One of Us Is Next: Bayview High Book II

Books, Entertainment

How’s that new blog schedule going? Terrible πŸ˜› I have just been incredibly lazy lately, I literally cannot sleep enough even though I’m in bed by 8 most nights. Well, aside from one night where I decided that I would check out the Star Wars saga and stayed up until 3 AM. I can now say that I have watched these movies at the ripe old age of 33. You heard me, I had never seen a single one but they were OK if a little light on plot. Anyway, this post was supposed to be my January To Be Read but it’s already mid-January and I’ve read most of my picks. Instead, I will share my thoughts on the wildly anticipated sequel to the YA novel One of Us Is Lying which I really enjoyed. Now, I’m almost middle-aged and don’t dabble too much into this genre because of the corny high school scenarios but the plot of both books is pretty shocking and twisted for a YA novel which I appreciate.

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This book picks up where the first left off, there’s drama at Bayview High again and this time, the stakes are deadly. The main characters from the first installment have gone off to college, started lives of their own but still share an unbreakable bond after the death of one of their schoolmates, Simon. He ran a gossip app that tormented and entertained the population of Bayview, in his absence some have tried to rekindle the popular gossip forum without much success. That is until an anonymous schemer kicks off a game of Truth or Dare exposing the darkest secrets of the students.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, the author brought back some of the main characters from the first one but also fleshed out a few of the supporting characters that we didn’t know a lot about. The story is told from different points of view, the main characters this time are Phoebe, Maeve and Knox whose lives are somewhat already intertwined before they become the focus of the Truth or Dare game in one way or another. I like this narration style but it can be hard to follow each story line which is why I will most likely give this one a second read. As the story picks up towards the end, I found myself losing track of small details. The game kicks off with the anonymous texter exposing Phoebe for sleeping with her sister’s boyfriend which starts a rift between the sisters who are already under strain after the death of their father. Then Knox is exposed for an unfortunate performance during what was supposed to be he and Maeve’s first time. The game turns deadly though when a fellow classmate Brandon falls to his death after deciding to take the seemingly lesser high risk dare option. You’d think that everyone would tell their parents what was going on at this point but in true teenage fashion, they don’t. Problems only escalate when the anonymous texter tries to bomb a rehearsal dinner. Yeah, apparently high school students know how to build bombs and aren’t afraid to use them. Knox and Maeve save the day and we find out that the most unlikely student was involved with the anonymous bomb maker and Brandon’s death.

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It’s really a sad story all around, all of the kids involved have had their lives ruined by some family tragedy. There’s a weird feeling of revenge not being the answer but also thinking that some people deserved what they got. Then, when you find out who was really behind the whole ordeal, it just gets even sadder. After I read these types of books, it always makes me wonder if these things are really happening in schools or if it’s just the author embellishing the sometimes irrational actions of the American teenager. Not to get real dark here but in light of some of the violence that has happened in our schools, some of these events really wouldn’t even shock me. I enjoyed the pace of the writing, the characters are fun if a little moony at times and apparently none of these kids had any homework…or parents around to pay attention to what they are doing. Even if you aren’t into the whole YA genre (which I’m not) I would still recommend both Bayview books as pretty decent thrillers. I also like the writing style of the Author, Karen M. McManus and plan to check out her recent standalone novel.

Have you read either of these, let me know what you thought!

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Blogmas Day 25: So This is Christmas

Blogmas - 2019

It’s raining & foggy in Minnesota, on Christmas. Most of my merry making happened yesterday since that’s how we did things growing up. Christmas day was spent at Mass & eating dinner. I also spent a large portion of the day cleaning. I tried relaxing in the bath but then noticed that the tubs needed cleaning, then I decided to go through my bathroom cupboards and throw out at stuff I wasn’t using. This led to cleaning the kitchen cupboards out and then the oven πŸ˜‚ Then I watched Die Hard and had some pie. I just have a few items to take care of tomorrow before my vacation. I was supposed to post my December beauty favorites today but do you ever start something that ends up taking way longer than anticipated? That was like everything I did today. I will post them tomorrow and hopefully the sun will come out for photos. Anyway, I’ll just wish you & yours a Happy Christmas. What did you get up to today? If you don’t celebrate Christmas, what do you do on the extra days off? I’ve always wondered this, to a lot of folks this was just another Wednesday. What’s your Christmas wish? Mine is for greater understanding & empathy for others this year.

I think I’m going to get in one more viewing of The Grinch & enjoy some tea ☺️

Blogmas Day 21: Best Television Christmas Specials

Blogmas - 2019

Have you ever heard that jazzy, doowop mash-up version of What Christmas Means to Me with the bitching harmonica solo? Literally my favorite Christmas song but until this evening, I thought that it was a woman singing – it isn’t, it’s Stevie Wonder and I’m shocked. I might love it even more now but am I the only the thought it was a lady singing, let me know…

I’m just waiting on a couple of gifts to be delivered and I am officially done gift shopping. I like to stay up really late and listen to holiday music or watch old television Christmas specials while wrapping. I did a wrapping paper and gift bag shop yesterday, now I just need to queue up my favorite shows/songs.

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The Conners decorate their home for the holidays, after receiving a note from their neighborhood association asking that the decor be removed – they retaliate with even more lights and over the top decor. I grew up in a very white trash community, this episode resonates with me on so many levels.

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Just about everyone is having a miserable holiday and regales their woes to a masseuse that Frasier has treated the household to as a holiday treat. Daphne and Martin are in a quarrel as Daphne though the old guy was dying on account of his mysterious visits to church. Frasier spills the beans about Roz’s pregnancy to her unwitting mother and Niles is just Niles.

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I know that most everyone’s favorite holiday episode is Benihana Christmas but I think that episode is just tragic. In this one, Phyllis blackmails Angela into allowing her to throw a really bizarre Moroccan themed office party. Meredith lights herself on fire while belly dancing and gets hauled to detox and Angela’s tryst with Dwight comes to light.

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Even the crypt keeper gets into the holiday spirit with this kitschy slasher episode. After offing her husband to cash in on his insurance policy, a disgruntled housewife falls victim to a serial killing Santa.

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Sugar Addiction *

George thinks he’s scored the best Christmas gift for Elaine when he finds a cashmere sweater on clear out. He soon finds out that it is stained with a small red dot, he seduces the cleaning lady and gifts her the sweater. Jerry accidentally servers Elaine’s alcoholic boyfriend booze and it’s all around a bizarrely hilarious episode.

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Sugar Addiction *

Have we talked about my love of Northern Exposure lately? Maurice meets his son he fathered while in the Marines and Joel sets out to find his first Christmas tree. It seems light on plot but it’s one of the most endearing episodes.

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Christmas is a rough time for Monk since it was his wife Trudy’s favorite time of year. He’s having a hard enough time when he finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time and apparently guilty of shooting Santa.

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Sugar Addiction *

Springfield Elementary gets snowed in, Homer and Flanders are tasked with rescuing the kids before the students drive Principal Skinner completely insane.

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There are so many good Christmas specials but this will at least get you started πŸ™‚ Are you done shopping or do you like the chaos of last minute shopping πŸ˜‰ I hope you’re having a wonderful holiday season, thanks for reading!

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Blogmas Day 16: The Holiday

Blogmas - 2019

I am not a rom-com kinda’ gal unless we’re talking the Brat Pack era films or anything with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. I think that rom-coms portray an unrealistic idea of love and being in love. I do know some couples that seem like they are straight out of a film script but not many. I mean, not everyone can get engaged during the Holidazzle (barf, by the way). Does that mean everyone else’s relationships are bad? No, it means that most people probably have real life relationships without the ridiculousness of manufactured romance. Anyway, The HolidayΒ was on while I was making cookies this weekend and I was shocked at how much I enjoyed this movie!

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The movie starts where all of these movies seem to start, heartbreak. Iris finds out that her love interest has just become engaged and Amanda has just broken up with her boyfriend. Iris is a plain Jane type (I mean, as plain as the stunning Winslet could be) and Amanda is a jet setting business mogul, the two could not be more opposite. Looking for a change of scenery, the two swap living spaces – is this a thing? It sounds like something that I would be interested in doing so let me know if you want to swap spaces for a while πŸ˜€ Iris heads to the states and Amanda heads to Surrey. Of course, the two women fall in love with unlikely new acquaintances overseas. I was surprisingly pleased with the male leads in this one, Jude Law is your standard rom-com fare although, I like that he has kids in this one. Jack Black was a pleasant change from the usual hunks. Everyone loves a funny man but he was delightful in this role. Kate Winslet is hands down my favorite actress, I enjoy most anything that she is in. Aside from Titanic which is ironic since that’s what launched her career (more on this later). It is wildly unrealistic, I mean, maybe two people could meet and fall in love under said circumstances but probably not. I think what I enjoy most about this one is that it reminds me of older films in this genre that were wildly unrealistic with a touch of perhaps it could happen. It is a long movie but from start to finish, it’s just fun. I think it has definitely become a new must-watch holiday movie for me! If you haven’t seen it and aren’t really into this genre of movies, I would still recommend giving it a watch.

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Let me know if you have seen this one and if you were a fan or not! Also, legit let me know if you want a little holiday in the Twin Cities and I will come to wherever you are. Thanks for reading!

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Blogmas Day 15: Sunday Funday

Blogmas - 2019

I have a two week vacation coming up next week and I cannot wait. This time of year, while one of my favorites, is hard for an introvert. There’s just so much going on; potlucks, parties, work, shopping all on top of just regular existing and I’m exhausted. I’m in the middle of making 3-dozen chocolate spoons, I have to make a dish for work on Wednesday and a dessert for Friday and it will all be here and gone before you know it. I thought I’d just do a rambling update post for this evening.

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I don’t have a metabolism that allows me to not work out everyday. It’s been so cold and icy that I decided to join a gym. So far so good, for $20 a month I can use all of the equipment and attend their classes. I’m liking it more than I thought I would, partly because I also picked up some cute new workout clothes 😝

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Yup. I’m getting a new kitten, I have one senior cat and one younger cat who is a bit rambunctious. I’m thinking the younger cat could use a companion since my senior kitty is really mellow. I’ll be sure to post about him when he arrives in about 2 weeks.

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I’ve been doing really well with not buying stuff I don’t need but I’ve been in a shopping mood. I think it’s partly due to the fact that I’ve been gift shopping and keep gifting myself πŸ˜‰ Also though, my birthday is coming up and I’ll get back to better spending habits after that.

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I totally spaced on sending any cards this year! On the one hand, I don’t mind because they’re just unnecessary waste but this is the first year since I was 18 that I haven’t sent any ☹️

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I always claim that winter is my favorite season and then we have a winter like this one, we’ve already received 20 inches of snow and the first day of winter isn’t even until the 21st! Also, we’ve been having January temps and it’s been driving my MS crazy. Apparently, it makes me more sensitive to the cold and this year I’m really feeling it.

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I don’t know where but I’ve had a hankering to see new places and meet new people lately. Unfortunately, all of the places that I’d like to live (in the middle of nowhere) don’t have an abundance of jobs. Living in a metro area has worn on me, I don’t like it but I do like my job. Who knows where I’ll end up but hopefully somewhere new soon.

That’s it for today, let me know what’s on you mind. Thanks for reading!

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Blogmas Day 13: Thirteen Festive Facts

Blogmas - 2019

I am delighted that we get a Friday the 13th in December, I’m going to see a horror movie tonight and can’t think of a better way to spend a snowy winter’s eve. I think that there are probably elements of Christmas rooted in the supernatural but I couldn’t find enough facts related to this so just rounded up some kinda’ interesting ones instead!

  1. Evergreen was used during the winter solstice by the ancient Romans and Egyptians as a reminder of spring.
  2. Christmas was deemed a pagan holiday in the colonies from 1659-1681 and anyone caught celebrating it would be fined.
  3. 65% of Americans identify themselves as Christians but 90% celebrate Christmas.
  4. Jesus probably wasn’t born on December 25, the date was likely changed to align with the pagan festival of Saturnalia.
  5. The same man who dreamt up the Headless Horseman is also responsible for Santa’s sleigh.
  6. Eggnog was popularized in Jamestown in 1607.
  7. Christmas wreaths began as symbols of the crown of thorns worn by Jesus.
  8. Tinsel was once made with real silver and was outlawed for a period of time for containing real lead.
  9. Christmas is not actually recognized in the Bible as a holy day.
  10. Coca Cola was the first company to capitalize off the holly jolly image of Santa, he was originally depicted much older & creepier.
  11. Leaving cookies and milk for Santa emulates the Dutch practice of feasting on St. Nicholas day.
  12. Mistletoe was thought to be an aphrodisiac.
  13. According to Austrian folklore, Krampus is the demonic opposite of Santa and will drag naughty kids to hell. Way scarier than coal πŸ˜‰

There you have it, 13 festive facts. Thanks for reading!

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Blogmas Day 5: Favorite Holiday Movies

Blogmas - 2019

I thoroughly enjoy holiday movies, have I watched the same handful of them over and over for the last 20 years? Pretty much but for some reason they never get old. It probably helps that I usually just have them playing in the background while I’m doing other festive things but I really do look forward to watching them every year. They’re wholesome, predictable and all around fun!

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A young boy is left home alone after wishing that his family would disappear. The posh family home is the target of two local burglars, he has to defend the homestead. It’s terrifyingly plausible when you actually think about it. I just have to say that the remake will never work because there are hundreds of ways to track your kids these days, it will just be ruined!

Amilya Regular

Does this movie have any actual plot? It doesn’t seem like it but still a classic. I think that every child has that one gift on their list that they know is just a dream but want it anyway. A tragic trip to the mall Santa, a really bizarre Christmas dinner at a Chinese restaurant and one frazzled housewife. It’s a delight.

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Most everyone in my life roasts me for enjoying this movie so much but I can’t help it. Arnold forgot to purchase the hottest toy of the season and heads out on Christmas Eve to secure the item. I love that it takes place in Minnesota, I think it’s hysterical and Phil Hartman is so good as the creepy, single dad neighbor.

Amilya Regular

Another dad flick, Tim Allen is a recently divorced dad who tries to give his young son a great Christmas and unwittingly becomes Santa. I think they could have left out the whole part where the mom takes custody away from Santa but it still has a happy ending.

Amilya Regular

Now that I’m thinking about it, this one is on the sad side too. Charlie Brown is the most disillusioned 8-year old ever. He is made director of the Christmas play which is bound to flop since he’s Charlie Brown but actually turns into a delightful anti-consumerism message that was lost on me as a child.

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Let me know what holiday films you enjoy, thanks for reading!

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Blogmas Day 4: Have Yourself a Nostalgic Little Christmas

Blogmas - 2019

I mentioned in one of my recent posts that I tend to associate the late 40’s – 50’s with Christmas for some reason. Now, this era does tend to be romanticized quite a lot in pop culture and many of the tumultuous events that were happening are glossed over. Post war America though seemed like a more peaceful time, a more harmonious time in American history. The country was rebuilding itself, families separated by war were reuniting or finding ways to move on and society was united by common goals. Christmas was a much bigger deal it seems because most people, probably worldwide, didn’t have the means to be consuming all year. Shopping was a treat, more of an experience whereas now, Americans shop constantly (to the tune of $13.86 trillion in credit card debt) and goods are widely available. I’d love to see Christmas become a simpler celebration rather than the blow-out, consumerist extravaganza it has always been during my lifetime. Obviously, it wasn’t a progressive era but here’s why they did the holidays better.

Amilya Regular

Department stores used to be beautiful, not the tiled, fluorescent monstrosities or nearly vacant malls that exist now. You could have your purchases wrapped by someone who took pride in their vocation. Now, I schlep into a store, get ignored by the associates, check myself out, whip all my shit into a bag and leave. Consumers want more stuff for less and the whole experience has been cheapened to meet this demand. Also, stores actually closed – what a concept.

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Now, I think that the artificial tree came out during this era which is good and bad I suppose. You can reuse them for a long time, they can be more accessible to families who can’t afford the whole natural tree thing but it sucks when you have to throw one out. Shiny BriteΒ started producing affordable ornaments (still do to this day), outdoor decor became more prevalent, those inflatable lawn ornaments weren’t a thing. I love looking at Christmas lights but I often wonder if people just hate their neighbors. The White House had one classy tree instead of a dozen, what is that about anyway?

Amilya Regular

I recently watched a documentary on NORAD and the story of how they got started tracking Santa is delightful. It was actually a typo that lead to children calling the military on Christmas Eve in 1955 and rather than turning it into a national security issue, it was handled with good humor and operators were directed to give the kids an ETA on Santa. The following year, NORAD officially started tracking Santa’s Christmas Eve journey.

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Nothing against mall Santa, the one at MOA is actually pretty good but department store Santa is definitely the more classy of the two.

Overall, it’s just the quaintness of the era and doing so much with so little that appeals to me. Was it all good? Probably not, I mean, the food couldn’t have been great, I feel like the candied ham, green bean casserole and fruitcake were products of this era.Β Miracle on 34th Street is the saddest movie I’ve probably ever seen.Β If Mad Men is accurate, everyone was smoking themselves to death and having extra marital affairs. But overall, if I could go back to a simpler time while maintaining the progressive values of a 2019 society, I absolutely would. What about you, what vintage concepts would you like to see as part of the modern Christmas celebration?

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Blogmas Day 2: Winter Watch List

Blogmas - 2019

Oh, the weather outside is frightful and staying inside and eating everything in my pantry sounds so delightful πŸ˜› Actually, the weather isn’t that bad but I would like to stay inside until we’re in above zero temperature but alas, I still haven’t married rich. I’d also like to stay inside so that I can catch up on some shows! I’m in a television mood lately, probably because I’m inside more, here’s what I’ve been watching.

The Crown: I might be the last person alive to tune into this historical drama series and my interest was only piqued when I saw the star-studded season three cast. Olivia Colman, Helena Bonham Carter, Tobias Menzies and Gillian Anderson?! I mean, come on – I am only on the first season but I’m hooked so far. I think that Princess Diana debuts in season four and I suspect I won’t keep watching it. Does anyone else find it difficult to watch historical style dramas about things that happened in their lifetime? Anyway, this show chronicles the reign of Queen Elizabeth II and it’s really good.

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Modern Family – Again, probably the only person in existence to check this show out but I think it’s hysterical. The personality dynamics play so well together and make the family so perfectly quirky. It’s such a fun show and reminder that families come in all shapes and sizes.

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Jack Ryan Season II: I watched season one on the first day it premiered in one sitting and it was worth all of the stuff that I didn’t get done that day. I haven’t tuned into the second season because I haven’t had the time. This series is an adaptation of the Tom Clancy thrillers starring Jack Ryan and the first season was awesome. I really have to find the time to watch season two. Also, who knew (besides Pam) that Jim was such a fox underneath all of those ties and button ups?

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Mindhunter Season II: I started watching this but only made it through the first episode. Again, an awesome show that I really want to finish but never find the time. I’ve heard that the likeness of the actors to the serial killers they play is uncanny in this season. We got a taste of that in season one with Ed Kemper, I’m dying to see who signed on for the second season.

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I just realized that none of these shows are remotely festive πŸ™‚ I think the only show that feels Christmas-y to me is Mad Men, I associate the 50’s with Christmas for some reason not clear to myself. Anyway, this is how I will be spending my nights in this winter. What are you watching, are any of these on your list? There’s so much good television out there, it’s hard to know where to start!

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Weekend Whirlwind

Blogoween

Let’s start with Friday because that is where the madness began. If you didn’t know Tati released a palette, I was going back and forth on whether or not I wanted the palette. If you haven’t seen the palette, it’s all neutrals in different finishes which I think is a very cool idea because I primarily wear neutrals and love a monochromatic look. They are easy, I’m usually just doing my makeup for work and I don’t often wear color. So, 12 PM rolls around and I was still on the fence. I ate my lunch, listened to some of my book and then took to Twitter to see how the launch was going. I figured that if it sold out immediately, then I didn’t need it. Well, it did sell out but not right away and I ended up ordering one when I got home that night. I’m really interested to see what the formula is like and if I enjoy it well-enough, I think it will be time to throw out my Violet Voss Holy Grail Palette which is several years old. Expiration date, who? I did not need another palette, after getting rid of 3/4 of my makeup collection, I still have about a dozen or so but I’m happy that my purchase contributed to her sell out!

Friday night, I had a Halloween party, it’s the only bash that I attend as my friend has been hosting it since college and it’s basically a lifetime commitment. I’m not feeling super Halloween’y this year, I just tossed on some green eyeshadow and an old witch costume. I usually get put to work anyway so it’s not like anyone cares what I’m wearing. The bash was fun, I don’t drink socially so when people started getting real blitzed, I snuck out. I also had to work early Saturday morning at ULTA, we unpacked so much product for the holiday – it was nuts! I cannot believe all of the sets and holiday kits that are coming out. I don’t know if I will be purchasing anything, you just never know what you’re gonna get with holiday releases. We had to be in full Halloween makeup since the store was open for a couple of hours while we were still working. I had to work that night for my day job’s Halloween event so went home, scrubbed my face and tried to sneak in a nap. The nap did not happen because my neighbors who are being evicted this week after they had a huge domestic incident (really tragic) are deciding to be assholes to all of the neighbors who spoke with the police by blasting music, banging, slamming doors, etc. Friday is their last day, we only have to make it to Friday. It’s wearing on everyone, most of the neighbors are on really good terms and we’re just burnt out on these people’s bullshit. Anyway, so I watched a movie and did some laundry then got in full makeup for the night. I had to sneak out since the asshole neighbors have also taken to accosting people in the hallway. You’d think that I live in a trap house, I don’t.

Saturday night was non-stop, it started with me picking up two 15-gallon bags of popcorn. You wouldn’t think popcorn would weigh very much but you’d be surprised. Also, if you drive a small car like myself, it isn’t going to fit in your trunk. After a moment’s panic thinking that I would have to secure the bags to the roof, I pushed my front seats forward as far as I could and peeled out. The event was fun but long and there were lots of sticky kids. Being Minnesota, it was pretty brisk but at least we didn’t get rained on. Then it was home for the evening, removing my face yet again and trying to sleep before my 7 AM shift at ULTA on Sunday. I have to say that my face was unhappy after three makeup changes in less than 24 hours, it was red and dry from the windy evening too.

Sunday was fun, we got to put out most of the holiday goodies that had been unpacked the day before. ULTA is almost totally decked out for the holidays, it does seem a bit early but the sheer volume of product that comes in kind of forces retailers to start phasing it out. I’m not ready for Christmas carols or snow but it is fun to see all of the sparkly packages and winter-themed displays. I then treated myself to some Taco John’s potato oles, my favorite cheat food and took a 10-hour nap. Today I overslept but still got work on time and think I’m sick which makes a lot of sense after a weekend of junk food and no sleep. I’m over Halloween *gasp* and will probably put out the Christmas stuff this weekend 😝 Did you go to any Halloween events this year? I am looking forward to trick or treaters but I’m tapped out otherwise.

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