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Archive for November, 2020

Unlike Halloween which I absolutely adore, I’m not a huge fan of Christmas. Since participating in Halloween activities throughout the month of October was an absolute delight and a tremendous success, I decided to create a Christmas fun list for the month of December that encompasses the traditional Christmas spirit but with some spooky undertones sprinkled in for jolly good fear, I mean cheer. Instead of starting the 2020 Christmas season off with watching classic Christmas movies, my Christmas festivities will commence with 12 Days of Christmas Horror which entails 12 Christmas movies that deck the halls but aren’t so jolly. The first Christmas horror movie I will watch will be a toss up between A Christmas Horror Story and Krampus. Considering the Christmas season officially starts after Thanksgiving, I plan to start my Christmas horror movie marathon before the first of December.

Kat’s 12 Days of Christmas Horror

In addition to watching Christmas horror movies, I plan to read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and Santa’s Twin by Dean Koontz. I’m also secretly working on a wickedly Christmas appropriate piece of writing to celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas Horror that I hope I can share with you at month’s end. Nothing like a mysterious and unexpected gift for Christmas. 

Of course, I will be wearing Christmas socks and pins to work throughout the month. Maybe this year, I will even invest in an ugly Christmas sweater. That would be pretty horrific, but it would also fit in quite nicely with the Christmas horror theme. I must also celebrate the season with a Christmas cocktail, and maybe I’ll even try a Christmas-related treat. What’s more, if time permits, I will acquiesce and watch a few traditional Christmas movies. I’m not that much of a Scrooge, dear reader. Finally, Kelsi and I are planning to have another Zoom Conversation to discuss our Christmas fun lists and compare notes on movies we watched throughout the season.

The Christmas season is upon us, dear reader. Like Thanksgiving, Christmas 2020 will look and feel a bit different; however, we can still find joyful ways to celebrate the holiday. What are some fun activities that you plan to engage in this Christmas season? Happiness!

“It is required of every man,” the ghost returned, “that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide; and, if that spirit goes not forth in life, it is condemned to do so after death.”
~ Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

“Well, well, well. What have we here?” ~ Oogie Boogie, The Nightmare Before Christmas

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When I created my 20 for 2020 list back in December of 2019, I had no idea that a world-wide pandemic was looming large on the horizon. One of my items on this year’s list was to try 20 new restaurants (#11). I do not eat out often, so I figured when given the opportunity to dine out, try somewhere new. I have already shared on my blog three restaurants that I have tried so far: Pho NOLA, Oceana, and Cena. Let me catch you up to speed on a few others I have also tried up to this point.

There are two restaurants that I tried this year that were take-out only. Back in July, I was scrapbooking with Shelly at her house. We convinced her hubby to pick up lunch for us from The Real Deal: An American Kitchen located in Hammond. This restaurant is run by an award winning BBQ pitmaster and specializes in BBQ brisket, pork, burgers, chicken, and ribs. I ordered red beans and rice with smoked sausage instead of BBQ. I was starving by the time our food arrived, so I failed to take a picture. I did enjoy their red beans and rice; however, when I order from this restaurant again, I will select a BBQ item. Back in September, my Daddy came over to help my hubby install crown moulding in our foyer area. We ordered lunch from Twisted Tomato Pizzeria in Hammond. I ordered a yummy BLT pizza. Everyone was pleased with the selections they had chosen. Since then, we have ordered again from this restaurant.

In October, my high school friend Helen came to visit from Colorado and stayed with Shelly and her family. Since it had been many years since her last visit to the area, she had a few restaurant requests. Luckily, I had not eaten at two of the restaurants on her list. Our first stop was Blue Tomato on Jefferson Hwy. in Jefferson Parish. It is an eclectic restaurant that features Mexican, Italian, and American cuisine. Helen, Shelly, my hubby and I met Helen’s sister Valenna and her husband Leroy at the restaurant. Helen recommended the Bacon Cheeseburger, so that is what I ordered along with a side of French fries. The burger was huge and scrumptious! Blue Tomato is definitely worth a visit if you are in the area, dear reader.

The second restaurant that my hubby and I tried during Helen’s visit was Café Maspero in New Orleans. Helen’s main reason for wanting to eat at Café Maspero was the muffaletta. For my dear readers not from New Orleans, a muffaletta is a sandwich with ham and salami piled high on a seeded bun topped with swiss cheese and olive salad. There are variations of seeded bread, meats (pastrami, mortadella), and cheeses (provolone) used to make this sandwich, depending on which restaurant you order your muffaletta. The sandwich can be served cold or toasted. Personally, I am not a fan of the muffaletta, so the hubster and I split a golden fried seafood platter that consisted of fish, Gulf shrimp, calamari, jalapeno hush puppies, and steak fries. Barry and I decided to split the seafood platter because we were having beignets from Café Du Monde later in the day. We thoroughly enjoyed both the seafood platter and the beignets.  

The last new restaurant that Barry, Sr. and I tried was Margaritas in Hammond on 24 October. After seeing The Nightmare Before Christmas at the movie theatre, we decided to grab something to eat nearby. The first thing to catch my eye when walking into the restaurant was its colorful décor. We sat in a booth where the back of each seat had a pretty, vibrant panel. Barry had a radiant yellow sun behind him, and I had a hummingbird with brightly colored flowers behind me. I ordered a small Mango Margarita and items off of the à la carte section of the menu which consisted of a hard beef taco, a beef enchilada, and a tamale. Barry ordered a combo plate and a beer. We were both pleased with our dinner choices.  

Well, dear reader, I have only tried eight new restaurants this year. In a normal year, I could have easily met my goal. Unfortunately, that will not be the case this year. I have decided that I will add the remaining 12 new restaurants on my 21 for 2021 list. Hopefully, I can try one new restaurant each month in 2021. What new restaurants have you tried this year, and would you recommend them? Happiness!

“The preparation of good food is merely another expression of art, one of the joys of civilized living.” ~ Dione Lucas 

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Happy Birthday, Aunt Carolyn!

Typically, November is the month that plenty of us pause and reflect on our blessings. The celebration of Thanksgiving stirs up the soul to think more deeply about who and what we are most thankful for in our lives. 2020 has been a challenging year for many with the global COVID-19 pandemic, numerous natural disasters, and the presidential election in the United States. I’m sure there are some who would scoff at feeling grateful amidst so much suffering and loss. However, counting our blessings every day, not just during the month of November, is a wonderful way to navigate through a stressful period of uncertainty. 

I chose November 2020 to visually count my blessings with a gratitude project on Instagram called A Month of Gratitude. If you are interested in my project, you can follow me on Instagram @katherineloyacano. Each day, I post a black and white image of someone or something that nurtures my grateful heart. I am fully aware that 30 days will not cover everyone or everything that I am most grateful for in my life, but it is a wholehearted starting point towards being more mindful of the gifts I receive daily. Today, I am grateful for my Aunt Carolyn who is celebrating her 80th birthday. What a terrific person! I wish I could be with her today celebrating such a huge milestone. She has a special place in my heart. 

Undeniably, there is a great deal that stinks about 2020. It has been a year of loss in so many ways. Loss of life, loss of jobs and financial stability, loss of hopes and dreams, as well as the loss of security to name a few. Nevertheless, when you peel back that layer of discontentment, worry, and fear brought on by loss, there is a fresh layer of hope ready to replace all those negative feelings with comfort, calmness, and contentment. This year also celebrated babies, marriages, graduations, and birthdays. In addition, this year has shown us resilience, living in the present moment, and our true priorities to ourselves and others. Those are all something to be grateful for during uncertainty.

It is never too late to develop an attitude of gratitude, dear reader. It is a simple habit that costs nothing to cultivate. With a little time, you will immediately reap the benefits. A grateful heart is rooted in joy. Take some time today to plant some seeds of gratitude and see how your life blossoms. Happiness!

“Whatever we are waiting for – peace of mind, contentment, grace, the inner awareness of simple abundance – it will surely come to us, but only when we are ready to receive it with an open and grateful heart.” ~ Sarah Ban Breathnach

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Halloween 2020 has come and gone; however, I must reflect on the fang-tastic activities that I participated in throughout October before I can get into the heart and soul of November. I had a horror-rific time watching Halloween/horror movies, reading scary stories, consuming a spooky libation, and so much more as it all led up to the magical night of Halloween.

As you know, dear reader, Halloween is my favorite holiday which makes the month of October super special for me. Inspired by my dear friend Kelsi, who also adores Halloween, I created a Halloween Fun List. Basically, it was a fun list of activities planned for the entire month of October that encapsulates the spirit of the season. My list included: movies, books, accessories, events, and extras. I took the liberty of incorporating some spur of the moment items which included a spooktacular conversation with Kelsi. We were actually scheduled to have our conversation the Thursday evening before Halloween; however, it was postponed because Hurricane Zeta swept through Louisiana causing damage and power loss. Unfortunately, Kelsi was one of many who lost power, thus putting a slight kink in out creeperific plans. Thankfully, her power was restored, so we recorded our conversation Friday night. Please check it out! It is my first attempt with this type of format. And, I LOVED it! Podcasting is something I really want to do in the near future, so having this opportunity was both important and exciting for me. Kelsi is such a pro and is responsible for setting everything up, editing it (such cool graphics), and getting it out into the world.

So, without further ado, my thoughts on how I spent the month of October.

Movies

I chose 13 movies. Five of them were movies I had seen before, but wanted to revisit since it had been quite awhile since I had seen them last. The Haunted Mansion (ghost story), Hocus Pocus (witches), The Nightmare Before Christmas (animated dark fantasy), Sleepy Hollow (headless horseman), and Salem’s Lot -1979 (vampires). Thankfully, movie theatres have opened again, and the AMC Theatre in Hammond is showing FAN FAVORITES for $5. I was able to see both Hocus Pocus and The Nightmare Before Christmas in the theatre to my great delight. I cherish both of these films. I enjoyed all of my re-watches, but was a bit disappointed with Salem’s Lot. I remember it being terrifying when I saw it as a kid but not so much as an adult. In all fairness it was released as a made-for-tv movie back in 1979. The head vampire is a nod to the German vampire Nosferatu (awesome), the vampire children floating outside the window are still creepy, and seeing David Soul again was visually appealing.

As for the other eight movies on my list, I was pleased with my choices. My new favorites are Train to Busan (zombies), The Ritual (Norse mythology), Death Note (Japanese death god), and The Innocents (ghost story). I definitely recommend them to anyone who enjoys the horror genre. The Vatican Tapes (demonic possession), Dark Skies (aliens), and Color Out of Space (sci-fi) were all entertaining. While they are not necessarily my favorites, they are all worth the watch, especially Color Out of Space. Based on a H.P. Lovecraft short story and starring Nicholas Cage (a fave of mine), it is an artfully, over-the-top gem. My only disappointment was House of the Witch (witches). It wasn’t terrible, but not really scary. There were a couple good jump scares, nice special effects and makeup, and an interesting plot twist. While some would enjoy it, it is one where watching it once was enough for me.

Books/Short Stories

I chose two short stories written by Edgar Allan Poe, “The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion” and “The Purloined Letter.” Of the two stories, I enjoyed “The Purloined Letter” more. It featured C. Auguste Dupin, a fictional character who uses his intellect and imagination to solve mysteries even though he is not a detective by profession. Then, I chose three short stories from A Newbery Halloween, and all three were gratifying. My favorite of the three was “The Year Halloween Happened One Day Early” written by Virginia Hamilton. The short story is taken from Chapters 7 and 8 of her book Willie Bea and the Time the Martians Landed which was inspired by “The War of the Worlds” radio drama.

Of the three children’s novels that I read, Ghost Squad, Witch Catcher, and The Collected, I was disappointed with The Collected. It didn’t quite have the same creepy energy as K.R. Alexander’s other scary books. I also added Coraline which is a reread for me. Neil Gaiman is a fantastic author and one of my favorites, and Coraline is a classic. I would highly recommend the book and the movie. Lastly, I tackled the monstrous novel NOS4A2 written by Joe Hill. It was AMAZING! I feel like I must devote a whole post in the future to this novel and Joe Hill because there is so much to say about it. Kelsi and I discuss it more in depth in our conversation, and she reviewed it on her blog Kelsi Explains It All.

October Reads

Thematic Potpourri

Besides watching spine-chilling movies and reading scary stories, there were several other thematic activities that I engaged in throughout the month. I wore Halloween socks and pins every day to work and on the weekends. My hubby and I attended a screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I savored a wicked beverage called Witch Potion Cocktail while socializing with my best buds from high school. On Sunday evenings, I immersed myself again in The Walking Dead universe. On a whim, I posted a Halloween-related Snoopy picture daily on Facebook (my story). My favorite was Pinhead Snoopy. And, for the first time, I sent out a few Halloween cards to friends I know who appreciate the holiday as much as I do.

And, last but not least, Kelsi introduced me to David S. Pumpkins. It is completely absurd but totally entertaining. I watched it numerous times throughout the month.

Halloween Night

On Halloween night, I dressed as a witch. My plan was to hand out treats to all the trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood. One of our neighbors had signs made for anyone in the neighborhood who wanted to hand out treats. We placed the sign in our front yard, so the children and their parents would know who was handing out candy. I placed the candy in my cauldron and set it on a table. I wore a mask and socially distanced. Son #1 dressed as Cookie Monster and his girlfriend Kayla dressed as Oscar the Grouch. They brought an inflatable Haunted House that we set up in front of my table, so it looked like I was in the house. It became a huge hit with the children. Many parents took pictures of their children in the entranceway or near the haunted house. It was a pleasant night. Afterwards, I watched Eli Roth’s History of Horror. The episode was on witches. Then, I watched a little bit of Halloween before hitting the hay.

October was an incredibly BOOtiful month thanks to having a Halloween Fun list. Seeing Halloween decorations lit up in the evenings when I’d go for a walk, partaking in seasonal events, reading scary stories, and watching creepy movies added so much joy to my life. I will definitely be doing this again next year. I’ve already started compiling my list. What did you do for Halloween? I hope you will take a look at my conversation with Kelsi, dear reader. We’d love to know what you think and what we might consider for next year. Happiness!

“Villainy wears many masks, none so dangerous as the mask of virtue.” Ichabod Crane, Sleepy Hollow

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Today is Sunday, 01 November. Today is a pretty significant day. It’s a brand new month, the time changed (fall back one hour), it’s All Saints Day, and it’s the first day of NaNoWriMo. Like many people, I’m profoundly affected in a negative way by the shorter days, diminished light, and colder temps of late autumn and the winter months. Once it gets dark, I tend to want to head for my bed and sleep which is obviously not a good or productive practice. However, I find that if I’m involved in a project of some kind, I can handle the next four months better, and I avoid total hibernation.

Last year, I tried to participate for the first time in NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month and failed terribly. At the time I chose that endeavor I had no idea that I would be in my first play. I could not wholeheartedly commit to both my first role in a play or my first novel, so instead of writing 50,000 words in one month, I wrote 1,505. Acting in my first play won the majority of my time with NO regrets. The silver lining (always can find the silver lining) was I actually tried, failed, and now I’m giving it another try. Why not? 

I decided that NaNoWriMo will help me with another writing project I started in September. My hope is with the help of the NaNoWriMo community, more time, and support from my other writing group, I’ll meet my writing goal this year. 

In Other News:

  • Kelsi and I are in the process of rescheduling our Zoom conversation about our Halloween Fun Lists. We were supposed to converse on Thursday; however, Hurricane Zeta landed in Louisiana, leaving damage and hundreds of thousands without electricity. Well, Kelsi was one of many who had damage (minor, thankfully) and lost power which did not get restored until yesterday. 
  • My treadmill is finally up and running. When Shelly was given a treadmill many, many months ago, she gave me her old one. I’m so grateful, especially with it getting dark earlier and the onset of cold weather. I don’t mind walking in the dark, but I despise walking in the dark when it’s really cold. 
  • On Saturday afternoon, I will be attending an in-person audition intensive class in New Orleans with casting director, Matthew Morgan, of Morgan Casting. I’m super excited! I met Matthew for the first time in one of Lance’s workshops. He’s an awesome guy with a wonderful reputation as a casting director. I’m looking forward to taking an acting class and working with Matthew.  
  • In three weeks, I will be on vacation from my day job for one whole week to celebrate Thanksgiving. It will be a much-needed staycation. I CAN’T WAIT!

November is also a time that many people focus on gratitude. I don’t post much on Instagram, but during this month I’ve been toying with the idea of posting photos expressing my gratitude. I greatly enjoyed having something festive to do daily during the month of October, so the thought of doing something daily throughout November is appealing to me. Of course, I should be writing daily (wink wink). Do you do anything special in November or when the time changes, dear reader? Happiness!

Daylight saving time: Only the government would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket, sew it to the bottom, and have a longer blanket.”

~ Anonymous

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