Stewie’s Picks: November 2015

Brisk autumn chills are here (sort of) in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Alright, it’s been unseasonably warm, which is kind of annoying. I’ve been trying to cozy up in my winter coat and scarf, but mostly I’m just sweaty. I’m also getting psyched for the holiday season! Fa la la la la… I might be watching Christmas movies already. Don’t hate, I just got cable, and the Hallmark channel is my jam. Here’s what I’ve been a drooling fangirl for this month!

Felicia Day’s “You’re Never Weird on the Internet” [Audio book]


Felicia Day’s book makes me itch, but in a good way. It’s been inspiring me to create, while making me snort-laugh out loud. Felicia Day’s memoir covers her strange home-schooled childhood, angst-filled teen years (including awkward band moments), the sudden growth of a magical land known as the Internet, and ultimately her well-deserved success as a writer, actor and producer. It’s weird, uncomfortable, inspiring, funny, and totes relatable. Between candid descriptions of panic attacks in parked cars, social anxiety in Build-a-Bear workshops, a serious World of Warcraft addiction, and becoming a professional trash picker (for her screenplay, duh), this book has too much awesome and too much geek culture to reference. Listening to the audio book, as read by the author Felicia, will only help you to fully understand her neurotic awesomeness, as you listen to the cracks, quirk, and humor in her voice. If you’re a super nerd, love video games, were a child of 90’s and remember the rise of the Internet, or are an awkward lady – you’ll adore this adorable trip down her memory lane. I am loving it, and relating to every hilarious moment. (If you want to read about my personal Internet Firsts, I wrote an embarrassing blog post about it.)

Hello Fresh [Delivered Food Box]


If you want fresh-delivered ingredients that’ll make it look like a pilgrim barfed on your kitchen table, then you want Hello Fresh. It’s like a subscription box for people who like to pretend they can cook, and end up exploding a packet of cayenne pepper all over their kitchen table. I might not follow the recipes exactly (some of them involve using kitchen tools I don’t own, like a grater, or a peeler), but my cooking somehow turns out delicious. The ingredients are hand-picked from the best sources, the recipes are fun and unique, and it forces me to try new things. They send you everything you need for your entire meal, so there’s no chance for you to screw up and forget something at the grocery store (I do that all the time.) Use my referral code for a free box! (or don’t, I know it’s a lot of pressure, and who wants that?) I’d love to see pictures of your attempts at cooking (my attempts are hilarious and messy!) Seriously. I don’t cook.

Joe Hill’s “Locke and Key” [Comic Book / Audio Book / Drama Production]


In a nod to the spooky Cthulu mythos, Locke and Key is a fantastic story that takes place in Lovecraft, Massachusetts. The story centers around 3 very different siblings, and their enchanted house, known as Keyhouse. Their cozy home contains magical doors (and keys that unlock them!) to other worlds, or that grant you weird powers. If you found a key that could literally unlock your head, and then add or subtract anything you wanted by tossing in a book or removing a bad memory, you know you’d want to use it. The keys’ magical doings range from the ability to turn you into an animal, to the ability to change your gender entirely! (Mr. Stew could be a reality!) It’s not fair to call this an audio book – it’s a full blown theatrical audio production. Multiple voice actors, spooky sound effects, and enchanting music make this story immersive and magical. It’s hypnotizing, scary, and uber mystical. The original comic books are full of beautiful and imaginative artwork, so don’t leave those out if you listen to the book! Once you see how wild this story gets, you’ll want to see how it could possibly be drawn in comic book form.

What are you obsessed with this month? Let me know in a comment!

5 reasons why big blogs bore me

This post was inspired by my salsa-encrusted friend Meghan’s post, “Are you blogging for all the wrong reasons???” This post is meant to be a personal reflection on my feelings of detachment towards immensely popular personal blogs. This post is not a comment on all popular personal blogs, but trends and patterns I notice, and my own emo-bullshit feelings on the subject. Proceed with a sense of humor, and a grain of salt – preferably on the rim of a margarita.

Blogging has roots in the glory days of Xanga and Livejournal (and even Geocities!), where readers got to peek into the minds of real people – relatable people! Just like you and me. It was an adventure in articulating yourself, in text form, and to the most hostile of audiences – the Internet. I’ve written a number of riveting blog posts on the subject of blogging. And by riveting, I mean, sometimes I ramble about things. And sometimes wine is involved. Here are just a few reasons I’ve become jaded with super popular blogs.

Aurora, you playin’

1. The bigger a blog gets, the less personal and less real it seems.
The more bloggers stage Instagram photos, endlessly promote their totes affordable e-book or e-course, or push out detached content (that feels like its written more for traffic, trend piggybacking, or shock value), the more it feels like a performance, and not an authentic blog. There’s a tricky correlation between how refined, polished, and poised a blog becomes, and how disingenuous it feels. Socality Barbie’s Instagram makes a spot-on satirical commentary on this staging of a life that no one leads, but that everyone can relate to. Blogging professionalism is not something to be poo-pooed on – I think an editorial calendar, smartly-shared pins and tweets, and top-notch photos are to be commended and encouraged! But there’s some kind of a wiggly squiggly line, and I’m not even sure my own self where it’s at. I just know I want to stay on the “real” side of it.

Tyler Oakley loves salad, as do Stock Photo Models

2. The pressure is on to put out content your audience expects, vs. content you want to put out. (Not that these things are mutually exclusive)
Once you build yourself up and develop your niche, diverting off this path has to be extremely difficult. I’d imagine your blog readers may even get hostile, if you have a change of heart, and begin to blog about something different (but maybe that’s just my perception of this terrifying place we call the world wide web). Let’s be real – people grow and change on the daily, and shouldn’t our blogs be free to do so? Or would readers of popular blogs bust down our doors (or comment buttons), pitchforks in hand, if perchance a blogger changed their tune? Not impossible, I’m sure, but undoubtedly difficult. And if a super blogger faces such peril, who can say they aren’t just an echo of their blog from years past, and not a changed person today, wanting to blog about something else?

3. It’s difficult to trust what’s being said, and constantly worrying what the motive is.
Once you know a blogger you love has been sponsored by Super Corp. USA, or whichever brand it is, it’s tough to trust that the content isn’t being weasled and wiggled by “the man” – as much as you might trust the blogger. As a blogger, the odds of being able to represent the products you truly love must be astronomical. Logically, we start at the bottom, and go through the less desirable brands first. So do bloggers sell their souls at first, blogging about the fiddle and the faddle, to then be able to represent the brands they truly love? It’s slippery hill you have to climb. Not impossible, but improbable, yes. Additionally, what message are bloggers sending when they do sell out for a brand, beloved or not? It might stink of consumerism, but we all love our stuff, especially when it doesn’t cost anything. But free stuff comes with strings attached – particularly marionette-style to your soul, while you feed the greed machine. Another wiggly line. Walk that tight rope with caution.

Office Space is my reality.

4. The authentic interactivity fizzles.
How can you develop a friendship with someone who has craptons of followers? It’s difficult enough weeding through endless notifications, but to authentically respond to them all? I’m no saint, but I love knowing who is out and about in my blog world, and having conversations with them. Checking up on peoples’ blogs and social media is an awesome way to catch up with those I consider Internet friends. My under-updated Geek Posse contains just a glimpse of the people I care to check up on – who deliver great (and personable) content! And the Geek Girl Pen Pals is also a community that makes it easy to see what all the amazing people in my community are up to! But popularity comes with sacrifices, and that sometimes includes real relationships and genuine conversation. With thousands or millions of people begging for your attention, it is impossible to keep up with it all, let alone develop genuine connections.

5. Celebrities, bloggers included, become less like people and more like brands. And while brands are cool, I don’t truly care about them.
Maybe bloggers aren’t always posting heart-wrenching and emotional stories, but I want to feel like I’m reading about a real person. I worry that if someone knows thousands of people will be reading their post, and judging it, they’d be carefully crafting it to be a perfect display of their brand. Yes, I advocate developing your brand. It’s valuable, professionally. But remember, when it comes to a personal blog, the word “person” is in there. Fame isn’t something people ask for, it’s driven by the random algorithm known as “popularity.” But an authentic blog needs to be a real, and needs to feel like the words of a person, not a brand.

I miss you, Ned.

Clearly, anyone can blog for any damn reason they want to. I can’t discern what or why people blog. Hoomans can choose to have a blog of any quality, that promotes and posts whatever they choose. But – TL;DR – I long for the days of LiveJournal, and raw emotion on the Internet. The authenticity that comes from pouring your heart out online is a genuine glimpse of humanity through the computer screen, and makes me – and hopefully all of you- feel a little less alone, in the tubes of the Internet.

I know I’m guilty of some of the stuff I’ve bitched about, as are some of you readers. Not that I want everyone to stop doing their thing, or being popular, which is outside of anyone’s control. That’s what we’re all trying to do as bloggers: grow ourselves and expand our reach, right? I’m sure if my blog exploded in an estrogen and glitter-filled rage of popularity, I’d be puffing a different pipe right about now. But alas, this is my reflection. So come with me, tiny bunnies… hop through the series of tubes with me. Go make an Internet friend (or two, or 10), while continuing to put out authentic content you really care about. Big blogs can be awesome, and clearly became popular for a reason. But teeny blogs are awesome in a way all their own. Keep it real, Interwebs.

25 of my biggest pet peeves

  1. One-ply toilet paper.
  2. People who say “expresso.”
  3. Lukewarm coffee that I thought was hot.
  4. People who yell at their children in public for acting like children.
  5. Unnecessarily long receipts. Like come on, I just bought cat litter. I do not need that ridiculously long receipt for anything. I mean, unless I run out of cat litter I guess.
  6. People who leave empty boxes of blueberry waffles in the freezer. People, being my husband.
  7. Cursive fonts that aren’t kerned properly. Those little flappy doodles are supposed to connect with the other little flappy doodles, which is why they are sticking out so far.
  8. Price stickers that do not come off clean.
  9. People who spoiler all over social media before I’ve seen the show.
  10. Coffee that’s too sickeningly sweet, but I have to drink it anyway because I already left the drive-thru and I need my caffeine fix.
  11. People who don’t like Firefly. It’s a brilliant show, and you love it dammit!
  12. “Clumping” cat litter that so does not clump.
  13. The speed at which avocados ripen, and then go bad.
  14. People who call themselves “social media ninjas.”
  15. How my cape gets stuck under my butt when I sit down and it’s impossible to get up again.
  16. Talking on the phone to anyone ever.
  17. People who wear flip flops in winter.
  18. Apples in salad. Stay out of my salad, fruit!
  19. Cucumbers who are not yet pickles.
  20. People who don’t like pickles.
  21. Checking my voicemail.
  22. People who stand really close to me in line, and keep bumping into me. I have a bubble. Stay out of my bubble!
  23. People with fake plants in their houses. Like if you can’t keep plants alive, don’t pretend you have plants with imposter plants.
  24. People who say they hate people who have fake plants in their houses, but have them anyway. Like me.
  25. Secretly anise cookies.

This is a Doggie Bag post, which means I want you to take it home, and write your own! Post a comment with a link to your “25 biggest pet peeves” blog posts, or just comment with your own pet peeves.

A very Burton-esque Halloween: Our Lydia Deetz and Edward Scissorhands costumes

Greetings ghouls and goblins! It’s been a scary Halloween here indeed. My husband and I dressed up in our finest and blackest garments for our take on classic Tim Burton films this All Hallows Eve. I’ve been a longtime fan of Tim Burton’s work, starting about when I was 13, and walked giddily into my first Hot Topic to see some of his iconic film characters on t-shirts. I grew up loving the “Nightmare Before Christmas,” and obsessing over Burton’s career, feeling like there might someday be a role for me among the Oyster Boys and Staring Girls of the world. I even had the privilege of interviewing Larry Wilson last year around Halloween time, regarding his work on “Beetlejuice,” “The Addams Family,” and his new Internet series “Cindy!” (You can see/listen to the full interview here) So, logically, these costumes are a long time dream of mine.

First up, my wonderful husband Mark, becoming my fangirl obsession, Edward Scissorhands. And by fangirl obsession, I mean my friends and I wrote fanfiction about Edward Scissorhands. And now you know. How embarrassingly dorky.


His Edward gloves came from Amazon, because making these would have been far too time-consuming, and probably just as expensive. The neck belts, shirt, suspenders and pants came from the thrift store. Simple stuff! And for his make-up, I watched this tutorial by Emma Pickles a few times over. We used a base of your basic White Halloween make-up, and then I took some brown and purple eyeshadow to try to recreate the eyes, lips, and cheek bone contouring. Mark did a bang-up job on the scars using thicker lines of white make-up, and contouring with a brown eyeliner pencil. I then styled a wig my sister used as Jane Lane from Daria to mimic Edward’s wild mane. We did it on the cheap, but damn – mission accomplished.


I recreated Lydia Deetz from “Beetlejuice” – the one where she has a big floppy black hat and is taking pictures outside of the house. I wore a shin-length black shirt, and button-up black top from the thrift store. Hairspray and hair paste took care of my weird bangs. I had the hat and blazer, as well as the tights and shoes. I found a similarly colored book at the thrift store, and used my graphic design magic (and hot glue!) to re-create the infamous “Handbook for the Recently Deceased.” My make-up for this look came with help from this tutorial by Chelsey Stacey. Light colored foundation, and brown around the eyes, as well as some nose and cheek contouring to try to achieve the Winona face.

This Halloween was a lot of fun… not only did we have really fun costumes, but role-playing is a must-do on Halloween. Mark spent most of the night pretending to cut peoples’ hair. These costumes have long been a dream of mine, so to finally be able to wear them with my husband has been so ridiculously fun!

What did you wear for Halloween? I demand pics!

5 Reasons Why I Love the world of Harry Potter #Potterweek

Greetings, muggles and magic folks alike! This post is brought to you by a glorious week we’re in the midst of celebrating – #Potterweek! Originally started by Common Room, a blog and podcast by my pal Hadas and her comrades, Potterweek is a celebration of all things Hogwarts. While today’s prompt is #PotterHouse, I’m a crazy pixie who does what she wants, so I’m going a bit more generalized with my Potterweek post. I’ll be running down a list of 5 reasons why I love Harry Potter, and all that the universe entails.

So many small and mischievous creatures and critters!
Merlin’s Pants! So many adorable creatures to choose from! I have always been fan of small, mischievous, and magical beings in books and movies. My favorite champs in League of Legends are Yordles, I am obsessed with garden gnomes, and the Asura in Guild Wars 2 totes claimed my heart. In the Harry Potter world, we have House-Elves, goblins, and even pixies! Rowling’s world contains many fantastic races, as do many fantasy books. Of course you have your big and tall, like giants and dragons, but you totally have to balance this out with your stubby and small! My favorite creature character from Harry Potter is Winky, a House-Elf from the books (but sadly left out of the movies). Heck – I’d even give Kreacher a fair shake… the little jerk.

It’s easy to imagine yourself being sorted, selecting a wand, getting an animal familiar, and making friends.
Admit it – when you read the books or watched the movies, in the back of your mind you were choosing what path you’d go down. Rowling outlined so many ways that readers could imagine how they would integrate into the world of Potter. We guessed where the Sorting Hat would put us. We fantasized about what our wands would be made of, and the stories behind them. We figured out which animal familiar we’d have. And we totally knew which gang of friends we’d want to hang out with in the halls of Hogwarts. The characters are all so interesting and diverse, so it’s easy to pick a favorite that you can relate to. (For the record, I’d be a Hufflepuff with a Toad familiar, chilling with Luna Lovegood after classes.)

Rowling teaches us about social injustice and issues that are applicable to the real world.
Social injustice and real world parallels exist in spades in Harry Potter’s world. The oppression of the enslaved House Elves is one of the first civil rights issues we encounter in the world. Well, Hermione, sign me up for SPEW, because this part of the books and movies totally put a beetle in my witch’s hat. Free the House Elves! Rights for House Elves now!!! *hops off soap box* Rowling also teaches us not to blindly trust authority, the news, or people in power, but to question them and think for ourselves. The Ministry of Magic certainly had its own dirty laundry, as did the cult of Voldemort and his Death Eaters. Additionally, we all learned to keep our friends close – the themes of the importance of friendship in the books and movies are some of my favorite, second to My Little Pony of course. I found this Buzzfeed article pretty spot on in its listing of social injustice lessons Harry Potter taught us.

Villains are loved almost as much as good guys.
Good guys have bad sides, and bad guys have good sides. Even characters we think are perfect and flawless, (such as Dumbledore, or Harry’s dad) aren’t as perfect as we think. Likewise, those who are evil grumpy nastypants (such as Snape and Malfoy) actually have depth to them, and are pitifully seen in some ways as products of their environments. These portrayals are realistic and show us that people we perceive as good or evil can sometimes be both at different times. Nothing is black and white, least of all not people. Not to mention… some of the villains are just loveable, despite being bad to the bone. Bellatrix Lestrange, anyone? Yeah, she’s awesomely evil. This post has a few of your favorite baddies doing what we love to hate them for.

It’s Harry Potter, dammit. It’s beautiful and perfect and lovely and you love it. YOU LOVE IT.
Talk to the wand, because I don’t need a 5th reason. The world of Harry Potter is a magical place and everyone wants to be there, save for a few cranky squibs. It’s laced with magic (like you’ve never looked up all the Harry Potter spells before), wonder, surprises, fun, adventure, and so much more. We have the Wizarding World theme park and Pottermore, the amazing interactive website and reading experience to prove just how much its fans love it. The universe is so well-developed, immersive, and believable. The characters and their relationships are so beautiful and addictive. The overall storyline, as well as the smaller storylines in each book, are so well thought out and totally flawless. In short, JK Rowling, you’ve bewitched us all, so please have a Butterbeer on us, because this Potterhead ain’t goin anywhere.

Wanna hear me talk a little bit about Potter things with my Charmbomb girls? Check out this special mini-episode of Charmbomb!

Do you have 5 reasons you love Harry Potter? Post them in a comment or your own blog post. Be sure to use #Potterweek to share the love!