Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Halloween Cards

It is hard to believe that September is here with fall just around the corner! Fall is by far my favorite season. The humidity of the summer finally leaves, yet the temperatures are pretty much perfect. With beautiful days in the 70s that usually last through October and sometimes even into November, it is hard to complain. That being said, it is time, my friends. Time to prepare for Halloween because it will be here before we know it. So I present to you, three new Halloween cards.

I may be a super dork, but I can't stop laughing at this super ultra hip ghost. He kind of reminds me of Joe Cool if you know what I mean.

And when it comes to this candy corn card, I'm speaking from experience here. I seem to OD on the stuff every single year despite the fact that I hate it. So disgusting, but I just can't stop!

And seriously, it was just too hard for me to pass up this one. Let's face it, there are people that call their significant other "boo" and they need cards, people! They need cards! (If I was really sitting there telling you this in person, I would have said that Jerry Seinfeld-like. Also, I almost typed Jerry Springer instead. That would have been interesting. Ooops.) Plus, who could resist a girl ghost with long eyelashes? You have to look closely, but they are there!

And those, my friends, are my new Halloween cards. Enjoy.

Are you thinking about Halloween yet? Or am I the only one?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

It's Only a Game

Today I am not going to be funny. Nor am I going to have some super amazing photos for you all. I know you like those kinds of posts because you comment on them and tell me, but I just needed to get something off my chest and be real today about something that has been bothering me. Today, I wanted to write about bullying. As a teacher, I see students bullying each other regularly and have to speak to them about how we can treat everyone fairly instead of hurting others with words or aggression. Yet the bullying I am writing about today is not student bullying. It is adults bullying adults over something quite silly-- football.

Football season is upon us. This coming week marks the beginning of the NFL's regular season and you all should know by now that usually I could not be happier about this. And if you don't know, here's a little reminder. It would be an understatement to say that I enjoy watching the Steelers. I admit, over the years I have truly become a die-hard fan-- to a certain extent. However, this year is a little different. Sure, I'm excited for the start of the season and cheering on the Steelers, but at the same time I am filled with dread. What might I be dreading? It's as simple as this-- fan violence and aggression, or bullying.

Violence and aggression in football fans is something that I meet often. In Baltimore, football is king and if you don't like the Ravens then you don't belong. And if you like the Steelers, then you deserve to be mistreated-- at least so it seems is their mantra. When I first moved to Baltimore nearly six years ago, I couldn't have cared less about the Ravens. I didn't dislike them nor did I like them. They were just another team that I had no thoughts or feelings about. After weathering five football seasons in Baltimore (yes, I say weathering for good reason as you will see later in this post) I have grown to hate the Ravens. This hate has nothing to do with the team or a so-called rivalry. This hate has everything to do with Ravens fans. If you are a Ravens fan reading this, yes, you read that right. Because of many of you, I hate your team. It's hate by association with your fans-- not because of players, the city, your owner, or coaches.

Here comes that part about "weathering" five football seasons. Since I have moved to Baltimore, I have had been treated horribly. Before I begin to list the ways in which Ravens fans have mistreated me, please know that none of their behaviors were provoked by me. Before each of the incidents occurred, I had simply either clapped and cheered for a Steelers touchdown without taunting anyone, or I had been quietly minding my own business while wearing Steelers apparel of some sort. Usually, in most cases it was the latter of the two.

In these five years, I have been shoved and called a bitch while simply walking to the restroom in a bar that shows just about every football game that's playing that weekend. Apparently the Ravens fan that did this thought I deserved to be shoved because I was wearing a Troy Polamalu jersey. In this situation, I am the one that still apologized for "getting in their way" to which the response was, "You better be fucking sorry, you fucking Steelers fan."

In same said bar, I've had a Ravens fan throw an orange slice from their beer at me and had another Ravens fan threaten the bartender to never come back if he didn't kick me out. Another Ravens fan even offered the bartender $1,000 to kick me out. This all happened because I clapped when the Steelers scored a touchdown. Luckily for me, I've been going to the same bar to watch the games for five years and the bartenders like me and Andrew, so in each instance the Ravens fan was the one that got kicked out-- not me. At least some people have some standards in terms of how to treat others. And let me make note, this is not exclusively a "Ravens bar." On any given Sunday, you will find fans wearing jerseys and rooting for just about every football team there is in the NFL. Andrew is a Browns fan. He has never been treated this way, nor have I ever seen anyone rooting for a team other than the Steelers be treated this way.

I have lost track of how many times I have been pushing a grocery cart, picking out produce, or deciding which type of cheese to buy when a Ravens fan has approached me and called me a "fucking Steelers fan" or "bitch" or any other sort of name in the book you could imagine just because I had a Steelers sweatshirt on. Sometimes it wasn't even on game day. I have also lost track of how many times this has happened while walking down the street. The insults come either from other pedestrians or people driving by. I don't know any of these people that insult me, yet they feel they have a right to treat me with such disrespect while I have done nothing to them. Usually the aggressors are middle-aged men. So looking back on this treatment, yes, me, a young female, was shoved by a middle aged man that was twice my size. Something is very wrong with this picture.

I have had Ravens fans come up to me and scream and taunt me when the Steelers are losing or have lost (whether or not the Steelers are playing the Ravens). They have actively sought me out and approach me even if they are not sitting or standing next to me. And when they scream and taunt, they enter my personal space, sticking their faces about three inches away from mine. When I lean away from them and try to ignore them, they lean in closer and continue. When I walk away from them, they follow me and won't let me leave, sometimes even grabbing my arm or shoulder to slow me down.

In Baltimore, they have Purple Friday. Many of our school staff that root for teams other than the Ravens wear their teams' apparel. I once walked into a bar to join my co-workers for happy hour on a Friday afternoon. I had worn my Steelers jersey to school that Friday as I often do. A man in the bar spotted me, whistled to get the attention of everyone in the bar, and then pointed me out to all for their heckling pleasure. I was then heckled and cursed at while I walked to the table my co-workers were sitting at.

I've felt uncomfortable at staff meetings when other staff have displayed anti-Steelers memes in their presentations (they don't do this for other football teams-- only the Steelers). And when I've voiced feeling uncomfortable, other staff members tell me to get over it and that Steelers fans do the same. Sure, I have trash talked in fun, or played pranks on others due to their team affiliation (not just Ravens fans mind you), but when it comes to violence or aggression associated with football, you won't see me joining in. It can be done in good fun without making others feel singled out, uncomfortable, or unwelcome.

I could rattle on and on about the ways I have been treated horribly. This is something that happens every single weekend during football season. Every. Single. Weekend.

I love football, but being bullied is making me dread it at times. Yes, I have been brought to tears because of the hateful things people have done. I keep a smiling face on the outside when people mistreat me, but several times have completely lost it when I get home and there are no Ravens fans to judge. I have backed out of watching games with friends because I worried that I would be bullied. I have debated whether or not to purchase a cable package to guarantee that I can watch the Steelers in the safety of my own house every weekend. Yes, safety is the key word here. However, if I decide to become a hermit during football season then I miss out on part of the fun of meeting up with friends to watch a game, having some nachos and beer at the bar, and feeling like I'm not stuck in my house hiding. And why should I have to hide? I feel strongly about not letting bullies win.

It's only a game. So let's keep it at that. Football is not life. Most people in this world don't even care about American football. There is no need to turn to violence and aggression. I know that this is not every Ravens fan. I have friends that root for the Ravens and have defended me when other Ravens fans have treated me poorly, or have shaken my hand and said "good game" when all was said and done.

We teach our children and youth to be good sports and show class, so why do adults feel the need to bully because of sports? When we bully each other because of sports it takes the fun out of the game. It becomes too serious when it isn't supposed to be. I feel as though Andrew and I are an excellent example of how to stay classy and enjoy sports. He roots for the Cleveland Browns, the Steelers oldest rival, yet we are able to co-exist in the same house every Sunday afternoon and have done so for nearly eight years. Many strangers ask us how we ended up together and how we can stand each other when they see us out and about on Sundays decked out in Steelers and Browns jerseys. The answer is simple-- despite the rivalry, it is only a game. We should be able to cheer for the teams that we want to cheer for without feeling fear. And at the end of the day, we should be able to shake our opponents' hands and say, "Good game."

Monday, September 3, 2012

The New Birthday Card Line

I've been hard at work and am finally able to say that the new birthday card line I've been alluding to for a while now is finally finished! In total, there are twelve new birthday cards that are based upon the twelve zodiac signs, each with their respective constellation (yes, I created each constellation-- holy cow that was quite an endeavor). They feature a textured looking navy background and some yellow and orange highlights.

After much research, I decided to dive into this project because it seemed that there was a bit of niche for such an item. And I have to say that after checking out the scene, there are not many cards of this sort that feature the constellation rather than a zodiac symbol or picture. And I am also happy to say that so far they have received many compliments in the few days that they have been launched. It seems that the Virgo and Libra cards are the most popular at the moment, as we are currently in the midst of those birthdays. (I myself happen to be have a birthday right on the Virgo/Libra cusp.)

Needless to say, here is a peek at a few of the cards in the new line which you can now find in my shop.

I really love how the full line turned out. You check out the full line in the Birthday Cards section of my shop.

Have you been working on any new projects lately?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Black Hills

I have left you high and dry, readers. I will be the first to admit it. The school year is upon us and the last week has been incredibly hectic getting back into routines. I plan to continue my travel posts from our road trip this summer and I have a few other posts in store as well in the coming week. However, you may see me less frequently in this neck of the woods until summer vacation arrives again.

Our next stop on our road trip after visiting the Badlands was The Black Hills. We decided to stay in Custer State Park upon recommendation by my mom, and we were not disappointed. The park was absolutely huge and had so many adventures to offer. We spent one day hiking several of the park's beautiful trails up through rock formations that were most incredible. When we had pictured the Black Hills before our arrival, we certainly hadn't expected what we found. And even more flabbergasting was how quickly the land had changed from the Badlands to a rocky and forested terrain of this magnitude within a short two hour drive.

On our second day, we were able to take side trips to see Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse as well as enjoy some more beautiful scenery and hiking in Custer State Park. The only thing that we didn't love about Custer State Park was the fact that there was a fire ban, so we were unable to have a campfire at our site in the evening. But when you consider the drought conditions of the area, you couldn't complain about it and you felt pretty lucky that the forest was still standing. Point being, this segment of our trip was phenomenal.

There was one other thing that made this portion of the trip special. Ten years ago I traveled through the Black Hills with my parents on a similar road trip. During our time in the Black Hills I had violent food poisoning. It was so bad that I can hardly remember what happened during that part of our trip. I remember driving through those winding roads in the Black Hills, being horribly sick, staying in some random hotel for the night and waking up the next morning being able to choke down a small piece of toast. I think we also saw Mount Rushmore in there somewhere, but I don't remember much of anything because the food poisoning was so bad I had practically blacked out.

It may be silly, but as we drove out of Custer State Park to head onward to Yellowstone, I pumped my fist in the air and yelled, "I did it! I conquered the Black Hills without getting food poisoning! Woohoo!" Andrew looked at me as though I had lost my marbles, but I was glad to say that this time I could enjoy this part of our trip, unlike ten years ago.
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