a batman greeting card

When I saw that the US Post Office had come out with Batman stamps, I immediately new I needed to send them to my friend Chris (with a greeting card of course). Chris has been running the Batman News (the premier source for all things Batman) for years. He’s also the one who helped me move my site over from WordPress.com to WordPress.org.

We also went to middle school together and spent far too much time talking to each other on AIM.

I wanted to share the card I put together for him today. I didn’t know that much about Batman, but I knew where to look for inspiration, and here was the result –

2015-03-23 Batman Card

Also. I think I’ve taken this mail thing to a new level. Now I’m sending stamps instead of putting them on the mail? Ridiculous.

So, will you be running out to go buy some Batman stamps today? They’re pretty flipping awesome.

10 things I learned about myself from TXSC15

2015-03-25 10 Things from Texas Style Council 2015

photo taken by the incredible Chelsea Laine Francis

Last weekend I went to Texas Style Council 2015, a social media conference based out of Austin, TX where 200 creatives took over a Girl Scout camp. It was about as awesome and Pinterest-y out of control as it sounds. I meant to write this post on Sunday night, but it turns out there were just too many awesome people to hang out with while I was in Austin to get my thoughts together. Now, unfortunately, it’s back to reality, but not without a recap of how things went.

The conference was incredible. This year it was more about meeting people and building genuine connections than learning about blogging. I had a feeling this would be the case from the beginning, which is why I signed up to be a volunteer. The most blog-useful discussions I had were in the dinner line Saturday night and while setting up the lights for the Jamboree on Saturday night, but that’s how it should be. That said, I did learn (and confirm) a lot of things about myself (some of them possibly more important than others).

10 things I learned (and confirmed) about myself from TXSC15

  1. It is not possible for me to sit still during the wobble. I must get up and dance to it no matter how exhausted I feel in that moment.  Also, getting to see Indiana do the wobble with her adorable baby Lucy all sorts of ergo-babied in was ridiculous.
  2. My brain has not yet been trained for motherhood (please see #1 where I refer to “ergo-babied”). That’s totally fine, but there was definitely a does-not-compute moment when I was handed part of an already peeled banana to pass down the table to hand to somebody holding a baby.  Don’t worry, another mother near me kicked into action.  Thanks, Mary.
  3. For Texas Style Council we had to choose whether we wanted to stay in a talker or sleeper cabin. I chose sleeper because at the end of the day, sleeping when you want to sleep is more important than talking when you want to talk.  I confirmed that this was the right answer for me.  Getting to go to sleep in a quiet room was absolutely perfect, especially after spending the day constantly surrounded by people.
  4. I cannot use a Mac for the life of me. I’ve grown up with PCs from the time I was born. So if I am the one controlling the computer, it will take me approximately 300x longer than the normal person to open a document that was already active. So sorry about that, Erin.
  5. I love making cards – and I’m good at it. Most other DIYs are kind of a mess though. Paper doll making, bow tying, bark decorating, and button design are completely beyond my normal realm of possibilities.
  6. When I say I don’t have the patience for a tedious task what I really mean is that I know if I start it my OCD will kick in and it will need to be perfect taking a really long time. I understand that those two thoughts are not remotely the same thing.  For example, bead painting.
  7. It is very easy for me to approach anybody with curly hair to start a conversation. That said, I usually start the conversation by mentioning how much I love their hair.
  8. I heard a lot of inspiring stories from women with a cause. Between listening to Bethany Joy, director of global customer engagement and community at TOMS, talk about their company’s mission; Kirsten Dickerson, founder of Raven & Lily, talk about how she got the company off the ground and her relationships with women artisans across the world; and Nicole from Writes Like A Girl talk about sisterhood I realized how important it is for people to have a cause. I’m still trying to figure mine out, but I’m excited to find it.
  9. Drinking four Honest Teas in a day is about three too many. I’m the girl who can’t have a cup of coffee without feeling incredibly off her game and somehow I allowed myself to have four Honest Teas (each one has the equivalent of ¼ cup of coffee).  Needless to say, by Saturday night, I felt pretty awful.
  10. I am a shy extrovert. I know to some people this doesn’t make sense, but in the truest sense of the word an extrovert is somebody who gets their energy from being around other people. Just because I get energy from being around other people doesn’t mean that I’m not nervous to talk to them. Big name bloggers, people who appear to be in cliques, and people I know from the internet that don’t necessarily know me all fall in the category of “makes Chrystina nervous”. Most of those I got over, that’s not to say I wasn’t awkward as hell while doing it, Lisa can attest to that.

What about you other TXSC15 attendees, did you learn anything about yourself you didn’t know before?  Or maybe you reconfirmed something? Either way, it was incredible to meet all of you and hear your stories. See you around the internets :)

one down, one up

2015-03-19 One Down, One Up

Carrie Manolakos performing at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia, PA

As y’all are reading this I am about an hour northwest of Austin, TX helping to get CAMP set up for 200 bloggers.  That’s right, 200 bloggers are crashing a Girl Scout Camp for the weekend to learn all sorts of good stuff, and you know what?  I’m flipping pumped.  That said, it’s currently time to talk about the worst and best parts of this past week.  Let’s do this.

one down
I’m going to claim Monday exhaustion as the worst part of the week. I went non-stop this weekend – from Pi Day to phone dates to breakfast plans to brunch plans to choir rehearsal to donating household stuff to getting stuff done around the house. I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t able to focus on Monday until I realized I was almost too tired to walk home. I’m going to work on this for next week. I was listening to episode 2 of Happier with Gretchen Rubin and she mentioned that you should set an alarm so that you know when bedtime is.  I used that method two days this week and it wa sawesome.

one up
My one up this week was going to see Carrie Manolakos in concert (see yesterday’s post for more details). I bought her EP about 2 years ago and I must have listened to the 7 songs for 5 months straight. Every one of her songs hit me a certain way. The love of my life in college – there’s a song about him. How I felt after I broke up with my first boyfriend after college – there’s a song for that. The fact that I feel like “I wanna scream out loud” sometimes – there’s a song for that too. So getting to see her in concert was perfect. She has a new song that she’s (hopefully) recording called “No Religion” that she gave a preface to that really made me think about a few things. She said that the song was about whatever greater idea you cling to, whether it’s religion or something else. And as we all know I’ve been asking a lot of questions about religion recently. Well, this helped me out a little bit, so that was cool. Also, her encore song was Hallelujah and it was epic. That is all.

one random
I got two letters in the mail this week from friends that I sent snail mail to and it’s an awesome feeling. They both wrote about how what I sent them made their days. That’s why I love doing this.

4 cds to buy if you love musicals

4 CDs to buy if you love musicals

I’m writing this blog post to balance my recent guest post on Miranda’s blog, The Good Groupie. I recently wrote a post titled 5 musicals for the non-musical lover. I racked my brain to come up with a list of musicals that I thought he music was so epic and awesome behind that even if you didn’t like musicals you could totally find something to love in the show.

Today I want to share with you 5 cds that you should buy if you really like musicals.  Sure, we all love musicals because of the story and the production and the effects, but there’s something else that brings musical-lovers together.  All people who love musicals have a great appreciation of a really solid, powerful voice with a supported and full tone-quality.  A voice that emotes, inspires, and rings in your ear for hours to come.  And I promise you that you will find all of those things on these 4 cds listed below.

Echo, by Carrie Manolakos

Carrie was Sophia in Mamma Mia on Broadway and Elphaba on the Wicked National Tour – so take a second to think about that voice. Awesome, right? My favorite part of this is that on her EP she takes her voice out of the Broadway home and more into the pop realm while still keeping the power behind it. If you ever get the chance to see her perform live she kills it in a few rock numbers as well – and her rendition of Hallelujah brought me to tears last weekend. ANYWAY, the song that got me hooked on Echo was her song “Echo”, it’s one that I would really love to hear an a cappella group pick up.  However, my favorite thing about this CD is the lyrics – each song fits into my life in a unique way, and was able to describe how I felt at a certain moment in time. This is still my go to “I’m in a crummy mood and need to feel better CD”.
Click here to listen to a YouTube video.

Is There Anybody Out There?, by A Great Big World

You remember A Great Big World from their duet with Christina Aguilera, “Say Something”, right?  Well, the rest of their CD is incredible. They’re not Broadway stars, but their CD has a Broadway vibe to it in the sense that each song tells its own story – and between the lead singer’s voice and the piano it makes for an irresistable combination. The leading song on the album “Rockstar” is the one that hooked me in and I’m so glad it did because this very quickly became one of my favorite CDs of all-time.
Click here to listen to a YouTube video.

Where The Sky Ends, by Michael Mott

I recently discovered that there are a bunch of musical theater composers releasing albums of Broadway song compilations – how did I not know about this until now?  His CD, Where The Sky Ends, has 11 songs featuring names like Sierra Boggess, Jeremy Jordan, Zachary Levi, and Laura Osnes – and of course we get to here Michael sing as well. One of my favorite parts of this CD is that there’s a 90-second interlude where he shares clips of his original recordings of the songs when he sent them to everybody to ask them to be featured on his album. It makes it feel like you’re part of the experience. My favorite number on this CD has turned out to be “The Devil” by Sierra Boggess because it’s just the kind of song I wish I’d have had the nerve to perform as a jazz solo.
Click here to listen to a YouTube video.

Constant, by Matt Doyle

Last, but not least, I recently discovered Matt Doyle.  His first Broadway show was Spring Awakening (enough said right there, something about that cast man – you can read more about that rant in the guest post listed above). His EP, Constant, is only 6 songs, but that hasn’t stopped me from listening to it on repeat.  The song “What You Stole” hooked me.  It’s honest, and melodic, and features a piano and a cello. And it was an awesome addition when I found the gospel-esque harmonies in “Love Ain’t Makin’ Me Right”.
Click here to listen to a YouTube video.

Are there any other artists that you listen to that remind you of or previously starred on Broadway? I’d love to listen to them.