Monthly Archives: January 2015

On the Bookshelf: AHS Inspired Booklist


American Horror Story ends next week but if you’re like me you wish it could go on and on. Lucky for you I found these great books to keep you busy until the next season starts– and it will Oct 2015!


The Night Circus

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The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Cirque du Reve opens only at night,  and lasts only until dawn. What you see within its walls is more than just magic. Blending history seamlessly with fantasy Erin Morgenstern tells the story of two young magicians set up in a deadly magical rivalry. Celia and Marco work tirelessly to please their mentors in order to come out on top in a contest where there can only be one winner. What their puppet masters don’t expect is that Celia and Marco will fall in love. What Celia and Marco don’t expect is how much that love will really cost.



Miss Peregrine

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

This book was inspired by a collection of black and white photographs found by the author which depict real people in same situations that the characters of American Horror Story find themselves in– born with some deformity or with a special ability that made them stand out from the rest. The novel follows a young boy who discovers Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, their talents, and who comes into his own as a young man in the process. The photographs which inspired the novel are real, and done before it was possible to do much more than rough dodging and burning and certainly before Photoshop was invented. **They are included in the book and set the mood really nicely for the whole story.

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The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman

If you want a book as startling and hard hitting as the TV show itself, read this novel. Alice Hoffman is a formidable writer. Coralie Sardie is extraordinary. She can swim further and faster than anyone else, breathing under water for long periods of time. She lives in her father’s museum where he keeps other extraordinary beings. Set at the turn of the century in New York City against the backdrop of rising labor unions, new scientific discoveries, the burgeoning middle class and the newly constructed Coney Island, Coralie makes an incredible journey searching, and finding the true meaning of her existence.

Cold, Grumpy B**tch: Women in Commercials

Essays - Women - Women's Issues

I’ve noticed something lately during the awards shows, games, and events on television. We already know that channels like Lifetime and Bravo show very different commercials than Spike TV or FXX. They’re catering to their different markets. I get that. The fact that the commercials are sexist is a bit beside the point I’m going to make, but definitely still an issue.

In commercials married women are portrayed as nagging, un-fun, grumpy, cold bitches. If it’s a commercial for alcohol or perfume, the women is single, super-sexy and ready for anything. After she’s married she becomes ‘mom’– and not just to her kids, to her husband too. “Put that away”, “Don’t do that”, she rolls her eyes at her silly husband and looks like the most unhappy person. The people that I’ve met who are near my age or a bit older seem like they have great marriages. Spouses have fun together, they travel, they joke, they have discussions– pretty normal stuff. Hell even my parents still have fun together and take smoochie selfies on the beach. It doesn’t mean they have perfect lives, or perfect relationships, but it does mean that they are more three-dimensional then these ad stereotypes allow.

Why does every commercial portraying a husband and wife cast the wife as either a ‘mommy’ to her husband, or a grumpy sex-withholding bitch? Here are some examples:

1. Aleve. Woman takes Aleve, magically her headache is gone! (yay) Husband sees this and hints that maybe they can have sex now that she doesn’t have a headache. This is also seen as the kind of stereotypical excuse women give for not wanting to have sex in the first place. Haha!! Now she doesn’t even have an excuse Husband thinks. Woman rolls her eyes at her husband and shuts off the light. Maybe it’s because I’ve never been married, but doesn’t this seem a bit harsh? If I got rid of my headache why wouldn’t I want to be with my husband/boyfriend/partner?

2. Home Depot. Husband and wife are at the store looking for home-improvement supplies. Husband finds lawnmower and starts riding it around the store– just a fun loving dude out with his wife. When she see’s her husband all he gets is crossed arms and a grumpy-mommy look. Why can’t she want to have fun with her husband? I get that they’re adults but it seems like the husband is being portrayed like an overgrown child, or totally sex-crazed which is insulting in itself.

3. Value City Furniture. I can appreciate the humor here. And maybe the wife really has a lot of work to do. But again, the husband is all about ‘pleasure’ in the bedroom- and all the wife wants to do is ignore him (cold) and work on her side of the bed. All she says to her husband the entire commercial is ‘It’s one bed.’ What a b.

These commercials have grabbed onto a stereotype, and in order for it to be a stereotype it must have come from somewhere, the pattern must exist somewhere. The woman’s sole purpose is not to be there just so her husband can have fun, or just so he has someone to have sex with. In that sense this portrayal could be accurate. But for the 30 seconds you have for the commercial, the preferred, ‘funny’ portrayal is one of a grumpy woman.

Can’t you sell the same medication, the same shopping experience and the same furniture if the husband and wife are having not necessarily a perfect interaction but maybe one that’s more balanced than defaulting to ‘nagging mommy lady who hates fun.’ I think so.

Call of the Wild: Dogsledding in the High Arctic

Chicago - Fashion - Photography - Travel

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest of wilderness. — John Muir

I’ve never thought, “gosh it’s nice to be home”. I’m always just disappointed that I’m not traveling anymore. Which sounds a bit ungrateful and harsh, or that I’ve never known a real home, but that’s not the case. Home for me, like many other people, is my family. Home doesn’t need to be a place. If I had to choose a place to call ‘home’ it would be ‘everywhere’. Which sounds a bit silly. Traveling is when I feel the most at home.

It’s why I wanted to make this blog a ‘travel in your own city blog’, because it’s not always possible to go overseas. But I finally got tired of talking about potential trips and decided to just book one. So I did. I have wanted to dogsled since I was a kid. I remember looking up the Outward Bound trips, making a plan, but it never came to anything. My mom did an Outward Bound trip, and I grew up camping and hiking with my whole family– everything from camping, hiking, back packing and rafting we did it. The best kind of trip to take by yourself is not necessarily the one where you wander around Europe (I thought about going to Morocco or Barcelona) but this trip, once I found it, was perfect.

I’m going to Svalbard, an island belonging to Norway in the High Arctic. Training camp, offered for attendees of the Norway trip begins in 14 days. In Duluth Minnesota. For those of you that live in the midwest, or Canada, or really anywhere truly cold, will know that not only does this sound crazy– it probably is. I’ll be camping in the Superior National Forest, at Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge, in the dead of winter. I have spent the past few weeks doing lots of research, getting the low-down from my parents on how to dress, and hunting for sales online to make sure I get the best prices on clothing. I wanted to do training camp so that when it came to traveling to Norway I could enjoy the trip and not worry so much about how-to. This will be a new skill– I have never been dogsledding before and I want to learn how to do everything, from feeding the dogs, driving the sled, putting on the harnesses and putting the dogs in the right order on their team.

The outfits pictured are what will be keeping me warm in the negative temps and and in the arctic. I will be going to Minnesota, and subsequently Norway, alone, but I’ll be in a group, and I’m excited to meet new people and have an adventure.

All photos were taken by Jennifer Claire Photography.