PSA WE FOUND A GREAT SCARY MOVIE ON NETFLIX

Have you ever just really been in the mood to watch a scary movie? If you are anything like myself or my little sister the answer to that is absolutely. Many, many times Netflix has disappointed me. Don’t get me wrong, I love Netflix. It fills all my comedy sitcom needs but there is a lack of quality scary movies to stream. It’s a serious downfall, but it just may be that the scary movie draught is over.

My dear friend Tessa and I were presented with this conundrum on a rainy Saturday night. Like many deep thinkers, we did not discover the solution right away. We first tried streaming a movie called Stonehearst Asylum but a half an hour in we could tell it wasn’t our cup of tea. It wasn’t freaking us out or holding our attention and those are important factors in a movie. If it doesn’t catch my attention in the first half hour it doesn’t deserve my attention for the rest of the time. When we returned back to the browse horror section our eyes caught on something we previously missed. Hush (2016) was the first movie recommendation and it had good ratings on Netflix. We decided to give it a shot and prayed that we could last more than a half hour with this one.

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This story is about an author who is blind, deaf, beautiful, and alone, the perfect equation for a scary movie. The movie starts with a visit by the author (Maddie’s) friend. But it really picks up after the friend has left when the friend runs back to the home pounding on Maddie’s door. From then on the Maddie, played by Kate Siegel, fights to find a way to survive the man in the mask outside of her house.

Of course there are many scary movies about being trapped in a house, but this is one of the first that I felt was different. A definite extra element was added because of Maddie’s inability to hear or speak. It made the movie much more complicated and suspenseful and interesting. This movie held my attention the entire time. Another nice thing, if you’re one of the scary movie commentators like Tessa or I, is that while we were working things out out loud, everything made sense. It wasn’t one of those where the characters do something that is almost certain to get them killed. It also has amazing special effects, there is one moment where her hand gets injured and boy is that a sight to see. I was so impressed.

Although the special effects were great and the whole movie wasn’t predictable, my absolute favorite part was Kate Siegel’s character, Maddie. I have never cared so much about a character in a horror movie, mostly because a majority of them die. But I would even consider this fictional character a role model, I was hardcore rooting for this woman. She was also #relatable. When her text message popped up on my computer I thought it was mine. I just really loved her.

The next time you have an evening you want to spend with Netflix, I suggest Hush. It was interesting, scary, and fun. I hope you have as good of a time as Tessa and I had last night watching it.

 

 

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One Day in Music City

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One of the last days of our road trip was spent in Nashville, Tennessee, and boy, did we have a great time. We rolled into Nashville from Gatlinburg around noon and headed straight for the Grand Ole Opry House to get tickets to the show. It was hot and muggy but we were glad to get out of the car and wander around a bit. It didn’t take us very long to secure tickets and a hotel room for the night. Once we got all the boring, technical stuff out of the way we moseyed on downtown to pay tribute to some of the biggest stars of music history at the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Looking at the roots of country music was such an experience. I took tons of pictures of different artist names and songs so I could put together a playlist to accompany this historic stop. What better way to talk about Music City than with music? I was intending to only do one playlist but as I began to chip away at the task at hand, I realized that one singular playlist maybe was not going to cut it. I had to split it into two. Everyone who knows me knows I am a diehard Swifty, so I have a hard time not including her in the playlists. But there isn’t anything I can do about her taking her music off of Spotify. Speaking of Taylor Swift (like I usually am), it was amazing to see some of the pieces of hers they had on display. I just about died when I saw the lyrics to Tim McGraw scrawled on a piece of notebook paper and the sparkling guitar from her first tour brought back memories of my first summers of CountryFest and Jam. I did more than just drool over Taylor, I promise. I tried to look at the artists I didn’t know as much about to diversify my country music knowledge. I really, really enjoyed the Bob Dylan exhibit: Dylan, Cash, and The Nashville Cats. It was amazing to see the influence that Dylan and Cash had on Nashville, they brought in a lot of people to Music City. I had no idea they were so influential in this scene. That particular exhibit is where I drew a lot of the songs for what was supposed to be the first half of the Country Music Hall of Fame playlist. It turned into this playlist. I personally believe that Cash and Dylan are a dream team and I wish I had more than just “Girl from the North Country” to prove it. But I’ve always had a soft spot for Johnny Cash, so maybe I’m biased.

The Country Music Hall of Fame is home to many talents, both new and old. I’m so happy I got to explore it even though country music isn’t necessarily the first station I check on my way to work.  To represent this lovely experience, I made a playlist. I know, I know. You’re all thinking ‘Lauren, cool it with the playlists, this is why it takes you seven years to talk about one day’. If you are thinking that you are absolutely right, it is why I took so long but I thought it would enhance the reader experience.

You might also believe that my musical experience peaked at the Hall of Fame, but that’s not how Music City works! After the Hall of Fame we went to the mall so I could find a sequel to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Unfortunately, the mall did not have a bookstore or electricity! Okay, so parts of it had electricity but it made it hard to purchase food (they could only take cash). I still haven’t gotten that book.

After that we rolled on over to The Grand Ole Opry House where I was more than pleasantly surprised with the show. Going in, I didn’t recognize a whole lot of the names and I wasn’t sure sure how long it would take to get through all those artists on the line-up but the Opry has quite the system. It was three songs per artist with an announcer and a couple miscellaneous activities to break it up. It was an excellent show with some very engaging acts. My absolute favorite was Flatt Lonesome, a lovely bluegrass band. I tweeted at them (and everyone else at the Opry) but that wasn’t the end of Flatt Lonesome for my night. Another amazing act was Drew Baldridge, who played at CountryFest the same day we returned. Baldridge was making his Opry debut that Wednesday night and for his final song on stage he covered a personal favorite by Josh Turner. What do you know, Josh Turner himself walked right on stage to sing with him. I was amazed. After the show wrapped up and we were headed out the door, Mr. Baldridge himself was right behind us. He shook my grandparents’ hands! It was crazytown.

Even though it was late, our night didn’t end there. Grandpa and I were hungry after the Opry because we had become accustomed to have to search for hours after a regular meal time because we can never find a restaurant. Our initial choice was Bob Evan’s, but that was closed, and thank goodness it was. We turned our attention to The Cracker Barrel. After I ordered corn and sweet potatoes, Grandpa returned from the restroom and pointed out the table on the other side of the restaurant. It was the band. In that moment I knew what I had to do. I went out to the car to retrieve the program and a pen, then went right up to their table and asked Flatt Lonesome if they would autograph it for me. They were super sweet and very funny. They claimed the only thing they have ever been asked to sign was a speeding ticket. Between their catchy tunes and pleasant attitudes, I was very happy to try and find another venue to see them at and I’m already looking forward to seeing them in East Troy in the fall. If you want to check out their music, my grandpa really likes “You’re the One”.

All in all, I had an amazing time in Tennessee. I am happy that I was able to make these memories with my grandparents. It was an experience I will never forget.

Days Three and Four: Holy Smokes!

“I can’t believe we slept so late!” was one of the first things I heard on the morning of our third day. It was only 8:30 a.m. After our “late” start, we went right to the visitor center for Smoky Mountains National Park, Sugarland. Since then, I think we have been back three times in the two days? Anyways, Grandpa poked around to find out what we needed see, while Grandma went to the museum section and I headed straight for the stickers. I just really love stickers. After we watched a short informational film on the parks, we headed back to the truck to get to Clingman’s Dome. Our first visit to the visitor center was fairly short.

Clingman’s Dome was an essential stop and I’m so glad we did it. How could we not go to the highest point in Smoky Mountain National Park? However, trying to park was an adventure in itself (this happened many times during our stay in the Smoky Mountains, it is a busy place). Once we got there we started the hike to the observatory, it was only half a mile, but it was pretty steep so Grandma and her knee surgery had a hard time with it. We all made it up to the observatory. The view was fantastic, it might have been a little bit better without all the fog. But hey, that’s what makes the Smokies the Smokies and after I hike like that I don’t want to complain about anything. I was really happy I got to see some of the Appalachian Trail because someday I would like to hike the whole thing.

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After our first hike of the day, we headed over to the New Found Gap, which wasn’t really a place to hike, it was a place to look. It was a great view, which resulted in some great pictures. Also, this guy had a 16 year old, bald chihuahua! The man said it was mean though so he held it’s head while I pet it so it wouldn’t bite me. I’m glad I got to pet it even though it was mean.

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The Grotto was the next destination on our agenda, we put the pick up in at the Trillium Trail trail head by Rainbow Falls. Grandma, Grandpa, and I set out with our backpacks and water ready for our next hike. We had little mix up trying to figure out which direction we were supposed to go to get to the Grotto, but we were optimistic. After 15 minutes of up and down and stepping over exposed roots, Grandma decided her newly operated on knee wasn’t ready for this kind of nonsense. She turned around and Grandpa and I forged on. It wasn’t until Grandpa thought he heard a deer that we realized that we had been paralleling the road almost the entire time and what he saw was a car. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that meant there was another trail head farther up the road. We both tried to call Grandma to tell her to meet us and hike the rest of the way with us, or at least pick us up after but cell reception in the mountains is spotty at best. By that time we had realized that we had gone more than the 1.3 mile estimated hike, but we had to go farther to get to the falls so on we went. On our way, we only saw two other people and one cool looking snake. We also saw a whole lot of bear poop, but no bear. I am happy we didn’t get attacked by a bear but after all that poop I felt like I deserved to see one.

This hike actually turned out to be a great opportunity to see some wildlife and to practice some wildlife photography, a hobby of mine. Anyway, Grandpa and I reached the trail head we were supposed to put in at 2.5 miles after we started. We were sweaty and thirsty and a little worried that Grandma would never find us so we turned around and walked back down the road to where we had originally parked. We vowed to return the next day to conquer the 1.3 miles we didn’t do to reach the grotto. It was while we were walking back that I was able to get roughly 5 feet away from a beautiful doe. She didn’t seem to be very frightened by me or any of the noise of traffic. After I got some good pictures we went on our way, eventually returning to the truck, hungry and tired, but very excited to come back.

Day four started with us making our way right back to where we should have started the day before. We followed the exact same path up until the road closed sign. It was a disappointment to say the least. After getting over it and some new navigation, we went on to the road to Cade’s Cove. On the way we stopped to hike Laurel Falls, which ended up being better for Grandma anyway because it was paved. I also got to do a couple easy climbs which was nice because I have not had much practice since getting out of school and, boy, do I love to climb things just to do it.

Up next on our agenda was Cade’s Cove. Our original plan was to check out the village around Cade’s Cove and reserve bikes for the next day. But it didn’t exactly happen that way, the cove was very out of our way as it was, and the weather was looking like rain. So the executive decision was made to not bike the loop in the morning. I actually really did want to do that, but somethings you have to set aside for the next time you come back. Next time, I will bike the loop. We did drive the loop, though, or at least part of it. It was so crowded that we were at a standstill for a very long time. Apparently, everyone in front of us got to see a bear, but we still weren’t lucky enough. We were bored and tired and we cut out of the loop as soon as we could. You win some you lose some.

As much as was packed into days three and four, the evening of day four felt like a vacation. We wandered around Gatlinburg and really just got to do what we wanted. I bought some vegan ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s, we went over to the aquarium, and did some shopping. Aquariums make me sad because of captivity and whatnot, but I do enjoy spending time with my grandparents so I pet the jellyfish like every other tourist. When we got out of the aquarium, Gatlinburg was experiencing what one would call a downpour, so we bought rain ponchos, and ran from store to store until we reached Ol’ Smoky Moonshine Distillery. Don’t judge, they had a super cute coffee mug I wanted to bring home.

Once we reached the distillery the rain was letting up. Grandma and Grandpa went to sit outside while I searched for the coffee mug of my dreams. When I found my grandparents after my purchase, they were sitting in rocking chairs listening to a family band. The evening was peaceful and relaxing. I left the mountains with a few new stickers and only one blister.

Days One and Two

Days one and two were spent mostly in the car, with the exception of sleeping and bathroom breaks (thank goodness for that). Since I worked until four on Saturday, we were planning to roll out of Bloomer, WI, at five o’clock sharp. Fortunately, we made it out at 5:15, which is about half an hour earlier than my family usually manages to leave. I set up camp in the back seat, which happens to be roomy enough for me to lay down in, Grandpa took the wheel, and Grandma was in the passenger seat. We listened to This American Life on WPR for what felt like forever. I tried my best to work on my cactus cross stitch to the sound of the narrator’s lispy voice, and some kind of stringed instrument, but the road was pretty bumpy and I kept poking myself so I had to stop. I wish I could provide you with my roadtrip music but my headphones broke earlier on so This American Life it isOur only goal that night was to make it to Madison, but by the time we hit it we still had more miles left in us. We aren’t quitters. We knew the farther we made it on Saturday, the less would have to drive on Sunday and the earlier we would make it to Gatlinburg, TN. That was incentive enough to keep going.

Before we talk more about the drive, or the rest of the trip for that matter, I think you should know a little bit about my grandparents. My grandma loves art and violent movies and my grandpa likes wildlife and knowing a lot about space. Both of them are amazing people but in very different ways, they love each other, but they disagree on quite a bit and like everyone else, they have their things. For instance, there was one point of the trip where we had directions pulled up on all three cell phones and a huge paper map. Grandpa just likes to know where he is going, so it’s obviously going to be pretty hard to navigate up to par. They never really get angry, but it isn’t hard to tell when they are a little stuck on something.

The first time I noticed this on the trip was when we were trying to figure out where we wanted to spend the first night. Grandma wanted Elgin and Grandpa wanted Schaumburg. I was a little partial to Schaumburg just because it was a little bit closer to the destination. Both of them said they didn’t care, but Grandpa kept inquiring about hotels in Schaumburg and Grandma kept looking up hotels in Elgin. To each their own, I guess. Anyway, Elgin came and went and we had to really concentrate on finding a place to sleep in Schaumburg. There seemed to be some deals online, but Grandpa was sure that the rooms were probably too small. We decided to try the DoubleTree first and if that was full, just wander around until we found something. The DoubleTree was a little off the highway (I think it was three miles?) and by mile one Grandpa had said, “I don’t see any hotels anywhere, do you?” about three times. Once we found the DoubleTree it didn’t have a room with more than one bed so we moved on. We tried the next hotel and when Grandma went in to haggle down the price for a room, Grandpa got on the horn with another hotel. It was late and we were all ready for bed. We finally landed in a Garden Inn, with a pull out couch and breakfast. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

That first night I made a rookie mistake, I forgot my earplugs in the car. Between my grandma’s snoring and my grandpa’s sleeping machine, I was grateful when we woke up at 6:30 to get going (I never thought I’d say that). After I stocked up on the hotel’s fresh fruit we hit the road.

Day two was astonishingly like day one, but longer. I stretched out in the backseat and read the entirety of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo while we drove through Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and finally, Tennessee. We rolled into Gatlinburg around seven and stumbled through the directions to find Country Inn & Suites, our home for the next three days. Gatlinburg is like Wisconsin Dells on steroids, my grandparents were appalled by the crowds. But it hasn’t been that bad. After we found a place to eat, Grandma and I went up on the skylift up the mountain. It was a touristy little ski lift but the view was worth it, even if I wasn’t looking when they took the picture.

After ten hours in the car I needed to move around a little. So I worked out a little bit, and after a good shower I fell asleep promptly after putting my earplugs in.

Watch out for my next post, Days Two and Three!

How I Pack for One Week

 

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Tomorrow after my shift at Noodles, I will be setting out for a week-long adventure with my grandparents. We will be eventually be rolling into Tennessee, but by this time tomorrow we will have only hit Madison. I plan to be blogging (and live tweeting) the whole experience. To get a head start on blogging the trip, I decided I would talk about one of the things about travel I love the least; packing. I’ve known about this for too long to have an excuse to start packing this late. I also am the queen of leaving important things at home, so I was hoping by writing it all out I would realize if I left anything out. We will see how well it works.

I started this monsterous task by throwing the last load of laundry in and picking out a suitcase. I decided on the smaller of the two suitcases after realizing nothing fit in the tote bag I was going to use. Then I attempted to lay out the clothing I could possibly need. After throwing around every article of clothing I own, I settled on choosing a long sleeve t-shirt, a couple half sleeves, a few tank tops, a couple work out shirts, and a light jacket. I shoved a couple pair of athletic shorts alongside my jeans and other shorts. For extra clothing, I brought my nice Birkenstocks, my Teva sandals, my tennis shoes, and my Keen Hiking boots, two swimsuits, one dress, a couple over shirts and one sweatshirt. I tried to dress for a variety of different temperatures because I have no idea what I’m getting myself into.

Once I got the most boring stuff over, I turned my attention to the top drawer of my dresser. Cosmetics is always tricky to pack because I use almost everything in a daily routine, but when I’m traveling sometimes I just have to sacrifice. Maybe I could only use one hair gel instead of five, or use the little perfume. However, there are some things you just can’t travel without. For example: deodorant, toothbrush and paste, sunscreen, and make up removal wipes. I wasn’t quite that minimalistic with my packing, but we can pretend.

My Adventure Backpack is my favorite thing to fill. My Adventure Backpack is my regular backpack, but it sounds way more fun when I call it that. I will be putting my cameras, film, extra batteries, pencils, sketchbook, journal, chargers, laptop, needlework, and books of choice in my backpack for hours of entertainment. I’m hoping to get a lot of art stuff done on the drive so there are colored pencils and pens spilling out of every pocket in my bag. My three choice books are The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Read This if You Want to Take Great Photographs of People, and The Knockoff. Needless to say, I shouldn’t get bored. I also will have my very interesting grandparents to keep me occupied so I’m not worried. I’m notorious for bringing enough books to qualify carrying my backpack as a work out, but not enough that I don’t have to buy more. There is no balance. Maybe by tomorrow I will have an idea on what I will be listening to for music, and I can supply you with my road trip playlists.

Now that you’re aware of all the fun that’s about to go down, you can follow the whole trip right here!

Foraging for Adventure

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Last Sunday I had the opportunity to visit Piney Hill Farm in Glenwood City, WI, for an adventure of the pioneering kind. For one day the Minnesota Slow Food Revolution took over Piney Hill Farm for a lovely time of tours, talks, and some delightfully foraged foods. I had an excellent time wandering around the farm, listening to discussions on co-ops and ethical meat farming, and by the end of the day I was leaving Glenwood City with new knowledge and a sunburn.

I heard about the foraged foods dinner through a friend on the WAM Collective, and shortly after catching up with her, I set out to explore the farm on a tour lead by Wade, Carl, and Heidi, the owners and farmers of the land. I really enjoyed the tour because not only was it a nice walk on a beautiful day, their woods reminded me of the woods that I used to live by and was quite fond of exploring as a child. Along the way, we looked at the yurt (a personal favorite),the vineyard plot, a plethora of wild flora, the sugar shack, and the melon field. The tour was about 40 minutes in length and it was fun for all ages. I was inspired by the involvement and care that went into this land, not only from the current farmers but also the previous owners. After growing up around both family farms and commercial farms, it was very cool to get a more in-depth look at the goings-on. I really enjoy seeing the farmer treating the land with love and care.

After the tour, I was able to listen to a few different talks. The talks were both enjoyable and educational. The first discussion was about co-ops, specifically The Hungry Turtle Co-op located in Amery. I like listening to discussions like this because deciding to make a difference is a pretty cool thing, and it’s cool to see people going for it. Basically, this talk was focused on how supporting local farmers and co-ops is super important because small time farmers don’t have the equipment that the large-scale Californian farms do, which puts the family farms at a disadvantage. I also found it really intriguing to find out about ways to support  farmers in my area like Farm Table, the farm to table restaurant located in Amery, which I hope to try someday soon.

The next discussion was about farm animals, which was interesting to listen to because I am not interested in talking about the animals as a consumer and have never been. I have been vegetarian since the eighth grade and recently made the transition to veganism, so most of the stuff that was said I felt like didn’t apply to me but it really made me think about the people around me. The farm that gave the talk to the group was T. C. Farms, a family owned farm based out of Minnesota that wanted the best ingredients for their cooking needs. Their motivation for farming was for taste, but it did lead to more organic conditions. While I guess I can understand where they are coming from, and I’m glad that they want the best living conditions for the animals in their care, I still can’t imagine raising animals to eat them. That was a little difficult for me to listen to but I’m glad I did because knowledge is power, and although I think it’d be super cool if no one ate meat, I understand that that is not achievable and I’m happy that some of those who do eat meat try to keep it as ethical as possible.

The Salt Cellar restaurant prepared the food, and although I can’t say much about the meat and cheese, I really enjoyed the salad and other veggies. And anyone who knows me know I’ll do anything for coffee, so the cold pressed was a highlight of the day.

All in all, I am very glad that I attended the foraged foods diner because it got me out of Bloomer and in touch with nature. It was a beautiful day to be outside and it was an experience I couldn’t wait to share.