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The Hunger Games

Few know of the real life Hunger Games that occur every October. They are done in private, and they are brutal. The victors (because in this version there are more than one) loudly tout their success, while the losers go forth in shame and panic as they try to find an alternative route.

Okay, that last line may have been a bit dramatic, but it is true. DragonCon is a huge conventions (think 80,000 people) that happens each year in Atlanta. It spans across several hotels and pours into the city streets.

The hotels directly involved in the convention include: Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Hyatt Regency, Hilton Atlanta, Sheraton Atlanta Hotel, and the Westin Peachtree Plaza. That list seems extensive but there are thousands every year who make sure of Hotel Indigo, The Omni, Air BnB, and various other downtown hotels. Each of the host hotels have their own quirks and awesomeness.

Marriott- The center of everything. It is sandwiched between the Hyatt and the Hilton, specifically useful when you think of the skywalks (sidewalk bridges between hotels above street level). This is also a major spot to watch for amazing cosplays, and the night life here is always huge. It is surprisingly quiet once you get up higher though. The pro is that you are in the center of everything, and if you are like me (managing anxiety and a few other things) the ability to go up to your for a short span without it becoming a huge out of the way ordeal is extremely valuable. The downside is that you are definitely sharing elevators with people who aren’t staying there. It can be annoying, but still one of the best elevator situations I’ve had at con.

Hyatt- The Hyatt is a bit funny, almost mirage like at times. I know events happen there, but I can’t think of a single one I’ve ever gone to. I know I cross through it often, but I can’t think of a time I’ve spent a significant length of time there. The inside is gorgeous, and I will be honest I have never stayed there. It is a spot that you can see some good cosplay, but not to the Marriott level. Being that it is part of the skywalk set, it definitely has some solid nightlife. Veterans know this, but newbies here’s your heads up. It is nearly impossible to get in the Hyatt because they do Legacy vouchers. If you must stay here, your best bet is the look through the DragonCon rooms facebook group.

Hilton- This is the last of the big three as I think of them and this is the one I’d love to stay in. The Hilton doesn’t have the same look of grandeur as the Hyatt and the Marriott, however it does have one of my favorite spots at the whole con. The back part of the Hilton has a rooftop/patio type area. Many of the photo shoots happen here. There is music, bars, and food all right there. I love it because it is great people watching, a change to see fresh air, and it usually not too crowded. I went to quite a few panels there this past year. The trick is, Hilton does Legacy too. Or did. there is some confusion currently because there was a recent purchase of hotels. I believe it affects some of the other hotels. Anyway, I’d love to get in here, but it is a tough sale.

Sheraton- Many people love this one because it is where badge pick up is located. Its also been home to some of the great events in the last several years. I haven’t been to a single event there in 3 years of attending, despite being interested some.The pool parties for example. Most of the other hotels close theirs during the Con. There’s also the DragonCon Burlesque, and Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog. Why not attend? It is down the hill, and fairly far away from the rest of the conference. That isn’t enough to deter many though, because it has been a legacy up until this year and had no trouble staying booked.

Westin- I have stayed in the Westin multiple times and the thing is, its not that great. The view is awesome, but I had the worst experience out of any host hotel with staff, and elevators. There was very little I was interested in when we stayed there, though several of the movie rooms are there and their offerings this year (we didn’t stay there this year) seemed better than in previous years. They have the best view hands down, and what advantage they do have is being on the edge they have access to some of the restaurants downtown that are just far enough away the Con Crowd doesn’t make them impossible. Our favorite is right next door, Meehans. Also, this hotel is one of the easier ones to get into. They release blocks throughout the year, even relatively close to the con. Pretty nice.

 

So, in conclusion, I won the Hunger Games for a second year in a row. We will be staying at the Mariott again, though if I ever find a way to weasel into the Hilton, I’m on it. How I win the Hunger Game is a trademarked (not really) secret. May the odds be ever in your favor.

Surprise Surprise

Many of you know I grudgingly grew up in a suburb (I wanted to be much more rural) and as such my eggs growing up were from the grocery store. As a result, I barely even liked eggs. When I did eat them I wanted them covered in something else. I wanted to share what I have learned.

 

In the last month I have been eating a lot of eggs for multiple reasons. 1) I am on a very tight diet, that is basically 1200 or less calories while also getting most of my daily values (y’all, I am being monitored by a doctor. You don’t try that at home). Meaning, an egg a day has been a huge help for getting in the protein. 2) Our ducks have started laying and we have eggs coming out of our ears.

 

I have learned, and want to share with any like me who didn’t know. Farm fresh eggs are a completely different world from the eggs at the grocery store (can they even be called eggs?). Farm eggs are mouth watering. Yet, it gets better. I hadn’t tried duck eggs before either. They are amazingly good. They are just a touch creamier than a chicken egg and slightly bigger. They are rich, and delicious and somewhat better for you than the store bought counterparts. Also, duck eggs are particularly good for baking.

 

My foodie advice? Find some fresh farm eggs, duck if you can, and enjoy them!

 

References:

https://edibleparadise.com/home-page-stories/pastry-chefs-secret-ingredient-duck-eggs/

https://hubpages.com/food/Are-Free-Range-Eggs-A-Healthier-Alternative-to-Eggs

Christmas Come and Gone

Ok, so Dragon Con isn’t exactly Christmas, but it is pretty epic. This year was amazing. I wanted to share the awesome with you guys before getting back to the more specific (like entering a new fandom)

The great

-Felt less Crowded

-The Hilton brought their A Game

-I saw PETER CAPALDI and PEARL MACKEY live. Amazing

-Went to more small panels than in the past.

-Got the stay in a host hotel

A managed to cosplay some that wasn’t a fail

Less stress, less people, less crazy. Happy con to all!

A Good Outlook

I want to share because I want to keep myself hopeful and want others to be as well. I’ve cut my calories to 1200 or less, with doctor consent and been on a medication to help. I’ve barely even had time to exercise. Sorry for lack of posts about the journey it’s a side effect of school starting, but y’all, I have lost 24 pounds. This is the first time I’ve been below 300 in I don’t know how long.

A Little Help

As many of you know, I am a teacher, and what you may not know is that I work in a low income area with special needs students. I spent $500 this year so far on supplies alone. There are some things I really need for my students. Right now Donors Choose will match donations if you use the code RIPPLE, so please if you can help, it would mean so much

Click here to Help

A Breakthrough

I am writing to share something small and exciting. I have had a breakthrough. I am down approximately 16 pounds. How have I managed? I would love to say its all diet and exercise, but its not. I am realizing there is no shame in the method, its just the stigma. I have a prescription for my doctor for medicine to help. It has helped so much I have more energy to exercise, I don’t feel as hungry, and thanks to my ADHD instead of jittery I find myself able to focus, which is a nice change of pace.

I want to point out, very strongly, that I have also been exercising more, and cut down to approximately 1200 (doctor approved). We bought an exercise bike this summer, which has been very nice, but now I am trying to decide about whether or not to cancel the gym membership since I find myself there less and less now. And I’ve started walking to work when I can.

I keep getting complimented on weight coming off of me, but I can’t tell. In the past when I’ve lost weight I could tell, but I can’t now. Maybe because it is happening fairly quickly? I just wish I could be more excited about it. Maybe I am just beating myself up. I have been in a bit of a down swing in terms of my mental health, and that is just a thing for the moment. I just know I should be happier and find myself not.

A Simple Dish

I have had the in laws visiting recently and I needed to cook dinner at least some of the time. I needed to make something filling, not complicated, and I couldn’t use fish or pork. Ok. Lets go to the cabinet and see what I’ve got. Chicken breasts, but only two to feed four. That means I have to go with a comfort food to make it work. After a look at what I keep in the cabinet, here is what I came up with.

 

French Onion Chicken

1 small can cream of chicken (I used cream of chicken with herbs)

1 packet of french onion soup mix

2 large chicken breasts

 

Directions

1- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees (F)

2- Line a dish for baking (think pyrex, corningware, etc) with aluminum foil (I do this for cleaning purposes but if you prefer not to, its up to you)

3- Spoon 3-4 spoonfuls of the condensed soup in the bottom of the dish

4- Lay the breasts on top of the condensed soup, and spoon the rest of the can on top.

5- Sift the French Onion packet to separate the powder from the dried onion. Use half the powder (only half or your chicken will be extremely salty) and sprinkle over top of the chicken.

6- Bake the chicken for 30 minutes. After this time, cut them in half and spoon the soup over the chicken. Sprinkle the dried onion on top

7- Return to the oven and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes. Internal temperature of the chicken should be 165 degrees (F)

 

Serve with the soup/sauce in the bottom of the pan like a gravy. I served with green beans and corn to keep it healthy but it would have been good with mashed potatoes and the sauce acting as a gravy.

A Painting Flop

I love painting. I stink at it, but I like it. I became somewhat better when I was in college because I was taking a scenic painting class. I learned dry brushing, scumble, and several other techniques. I was able to do a few things at that point, and could generally be satisfied with what I could do.

Recently I have been trying to paint a box in galaxy pattern, but that is a pattern best done with watercolor. Then problem is that the box was not finished enough that is wouldn’t have absorbed the the paint. I decided to try to do a scumble, but I didn’t have latex paint with me. I had acrylic so I tried that instead.

Y’all, it flopped. I couldn’t scumble it because the paint dried so fast, and the little parts I could looked nothing like a galaxy pattern at all. The box is now done, and it looks vaguely of a galaxy print. It was meh. Anyway, I suppose I should have included a picture, but I wanted to post about a hobby I’d been actively doing because it probably seems like I don’t have any hobbies. To honest, I don’t much have time for hobbies.

HOW MANY DAYS?

Ok folks, DragonCon is closing in and I’m all like AHH. Even though I’ve known what cosplays I’m doing for months I am so behind. Yikes! I’m doing a Rey cosplay, via the Force Awakens, and I’m waiting on a few things to come in, but others I haven’t even thought of! The staff needs work, I don’t have the drape, I’m waiting on pants and a bag to come in, and I’m not sure what shirt I’ll wear.

Another I’m doing is copying my pokemon go avatar. I need a magikarp hat though, and my sewing skills have gone weak. Anyone out there want to take it?! Also, I hope to get a plush for the bag. That one is closer I guess.

Another day I have reserved for a nerdy shirt, finding Francis.

Last is one I haven’t even been able to figure out. I have a beautiful Venetian mask, it is glittery, blue and silver, and I can’t come up with anything to do with it. I want to do something, but I can’t come up with anything besides a pokemon, and I don’t want to do two from that fandom. Any ideas please comment! Pic below is similar to mine, but mine has no feathers

 

Pale Lady’s Guide to the Sun

I was recently on my Facebook and saw a friend concerned because she is having to have a spot on her skin removed. I have had that happen multiple times, and as such have gotten quite good at the whole skin in the sun thing. I’ve decided to share in case there is anyone out there who could use the help.

 

  1. Limit Time in the Sun

I’m not saying that you should hide from the sun all the time, but when I work outside I do it in the early morning or evening. When I am in the Sun, I make sure to go in and out of the shade to prevent burning. That is one of the best things you can do.

2. Use the Right Sunscreen

All sunscreen is not created equal. I learned this the hard way when I found myself getting burned even though I knew I was putting on sunscreen as often as I was supposed to. I started switching brands. The best two that I have found are Neutrogena and Sun Bum. I came across Sun Bum because I decided that if I was getting burned I needed to think like those who lived in the Sun, surfers. When in doubt, think that way (not to mention, its better for the environment).

 

Image result for sun bum sunscreen

3. You aren’t Prudish for Covering Up

We get the idea that if you cover up at the beach or pool you are a prude. Not true. I had to get over that concept or else miss out on time with the family outside. What I found that I liked was an under armor or similar material shirt when I know I’m going to be in the pool awhile. Or, use a towel to cover to cover your back.

4. The Shade Counts

Yes, you can get burned in the shade and on overcast days. There is no exception for being in the shade.

5. Use Extra Protection

So,  you probably already use sunscreen, great. Hats are lifesavers, even in the water. I like baseball caps for that because they stay on and dry out well. Also, I found out from my doctor that you can get harmful UV through your eyes, particularly if you have light colored eyes, so use the sunglasses.

6. Don’t Tan

Tan skin is dying or dead skin, if its not natural. There are some folks out there who have it, and trust me, you gorgeous. If you’re naturally pale, just be pale, or whatever sun kissed shade you get. Intentional tanning causes wrinkles.

7. Last One- Don’t Wait

If you have a freckle/mole that looks a little irregular, so that might meant dark, funny shaped, or raised, go to the dermatologist early. Do not wait.