SquishFace: Our little french bulldog

Say "Hello" to our little addition! SquishFace is a 9-week old french bulldog girl.

For the past year Taylor and I have talked about, researched and looked for a dog. We've done a ton of research on breeds and, despite my tendency to stay away from trending topics, we found that the best breed for us right now is a frenchie. French bulldogs are so hot right now.

A couple months ago our good friend, Kasey, told us about a puppy store in the local mall so we started stopping by just to ooh and aaah at the different breeds of dogs. The owner is a tall, friendly dog-fanatic who put us on the French Bulldog call list, meaning he'd call us whenever he got a frenchie puppy in. He called once, but the little thing looked too much like a pug to be cute. I know, that doesn't really make sense but I firmly believe little squishy bulldog/boxer faces are adorable and pug faces are just weird.

We fell off the call list.

On Saturday we were out doing errands. (Side note: When a foot injury puts your husband housebound for a week, going out to the grocery store together feels like an adventure.) We were on our way home when I thought about the puppy store. We didn't have anything else planned so we headed down and immediately got absorbed by the Chow puppy that looked like a teddy bear. I was trying to wake up a Boston Terrier when Taylor called my name:

"It's a little Frenchie."

When the shopgirl pulled her out of the crate and put her in the play area for us, Squish was still trying to wake up but immediately pushed her chest out and struck a regal pose before tossing the rope toy around. Watching her play was entertaining but as soon as we pulled her up on our laps she cuddled down and started snoring.

We decided to call her SquishFace, a variation on ScarFace, which means we can call her by any derivative of "Squish." She really is a perfect little puppy. She's small, affectionate, lively and she's exactly the type of french bulldog we pictured owning. It's definitely a sacrifice to take care of her and train her, but she already has a little place in our lives and hearts.

Let me know if you have any advice on puppies!


Miami and Southbeach Adventures

Last week Taylor and I met up with my family in southern Florida for a vacation. We met in South beach, which was insane because it was Memorial day weekend and the streets were packed with mostly nude party-ers. We saw all kinds of undress, the most memorable of which was when we stopped to watch a tranny do a Beyonce performance at one of the outdoor bars and we saw a guy and girl bond over the fact they were both only wearing thongs. Yup.

The best part (As much as I enjoyed the insanity of late-night partying, it wasn't my favorite part.) was the hotels. The entire main drag of south beach is lined with hotels built between the 1930s and 1950s and they are gorgeous.


Art deco is one of my favorite styles and the insides of the hotels are modern. One of them especially had a fascinating artistic styling, so much so I snuck some pictures.

The first morning we were in Miami we went walking around and I found a pink Monster Rehab, and though I don't think it tasted very different from the regular Rehab, I loved the pink can. (Weird how girly I've become.)

There's been a conscientious effort to beautify the south beach area so there is an outdoor art installment called something like the Iron Trees where the metal frames have created vine-trees. I did some looking around online and I haven't been able to find anything about them. They're actually really impressive and I recommend visitors go visit them.

There was actually an impressive amount of street art in Miami. Austin, Philip and Taylor spent all week finding and collecting pieces from different locations and artists.


Finding "It" in Jacksonville

I'm trying really hard to get to know Jacksonville. It's a conscious effort because it doesn't really offer a whole bunch of stuff right off the bat. I'm convinced that there are cool things in the city that are waiting to be found, so I have to go find it. Whatever it is.

So, I have officially started a food blog, just in an effort to keep my personal blog a little cleaner. The first post is about The Burrito Gallery, in downtown Jacksonville.

I think my favorite part was the building right next door; an art deco styled building that is in the middle of renovations. The arched entry way was lined with glass tiles, some of which were missing. The entry way had some random blue mosaics left over from whatever original set-up was there. I really wish I knew what was going on with that building, it really felt like it has something to tell.

Isn't that a fascinating mix of quaint, European and crumbling Americana?


Unplugged Thrifting: My thrifing obsession

It's been a long time coming, but I finally started a blog dedicated to my thrift shopping adventures. I'm not sure if thrifting is the excuse for the blog, or if the blog is an excuse for the shopping. Either way, they're a match made in heaven.

I recommend you check it out: Hilary's Awesome Thrift Shopping Blog.

Thrifting is awesome and has been before Macklemore made it mainstream.

Does that make me a hipster?


My Mama

While Facebook on Mother's Day turns into a My Mom is the Best Mom in the Whole World War, which can be pretty annoying, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing pictures of all my friends' mothers! I've always liked meeting people's parents because it highlights the inherited personalities and can explain so much about someone's background. And the pictures of mothers did that for me.

So here's my mom: Shari.

Mom and I are a lot alike. I got her introspective, German personality and blue eyes. She's a lot stronger than I am in many ways; she really is an emotional rock and she's highly intelligent and she's patient. Holy hell, the woman has the nerves of a saint.

She's the best. I love you, Mom!


Quidditch World Cup VI: Day Two

The final match for the championship title was between UCLA and University of Texas. Obviously I was disappointed to see UCLA struggle, but I was able to watch the game with our Event Director, who I adore, which was a great way to end the tournament.

 How could you not love this reaction to a win?

Sunday was a little less hectic, when it came to my responsibilities, but I'd had 7 hours of sleep in the past 48 hours, so I was feeling a little less than on my A-game.

Our biggest entertainment act, and my biggest responsibility on Saturday, was StarKid who does sketch comedy of sorts. That meant I had to do more celebrity-balancing stuff throughout the day instead of just power-housing around the event. It's fascinating to me what an encounter with a little bit of celebrity-status does to people. StarKid is pretty well known, thanks to their Harry Potter themed YouTube videos, which caused quidkids to act like starry-eyed teens. There were no real issues and as with everything else, things ran smoothly as a whole, but there were a couple times I had to direct people away from StarKid, staff included.

Closing ceremonies were the thing I feel I performed weakest on. I forget how very few people actually care about the closing ceremonies, so when we gave away the sportsmanship awards after the final game, we were missing people and there wasn't as much excitement as I would have liked. If I were to do it again I'd give as many trophies away at the start of the championship match as possible. It didn't really matter, but I wish I could have done that differently.

One thing I think we all forget is how lucky we were with weather. While things were really hot on Saturday and most of Sunday, a huge thunder storm was coming our way and started an hour after the closing ceremonies. Because teams were flying out Sunday night, if there were any more delays to games, or if the rain had come any earlier, we would have been forced to post-pone the championship game. But in postponing it, I don't know when we would have finished: The storm lasted long enough and teams had to leave so who knows what we would have done!

The IQA and Kissimmee put together an after-party at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter for anyone who wanted to buy tickets at the world cup. A small group of WCOT had some things to finalize some things before driving ourselves over to Universal Studios, including taking care of one of our team members who was dealing with heat exhaustion, so by the time the seven of us got to the park we walked in by ourselves. The after-party was perfect. It was dark, rainy but warm and everyone at the event was associated with the IQA so it felt like we were Hogwarts Students going to Hogsmead for the evening.

At one point it started pouring so everyone scattered to find shelter, which caused me to lose the group of friends I was with. As I stood under an overhang I saw a group of people dancing down the middle of the street. It didn't take me long to realize it was the marketing team. I'm obsessed with the entire marketing team so I bolted out and joined the madness.

I'm obsessed with the IQA, quidkids and the madness that was Quidditch World Cup VI.



Quidditch World Cup VI: Day One

The WCOT staff spent Friday doing prep work and finalizing plans, so that when we got to the field at 5:30 Saturday morning we were ready for the onslaught. Despite our planning, Saturday morning kind of turned into mayhem.

I tried really hard to be organized and ready but as soon as we got to the park everything went down at once and I felt completely scatter-brained. Teams arrived way earlier than anticipated; we were low on volunteers that early; last-minute changes to the opening ceremony (which included a surprise inclusion of the Harlem Shake); set-up and coordinating people. I didn't expect to have so many reasons to be running around the event all day, which is silly considering I was overseeing teams, guests and entertainment, but I was all over the place. I prefer it that way but it was nuts.

I was oblivious to this picture. This is Katie. She rocks.

Despite the fact my walkie-talkie was constantly buzzing I was able to watch a quidditch match. It's very easy to see why people love the sport. Quidditch is fast-paced, physical and unexpected. The game has very specific rules and structure, which makes it easy to follow, but the Snitch, who is a third-party person with zero rules, can do anything he/she wants so everyone is on their toes. At one point in the weekend I was driving a golf cart around the event when a Snitch ran away from his game and jumped in my cart, safely eluding the Seekers.

It was so freaking hot. This is Kedzie. He's fab.

Our entertainment for the day was Nathan Nickerson, a magician, and Harry and the Potters, a wizard rock band. Yes, you read that right. They play rock music from the perspective of Harry Potter, and they sell golden snitchwiches, which are peanut butter sandwiches with Golden Grahams cereal. If you're extra lucky they'll add honey. I was one of those people. Yes, I bounced in my golf cart seat as I ate it. Delish. And very Harry Potter.

If you aren't already a quidkid I recommend taking a few minutes to listen to this amazing TED talk from the founder of the Harry Potter Alliance about the influence of Harry Potter throughout our society.


Quidditch World Cup VI: The Lead-up

I've struggled getting to this post (which has subsequently turned into four posts) because I was too busy to take pictures, there is so much to tell (because I've completely failed to even mention quidditch on my blog yet) and I hate having long posts with limited images. But, the 2013 Quidditch World Cup was too epic to leave out, so here we go.

Over Christmas Taylor and I met up with some of my high school friends at La Vics and Nadia mentioned she was volunteering with the International Quidditch Association's world cup. Let me stop here: Yes, the magical sport from the Harry Potter books. Read my breakdown of the non-magical quidditch sport if you missed it.

Because the event was happening close to where I live (Kissimmee, just next to Orlando), she said I should volunteer. Assuming I would be a day-of volunteer, I got online and started poking around the site, only to stumble on the position of Hospitality Director. Apparently the original director's team qualified for the event so he had to back out of the position. I applied, had a Skype interview, received a "You're Hired!" email that evening and the next night I was back on Skype for my first meeting.

When you're thrown into an upper-level management position half-way through the planning process of a major event, with an organization you know nothing about, you tend to feel like you're drinking from the world's largest fire hydrant. Luckily, the entire World Cup Organizing Team (WCOT) was amazing. When I say "amazing" I mean I go through withdrawals every Thursday night because we no longer have our weekly meetings.

The Responsibilities

My team was split into three sections: Teams, Guests, Entertainment. Let me just take a second and say I could not have asked for a better team. They were hard working, easy to communicate with, and they made the entire process fun. Seriously, I got so lucky.

Teams – Registering teams and organizing player rosters; check teams in to the event; communicate with teams; coordinate travel and accommodations.

Guests – Ticket sales; plan and coordinate VIP everything; guest experiences.

Entertainment – Plan, book and support our non-sport entertainment.

Kidditch – Kid-sized quidditch for attendees.

The Arrival
I drove down to Kissimmee (just outside of Orlando) on the morning of Thursday 4/11. Let me just say, I understand why toll roads exist, but I hate them with a passion. I would much rather pay taxes than pay tolls. I was so pissed off after my third toll stop in ten miles I swore them off for the rest of the weekend.

Anyway, the whole shebang took place at Austin Tindale park, which was great, apart from the 30 minute drive from our hotels. We spent the day getting all the general set-up and organizing done.

Pretty much everyone already knew each other, so it was kind of like being the +1 to the popular kid's high school reunion. Only one person knew me beforehand, but I was immediately accepted.

There's something unique and very distinct about quidkids. They are quidditch and Harry Potter nerds and that passion drives them to volunteer hundreds of hours in developing the sport and the league. It pays off. The event was wildly successful behind the scenes and we heard lots of positive feedback from players and guests alike.


Quidditch: The Non-Magical Version

The alchemy of the Harry Potter generation: Play quidditch despite lacking magic. 


The Game as Played in Harry Potter

Players fly on brooms around the field. Points are earned by throwing balls through hoops. The game ends when the snitch is caught.

The Game as Played by the International Quidditch Association

Players run on brooms around the field. Points are earned by throwing balls through hoops. The game ends when the snitch is caught.

The Players 


Beater (Two per team)

Novel: Players responsible for using bats to beat bludgers away from their team members and toward the opposing team members with the goal of knocking them off their brooms.
IQA: Players throw bludgers at other players. When a player is hit by a bludger they are out of play. In order to become an active player they must tag the hoops on their side of the field.


Keeper (One per team)

Novel: Player responsible for protecting the hoops on their side of the field.
IQA: Player responsible for protecting the hoops on their side of the field.

Chaser (Two per team)

Novel: Players responsible for throwing the quaffle through the opposing team's hoops to score points.
IQA: Players responsible for throwing the quaffle through the opposing team's hoops to score points.


Seeker (One per team)

Novel: Player responsible for finding and catching the snitch.
IQA: Player responsible for finding and catching the snitch.

The Balls 


Quaffle (One in a game)

Novel: Points are scored when Chasers throw the quaffle through one of the three hoops positioned on the opposing team's side.
IQA: Slightly deflated volleyball used by Chaser. Points are scored when Chasers throw the quaffle through one of the three hoops positioned on the opposing team's side.


Bludgers (Two in a game)

Novel: Magic balls that fly around the field with the sole purpose of knocking players off their brooms.
IQA: Dodge-balls. Beaters throw them at players on the opposing team, temporarily knocking players out of play. When a player is hit with a bludger he/she must get off his/her broom, run back and touch his/her team's hoops before becoming an active player again.

Snitch (One in a game)

Novel: A small, magic ball that that flies around avoiding capture. Once the snitch is caught the game is over.
IQA: A person. This person is not associated with either team and has no rules about where he/she can go or what he/she does. The snitch has a flag-football styled tennis ball in a sock hanging from the back of his/her shorts. When a Seeker pulls this off the snitch's shorts the game is over.

The biggest challenge of adapting the game is the golden snitch. Without magic, what do you chase? I remember playing a version of quidditch in elementary school, right after the third book came out, that was superbly lame because a tennis ball was used as the snitch. Not difficult to catch, nor interesting. The IQA nailed this one. The rules of general play are very structured, but the snitch's freedom brings a level of spontaneity and unknown that adds a unique level of interest to the game.

You can read more about the International Quidditch Association and its origins here.


25th Birthday Bike

I've been wanting a bike for a while, so it wasn't a huge surprise to get one for my birthday, but I was really excited. Taylor found a big beach cruiser that is all aluminum, so it won't rust, and looks slick. The first time I took it down to the grocery store, I was locking it up when a man said, "Looks like you got the Cadillac of bikes!" and as I unlocked my bike a woman asked where I got it. Taylor said that it got cat-called as he was leaving the store.

This was the day I got it and since then I've taken all the stickers off so it's solid white. Here's a video of me on my bike.

Because I want a bike buddy, we also got Taylor a bike. His is a switch fixie, so you can either have it as a fixed gear or a single gear. We tried out the fixed-gear style and it was counter-intuitive to always pedal, but it definitely gets you moving. I almost rode backwards, but I didn't trust my balance enough to really do it. We've gone on a bunch of bike rides around our neighborhood so far. Once we rode down to Publix and got some spicy fried chicken, which was actually really good.
We don't really have a great spot to store it in our apartment, but we're working on some crazy schemes. Any recommendations?