life

7 Great Scary Movies to Watch Before Halloween

I mean, I make monsters for a living, so it probably comes as no surprise that Halloween is my all time favorite holiday. My family loves horror movies. I think my children just naturally inherited it from me, because even my 2 year old loves all things “Halloween” and “skeery”. Like I was talking about with followers on Instagram recently, Halloween is basically a whole season for us – decorations go out the first week of September and stay up until Thanksgiving. We visit the pumpkin patch multiple times, walk and drive around town to check out everyone’s Halloween decorations several times a week, carve pumpkins, roast the seeds and in October, watch scary movies every single evening after dinner!

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PS – did you see the Mon-stor costume I’m working on for my toddler!?

But now that it’s a more appropriately “Halloween time” for the rest of the world, so I wanted to compile a list of mine and my tween’s favorite scary movies that we’ve watched so far this month! Viewer discretion is advised for probably all of these – my tween doesn’t scare easy so I let him watch pretty much any horror movie with me. We have an open dialogue through the whole movie so don’t worry – he knows if a ghost were to REALLY haunt our house, not to play with a Ouija board or provoke it in any way. 😉 I’ll start with my tween’s favorite first:

Hereditary

Gauge LOVED this movie and said it actually freaked him out in a few parts, and has rated it “one of the only scary movies that exist”. I agree that it was really well done, mostly because going into it I had read about how it is more of a play on mental health than a possession movie, and that aspect was so neatly packaged and well executed that I truly liked this movie for it. However… This movie made me physically sick at one scene. I’m not exaggerating – I had to leave the room because I almost threw up. I don’t want to post any spoilers but if harm to children in films isn’t your cup of tea, skip this film. I felt sick any time I thought about it for a full week after we watched it. It still makes me queasy and uneasy, just writing about it. *shudder*

Marrowbone

Marrowbone is one of the best traditional ghost movies I’ve seen in a long time, with a harrowing ending that leaves you questioning everything that led up to it.

Stephanie

I watched this one without Gauge, and really liked it! It was a unique spin on apocalypse/monsters taking over the world without really showing any monsters or gruesome violence. The trailer for this movie is pretty terrible. It doesn’t do the actual movie justice at all, and that’s why I put off watching it for so long.

Before I Wake

I really enjoyed this not-you-typical thriller movie, centered on a young boy who’s dreams become reality when he sleeps – but, so do his nightmares. Bonus points to this one because I share the same first name as the child.

The Babysitter

I don’t know why, but this movie feels like a throwback to 80-90’s horror movies in the best way possible. It’s campy & fun, but there is a bit of vulgarity and suggestive content. My son liked it, I think mostly because the hero of the story was a kid about his age.

A Quiet Place

Gauge and I both loved A Quiet Place! It was such a unique story line, and keeps you coiled in tension for most of the film because it’s so quiet, unlike most horror movies, full of jarring sounds and jump scare scores.

Black Hollow Cage

A blend of psychological horror & slasher film, this foreign film is very slow to build (very) but had such a unique premise I had to add it to the list for anyone looking for something totally different and off the wall to watch this Halloween!

Bonus suggestion:

The Haunting of Hill House

This one isn’t a movie but it had to make the list! I binge watched this entire series in just a few days and loved it! It was pretty scary at some parts, but also really emotional and beautifully done. The story is so unique and unlike most haunted house films in that it focuses on the trauma of the dysfunctional family after surviving growing up in a haunted house, while flashing back to the scary past and how it still impacts them as adults until they must confront their past.

Drop your thriller/horror movie suggestions in the comments!

 

 

life, Parenting

Ending Food Poverty – The Lu & Ed Lunch Program

$1 from every Monster sold through luanded.com will go to end food poverty in American schools.

Lunch shaming is an embarrassing epidemic for children in America. When children have insufficient funds on their lunch accounts, most schools have policies where the child’s hot lunch is taken away and substituted with a brown bag lunch consisting of a cold sandwich and piece of fruit – or in some cases, they are forced to watch staff discard their tray of food into the trash, and are left with nothing at all to eat for lunch, a cruel form of punishment for a problem that they can’t control. You can read more about the sad epidemic of food poverty in American schools here.

I am passionate about creating change with this little monster making business of mine. I already make a monumental environmental impact by using only textile discards, which diverts tens of thousands of pounds of textiles from landfills annually, but I want to use Lu & Ed to directly create positive change in children’s lives as well. I’ve been working out the kinks for the Lu & Ed Lunch Program since January, and I’m so excited to launch it!

All through September, $1 from every monster adopted through my shop will be donated to pay outstanding lunch debts & load funds onto lunch accounts at *Riverbend Elementary in Clyde, NC, a school in a region with an incredibly high level of food poverty.

*My original choice to donate to received a grant and is able to offer free lunches to students for the 18-19 school year, yay! With the help of the staff, I selected Riverbend Elementary, a school where over 50% of students are on food assistance.

Beginning in September, I will take also be taking submissions for the next school to donate to in my Facebook group

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Members can submit their child(ren)’s school or a school in their community through the 7th of each month, then I’ll create a poll for members to vote for the next school to receive donations. Members can add family or friends to the group to use their voices to vote for their local school.

The same school won’t be chosen twice in one academic year, allowing for a total of twelve schools that will receive donations from the Lu & Ed Lunch Program to pay off student lunch debt & load funds onto low income students lunch accounts, and to help fund summer lunch programs for communities where children face hunger at alarming rates.

How you can help:

Spread the word about the Lu & Ed Lunch Program – share this blog post with your friends

Join my VIP group & nominate your local school

Add your friends and family to the VIP group to increase the impact we can make together

Donate directly to your local public schools

Gift Guides, life, Parenting, Uncategorized

Hey Mama: 8 Great Gifts to Give Yourself This Valentine’s Day

With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, I wanted to put together a little self love gift guide for my fellow mamas with some of my favorite “treat yo’self” goodies to indulge in this month – though, personally, I indulge myself at least once a month. Because motherhood can be difficult, and self care & appreciation for yourself is so important as a mother – we have to be at our best to be our best for our children! So feel free to bookmark this post to come back to through the year for self love inspiration & spur of the moment self care shopping sprees!

Hair dye (or a hair cut!)

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Does anything make you feel as good about yourself as freshening up your look!? It is always a huge boost to my self esteem when I touch up my hair, get a hair cut or get my eyebrows done. Been dreaming of #mermaidhair for months but afraid to take the plunge? Mama, treat yo’self! I personally use Manic Panic or Arctic Fox hair dye. Both are vegan, and deeply conditioning so they don’t damage your hair.

A New Mug

I drink a lot of coffee & cocoa, as well as use mugs all around my house & studio to hold pencils, pens, markers, mail, nail clippers & baby combs – basically everything I don’t have stuffed in my own Mon-stors, haha! A ton of my mugs come from thrift stores, but I also have a huge collection of mugs from makers & artists. This Strong as a Mother mug by Callie Garp is on my treat yo’self wishlist!

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Bath Bomb & A New Book

I love bath time. I always have. It is like pressing a reset button on the week, a simple escape. Wouldn’t it be dreamy to sink into a steamy, rose scented bath with this sultry Roses are Red Bath Bomb from Sun Basil Soap, a good book & your favorite beverage (whether it is a glass of wine, chocolate milk or a beer – you do you, mama). Be sure to post the submergence of the bath bomb on Instagram, or it doesn’t count, though.

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Decadent Handmade Soaps

I love supporting other makers, but honestly, I buy handmade soap because it is so decadent, moisturizing & typically smells sooo much better than generic brand soaps. Thumbprint Soap has some amazing scents, like this Pink Sugar soap, but the reason I especially love buying Katie’s soaps is because she donates a portion of all proceeds to animal rescues! That keeps me coming back, time and again. Additionally, Katie has offered an exclusive discount to Lu & Ed fans so they can treat themselves to something special this season: MOMMY18 – 18% off any order of $15 or more through the end of 2018. How rad is that?! Go on, mamas, treat yourself to some amazing handmade soap, lotions, lip balms & more from Katie’s shop!

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New Jewelry

I have a huge collection of handmade earrings and necklaces, and my latest obsession is basically everything Lin of Turquoise T-rex makes. I have two necklaces from her that I wear pretty much all the time!

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A New Shirt

I recently treated myself to a “Support Your Local Mama Gang” shirt from Punky Moms and I feel like an ultimate bad booty mama rocking it! Adding a new item to my wardrobe is always a thoughtful process, because I don’t often buy myself clothing, so it is a slow process picking which item to add!

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Their “Kicking Motherhood in the A**” shirt is another one on my wishlist, and a perfect one to treat yourself to during this season of self love, because that is just what you are doing, mama!

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A Custom Baby Wearing Portrait

I am so in love with these custom baby wearing portraits by Taynee of Grrl Gang Art. If your baby wearing or breastfeeding journey was exceptionally special to you, you can message Taynee about a custom portrait of you to commemorate that beautiful bond! Nothing makes me feel more beautiful, strong & confident as a mother than looking through my images of me baby wearing or breastfeeding, and I just think this is such a beautiful way to reward yourself for the hard work, sleepless nights, and special moments of motherhood!

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Artisanal Coffee or Tea

For a lot of mamas, that first cuppa coffee or tea is our greatest form of self care every day, so the occasional brew of the finer variety is it’s own form of self lovin’! For the coffee drinkers, Burial Grounds Coffee has a wide flavor variety of small batch roasted artisan coffee with fun fandom themes & Angie (the mama & brains behind the beans) offers a subscription service – so you don’t need to remember to reorder your favorite blends!

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If tea is more your jam, Albion Tea Company also has a fun fandom themes for their small batch, loose leaf teas, like their Magical Collection which is based on Harry Potter or their Sherlock collection!

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I could go on & on with goodies I indulge in for self love, but I want to turn the handles over to the readers:

What is your favorite self care goodies & go-to habits? Share your self love advice in the comments & let’s chat about how we, as women, can take better care of ourselves so we can take better care of our loved ones!

home schooling, life, Parenting, Uncategorized

Flourish: how I’m letting one little word shape my year

Flourish: verb, to grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, especially as the result of a particularly favorable environment.

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Each year, I pick a word to set the tone for the entire year. Last year’s word was Achieve, and I really feel like that word carried me well through the year. I hit & exceeded all of my production goals, sales goals & smaller goals for my business, like getting some wholesale accounts & attending big shows in the area. I laid a lot of groundwork in 2017 to because I knew that I needed 2018 to be a year of growth and personal development – as a business owner, mother, and human.

I set some really lofty goals for 2018, and by acting upon my word for the year, I am already seeing things begin to Flourish! I knew that part of growing this year, I wanted to attend a lot of large events in order for Lu & Ed to grow & thrive. I started applying for shows all over the East Coast & Midwest, including some huge shows I have always dreamed of doing but never thought I would get accepted into. And it paid off! Most events are still taking applications so it will be a bit before I find out my entire show schedule for the Spring/Summer, but a week ago I reached out to – and was invited to! – Mommy Con, the biggest parenting convention in America! I will be at their Charlotte event May 5th! I am so flipping excited – this is an event I have always DREAMED of doing with Lu & Ed, and now that it is on the books, I feel like I could fly!

In addition to booking several large shows alongside smaller markets to build my local audience, I set other goals for my business to facilitate my word of the year manifesting – I set a production goal of 1000 monsters in 2018! I am already just over 5% of the way to that goal! In 2017 I was able to make 514 monsters, with a new baby, homeschooling my son & life in general, so I am feeling really confident that while it will be difficult, I can hit that goal! By doubling my production, I will be able to take on more bulk/wholesale orders as well, which turned out to be great for Lu & Ed last year, so I am excited to expand on that more this year!

As a mama, I am working on patience, and creating an environment in which my children can Flourish as well. Which means less clutter, less screen time, more family time, more conversation and more time spent connecting with humans! I recently launched a local Asheville chapter of Punky Moms, a group for alternative mothers, and am building connections & fostering community through that group as well as through our tween homeschool group & the local artist community. For Gauge, we also recently applied to a local charter school – it has all the features of a public school (sports, band, swim team, etc) but  it has a high focus on college preparation, advanced curriculum, and a much lower rate of bullying & social issues with higher diversity than the local public schools offer here.

And for myself, I am focusing on the word Flourish to help me regain my health. I used to eat an all raw/organic diet, and worked out every day, did yoga, walked at least a mile a day, and all that. I’ve strayed so far from that healthful lifestyle since I moved to WNC, but this is the year I restore that lifestyle and mental attitude! I want to gain at least 10 pounds by the end of the year, as I have always struggled with weight gain and one year postpartum, I am only weighing 98lbs. So my goal is to gain weight, get healthy, and exercise regularly so I can Flourish and keep up with my intentions for my business & family!

Do you pick a word for the year? If you do, share below what your word is! I would love to know!

life

Life lately: a photo dump

Things have been quite quiet here lately, on the blog – and for good reason! Zoey’s birthday was this past Thursday, Friday was her party, Saturday was the pumpkin patch then dinner with friends, and Sunday I was at a market slinging monsters all day! Whew, quite a week!

Starting next week, I will be getting back into my regular blogging schedule. For now, I wanted to share some of my favorite photos from the past week. ♥ 

Zoey’s birthday & party: 

Saturday’s trip to the pumpkin patch! 

Sunday’s Walkable Wall Street Fair in downtown Asheville!

And that is life lately, in pictures! I want to do more photo dumps like this, maybe once a week or bi-weekly, to encourage me to take more photos of day to day life & our weekend adventures. ♥ Is there any interest in seeing more not-craft-or-business-related posts? 

Business, life

2017: Achieve

It’s been a wild year and probably the worst year yet for my little biz, so I’m excited to wrap it up and head into 2017 with a blank slate & lots of ambitions, new products, and plans for improvement!

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See, my word for 2016 was Grind – I knew it was going to be a rough year: I got divorced and moved halfway across the country in November 2015, so I knew I’d be starting from scratch, struggling financially and trying to reestablish myself, my son & my biz. I had chose Grind because this year was all about breaking off the rough bits, uncovering the ugly and grinding it all smooth so I can polish my life & biz into exactly what I wanted it to be. Throw in an unexpected pregnancy & birth that were both exceptionally difficult, and woof. What a year. Grind was the perfect word for 2016.  

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My word for 2017 is going to be Achieve. Inspired by Lisa Jacobs, I decided to set monthly numerical sales goals – and I plan to shatter through them each month! I am going to Achieve more by focusing my efforts where I see the highest conversions for my business – here on my blog, through my newsletter, and by supporting other makers through community and collaborations. I will be relaunching my swag bag program & I am also going to book (at least) 3 events this year to continue establishing myself locally & spreading the word about my monsters, and also putting products up for sale in a local children’s boutique as well.

Besides the stereotypical “I’m going to get back in shape and do yoga every day and meditate more often” personal goals, I also am going to start attending a weekly mother’s circle, to help network & grow my local community, as well as attending more local events/dinners/shows/festivals. As a mother & maker, I feel like having a strong local community is imperative to growing personally & professionally. It’s so important to build your village!

I chose Achieve for my word for 2017 because I am going to achieve big things for my little monster biz, and in my personal life as well! This year is all about achieving my hopes & dreams. I want to spread roots here in Western North Carolina, to start making connections and friendships, and really make this place my home while growing my monster business to better support my growing family. ♥

Do you pick a word of the year to focus on? If so, what was your word for this year/will your word for next year be?

life, Parenting

40 Weeks Pregnant – Life Currently

Hello, 40 weeks! My son wanted to take some baby bump pics today, commemorating what is *hopefully* my last week of pregnancy!
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I’m so ready to meet baby Z – these last few weeks have been mega rough! I’ve been having what the doctor calls prodromal labor for almost three weeks, with on & off again contractions daily (most recently lasting 21 hours straight, 1-2 minutes apart, so painful I couldn’t breathe or talk through them over this weekend). So naturally, there’s been a few false alarm trips to labor and delivery, lots of wondering if THIS IS IT & lots of frustration when told to come back when I “feel like it’s the real thing” and then more frustration when having acquaintances & family tell me “you’ll know when it’s really happening, stop worrying about it” (because obviously I rush to the hospital crying in pain at midnight when I don’t think I’m actually in labor – ha!). I’ve struggled a lot emotionally with being told “you’ll know when it’s real” because I didn’t feel a single contraction with my son, and I slept through him crowning – so no, I’m not actually sure I *WILL* know when it’s the “real thing”. I mean, contractions 1-2 minutes apart that are so intense I’m crying & can’t breathe or walk? That SOUNDS like the real thing to me, that’s the sort of thing the doctor tells you to hurry in for – but it wasn’t the “real thing”. Just stinky prodromal labor contractions. This entire pregnancy has been so different compared to my pregnancy with my son 11 years ago! Especially this last trimester – whew, it’s been a doozy!
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That’s life currently, and why I’ve been so quiet on social media. I work when I can between contractions, home schooling, and getting the house ready for baby Z. I sleep as much as I can, since the super intense contractions like to wait until bedtime to start happening.I’m up to 1-2 appointments a week because the doctors insist I measure too small on the outside to have a healthy baby on the inside, even though every ultrasound & test shows she’s growing fine & perfectly healthy. You know how doctor’s like to fixate on arbitrary “average” numbers like fundal height measurements, without taking into account the woman was 110 lbs prior to baby so obviously she’ll measure different than  the 130 lb woman of the same height just because that’s the “average” means of measurement.
So yeah.  Life is chaotic but beautiful.  I have a feeling AFTER Z gets here I will be able to get SO much more accomplished than I have this entire last trimester, ha!
So until I have some cute pictures of my babe to show off, here’s a cute picture of my sister’s new baby, Leah Alaska, my newest niece (making me an aunt ten times over!). She was born 9.23.2016, weighing a squishy 7lb 1oz! Isn’t she precious?! I keep going over to hold her in hopes it will start labor for me. No luck yet, but I’m not giving up. 😉
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