who got to do a trial run of my princess costume BEFORE Dragon Con, and Dani had her dress altered before Dragon Con, at the tailor who altered my skirt. She was in a hurry, picked up her dress (without trying it on at the shop) and the tailor had taken it in too much, so she took it back to be fixed. We had some issues with her zipper which totally broke, and we ended up trapping her in with safety pins and Velcro, and bustled part of her dress to cover up the malfunction. For fixing it on the fly, it was amazing that it stayed together ALL DAY.  My wardrobe issues were definitely less devastating, but I had them nonetheless. For one, my wig cap and wig kept riding back (it was bought on Etsy and not Arda) and I was constantly adjusting it. I also happened to get an aptly timed visit from Aunt Flo, so naturally I was anxious that I would stain my expensive costume, and thankfully I didn’t.  Nicki didn’t have any issues with her costume that I remember, but needless to say it was a long morning of fixing wardrobe malfunctions, make up, tightening corsets, and getting everything together. We got lots of pictures with other Princess cosplayers, and I loved being able to walk around freely in the skirt as opposed to shuffling around in my mermaid tail skirt. I went hardcore though and wore HEELS. I wanted my costume to be accurate, so I got character dance shoes that looked almost exact to Ariel’s black heels from her date with Eric. I had inserts, so that helped.

One of the biggest issues was the shuttle that ran from hotel to hotel. There were shuttle stations set up, and different lines (distinguished by color). They were supposed to run every 30 minutes, but sometimes it seemed as if you’d be waiting forever until a shuttle decided to stop.

 

Here’s some awesome pictures of the awesome Disney Princess cosplayers we got to see!

Also, we got our photo with DareDevil himself, Charlie Cox!

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The Aquarium itself was beautiful, and we paid for the VIP treatment which meant we got to go in the VIP line and enter the event first, and we had open bar and appetizers, and we got a nifty pin.  Of course, I wanted to cosplay as Ariel at the aquarium, when was I going to get the chance to cosplay as The Little Mermaid at an actual aquarium again? I almost packed my mermaid tail costume, but I’m glad I didn’t because finding time to change cosplays and be at the aquarium would have been more than difficult. As to be expected, cosplayers kept with the oceanic theme and there were tons of Little Mermaid cosplayers, as well as Milo from Atlantis, quite a few Captain Jack Sparrow’s, and we even saw an older group cosplay as Gilligan’s Island characters.  I’m a natural fan of fish, and marine animals; especially dolphins and whales. While I favor Killer Whales, Belugas are definitely my runner up. I was geeking out kind of fierce, excited to have my picture taken with fishy friends in my costume. I enjoyed all the exhibits, and one that sticks out is the otters. Otters are adorable, and funny, and   very interesting social creatures, and their exhibit was very busy as they were pretty active. I also really enjoyed the jellyfish.

Here’s some awesome shots from the aquarium.

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Sunday, we were tried and true- rocking our My Little Pony cosplays. It’s probably our most popular cosplay, every time we have worn it we get stopped constantly for pictures, and get a lot of attention.  This was truly my last run with my very loved, beat up pink tutu. I retired my Pinkie Pie cosplay after this convention, and will be upgrading to a different Pinkie Pie costume in the future. It was my very first cosplay, and lasted me 2 years of cosplaying multiple cons.  This costume has always been a comfortable one- a tank top, a fluffy skirt over top of a regular tiered skirt, and tennis shoes. The wig is by Epic Cosplay, who are up there with Arda to me. I have worn the wig for 2 years and never had any issues like I did with my Ariel wig.  Surprisingly Dragon Con didn’t give us the reception we anticipated with our most popular cosplays. In contrast, our pony cosplays were the LEAST recognized. We did get a lot of attention for our princesses though.  Oddly enough, con goers mistook us as cats, or “nekos”.  We got our photo with the awesome (and surprisingly hilarious) Brett Dalton, and sat in a few panels, as Sunday was the winding down period since most people left that day. This meant we could actually walk without taking small steps, lines were shorter some places, etc.

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Monday was our last day at the con, and the last day of the con period.  We were finally able to get into the Vendor Halls in the convention center, but surprisingly it was still pretty packed. I almost got taken out by a woman with a small child in a stroller. She was legit gunning for me. We were already packed in the aisles like sardines, there was nowhere for me to go, but that didn’t stop her.  Note to self: any time I want to force my way somewhere, I should have a child in a stroller. Maybe get one of those super realistic baby dolls. Think that would work? Anyway…. I wore my debut Poison Ivy costume Monday, and again I committed hardcore with heels.  Poison Ivy was done on a budget, and was the first costume I had an actual hand in crafting. While I paid a whopping $42 with shipping for the custom-made body suit, and $40 for the wig from Arda Wigs, the shoes were also character shoes, the same brand and model as my shoes for my Ariel cosplay, only instead of black they were nude color- which I spray painted to match my suit using floral spray paint. $25 for the shoes, and $17 for the spray paint. If I had nude shoes in my closet I didn’t wear I could have saved $25, but I couldn’t find anything plain and simple or as comfortable as the theatrical character shoes.  I went to the craft store and bought 2 flexible leather bracelets for $1 each, some floral craft ivy and floral tape. $140. Yeah, that’s budget. My very first cosplay, Pinkie Pie- cost me $150. To date, my most expensive cosplay is my Ariel Kiss The Girl costume, which came in at a whopping $265. It was my first fully commissioned costume. The only thing I had to really add was the wig and shoes, Lindsay Jane Design custom made my whole costume from the hair bow to the corset to the undershirt and skirt

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Poison Ivy is by far the most comfortable costume I’ve been in. It wasn’t tight, it wasn’t uncomfortable, the tights and shoes didn’t bother me, and the wig STAYED.  I was slightly apprehensive about doing this costume, because to be honest it is by far the most revealing costume I’ve done. I like to think I’m confident about my body, but that doesn’t mean I don’t worry about wardrobe malfunctions or other issues. In my mermaid costume, I bought a flesh panel (a Spanx undergarment) to cover me from the chest down, since I was going to be wearing a bikini top.  I was exposed, but if my top came off I had a panel covering me.  With Poison Ivy, I had the body suit made to extend over my butt, so it was cut like a full coverage bathing suit, and came down longer in the front to avoid any issues. Still though, I was essentially walking around the convention in just a leotard and tights. While my get up is probably tamer than others, it still takes some confidence to strut around in a leotard at a convention of 80,000 people.  If I can’t do it at 31, and be comfortable in my own skin, when can I? At the risk of sounding conceited, I feel like I looked great. It might not be as detailed or done up as other Ivy cosplays I saw, but sometimes a simple approach is best.

Monday night was an easy-going night, of dinner, packing and lounging in hotel beds watching Star Trek.  The whirlwind of Dragon Con was over, and no one wanted to go back to reality.  We have discussed definitely doing Dragon Con again in 2018, and this time we will have a better knowledge of what is in store and how to plan for things.

 

I knew going from small local conventions to the megalith convention was going to be somewhat of a culture shock, but I don’t think we were truly prepared for the magnitude of what Dragon Con was. It was overwhelming. Fun, exhausting, emotional, and overwhelming.

 

I can’t say enough about the people, and the food. Even our hotel staff was enthusiastic about seeing our costumes, and our Lyft drivers were some of the nicest people we’d encountered on the trip.  The food itself was great, but I honestly expected there to be more BBQ restaurants and fare in a city like Atlanta- while the city considers itself a culinary melting pot with lots of cutting edge cuisine, I did expect to see some BBQ ribs with homemade sauces, or pork belly sandwiches. I did have BBQ one night, at Max Lager’s Wood Fired Grille though. I had a bbq pulled pork sandwich with pork belly incorporated in.  It was pretty tasty.  I also tried a bite of Dani’s Bison Burger at Ted’s Montana Grille, a bite of Nicki’s Fried Green Tomatoes at Fandangles, as well as Deep Fried Sushi at Thrive. I also had a nibble of Dani’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Mac and Cheese and Potatoes and Gravy… Food wasn’t always on our radar, so when it was time to eat; finding a place amidst the massive throngs of people was tricky and time consuming. Almost EVERYWHERE there was a wait nonstop, so for the most part finding a place to dine wasn’t just about choosing a place; but also, just finding somewhere where there was a minimal wait time.

 

I should also mention that Dragon Con was Labor Day Weekend, and in the south. In a place that was normally hot, we traveled to Atlanta when there was a nearby hurricane. The heat was 90 degrees and stickier than a Cinnabun.  Our first flight from Pittsburgh was barely a half hour and smooth, but our connecting flight to Atlanta was turbulent af. I very rarely get sick on planes, but I repeatedly grabbed Nicki’s arm to steady my mobile stomach. Our eyes would meet with that shared knowledge that this was one of the roughest flights we’d been on in recent years. Still we landed ok, and our flights back were smooth. I did go to work that evening as well, so as not to use any more days than I needed for my trip. Our last con of the year, Wizard World was just a month away.

 

I’m sorry this review took so long, but I’ve been MIA due to a lot of happenings at home. It’s been seriously one thing after the next, and I just haven’t been in the right headspace to write a fun review. Hopefully I will finish all my reviews and articles I’ve been wanting to do before the new year.  Until next time ya’ll!

Episode 4 Living The Dream: Replay FX, Pittsburgh

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I have always been a “gamer” as long as I can remember.  My mom was a gamer, and definitely played our Nintendo, and  was most commonly found either tinkering with our computers or strategizing Myst or Tomb Raider or Doom on the computer.

I grew up with my mom playing video games, so naturally I played myself.  I spent many hours glued to the Magnavox wood finished tv staring at the screen watching Bub and Bob collect items in Bubble Bobble, or watching Kirby eat his enemies and take on their abilities. I played  Punch Out,  Mario,  Tiny Toons, Ninja Turtles, The Little Mermaid  on Nintendo, and adapted with all the new consoles from Gameboy Colors to Sega to PlayStation.  My favorite game series has to be Final Fantasy, primarily FF7 and FF10. I also enjoyed titles like Tomb Raider, Legend of Legaia,  Legend of Dragoon, and Kingdom Hearts. Growing up I didn’t know many other girls who played video games, and my friend count was already pretty limited, so I would come home from school and play by myself from the time I got home until dinner.  When I started talking to boys, I always wanted to talk about video games, and when dating; my crushes HAD to appreciate the finer points of pixelated worlds.  I could deal if they didn’t like anime, but they HAD to like gaming. All my boyfriends with the exception of 1, were gamers and geeks like me. My husband stated my love of video games was one of the things he found intriguing about me.  He definitely has me beat though, he’s more into video games than me, but his interests are less PS4 and more classic NES.

Last year when Replay FX came to Pittsburgh, we weren’t able to make it, so when they announced they were coming this year, I knew we HAD to go.  I heard it was a gaming festival with tons of games and consoles and entertainment.  Jeff and I decided we would go.

Much like Ralphie states about the leg lamp in A Christmas Story,  the soft glow of electric sex awaited us as we walked through the same doors I had been in just weeks earlier for Supernatural Convention.  The buzzing sound of pinball machines and coin-op machines, and rows and rows and rows of old tvs hooked up to classic NES’s, Playstations, Segas, Super Nintendo’s…. it was heaven. I got to play coin ops like Pac Man and Pac Woman, and Galaga, and chilled for a good while playing Crash Bandicoot for PlayStation. I watched Jeff play the arcade version of Ninja Turtles as well as The Simpsons.  All you can play, all day for $30. There was so much to play it was overwhelming.

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Outside the arcade room, there were tables set up and many shelves of board games that were also free to play.  They even had a 80’s living room set up, fully equipped with the 80’s couch, tv and even complete with tv guides from the era.

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The vendor hall of this convention was pretty diverse, and I happened to run into the most shocking part of the convention – Philo Barnhart.  Philo Barnhart is an animator, and worked for Don Bluth on a project in 1983. That project was Dragon’s Lair, an arcade game that still by today’s standards has a small cult following.  He also worked as an animator for Disney from 1983-1991 on some of the most iconic Disney films. He was a character designer and key animator for Ariel, on the Little Mermaid; my favorite movie of ALL TIME. Meeting the character designer of my favorite animated  character of all time at a video game convention was definitely a surprise, but really exciting. I bought 3 prints off of him, as he still draws the characters he’s known for. He also worked on Touchstone’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit, another of my all time favorites. I purchased a print of Jessica and Roger Rabbit, and 2 Ariel  prints and had him sign them. I’m still hunting frames for them, but they are now some of my most prized possessions.

That night they had some concerts, one in particular which Jeff was pretty stoked about. We caught the middle of TriForce Quartet, a  4 string quartet that played video game scores. You never truly appreciate the scores from theses games unless you can hear it live.  Hearing the Mario medley live on violin and cello was amazing, but that wasn’t what Jeff was so excited about.  The headliner for us was at 9:00, and was a band called Bit Brigade, who tours and plays conventions.  Their 9:00 show was performing the score from MegaMan 2; Jeff’s all time favorite game. He is a HUGE fan of the MegaMan series, about as big a fan as I am of the Little Mermaid.  Bit Brigade’s performance was something out of perfect nerdom: While they played guitar, bass, drums- one man played the classic Nintendo game on classic NES, and as he played, the music was played LIVE. The Nintendo player played the game all the way through, no errors, and the music was perfect.  Jeff LOVED IT.rfx09rfx08rfx07rfx06

This was probably one of the coolest conventions I’ve been to, because it’s my kind of convention. I enjoy  MLP, and general Comic Con’s, but I am truly a gamer at heart, and to just  play games all day long with my game loving husband was a perfect day to me.

 

Episode 3 Living The Dream: Trot Con Columbus, Ohio

I know I have probably said it a million times, but I am truly lucky to have such great people in my life who I can truly be myself with, and vice versa. My husband is definitely one of those individuals.  This was going to be such a fun weekend, just the two of us. We didn’t get a vacation this year, so this was it for us.  Columbus is about 3 hours away from Pittsburgh, and we left about 7am, stopping once for breakfast at Cracker Barrel, and arriving at The Crowne Plaza around 10:30. This was the first time we had attended a convention in a hotel.  In 2014 we attended Brony Con, which was held in a large convention center, with surrounding hotels. Our hotel we stayed in was across the street from the con then, and now our con was IN the hotel we were staying at. We knew going into purchasing our tickets that Trot Con was NOT Brony Con- it was going to be much, much smaller, but what it lacked in size it made up for in programming. The programming went 24 hours- round the clock panels and discussions, an awesome concert, autographs, a cosplay contest, and John DeLancie. Freaking John DeLancie. Not even Brony Con could get him. We checked in, unloaded our bags and familiarized ourselves with the layout of the con- the vendor hall, the main ballrooms where the big events would be, and the salons where all the smaller panels would be held such as karaoke, history of my little pony, bronies and autism, etc. We were pretty lucky that our room was on the main floor of the convention, literally 2 doors down from the salons. This was great because we could get to everything quickly, but also sucked at 5am when some people were still partying from the night before and others were just getting up to attend panels.

After getting the lay of the land, we changed into our cosplays- Shining Armor and Princess Cadence; the royal couple.

 

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I didn’t expect the reaction we got, regardless of the fact that MLP Cosplayers are notorious for going that extra mile and acting like their character they are portraying-as we walked around people bowed to me, and referred to me as your highness. I wasn’t in my costume for 30 minutes and a fellow cosplayer asked me to do the dance between Twilight and Cadence from one of the episodes, and at first I was taken aback- I couldn’t even remember it properly, and was nervous. after opening a bit and going through it once, we did it in perfect synchronization, and it was really fun.  This set the tone for the rest of the weekend.  The theme for the con this year was “The Horse Awakens” and everything was sci fi themed.  Dr. Who references, and Star Wars and Star Trek, and pretty much any other sci fi thing was part of this weekend.  Some Brony Community members were in attendance, such as Bronies React reviewers AnimatedJames, ILoveKimPossibleAlot (aka KP), and Bronies React newcomers, Fire Team Harmony.

Saturday was the big long day, as it usually is with most of the cons I’ve attended. Jeff and I rolled out our tried and true cosplays, Pinkie Pie and DJ Pon-3. Not only were we attending John DeLancie’s panel that day, but we were also participating in our first costume contest.

The costume contest was fun, and a little scary. My stomach tensed much in the way it would before I would step on stage and perform a choreographed dance number. The spotlights were so bright it drowned out the audience, which wasn’t as big as I had thought it would be, and that was probably a good thing. Of course, I was more surprised Jeff participated too, and while we didn’t win; I can say at least I’ve done a costume contest now, and I got a professional picture of me in my cosplay before I retired it. This was the 2nd to last time I wore my Pinkie Pie cosplay, as it had gotten me through several conventions, and was my best, go to cosplay.

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We also got to meet Fire Team Harmony and get our photos with them. They were just as hilarious in person as they are in their videos.

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Saturday night was also the night of the “Rave”. Brony Musicians playing all through the night.  We attended part of it, and danced and had a blast, but as 10:30 approached I felt like I was going to pass out and sleep for days.  We did a quick run to Tim Horton’s for coffee at 8:00pm, because after 7, I was ready for bed. That’s the only downfall to this convention- there’s so much to do you almost have to find a spot in your day where you have a gap where nothing is going on, so you can take a nap to recharge your batteries for the next onslaught of programming. Jeff wanted to check out some of the 18+ adult programming that went on during the night, but we ended up going to bed, after a good round of pony sing along karaoke.  During karaoke, we discovered a new song, by a Brony musician known as EileMonty, called “Three Day Party Weekend”. It sums up Brony conventions exactly perfectly. “Gotta jump in line for the next panels, run around the halls, trying to find our friends… in the dealer’s hall running out of money… it all goes down at this three-day party weekend”… truer words could not have been spoken.

Sunday was the end of the con, and we stayed until closing ceremonies at 6. We even won a shirt at the closing ceremony raffle.

The con itself was pretty small, with a whopping 800 people in attendance.  Experiencing the con in a hotel was pretty different, the Crowne Plaza being the nicest hotel I’ve stayed in for a con.  They even had a video game room with old pcs, and game consoles. Jeff spent some time in there rehearsing karaoke songs and I even played quite a few rounds of Duck Hunt.    I had a blast, but was definitely glad I had taken off the next few days.  Back to back conventions were exhausting as I knew they would be, but they were worth it. Jeff had a great time as well.  The fact that the con was much smaller, made it more intimate and personal which was different.  This was more of a community event, with reviewers and popular Bronies, and fans of varying ages, and cosplayers of all walks of life. We definitely enjoyed it and will consider it for next year.