Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Support Great People, Finish Your Holiday Shopping - Accomplish All The Things!


Happy Holidays, all!

If you're anything like me, you had the best intentions of being done with all your shopping by Thanksgiving and keep realizing that there's someone else you need to buy for. So, in the interest of being helpful and giving a big THANK YOU to all the amazing companies and individuals who donated to the RAINN Down Hope Dinner Auction (still a few days left to participate!), I present to you a list of awesome people and places who probably have the perfect gift you're looking for.

How could I not kick this off with a suggestion to buy people books. OF COURSE we should all be buying people books. But when you're trying to decide on that perfect tome this holiday season, start with these phenomenal authors:

And then, for any music lovers out there, there is the great Carole King, who donated a signed CD for the auction. You can't go wrong with getting her music for a loved one.

Know someone who likes spectacular photography? Check out Kerri Socha's work!


Trying to find the perfect gift for a theater lover? The Kennedy Center has got you covered.

Looking for a unique present for the relative who has it all?
Image3D
Mission Cute
MyCaricature.com
PuzzleYou.com
StoryPeople

For the sports enthusiast:
Harlem Globetrotters
New York Jets

Know someone who loves SF/F? Even if the cast & crew of SyFy's Haven hadn't donated two signed DVD sets, I'd be telling you that if you're not watching that show, you should be. If you are watching that show, you know I'm right. Seasons 1-4 are on DVD now.

Know someone who doesn't need any more clutter in their lives? Give them an experience:
The Chew
Live with Kelly & Michael
Six Flags Great Adventure
Spirit Cruises

For those in the New York area:
The Argyle Grill
Berger Bros Digital Photography & Video
Camelot Specialty Limos
Captain Bill's
Castello di Borghese Vineyard & Winery
Design Masters Salon
FatFish
Gemaginations, Ltd.
Great South Bay YMCA
Hotel Indigo East End
Kilwin's
The Lobster Roll
Magic Paws 
Mulberry St.
Ghosts of New York Walking Tours 
Pindar Vineyards
Pugliese Vineyards
Racine Salon & Spa
The Rinx
Riverhead Tanger Outlets
Torta Fina Bakery
United Skates of America
Willy Nilly

Have you found yourself in Portland, Maine? Visit these places!
Gelato Fiasco
Miyake
Vena's Fizz House
Westin Portland Harborview

Know someone who drops their phone with the frequency that I do? (The frequency in question being rather high.) Check out Otter Box.

Finally, if you have anyone on your list, who needs anything at all. I can't imagine you wouldn't be able to find it at TJ Maxx/Marshall's/HomeGoods.

All right, now I need to go get a few more gifts for folks. So, off with you! Finish your holiday shopping! Support those who do good!

And have a lovely afternoon.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

RAINN Down Hope Recap: The Picture Edition

Hello all!

I figured the following awesome pictures merited a special weekend post. I am so honored to have been in the presence of all these people only a week ago. 




















I can say, without doubt, that on any day that seems even a little gloomy, I will be coming back to these pictures to bask, not only in the generosity of these folks, but how happy they look while offering it. 

Hope you're all having a fantastic weekend!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

RAINN Down Hope Recap!

Hello all and a very happy Wednesday to you!

So, as many of you know, this past Saturday was the 2nd Annual RAINN Down Hope Dinner Auction and once again I have been left floored by the goodness of people.

To begin with, the generosity of donations. There were seventy-five baskets and twenty door prizes, making for a total of ninety-five gifts to win. The vast majority of these were donated by local businesses, large companies and a number of individuals looking to do good. (Check in next week for a complete list of donors - it's a great way to get ideas for your holiday shopping!)

And then there were the people. This year we came in at around 130 attendees - many attending for the second year in a row, as well as bringing some new faces. In some ways this is a "you had to be there" situation, as I find it hard to properly describe the feelings of love and camaraderie that permeated that ballroom.

Many of these people have never been directly touched by the crimes the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network works so hard to prevent, but still they came out on an extremely cold and rainy night to give of themselves. They do not need to be personally effected in their every day lives to understand the importance of RAINN and the necessity for survivors of these crimes to have access to the help and support they need.

While I think it's important to stay up to date on what's going on in the world, I find the news difficult to watch. To have twenty-four hours of a constantly updating roll of horrible events is wearing. Reading it can provide it's own challenges, particularly if you choose to read it online, as then you run the risk of getting sucked into the comments section. Rarely does any news article go unscathed by some depressing or infuriating response.

These things can warp your view of reality, can leave you with the feeling that this world is a lost cause. However, thanks to these events, I can say with confidence that such a feeling is a wrong. The bad exists, of course - and is frequently heart-breaking - but as long as I know people who are so willing to support not only loved ones, but people who they've never met and likely never will, I can't help but believe that this world is full of hope.

If I had to take any guesses as to what the secret of living a happy life is, I'd have to say surrounding yourself with good people. People who are willing to put others first and people who you are willing to put before yourself. People who are willing to give of themselves and their time and their resources.

Which brings me to an important point - the fundraiser has surpassed it's goal!! Between the money already reflected on my RAINNmakers page and the few checks I still need to send in, we are at a total of $10,780 raised! Also, there are still nine days left on the campaign, so if you're interested in making a donation, you've got time - just head over here and do your stuff!

I am so insanely grateful right now. And, once again, I find myself in the perfect frame of mind to enter the holiday season and I will do my best to carry the feelings from Saturday night into the new year.

Hope to have some pictures to share from the event soon. Check back in!    

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Almost Time!

Greetings all and a belated very happy Thanksgiving to all those who celebrated last week!

Sorry for the brief radio silence. Between the start of the holiday season and preparing for the auction, every day is something akin to me waking up and running through the hallways, arms waving, rambling incoherent bursts of anxiety and excitement. You know, just being the usual calm, cool and collected. 

I had a lot of things to be thankful for this year, but without a doubt my biggest debt of gratitude goes to all those who have supported this month's event - both in person and from a distance. 

Though it is certainly not the first time I've experienced this, it never fails to overwhelm (in a good way) to see so many people going out of their way to offer support, no matter what is going on in their own lives. Knowing so many people who are willing to put others first makes it pretty much impossible to lose hope in this world. 

The dinner auction is this Saturday! *cue arm waving and ramblings* I am so extremely excited for this night. For one, I need to get the auction baskets out of the house. I'm pretty sure the house is beginning to sink into the ground under the weight of everyone's endless generosity. Far more importantly, is that I get to be in the same room as a good percentage of the most wonderful people I've ever had the privilege to know.  

In addition to being able to give our donation to RAINN next week, supporting sexual assault survivors over the holiday and into 2015, the end of the auction will also mark the beginning of having regular writing time once again. So many things to look forward to!

Also, more reading time! I'll definitely be hitting up Jeff Guinn's The Autobiography of Santa Claus again, but I'd love some more holiday reading suggestions. Leave them in the comments!

If you're interested in donating to RAINN through the RAINN Down Hope Event, you can do so at my RAINNmakers page

Also, vote here for RAINN to be Mission Cute's January Nonprofit Partner! If RAINN gets the most votes, then 50% of Mission Cute's January proceeds will go straight to the organization.

Look for an recap of the fundraiser next week!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Christmas Cheats

As my mania is well documented here on the blog, it's not very surprising that I'm already biting at the bit for Christmas movies. I try to keep myself on a strict schedule - no holiday movies or music until Thanksgiving. I do this more for other people than myself...well, it's a little bit for myself, seeing as I'd like to keep my friends.

But once Santa comes riding down the street in the Thanksgiving Day Parade, all bets are off. 

I'm generally able to hold off until the aforementioned acceptable start time, but sometimes the insanity stirs early. Especially when I'm in the process of planning the RAINN Down Hope fundraiser. I don't know that anything puts me in the right frame of mind for the holidays as quickly or completely as dealing with all the generous and kind people involved in the dinner - whether they attendees, donors or supporters. 

Seriously, every email, text or tweet I get makes my heart grow three sizes. At this point, it's about 89,613 times larger than it should be, but them's the breaks. The real issue is that now I want to watch a Christmas movie. 

As there's only a week left until I can do and feel no guilt for rushing the season, I'm going to be breaking in to my cheat movies:

1. The Shop Around the Corner
2. When Harry Met Sally
3. While You Were Sleeping
4. Michael
5. You've Got Mail

All movies with Christmas scenes and themes, that give me the fix I need without actually being Christmas movies. 

Another great outlet for my crazy?



Making up this year's Christmas movie calendar! (I exercised great restraint in putting only one exclamation point there. You're welcome.)

Let me know if you'll be "joining" me for any of the movies. We can tweet-chat during. 

Now, all that's left is the countdown until next Thursday when I officially start to see the world through my Christmas eyes. Spoiler alert: they turn you all into claymation. It's awesome. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Fundraiser Update: The November Edition

Happy end of the week, all! The time has come for our monthly donation update. Let me say, the baskets this year are going to be hands down amazing.  Especially now that these lovely folks have been added to those mentioned in September and October.


This is not even mentioning the deluge of auction donations that I’ve received from auction attendees this year. Tickets to sporting events, Broadway plays, restaurant gift certificates, electronics, beautiful baskets full of thoughtful items….this list could go on for a while.  There are baskets for every age group. It’s going to be a perfect way to start any holiday shopping.

Still interested in donating? You’ve got time!

If there’s something you’d like to give as an auction item, just shoot me an email or leave a message in the comments.

If you want to donate directly to RAINN, you can do so at my RAINNmakers page!

Finally, if you’re interested in getting a fun t-shirt, which supports this event and RAINN, there are ONLY FIVE DAYS LEFT in that campaign, so make sure that you get over to T-Fund soon!

As I frequently find myself, I am just plain flabbergasted by the extraordinary generosity of people.  Even having first hand knowledge of how wonderful people are, the swell of support for each of these events still is somewhat astounding. Every day I get more emails of support and there are still more donations coming in. If there was ever anything to put me in the right frame of mind for the coming holidays, it’s getting to interact with all of you as we work to make the world a better, safer place.

So, for the millionth time (which is still nowhere near enough), thank you.


Have a truly wonderful weekend!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Folklore Friday

The time has come, my good friends, for some more delving into North American folklore. I'm simultaneously polishing one book and plotting the next. Keeping these creatures fresh in my mind is pretty much a must. We've already taken a look at A through J, so let's move on down the alphabet, shall we?


Kachina

These creatures are also known as Koko, depending on what tribal lore you're looking into. They're spirits who apparently take the form of ducks and bring rain to the people. Some say this is done by their changing the souls of the dead into rain clouds - which, let's face it, really makes me want to invest in a heavy-duty umbrella. Something about have the dead rained on me is a bit unsettling. The Kachina also love both entertaining and disciplining children. If you happen to be in the market for a mythical babysitter, look no further.


Luferlang

If I'm being quite honest, one of the main reasons I'm including these fellows is because I enjoy saying their name. Come on, try it. Luferlang is just fun to say and, I imagine, quite interesting to see. These guys are fairly distinctive, with both a large blue stripe down enormous backs that sport tails right smack dab in their centers. Being bitten by one is certain death. Luckily for everybody, the Luferlang only bites once a year and lumberjack lore is bizarrely specific on when this "biting season" occurs. July 12. From what I've found, that's it. The biting season is one day. Biggest piece of advice, don't wear green. Drives the Luferlang crazy. If you do happen to have the misfortune of running across one on that ill-fated summer's day, don't worry. Hope is not lost. Clearly displaying an orange colored handkerchief will protect you, as will holding a mirror up so that the Luferlang sees its own reflection. There seem to be some deep-seated body issues here, as looking at its own reflection causes the Luferlang to run off in disgust. Makes me want to give it a big hug...at least it does 364 days a year.


Misiganabic

This is one of those take-the-bad-with-the-good creatures. A gigantic sea serpent, this guy is well respected by the Algonquins for keeping the waters of many different lakes around North America clean. For the most part, it seems that the misiganabic keeps its own counsel and is not looking for any trouble. Unfortunately, trouble is exactly what a person gets if they look at the misiganabic. One glance at the serpentine body that leads up to the head of a horse and you're either looking at crippling misfortune or death - which really makes it hard to enjoy those crystal clear lakes.


Nalusa Falaya

These swamp dwellers come out of Choctaw mythology and are quite the little devils. They're humanoid and pretty much covered head to toe in hair, but this doesn't exactly hide the fact that their backs are covered in sharp spines. Far more upsetting that imagining how much shampoo these guys would blow through is the fact that those spines serve a practical purpose. Once the Nalusa Falaya children shed their skin and turn into glowing spirits that attract travelers to the swamps - you know, as children are wont to do - the adults scare the humans into unconsciousness and then stab them with their spines. Considering the spines are on their backs, I guess that means that they trust fall on to a pile of fainted folks and roll around in a bloody mess. The worst part? This doesn't kill the people. Instead it brainwashes them to wake up, return to their friends and then randomly attack them. Talk about a camp ground buzzkill.


Ohdows

Out of Iroquois lore, the Ohdows are one of the three tribes of Yogah - the other two being the Gahonga (Stone Throwers) and the Gandayah (responsible for the earth's fertility). Of these three, I can say, hands down the Ohdows are the one's I'd want to tag along with on Take-A-Mortal-To-Work-Day. After all, they're responsible for controlling the monsters that live in the underworld and making sure that they don't make a break for the surface. Just show me where to sign and I'm in.


But until I get the necessary permission slip for such work, it's time to focus on the ol' manuscripts. Have a great weekend and don't follow any glowing spirits toward the swamps. If for no other reason, avoid it for your friends' sakes.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Embracing the Creep-Out

Happy Halloween, ghouls and goblins!

Today is the day to embrace your fears, so I've decided to share a few of mine. To keep this list manageable I'm not including spiders and clowns. For one, I've already talked about them and their creepiness factors, but also, show me someone who is not at least mildly rattled by those two things and I will show a robot from the future sent back to destroy us all.

The rest of these are less cut and dry. Let me know if you're joining me in my creep-out or if these things don't really inspire the shudders in you.


Mirrors

Ever since I was a little kid, I've found mirrors a bit unsettling. There's the standard horror movie fear - you know, glance away from the mirror and then back to find that someone is standing behind you - but I think, even bigger than that is the fear that I will still be alone in the mirror, only my reflection will now be acting of it's own free will. That I'll be looking into a mirror absentmindedly as I wash my hands and all of a sudden my reflection will start grinning back at me. At which point I would, naturally, have to burn the house down.


Windows With No Blinds or Curtains

Even if one opts out of using said blinds or curtains, I think every window should have at least one of them - and not just for the people inside. About seven years ago, I was driving through Wisconsin in the middle of the night on my way to the World Circus Museum to do research for my final undergrad research paper. For endless stretches of road, there were no street lights, but every once in awhile there would be a glow off to the side of highway. I'd glance over and it would be a straight shot into someone's living or dining or bedroom, sometimes all of the above. Big time willies. A little bit too Rear Window for my tastes.


Mascots

To say that mascots creep me out may be underselling it a bit. I don't care who the team is or what their mascot happens to be. There is nothing less likely to inspire team spirit in me than someone in a costume that fully obscures who they are coming over to dance in my personal space. When I find myself in these situation, my first instinct always seems to be to knock their comically large heads right off. This may be the reason I'm not invited to many sporting events.


Hearts Carved Into Trees

You know what I'm talking about - that age old tradition of carving ones initials next to those of one's sweetheart to demonstrate one's endless love to the world. It really gives me the willies. Forget about the environmental impact of hacking your affections into bark, this ritual begs the question: Why in the world do so many people bring knives on dates??


Other People's Dreams

This isn't an across-the-board fear. I'm sure some people's dreams are just lovely. However, I spent too many years trying to figure out why the li'l sis was mad at me in the morning only to later be told that I'd been mean to her in a dream not to be wary of people's slumbering reveries. Not to mention, well.....other reasons.


So, those are mine. What about you? Have anything you'd like to share about the things that give you the willies?

Here's some background music while you think:


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Fundraising Extravaganza Continues!

I was absolutely going to talk about Halloweenie topics today, but, you know...best laid plans...slippery slopes...no "I" in team...or something like that. The point is, my sonnets about pumpkin spice and traumatic retelling of the year someone tried to hit me with shaving cream, but tripped and creamed himself (poor kid), are just going to have to wait.

As I'm guessing you've inferred from the title, there's more movement on the fundraising front. Thanks to CafePress, the 2nd Annual RAINN Down Hope Dinner & Auction now has t-shirts! That's right, folks. We've arrived. 

Not only are the shirts pretty cool looking, but a portion of the proceeds of each sold will be added to the money we're raising for RAINN through the auction. So, whether you can't make it, but would like to support the cause and look cool doing it - or you can make it and simply can't resist the thrall of a good t-shirt (no judgments) - this will be $15 well spent. And if you would like to spend it, go here!

Much like Kickstarter, the t-shirts are only produced and mailed if the sale goal is met by the end of the campaign. This one will last until November 20 to ensure that we have the profits in time to add them to that of the auction and that you have the t-shirt so you can celebrate with us on December 6th from whatever the distance. So, you have thirty days, if you're interested in expanding your wardrobe to benefit RAINN. 

Once you get your shirt, if you find yourself wanting to help boost awareness even further and post a picture of yourself wearing the shirt....well, first of all, you're awesome. Secondly, feel free to tag your pictures with #RAINNDownHope so we can all find each other.

Finally, tune in next time for some decidedly more Halloweenish conversation. I'll fill you all in on how I'm being haunted. 

Okay, maybe that's not true. 

But a girl can dream, can't she?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

RAINN Auction: Sub Two Months!

RSVPs are officially rolling in! I think I could keep doing this event for a million years and still be dance-break-worthy excited every time one of those shows up in my mailbox - or, a million years from now, in my brain synchronizer, or whatever we're using then.

You may have seen some of these announcements on Twitter, but I wanted to catch everyone up on the amazing donations being given to December's RAINN auction. I mentioned last month that the donor list is a veritable bucket of awesome and October's additions have only made that more true.

Hello and thank you to the October contingent!


This list doesn't even include all the superbly generous folks who are both attending the auction and donating baskets - all of whom, save those who choose to donate anonymously, will be included on the final Donors of Phenomemazingtastic celebratory list in December.

Please excuse me whilst I do my traditional auction-is-shaping-up-to-be-amazing dance. (Spoiler alert: It involves a move I learned watching Center Stage 2: Turn It Up, which, come to think of it, totally deserves it's own BM,GPT.) Also, in honor of one of our donors, today's dance will be to a song that I've found very inspiring in my hardest moments:


Look for another update next month, with some little update-ettes on Twitter from now until then. Want more information on RAINN and the great work they do? Their website is right this way....

If you're interested in donating an item or basket for auction, there's still plenty of time - just shoot me an email. You can also support the cause by making a donation to my RAINNmakers page or just by spreading the word about this event. Every signal boost makes a huge difference, so thank you!!

Have a weekend of greatness!