Looking back on it, I had a pretty nice, calm May, compared to the crazy June I’m about to face! Some highlights:

  • We had our spring band concert. Nothing I was super excited to play, but it wasn’t terrible. I also wasn’t thrilled about the posters and programs I’d designed, but everyone seemed to like them, so that’s always good.
  • I took my mom and grandmom out for a really nice Mother’s Day lunch, and then afterward my brother came over and hung out and it was a very nice time.
  • We saw John Mulaney at the Merriam Theater! He’s really hit the big time :o)
  • After resuming regular orthodontist appointments a couple years ago when I had my retainers modified to be TMJ night guards, I have now officially “graduated” from orthodontia (again)! Instead of telling me to come back in a year, they said, “Call if you need us.”
  • I continued my David’s Tea obsession.
  • I also discovered this crazy vegan place in our area, Gangster Vegan. After meeting the owner at our farmers’ market and trying some of their juice, GG and I went there to pick up dinner one night, and he’s been talking about it ever since! Everything is vegan and organic, and also a lot is raw. (Did you know that vegan pie “crust” is a delicious date paste?!)
  • Had a relaxing and productive Memorial Day weekend while GG was away working. Having been an “ice cream widow” over summer holiday weekends for years now, I’ve learned how to make my own plans and keep myself occupied.
  • The TLC Block Party!
  • Hosted a ladies’ brunch/Ruby Ribbon trunk show that turned out pretty well. I might do brunches for all my parties from now on – the food is fun and easy, and you still have the whole day after it’s over! My friend L stayed after the party and we hit up the KoP Mall.

TLC Summer Block Party

Weeks ago, a friend alerted me to the fact that a TLC Summer Block Party was going to be held in Philadelphia, featuring appearances by a number of their reality stars, including the Duggar family. I talked GG into taking me and put it on the calendar, canceling all my other plans for the day. I didn’t know what it was going to be like, if they were going to perform or if we’d have a chance to meet them or what, but on the off chance that I had the opportunity to speak to them, and I had to limit myself to just one question, I had it ready to go: if they were so confident that they’d trained and educated their children the “right” way according to their beliefs, why keep them so isolated? Shouldn’t they be out interacting and sharing their beliefs with others? That’s sort of the question that all other questions would be based on.

Well, then it came out that Josh had molested his sisters, and the Duggars were obviously taken off the bill for this event.

I had my schedule cleared for the day, and GG was interested in seeing some of the little people families who were scheduled to be there. The weather was beautiful, so we still went! The event started at 12, and there was already a long line of people outside the gate when we got to Penn’s Landing around 11:30. It moved pretty quickly once the gates opened, though, and when we got inside, it was pretty empty.

We made our way down to the main stage, where the guy who was the host/MC for the day was calling for volunteers for the first trivia game of the day. GG for some reason thought I would want to participate? So the guy started interviewing us (and some other couples), asking what TLC shows we liked to watch. For some reason, besides the Duggars, I wasn’t even thinking of other shows beyond those that were represented at the event, so I was just like, “I don’t know, midgets?” Thinking back on it, I should have said My 600 Lb. Life, Sex Sent Me to the ER, I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant, My Strange Addiction, etc. Oh well. Anyway, I couldn’t get through an answer without saying “midget,” and I didn’t want to be on stage (and potentially on TV) anyway, so we passed on playing the game (with the married Roloff kids and their wives). Watching the game play later, I was glad not to be participating!

We didn’t really do a lot of the activities, but there was a lot going on. Kate Gosselin, Cara, and Mady from Kate Plus 8; Buddy from Cake Boss; Randy from Say Yes to the Dress; Monty and Lori from SYTTD Atlanta; Whitney from My Big Fat Fabulous Life; the Hamill family from Our Little Family; and the entire Roloff family from Little People Big World were on site. They all participated in games on stage, and were available for photos and autographs at various times. (It was probably actually a good thing the Duggars weren’t there – it was a hot day and there was a lot of “Nike” going on, plus if they’d done some game on stage they would be interacting with heathens and the host made jokes that would have gone over their heads.) There were also different games and activities (like face painting, balloon animals, or decorating cupcakes from the new Carlo’s Bakery that opened in Philly the same day). One neat thing they did was if you posted a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #TLCBlockParty, they would print it out and you could pick it up later.

After an hour or so, we were ready for lunch, but the food cart options were limited and expensive. So since we learned we could leave and come back, we walked a few blocks over to The Continental for brunch. Then we checked out Shane Confectionery, which we’d wanted to visit for a while, and got a frozen chocolate drink to go. We finished it as we walked back to the TLC event. It was a nice little break, and by the time we got back, the crowd had thinned significantly.

There was a tent up on a high terrace with a big “VIP” sign, and I just commented to GG that I wondered what VIP entailed, because it looked like just regular people up there. He went over and started chatting with the guy at the entrance, and next thing I knew, he was waving me over! Apparently, the tent was for the stars of the shows and the media (people from the local paper, etc.), but they actually had free reign to let anyone into the area, as long as they were cool about it! So GG and I got wristbands and went in! I got to see up-close the SYTTD Atlanta people, the Gosselins, and all the Roloffs! I didn’t talk to them to try to get pictures because I didn’t want to bother them in this area, but it was neat to see them all up close. (Kate Gosselin and Audrey Roloff are both gorgeous in person! So are Cara and Mady.) There was also a buffet of food, free drinks, and at one point they brought in some pastries from Carlo’s Bakery (we split one, they were amazing). And free t-shirts we picked up. Honestly, it was worth getting in just for the nice breeze we got up there!

The event went until 5PM, but we left just before the finale, a band coming on at 4. I think that was just long enough to be out in the heat and sun. It was a crazy experience!

Josh Duggar, You Messed Up

I guess I need to write about this, because for years, “Josh Duggar sex offender” has been one of the top search results for my blog, due to a comment someone left here in 2008. (And wow, is this site blowing up today!) As an avid and somewhat vocal Duggar watcher, I’ve been inundated for the last couple days with people sending me the articles about Josh’s alleged molestation charges, which have come back up in the news for some reason. But I really wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt because a) the story originated years ago from some very dubious sources and couldn’t really cite any hard facts or details, and b) in the Duggars’ world, “inappropriate touching” could be as innocent as holding hands before you’re engaged!

But now that Josh has come out and admitted it, I guess it’s true! (The one good thing to come from this may be that he’s resigned from his job with that hate group!)

Everything in the police report lines up with the rumors we’ve been hearing for years: Josh touching girls while they slept; the timing of the whole thing related to Jim Holt’s campaigns (“sin in the camp”); being sent away to ALERT (a “Christian program” that “consisted of hard physical work and counseling”); the part about how they were supposed to go on Oprah in 2006 but then didn’t. [Edit: 5/22] If you don’t have time to read all 33 pages of the police report, here’s a short summary and timeline. Here’s an even more detailed article that puts the events into a timeline with the Duggars’ TV shows, and asks the question we’re probably all wondering: how did Oprah, the police, the internet, and others know about these accusations, yet TLC didn’t seem to find out until this week? [/Edit]

I have been saying for years that I didn’t understand how other celebrities could say or do one wrong thing (e.g. Paula Deen’s racist remarks, Mama June’s pedophile boyfriend) and lose their shows, endorsements, etc., yet the Duggars went on and on despite all the controversial stuff they were mixed up in (politics, ATI, blanket training, etc.). Well, now here is a real scandal that really affects them (not tangentially, like the allegations against Bill Gothard). I’m very curious to see what this means for the rest of the family and the 19 Kids and Counting show. Will the Josh and Anna family just not be featured anymore? Or will the whole thing go off the air? As of the season finale two days ago, they were planning for and showing clips of what would be coming up in the “next season.” (Good thing Derick Dillard has his day job to fall back on; Ben and Jessa Seewald are kind of screwed, though!)

Also, I will note the ironic fact that the Duggars have been campaigning against measures that would support LGBT people, saying they are pedophiles and predators, and yet here their own kid is a predator…

Side note: I bet that within their own Christian circles, this not only doesn’t disgrace Josh, but in fact makes him look better. The way Josh, Anna, and his parents described it, it sounds like this great trial that he’s gone through and been strengthened by.

[Edit: 6/3] I wanted to document this – check out the hits to this blog since the story broke! [/Edit]

Nailipop Review

[Edit: 7/7] Jamberry ladies, I would love to know the context through which you’ve found this post. Someone shared it on Facebook? Leave me a comment! [/Edit]

If you know me either online or in real life, you probably have noticed that I do a lot of fancy nail art, usually thanks to my collection of stamping plates. I’ve never had much luck with Jamberry wraps, and I’ve successfully used Sally Hansen’s nail polish strips, but once you open the package, all the strips start to harden, so it seems kind of wasteful.

Iris has been talking about Nailipop for a little while, and encouraged me to give them a try. The web site does not have a ton of info, just a single set of photos showing how to apply the strips, and a note that they are based in California. I decided to go ahead and order a couple designs – I chose multi-colored patterns that I would not easily be able to achieve myself with stamps or dotting tools.

I didn’t get any shipping notification or anything, they just magically appeared in a regular, hand-addressed envelope four days after I placed my order, which was pretty good for CA to PA. I was a little disappointed to see that the nail stickers come in generic packaging, complete with broken English instructions on the back. In fact, Nailipop even replied to a photo I posted on Instagram, saying “we know, we got these nail wraps from different countries and we have no control over what’s on the package.”

Application was pretty easy. There are only seven different sizes of stickers, which on one hand I like, because having a billion different Jamberry ones is kind of overwhelming, but on the other hand, my nails are apparently a different size and shape than they’re supposed to be, because most of them didn’t fit me quite right. I did the best I could, but the overall look is kind of janky… (And I refuse to get out little scissors and trim things like this, because isn’t the point that it’s supposed to be quick and easy?) Also, you trim off the excess by running a vertical nail file along the edge, and no matter how well I tried to pull the sticker over the tip, they all came out looking torn and pre-chipped along the tip.

Day 1: I applied the stickers on a Sunday afternoon. If these were Jamberry wraps, they would be coming off right away due to the edges overlapping my skin, and the lumpiness at the tips from trying to pull and stretch as I applied them was annoying. Immediately after applying, I washed and chopped a bunch of vegetables, did laundry, and did some other cleaning, and they held on just fine.

Day 2: Based on past experiences with Jamberry, I was worried about those loose edges when I washed my hair, but there was no problem – the stickers never harden, they remain soft and flexible, so nothing got caught in my hair. The removal method is to soak your fingers in hot water, and I did notice after getting out of the shower that one of the edges was peeling up (which was reassuring, because I always get nervous about how well things will come off). I just pressed it back on. While at work, some of those edges started flaking off a couple of nails.

Day 3: Most of the loose edges around my cuticles have now kind of worn themselves off. However, the tips of a couple nails are also wearing pretty badly. I fear they may not be long for this world :o( One other thing I’ve noticed is that the finish feels kind of tacky on a couple nails. Painting a clear top coat over the stickers is an optional step that I didn’t take this time, but perhaps that would help with the wearing and give them a smoother finish.

I ended up removing them tonight, because by the end of the day, the tips were starting to chip and look bad. I probably could have gotten another day out of them, but I would have needed to repaint my nails after, and I’m not going to have time tomorrow, so I did it tonight. Removal was a breeze! I soaked my fingers in some hot water for just a minute, and then started peeling them off. For the most part, they all came right off in a single piece, and there’s no damage to my nails, which was my biggest concern. I’d use them again, just based on how well they stayed on yet how easy they were to remove.

[Edit: 7/5] I wrote a new review after trying them a few more times – you should check it out! [/Edit]

The HapTEAest Place on Earth

There is a new loose leaf tea shop in town, and GG and I are huge fans! DAVIDsTEA is a Canada-based tea shop that sells loose teas, drinks, and paraphernalia like mugs and steepers and spoons. They also sell really cute gift sets and sampler packs, and have recently launched a line of tea-based skincare products (lotions and lip balms). We have been longtime customers of that other tea shop (GG even worked there for a week once!), and the vibe is just so much nicer here! Brighter and more colorful and generally more happy.

I also have to compliment the staff. Every time we’re in this store, it’s like a party, and we leave with huge smiles on our faces! They are super friendly, happy, knowledgeable, and helpful. You can tell they really love what they’re selling, and want to help you pick just the right thing.

On Friday, GG and I came by after dinner to get some tea drinks. The woman making them was positively giddy about my choice and kept saying how excited she was to make this drink – an iced latte made with Forever Nuts tea, which brewed up to be a really pretty pink color.

Their teas have really unique flavors/ingredients and cute names (there is one called Movie Night that includes popcorn!), and the other products are nicely designed. I’ve given a couple mugs as gifts, and this last time I picked up an iced tea pitcher, which I wanted to get anyway, plus it enrolled me in their Summer Steeper program for the next couple months (check it out – can be done online, too!). So expect lots more “selfteas” coming up :o)

PS: This post was totally unsponsored, I just really like this store!