Drink and Draw II- Let’s Get Artsy

Drawing is a creative outlet for me that I usually enjoy in the privacy of my home. Somewhat self-conscious, I never really enjoyed drawing in public, but I thought I’d give the Drink and Draw a try. Hosted by GAAM and local Jacksonville artist, Chappy Lips, it was located at local brewery, Aardwolf Brewery in San Marco area of Jacksonville,  Florida.

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Mark Pariani Productions

GAAM (which stands for Games, Art, and Music) is an organization making strides in the Jacksonville gaming community (I will have to dedicate  post to GAAM in the future) that hosts fun gaming related events throughout the year while raising money for charity. Recently, GAAM, started spot-lighting local, up-and-coming artists to host Drink and Draw where anyone can come, draw, and share a drink among friends.

Chappy Lips , AKA Leslie, wasthe gracious host who set-up a welcoming event and provided her own supplies for guests to explore. Her tools of trade include traditional Japanese inks and brushes that give her often modern influenced art, an old-world charm.

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Mark Pariani Productions

After admiring Leslie’s set-up, I grabbed a beer (a saison) and took a seat in a corner where I set up base. Within an hour, the reserved room was full and bustling with activity. As Leslie’s speakers played hip hop tunes, people could be seen sketching, painting, inking, and having a good time.

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All skill levels were welcome but what about ages? Breweries are changing. I’ve seen more locations that are marketing themselves as family friendly or places to enjoy the community. Despite this, I was not sure what it would be like bringing my four year old daughter.

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As a mom, there are so many variables to factor in when introducing your child to new experiences…How will my child act? Is she sleepy? Will it be loud? Will she feel comfortable around so many people? How will people feel with her around?…To add to these concerns, being  somewhere that resembles a bar crosses into what feels like taboo territory. All concerns aside, we gave it a try and my daughter got to enjoy some art time. She got to  meet and see different artists, sample different art tools, and make her own masterpiece. Drink and Draw was a night of creativity and fun! I look forward to the next event.

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Zoe titled her art piece “Rainbow Cave”

Check out Chappy Lips on Facebook and Instagram to check out her art or purchase some of her one-of-kind pins and stickers!

gaam drink_draw 2-103What are your thoughts on children at breweries? I’m interested to hear about your experience!

 

Photos by Mark Pariani Productions

 

#momblog #jaxfl #jacksonvilleflorida #momlife

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ZOO Lights

As I’ve already mentioned, our family loves the Jacksonville Zoo! When we heard about the ZOO Lights  , we decided we had to go to celebrate the ending of a great year.

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The funny part was that we tried on two separate weekends to go and it was raining! When we finally went, the rain caught us in the middle of the zoo but we still had fun. If anything, the rain, and the reflections made in the puddles created made for some very fun photos.

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Dancing in the rain

You can imagine, with the zoo being closed at night, you might not see many animals but we were able to experience the Stingray Bay which was open to the public (it usually costs an additional fee on regular days) and saw some beautiful flamingos who were still enjoying their lagoon as usual.

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The rest of the park was lit up with beautiful lights in patterns of animals from the entrance all the way to the Asian Bamboo gardens. Along the way, Christmas music played to get you into the holiday spirit.

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Beautiful carousel at night.
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The trees played to music near the giraffe area.
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The Moon Gate entrance to the Asian Bamboo Garden

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There were some surprise visitors as well such as The Grinch who was seen lingering around the Petting Zoo (and handing out green glow sticks!), Disney Princesses were spotted exploring the Range of the Jaguar, and The Jingle Bell Jukebox Revue performing on the lawn among a little Winter Wonderland complete with fires and smores.

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This was the first time in a while that I brought my camera to the zoo, and I was so pleased with the results. It inspired me to play around with photography more into 2019. Here’s to 2019! It’s looking bright!

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And thank you to Community First who sponsors to many wonderful events in our Jacksonville community.

How to Make Your Own Plant Monster- A Tutorial

 

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I love everything about Halloween from making costumes to decorating my house for spooky fun! One year I did both by creating my own Monster Plant that acted as a prop for my Bombshell Poison Ivy costume and later as a spooky Halloween decoration around the house! Here’s how you can make your own.

Supplies

  • Mini, Plastic Pumpkin
  • Flower Pot (I used terra cotta)
  • Glass Bottle (I recycled a typical beer bottle about 9.5” tall)
  • Wooden Dowel (Needs to be about an inch taller than your bottle)
  • Green Gardening Tape
  • Glue Gun/Glue Sticks
  • About 2 feet or less of Plastic Vines
  • Gorilla Glue
  • Spray Paint (base color of choice) and Acrylic Paint for details (lighter base color pink and white)
  • Paint Brush
  • Box Cutter (or other cutting tool of choice)

 

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Step 1: Prepare the “bulb” of your Monster Plants by sketching out some pointy fangs on your pumpkin. I used a pencil to draw 2 scalloped rows, facing away from each other that wrapped around the pumpkin from one side of the stem around to the other side. The scalloped points will act as the teeth for your pumpkin. On the row that will act as the top teeth, add “canines” with a longer and large fang on either side of the pumpkin’s bottom. Check out pictures below to visualize it before drawing your teeth.

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Step 2: I then slowly carved along those lines using a box cutter. It was a long and tedious process but it got the job done. I would not recommend this for children to attempt.

 

Step 3: Set up your Monster Plant stem! I stood up my recycled glass bottle and placed my dowel in it at an angle (instead of straight up and down) with the bottle end snug against the angle of the glass and the top leaning against the rim with just a few inches of dowel sticking out the top. Hold the dowel in place with a drop of hot glue on the bottom of the dowel before inserting it and copious amounts of glue on top where it touches the rim of the bottle.

 

Step 4: Attach the “bulb” to the “stem”. I propped my “bulb” (mini pumpkin) on the end of the dowel so that the top end of the dowel sat in a crevice of the pumpkin stem (1) and the bottom “jaw” of the pumpkin rested on the rim of the glass (2). I then doused those 2 points of contact with hot glue. You’ll have to hold this in place and allow it to dry.

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Step 5: Wrap your stem with green gardening tape from bottom to top. I like how the layers gave it some texture. You could even lightly paint the tape with different shades of green or brown acrylic paint if you want to get fancy.

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Step 6: Spray paint your “bulb” in your color of choice. I chose spray paint because it’s quick and I wanted vibrant, even color, but you could use acrylic paint. If you choose spray paint, cover the bottom portion of your plant with a garbage bag to avoid color getting on the stem, and make sure you do this is a well ventilated area following proper precautions.

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Step 7: Using a super glue of your choice, glue the stem (bottle) to the inside of a flower pot. Hot glue will not stick if using terra cotta which is what I used. Keep in mind, the bulb is fairly light but you will have to choose a flower pot “base” that is heavy enough to keep your stem and bulb portion of the Plant Monster from tipping over.

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Step 8: Once dry, add details like spots on the bulb to give it some character! Choose an acrylic paint that is lighter than your base color for the spots to really pop. Paint those teeth white!

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Step 9: Give your Plant Monster some leafy limbs! I wrapped a small length of plastic vines around my Plant Monster stem and let in sit inside the bot.

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Tip: For an extra creepy touch, leave some “leftovers” from its last meal lying around your plant. You could place icky, fake bugs or even some fake limbs sticking out of its jaws! “Feed me, Seymour!”

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This creation was inspired by a drawing I saw in a Halloween workbook my daughter had. I affectionately named our little creation Zoe II which made me realize it would be a fun prop for any Little House of Horror fans out there too. My little Zoe II tagged along with me for my DC Poison Ivy Bombshell group before settling at home for the holidays.

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If you choose to create your own, please share your photos! I’d love to see your little monsters.

Happy Halloween!!

#momblog #Halloween #nerdymom #cosplay

One upon a time.. The Yelp Storybook Soiree

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My first Yelp event was a definitely a night to remember! It was a night of food and fun with bites and brews from some of Jacksonville’s best local businesses, and of course a soiree wouldn’t be complete without a fancy dress code! Keeping with the literary theme of the night, guests were encouraged to dress as their favorite literary figure. I’m happy to say, attendees were quite in character.

The Soiree filled all 3 floors of the Jacksonville library with vendors, food, music, and fun to explore. The night flew by but here are a few of my favorites.
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Food
Bento cafe
You can never go wrong with sushi but there’s something special about Bento Cafe. Spicy tuna was a favorite, but that vegetarian roll- Wow. I never would have thought it would have so much flavor!
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Blue Bamboo offered a chilled noodle cup with a light vinaigrette and shredded vegetable topping with satisfied my noodle cravings.
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Here’s a storybook made of actual cake! Sweet by Holly were there to satisfy our sweet tooth!

I’ve never been to 4 Rivers Smokehouse, but after trying their 6 Shooter, I know they are with a visit. This bite layer cheese grits, pulled pork, pickles, jalapenos and topped with their BBQ sauce. Yum!
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My favorite bite of the night was Jaguars Eats who stole the show with fresh cut tuna poke bowls. Who knew football players ate so well?! They’re cooking up a menu that’s always winning.

Vagabond Coffee was brewing up sunbathing social with a mini cocktail of bourbon, coffee, and a chili coffee rim. 10 points to Gryffindor!
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Still sporting those Gryffindor colors, we had two cocktails with Manifest Distilling.
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Next magical potion comes from Aardwolf with their new peach IPA and their violet colored, shimmery sour.

After all those drinks, Thea and I got friendship tattoos 😱 but no worries, they are temporary art designs by really tattoo artist Myra Oh

What an amazing time to experience my first Yelp event which coincidentally was their largest fundraiser of the year. Not only was it a blast, they were able to raise over $7000 for the Jacksonville Public Library! That I can get behind!
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Thank you Thea for some of the above pictures! Check out my fellow Food Adventure Team member at https://adventuresofthea.wordpress.com/ for her experience at the Soiree!

The Year of Disney

When you grow up in Florida, going to Disney is like a rite of passage, but when do you decide the first trip? Do you take your child while they are still free (that’s before the age of 3) or do you wait until they can better remember it? Maybe 5 or 6? Well, with the unintentional help of a very good friend of mine, it was decided that Zoe’s first trip would be for her 4th birthday.

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My very lovely friend Thea of Adventures with Thea (check out her blog for food and fun!), decided to celebrate her last year in her 20’s at the happiest place on earth, and we were invited. That left us in a very difficult predicament as parents. My husband and I found ourselves looking at each other with guilt and asking, “How can we go to Disney for the first time in years after becoming parents when our daughter has never been?” After much thought, we came to the conclusion- we would buy year passes and this would become ‘The Year of Disney’.

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We decided to go all out. Zoe’s 4th year birthday celebration was in full swing and we were going to celebrate in style which would double as a long overdue family vacation. With only a month to plan in advance, a total of 4 days to dedicate to this vacation, and the decision to splurge by staying on-site at Disney- this is what I have to say about the new Disney planning experience.

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Choose Your Annual Pass Plan Wisely
There are multiple annual pass options that range from After 4PM Disney Annual Passes to Disney Platinum that comes with all the bells and whistles. Of course, the higher up the list, the more you spend, you get fewer black out dates, and more access to theme and water parks. Luckily, all packages (besides the water parks) give you 20% off most select dining and merchandise.

We chose the Gold package because it was the only one that didn’t have a black out date for the days we had to go. Plus, we didn’t feel we needed Platinum which included admission for ESPN sports and the golf courses. Something we wouldn’t be using.

There’s an app for that!- My Disney Experience App
With there being an app for everything these days, of course Disney would have one to make your Disney experience better! The Disney Experience App is a dream for all you type-A personalities out there. This app gives you one place to organize everything related to your vacation from hotel and meal reservations, confirmations numbers, quick access to phone numbers and addresses, and allows you to select Fast Passes! With your annual pass purchase, you even get 30 days advanced planning (60 days prior to check-in if staying on-site) to pick FastPasses (3 per person, per day).

This app also gives you a map of the park with updated ride times and access to your Photopass (more on that later)! I found the map more helpful than the paper maps since I always misplaced it but my phone was always on hand.
This app in awesome, but works best when attached with your Magic Band- Disney’s all-in-one device that connects you with all your vacation choices made with My Disney Experience.

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Magic Bands
Magic Bands are the thing of the future. Sick of distributing hotel cards to the most responsibleperson? Magic Bands got you. Don’t want to carry your credit card? Magic Bands. Your hands are full and you’re trying to maneuver a stroller and multiple people through the Disney check in gate and the last thing you want to do is pull out a card from your purse? Magic Bands ❤ These bands can contain all your information which puts everything on your wrist ready to swip at your convenience. This can be very convenient and very dangerous- specifically when your credit card it just a swipe away, but thankfully still needs a 4 digit code to use.

Want to get fancy? Personalize your Magic Band when you set up you’re My Disney Experience account! You can select a color (8 colors available) and enter a name to be printed on the inside of your band (no extra charge). If that’s not enough, Disney now sells custom bands with designs that range from classic Disney characters to Marvel Super Heroes, Star Wars characters, and more (for extra $20+).

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My Favorite Perk
It’s not something I imagined caring for, but my favorite perk of my annual pass is the Disney PhotoPass (Included with Disney Gold and Platinum Passes). For 365 days after buying your pass, you have access to all photos taken of you by professional photographers throughout all the parks. How does it work? Spot a Disney photographer, they take your pictures, scan your Magic Band, and BAM it’s sent to your Disney Experience Account where you can download them at your discretion for up to a year. As a mom, who takes pictures of EVERYONE ELSE, it’s really nice to have my picture taken with my family. Also, you don’t have to overwhelm you phone’s memory or lug around a fancy camera like a second child in a giant theme park. When visiting the princesses, it’s especially nice that you can focus on your child’s experience while the photographer snags the magical moments for you.

Some photographers also offer easy photo filter at no extra charge. As of right now, I don’t think there is a way to know what filters are available and where, but if a photographer gives you a simple instruction (“Hold out your hand!” or “Look scared!”), it’s a good bet you’re about to get a photo with a Disney star!

It’s a Jungle Out There!

The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens holds a special place in my heart for the many memories my little family has made there. I could go on and on about our love for the zoo, but I’d love to share my most recent zoo adventure! I got to explore the new primate exhibit, the African Forest, as Jane alongside Tarzan!Jane
First, I have to say, the African Forest made me feel like I had an actual wildlife encounter. They have incorporated a new design that not only allows the animals more freedom to explore but also allows animals and people to safely view each other eye-to-eye like never before. No longer are the bonobos stuck on an island surrounded by a mote where visitors look down upon them from above. The primates can now walk and explore on the same level as humans while both are safely separated, and the wonderful news- both animals and humans love it! The care takers said the monkeys have been so active and happy because they can see children for the first time! Learning some behind-the-scenes information about these amazing creatures was a blast, and it made me feel just like Jane as I excitedly learned so much about them. It is a must see, wellness-inspired exhibit that you must check out!African Forest
As for my experience as Jane, it was exciting to interact with children as well!
This was my first time dressing up as a character to interact with the public. As I was getting ready, I realized my heart was racing as if I was about to step on stage or speak in public, but that all changed as we got out into the zoo among all the visitors. Next thing I knew, I was asking visitors if they had seen any gorillas in my best British accent.Tarzan and Jane.png
It was like a social experiment to see who excitedly ran up to meet, hug, and talk to us versus who shyly glanced over or didn’t dare to look at all. As for me, I surprised myself by not only kicking into character but following my motherly instincts to make some shy interactions easier. I did this by getting on to same level as some of the young ones, and I would ask fun and distracting questions like “What do you think monkeys eat?” and “Can you talk like a gorilla?? Tarzan can!”. Seeing the smiles, hearing the giggles, and even being asked for an autograph made me feel like I was giving the children an experience like a Disney theme park, and I know that’s a magical feeling.
I even recognized several visitors from “real life”, and they didn’t even recognize me! They took pictures with me! I almost felt as if I was wearing a mask, but I was wearing the character. It was odd to realize they saw Jane instead of Kat from school or the office.
It was a “wild” experience in many ways! Special thanks to the Jacksonville Zoo for offering me to be a part of the big opening and thanks to GAAM for thinking of me for the role ❤
Most of all, I have to thank my best friend Sarah who made this homemade costume possible!!
#momlife #momblog #nerdymom

Introduction- What’s in a Blog Name?

Hello, I’m Kat, a lover of art, fan of nerd culture and the proud mother of a little girl. They often say people change their name when they have experienced a major life change or want to start over. ‘That Nerdy Mom’ is a name I chose for myself and my art page after the birth of my daughter; both out of my insecurities and later self-empowerment. Let me explain…

When I found out I was pregnant, my world turned upside down. I was scared! I was finding being an adult to be hard enough, but now I was thrown for a loop imaging myself being responsible for another life.

I wondered what most mom’s do- Would I be a good enough mother?
So I did what I normally do when confused- research. Books, articles, blogs, I searched for answers to prepare myself when I ran across something upsetting…one writer said, when you are a mother, you will no longer be called by your name, you will be “::child’s name:: mom”.

This raised a new concern for me I did not have before…, could I lose my identity to become a mother?
I then pictured myself at a playground meeting other moms. What would we talk about? The kids of course..but what if I want to talk about how fun a videogame is, what’s the most recent animated film or what the cutest family costumes could be? I already grew up in an environment were my interests were just deemed weird or really geeky. Would that continue now into motherhood?

Not only was I afraid of losing my name but being known as “that nerdy mom” by strangers?!
Then I started to embrace it. It’s taken me a long time to embrace myself for my quirks and interests. I decided I wouldn’t stop being who I was and doing what I enjoyed because I don’t fit the standard mom stereotype. What better example could I be for my daughter than to love myself and not be ashamed by my passions and dreams no matter how uncommon or how long it takes! So here I am writing a post for a Blog- that’s been several years in the making- about a nerdy mom who loves sharing all things geeky while having fun with her 4 year old daughter!